Blueberry Blackberry Pie

IMG_4917Homemade pie, with all of its wonderful little imperfections, is pretty stinkin great. It doesn’t look like that oddly perfect-looking pie from Village Inn, Stepford Wife-esque with its unblemished crust and crimped edges. No sir. The homemade pie might have a little burnt spot on the edge. Maybe the fruit inside spilled through the seam a little. There could be a couple tears in the crust like this pie has. But unlike that store bought pie that was probably made completely by machine, this pie, the handmade pie, is baked by a real live person. Probably someone you know and love. They tended the crust (we all know pie crusts need a little TLC) and made sure nothing got too warm before baking time. They picked out the best fruit they could find. They turned on their oven in the middle of summer when the last thing anyone needs is a giant box filled with 375-degree air in their non-air-conditioned house, spewing the leftover heat into the kitchen like it’s a fire-breathing dragon. This person baked you a pie. And that, as my mom would say, is a beautiful thing.

This pie starts out, like most good things, with butter.

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This crust is a little different because while the butter is still cold, you’ll roll it out so it makes little strips of butter. It’s kinda tricky but that’s cool cuz we’re going for the flakiness here.

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Then it goes back in the bowl, and you’ll add buttermilk.

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Then it’ll need some time to cool off in the fridge. It’s hot outside, and pie crust can feel it too.

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Now, it’s berry time. These babies will get tossed with some lemon juice and sugar.

IMG_4901When the crust is finally done chilling, roll it out on a floured surface, gently lift it into your pie pan, sprinkle some breadcrumbs in there to help absorb all the berry juice, and pour in the berries. You can see a few spots where i had to patch the pie crust. No big deal. That’s what the homemade pie is all about!

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Then, grab the other piece of dough from the fridge and roll it out, lift on top, and seal the edges. I won’t pretend I know how to beautify the edge of a pie crust, so I’ll tell you not to worry about it. No one will notice, and if they do, they’ll forget as soon as they have a bite, And if they don’t forget, take away their pie and give it to someone else. (Not that I want to deny anyone a slice of this…but still.) Make sure to cut some vents in the top so the steam from the fruit juice can escape.

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I realize it’s a little late in the season for blueberries (where did you go, summer?), but if you can find them, this would be the perfect send-off for them until next year.

Blueberry Blackberry Pie

Pie and crust recipes from Joy the Baker

Makes 1 double-crusted 9-inch pie

For the crust:

1 cup (two sticks, 8 ounces) unsalted butter, cold

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 Tablespoon granulated sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup (5-6 ounces) buttermilk, cold

For the filling:

2 pints fresh blueberries

1 pint fresh blackberries

1 cup granulated sugar, plus a little more for sprinkling on top

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

a big pinch of salt

zest of 1/2 a lemon

juice from 1/2 a lemon, or more to taste

1/4 cup plain breadcrumbs or crushed graham crackers

1 large egg, beaten with about a tablespoon of water

First make the crust. Cut the butter into 1-inch cubes and chill in the freezer for 15 minutes. Measure out your buttermilk and place it in the refrigerator so it stays cold.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, and salt. Grab the butter from the freezer and toss it with the flour mixture until all the butter is coated.

Dump the cold butter and flour onto a large, clean area of counter for rolling. Using a rolling pin, roll the mixture so that the butter cubes become flat, thin sheets. Work quickly – the butter should stay cold.

Gather the rolled butter and flour, but them back into the bowl, and refrigerate for 10 minutes. When the butter is cold, remove the bowl from the refrigerator and make a well in the center of the mixture. Pour the cold buttermilk into the mixture all at once. Using your hands, bring the dough together, breaking up any clumps of milk and flour that form. The dough will be shaggy, but all the flour should be moistened. If it isn’t, add another tablespoon of buttermilk. Once it’s all mixed together, divide the dough in half and form each half into a disk. Wrap them in plastic and refrigerate for at least an hour.

At this point, you can keep the dough in the fridge for 3 days or freezer for 3 weeks before using it. If you want to freeze it, roll the dough into sheets and wrap them in plastic wrap, then freeze.

While the crust chills, make the filling. Rinse the berries and place them in a large bowl. Add the flour, sugar, salt, zest, and juice to the bowl and stir it all together gently. Let sit for about 5 minutes, then taste it and add more lemon if needed.

After at least and hour has passed, remove one of the pie crust disks from the fridge. Flour your work surface and rolling pin, and roll the crust out into a circle. Lift it into the pie plate and trim the edges. Leave bout 1/2 an inch of overhand all around.

Sprinkle the breadcrumbs or crushed graham crackers over the bottom of the unbaked pie crust. Slowly pour in the berries and spread them evenly with the back of a spoon. Have your egg wash ready and moisten the edges of the crust.

Place the pie plate with the bottom crust and filling in the fridge while you roll out the top crust. Make the top crust into a 12-inch circle. Remove the pie plate from the fridge and drape the top crust over the filling. Trim it back tuck the two crusts under so the dough is flush with the edge of the pie plate. The egg wash will act like a pie crust glue, keeping them together. Crimp with your fingers or the tines of a fork to seal. Cut 4 slits in the top crust to act as vents. Place the pie in the fridge to chill while the oven preheats.

Place a rack in the lower third of the oven, and a cookie sheet on another rack below to catch any juice that bubbles over. Preheat the oven to 425 F.

Brush the top and outside edge of the pie with the egg wash. Generously sprinkle granulated sugar over the top. Bake the pie at 425 F for 30 minutes. Then, reduce the oven temperature to 375 F and bake for another 30 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbling up through the vents. If the crust starts browning too quickly, cover the pie loosely with foil while it bakes (the steam will still need to vent).

Remove from the oven and let cool for at least 30 minutes before serving. Don’t worry about it getting to cool. I brought my pie to a barbecue, it sat outside for about an hour and a half, and it still steamed when I cut into it. Enjoy and give yourself a pat on the back!

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Double Berry Cinnamon Swirl Bread

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Summer is finally and officially here! The 4th of July has come and gone which means summer is here to stay and I couldn’t be more excited about it. Last week I moved (again) into a house that is going to be really great after a year of less-than-ideal living situations.

The sun is finally out and it’s been hot. The kind of hot that’s almost but not quite uncomfortable. Until you get a sunburn, in which case the heat is painful the next day.

Sunburns and sweat and moving aside, I can’t wait for the rest of this summer. It’s going to be great. If you’re looking for a good way to kick off your summer, this bread is a good one. Yes, you’ll have to turn on your oven, but this bread is pretty much a giant cinnamon roll studded with fresh summer berries.

This bread starts off with a yeast dough. We’ll mix the yeast with some butter and a couple other things to activate it, and then form a dough and let it rise.

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While the dough rises, we’ll get the berries ready and make the buttery, cinnamon-y spread that will go on the inside of the bread.

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The dough will be nice and puffy after it rises.

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We’ll roll it out, spread the filling over it, and sprinkle the berries on top.

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This is where things get a little tricky. We’ll roll up the dough into a log, rolling tightly so the berries don’t all end up at the far edge of the dough.

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Then the log gets sliced in half and each half get turned up towards you to face you.

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Then, the two halves will get twisted together.

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Finally, the twisted dough will get shaped into a circle, and you’ll press the ends together so it doesn’t all fall apart.

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Then, quickly but gently so the dough wreath doesn’t unravel, pick the wreath up and place it into a cast iron skillet, springform pan, or cake pan. Bake, and enjoy all the hark work you just did!

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This bread is rich and dense without being too sweet. The butter-cinnamon filling adds a good amount of indulgence and the berries add little bursts of juice with every bite. This one does take a bit of work, but it’s more than well worth it.

 

Double Berry Cinnamon Bread

From Joy the Baker

Makes 1 loaf

 

For the dough:

2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

3/4 cup whole milk, warmed to a warm lukewarm

1 large egg yolk

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

olive oil

 

For the filling:

1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1/4 cup granulated sugar

3 teaspoons ground cinnamon

2 cups fresh berries (sliced strawberries, blueberries, raspberries…feel free to use 3 or even more – I couldn’t find any raspberries)

1 large egg, beaten

 

Make the dough:

Combine the yeast and sugar in a medium bowl. Stir in the warmed milk, and then stir in the egg yolk and melted butter. Whisk the mixture until thoroughly combined. Let the yeast mixture sit for 5 minutes. It should foam and froth, which means the yeast is activated properly. If it doesn’t, start over with new yeast.

Whisk together the flour and salt in a large bowl. Pour the milk/yeast mixture over the flour and knead the dough until it pulls away from the sides of the bowl and starts to form a ball. Place the dough on a lightly floured, clean counter, and knead by hand for about 10 minutes. The dough should be smooth and a little damp, but not too sticky. Form the dough into a ball. Place it in a large bowl greased with olive oil, and cover. I like to cover it lightly with plastic wrap and then put a clean kitchen towel on top. Allow the dough to rest in a warm spot until it’s doubled in size, about an hour.

While the dough rises, mix the butter, sugar, and cinnamon together for the filling and set aside until later.

When the dough is almost done rising, preheat the oven to 375 F. Grease a 10-inch springform pan, cast iron skillet, or a normal 9-inch cake pan and set it aside, too.

When the dough has doubled in size, place it on a lightly floured counter and knead it twice. With a rolling pin, roll the dough into a 12×18-inch rectangle. It doesn’t have to be precise — get it as close as you can and make sure the two longs sides are the same length and the two short ones are the same length.

Put the filling on the dough in a few blobs, and spread it over the dough evenly, leaving about 1 inch of dough on all sides. Place the berries over the cinnamon spread, and press them into the dough a little bit.

Now, beginning from one of the long sides of the dough, roll it into a log. Be sure to tuck it under as best you can, and force the berries into the roll if you need to. The berries will make the log a little lumpy. Use a sharp knife or bench scraper to cut the log in half lengthwise, leaving about an inch of dough uncut at the top. If there is excess dough at the bottom with no filling in it, trim this dough (I didn’t do this but wish I had). To braid the dough, carefully lift the left strand over the right strand. Repeat this until you have used all the dough, straightening and adjusting the braid as necessary. Press the ends of the two strands together. Bring the two ends of the braid together, and press together.

Quickly and carefully transfer the dough ring to the prepared pan. Brush the beaten egg over the dough. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the bread is golden brown and the filling is bubbling. Let cool for 30 minutes before slicing.

 

 


Quinoa Tabbouleh

ImageEven though this weekend was rainy and a little one the chilly side (“chilly” meaning 63 degrees, now that we’ve been spoiled by 80+ weather for the past couple weeks), I’m pretty sure summer’s official here. In the cool weather, my friends and I hunkered down and watched the World Cup all day. (I’m not even sick of it yet.) But the past couple weeks saw gorgeous weather, which meant hiking, bike rides galore, a barbecue, and a short backpacking trip in the beautiful Columbia Gorge.

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While all that makes me sounds like the healthiest person on the planet, really what the last few weeks have been is one giant period of indulgence. I’ve been doing a decent amount of baking, but not doing a good job of taking pictures of it. There have been lots of dessert-fueled going away parties for people at my office. And since we all know summer doesn’t really start in the Pacific Northwest until July 4, these few sunny weeks have led themselves quite generously to patio happy hours. When I say my friends and I “hunkered down” to watch the world cup, I mean we continued our happy hours inside.

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So last week, I really needed something healthy for lunch, and this quinoa tabbouleh was just the right thing. I’ve made it once before, in the winter, to combat the cloudiness. But this time, it was just what I needed to set myself back on my normal mostly-healthy track. With tomatoes coming into season, this will be even better for you than it was for me. This salad is the perfect thing to eat for lunch all week, or just what you need to lighten up an indulgent barbecue. 

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Quinoa Tabbouleh is light but filling. The quinoa has a great nutty taste and texture. Tomatoes add some flavor, red onion a nice kick, and feta just the right amount of saltiness fat. I added chickpeas to the recipe to make it a little heartier. But the real star of the tabbouleh show is parsley. Use the whole bunch – it may look like a lot, but it’s really what tabbouleh should taste like. The original recipe calls for mint, which I could only find as an entire plant, so I omitted it. I think it would be delicious though, so I’ve included it here.

 

Quinoa Tabbouleh

Adapted just slightly from The Kitchn

Makes about 7 cups, enough for 4-6 people or a one-person week-long lunch

 

1 cup uncooked quinoa

1/2 red onion

2 medium tomatoes

2 cloves garlic

1 bunch parsley (about 2 cups)

1 bunch mint (about 1/2 cup)

1 15-oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained

8 ounces feta cheese

1/4  cup extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons lemon juice

extra lemon juice to taste

salt and pepper to taste

 

Rinse the quinoa under cool water for about a minute. Cook according to package directions. The way that’s worked best for me is to bring 2 cups of water to a boil for every cup of quinoa, add the quinoa to the boiling water, cook uncovered until the water is nearly gone (about 15 minutes) and the quinoa is done, then remove from heat, partially cover, and let steam for about 5 minutes. This took me some trial and error, though, and package directions are probably best. 

Meanwhile, dice the onion and place it in a bowl with water and pinch of salt. Soaking the onion will remove some of the bite. (I skipped this step last time I made this, but I’ve got a big soft spot for onions.) Quarter the tomatoes and remove the seeds. Dice the remaining tomato flesh. Mince the garlic, parsley, and mint.

When the quinoa is done, empty it into a large bowl and let it cool to almost room temperature. It should feel barely warm to the touch. This will help the dressing coat it without the quinoa absorbing too much. 

When the quinoa is cooled, whisk together the olive oil and lemon juice with a pinch of salt. Pour the mixture over the quinoa and stir until evenly coated. Stir in the onion, tomatoes, garlic, parsely, mint, and chickpeas. Crumble the feta onto the salad and stir it in gently. Taste and add more lemon juice or salt and pepper as desired. 

Serve cold or at room temperature. This tabbouleh is better the next day when all the flavors have combined.

 

 

 


Black Pepper Biscuits (with bacon and eggs)

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Mmm, biscuits. Definitely not my area of expertise when it comes to baking. Not that I’m an expert in anything baking-related…but if I were, it definitely wouldn’t be biscuits. I think this is the second time I’ve ever made them. Not like cookies, which I’ve made dozens and dozens of when it’s not even Christmas time. For sure not like banana bread, a loaf of which was practically always camped out on the kitchen counter, because somebody (*cough*little sister*cough*) couldn’t keep up with her banana eating. And certainly not like cake, which I make every time someone I know has a birthday. Including myself, to the dismay of my poor grandmother.

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But the thing about biscuits is you can make a meal out of them and feel less bad about it than making a meal out of cookies or banana bread or cake. Which I absolutely encourage on occasion, but sometimes, you just need some protein with your butter and flour. Usually on weekend mornings. These biscuits are the perfect thing to make on a lazy Sunday. They don’t take much time at all – less than half an hour total. You can fry up the bacon and eggs while they’re baking. Then slice them up, add more butter if you’re a total sucker for butter like I am, and enjoy this wonderful grease-fest of a breakfast. And then take a walk. Or a nap. They both work wonders.

 

Black Pepper Biscuits

Adapted a teeny bit from Honey & Jam

Makes 12

 

3 cups all-purpose flour (she recommends White Lily…I used generic brand)

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 (1 stick) cup cold salted butter

1 1/4 cup cold buttermilk

 

Preheat the oven to 400 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment. You can also bake these in a cast iron skillet if you have one – which is probably much preferred to a baking sheet.

Grate the butter into a small bowl on the large-holed side of a cheese grater. Put it in the freezer. (I can’t believe I’ve never thought to grate butter for scones or pie dough before…it really does work well.)

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and pepper in a large bowl.

Add the butter to the flour mixture and cut it in with a fork. Pour in the buttermilk and stir until a shaggy dough forms. Knead the dough 5-7 times in the bowl, and then turn it out onto a floured surface. Pat the dough down until it’s 1/4 inch thick. Fold it over and pat it down again. Fold the dough over a second time, and then cut into rounds with a biscuit cutter or floured glass, or rectangles with a bench scraper or sharp knife.

Place the biscuits on the baking sheet or in the cast iron skillet. Top with more freshly ground black pepper. Bake 15-18 minutes, or until golden brown.

If you’re not going to use all the biscuits at once, freeze the dough in individual already-cut biscuits before baking. Bake them directly from the freezer, adding a few minutes to the baking time.

 

For each person you’re serving:

2 slices thick cut bacon (I used pepper bacon, because I’m a pepper fiend)

1 egg

 

While the biscuits are in the oven, fry your bacon to desired doneness. Transfer it to a plate lined with paper towels. Drain most of the grease, and then fry your egg in the bacon fat. Seriously. Do it. It’s the weekend.

Cut a biscuit in half and top with bacon, egg, salt and pepper, hot sauce if you want. Maybe some green onion or parsley. Anything goes.


Strawberry Rhubarb Galette

ImageI’m definitely not one of the neatest people in the world. I don’t always do my dishes right away (and by ‘not always’ I mean ‘basically never’). My bedroom floor is a mess of books and socks and shoes. My purse is a mess of hair ties and receipts. And don’t even get me started on my laundry situation…who needs to fold clean clothes when you can just keep them in the hamper until they’re all dirty again?

So the first time I saw a picture of a galette, I was pretty excited. It’s just like a pie, but a little messy! You don’t have to worry about rolling the dough out to fit the pie pan, or rolling the top crust to the perfect size to fit the bottom crust. No need to secure the two crusts together and make it all fluted and pretty around the edges. All you have to do is roll out the dough to a mostly-circular shape, put the fruit on top, and fold over the edge. It’s as pretty as pie in a messy kind of way and tastes just the same. Perfect for those of us who can’t be bothered with too much neatness.

A galette begins just like a pie does, with a nice buttery crust. We roll it out and drape it over a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

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Then the fruit! I’ve never made anything with rhubarb before. I think it’s one of those things that you don’t like as a kid and then you forget about it until you see it at the store years later and think, “Huh. That looks good.” So I decided to give it a try. (Good decision, obviously).

ImageThen we’ll fold over the edges, try and make the cuff a little neat-looking, brush it with an egg, and put some butter on top. Yep. That’s butter. Mmmm, butter.

ImageThen when it comes out of the oven, serve it with a little whipped cream and revel in your delicious mess of a pie.

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This galette is perfect for spring. It’s mostly sweet, with a little tartness from the rhubarb. Some slightly sweetened whipped cream gives it the perfect finishing touch.

 

Strawberry Rhubarb Galette

From Food and Wine

Serves 6-8

 

For the crust:

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks, 5 ounces) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces

5 tablespoons ice water

 

Place the flour and salt in a medium bowl and blend with a fork. Scatter the butter on top. Cut the butter into the flour with a pastry cutter or your hands until the pieces are the size of small peas. Sprinkle the water on top and toss with the fork.

Use your hands to press the mixture into a dough. Pat the dough into a 6-inch disk. Wrap it in plastic and chill for at least 30 minutes and up to overnight.

 

For the filling:

1 pint strawberries, thickly sliced

1 pound fresh rhubarb, cut crosswise 1/2 inch thick

3/4 cup granulated sugar

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons whole milk, or 1 beaten egg

4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

 

While the dough chills, preheat the oven to 400 F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. On a clean floured surface, roll the dough into a 16-inch round 1/8 inch thick. Work quickly to keep the butter cold. I also found that I needed to use a little more flour than I normally do for dough, so don’t be afraid to overdo it. Transfer the rolled-out dough to the baking sheet and chill 10 minutes.

Toss the strawberries, rhubarb, sugar, flour, lemon juice, and vanilla in a large bowl. Spread the fruit over the pastry to within 2 inches of the edge. Fold the outer edge of the dough over the filling, pleating it every 2 inches or so. Brush the dough with milk or egg. Sprinkle some extra sugar on the dough if you want. Dot the filling with the 4 tablespoons butter.

Bake the galette for one hour in the center of the oven, or until the fruit is bubbling and the dough golden brown. Let cool slightly before cutting.

 

For the whipped cream:

1 cup heavy whipping cream

1 tablespoon sugar, or to taste

1 teaspoon vanilla

 

Beat the cream, sugar, and vanilla on high until soft peaks form or until your desired consistency.

Serve aside the galette.

 


Black Bean & Sweet Potato Tacos

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How in the world is it already May? April was a total blur. March was too, come to think of it. I met a bunch of new people. I moved. Last week I got sick for the first time since last May and it was terrible. And in the midst of it all, May sneaked up on us just like a bad cold. But now, I get the feeling things have settled a bit. Seven weeks or so of whirlwindy-ness and now I think I can chill out a bit. Just in time for Cinco de Mayo. A day on which, in order to counter all the chips and tequila I’ll probably be ingesting like it’s my job, I’ll probably also be making these tacos.

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And just like colds and spring weather and the month of May, these tacos are sneaky. They’re spicy and limey and crunchy enough that they feel like the carnitas tacos you’ll stuff your face with to end Cinco de Mayo (buried under a whole mountain of sour cream  and guacamole of course). But these sneaky guys are totally healthy! You’ve got sweet potatoes, black beans, cabbage, onion, cilantro, and lime juice. That’s it! Plus tortillas. These are the tacos you’ll want to start your night with, when vegetables of the non-fried variety still sound good. And then you’ll want to make them the next day and the next day and the next so you can feel like your cheating on your healthy eating streak and your grocery budget when really you’re being quite faithful to both. Let’s do it.

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These tacos are crunchy, fresh, and just a bit spicy. Plus, you know, they’re tacos. Can’t really go wrong there.

 

Black Bean & Sweet Potato Tacos

Adapted a teeny bit from Joy the Baker

Serves 1 with a little leftover or 2 as an appetizer/snack

 

1 medium sweet potato, chopped

splash olive oil/butter

generous sprinkle of cumin

pinch red pepper flakes

1/2 can black beans, rinsed and drained

 

small corn tortillas

1/4 head cabbage, shredded

1/2 red onion, sliced

chopped cilantro to taste

lime juice to taste

 

Place the butter or oil in a large frying pan over medium high heat. Once it’s hot, add the cumin and pepper flakes and cook for a minute or so until fragrant. Add in the sweet potatoes and cook, stirring every so often, until they are softened and a little charred. Add in the black beans and cook until they are heated through, a minute or two more.

Meanwhile heat the tortillas however you like. Microwave, over a gas stove burner, or in oil.

To assemble, divide the sweet potato/black bean mixture between the tortillas. Top with cabbage, onion, cilantro, and lime juice. Enjoy!


Homemade Thin Crust Pizza

ImagePizza crust is one of those mega-polarizing topics that really doesn’t seem important until you’re sharing a pizza at a restaurant with friends and there’s no chance of a consensus on whether to get thin crust or thick crust. I stand firmly on the thin crust side of the debate. Because not only does a little crispiness make just about anything a little better, but mostly because pizza is really about the toppings. Another one of those foods where the ratio is important.

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(okay, maybe I did roll this out a little too thin, but it still held up beautifully)

Why drown the toppings in crust? Or sauce or cheese for that matter. When it comes to pizza, I think a little goes a long way for every ingredient. Nothing overpowers the whole thing, nothing gets completely brushed under the covers of too much crust. Thin crust gives everything (including itself) a chance to shine. You really get the best of all worlds when you go for the thin crust pizza. Seriously.

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This crust is delicious. It’s nice and thin but doesn’t get soggy at all, which is key in thin crust land. For toppings, we did tomato sauce, mozzarella, Italian sausage, roasted red peppers, caramelized onion, artichoke hearts, basil, and a little goat cheese. Everything in moderation. It was perfect. But the great thing about pizza dough is that it’s essentially a food canvas. Do whatever you want!

 

Homemade Thin Crust Pizza Dough

From The Kitchn

Makes 2 10-inch pizzas

 

3/4 cup (6 ounces) lukewarm water

1 teaspoon active dry or instant yeast

2 cups (10 ounces) all purpose-flour

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

 

Combine the water and yeast in a large mixing bowl. Stir until the yeast dissolves. Add the flour and salt to the yeast mixture. Mix with wooden spoon or your hand until a shaggy dough forms.

Turn the dough, along with any flour remaining in the bowl, out onto a clean work surface. Knead about 5 minutes, until the flour is fully incorporated and the dough is smooth and elastic. The dough will feel moist and slightly tacky. If it’s sticking to the counter and your hands like gum, knead in more flour one tablespoon at a time until the dough is smooth.

At this point, you can let the dough rise until you need it or until doubled in size, about 90 minutes. After rising, the dough will keep in the refrigerator for 3 days.

For the pizza, preheat the oven to 500 or as hot as it will go for at least half an hour before baking the pizza. If using a pizza stone, place it in the oven before turning the oven on.

When ready to make the pizza, get two 12-inch wide pieces of parchment paper. Cut the dough in half with a bench scraper or sharp knife. Working one piece of dough at a time, make a large disk with your hands and place it on the parchment.

Use the heels of your hand to press and stretch the dough gently until it’s 1/4 inch thick at most. If you want it extra thin like I did, use a rolling pin. If the dough starts shrinking back you can let it rest for 5 minutes and then start working it again.

Top your pizza dough with whatever you want. Using a pizza peel or the bottom of a cookie sheet, slide the pizza (with the parchment) onto the pizza stone. If you don’t have a pizza stone, just cook it on a baking sheet. That’s what I did. No one will know the difference.

Bake for 8-10 minutes, rotating and removing the parchment halfway through. When it’s done, the crust will be golden brown. Cook until your cheese is melted and a little toasty.

Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack for about 5 minutes before slicing.

 


Sweet and Spicy Candied Almonds

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Spring is such a tease. Last weekend was two glorious days of sleeping in just enough to make it feel like not a work day, getting out of town, and hiking in the sun. But with Monday came the rain, and it hasn’t let up since. And it’s spring rain, which is way worse than winter rain, if you ask me. It’s completely unpredictable. It’s considerably more violent. But on the plus side, spring is the only season where you can hike one day and ski the next.

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No matter what fun things await you this spring, these almonds are the perfect snack to stash in your backpack. They’re sweet enough to satisfy your regular weekday afternoon sugar craving, which likes to make weekend appearances too. But they have a definite spicy kick too. It’s just like the sun/rain mix that comes with spring.

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These almonds take about 10 minutes from start to finish. There the perfect thing to snack on this spring and they won’t keep you from the sun that’s finally here.

 

Sweet and Spicy Candied Almonds

From Spoon Fork Bacon

 

2 cups raw whole almons

2 1/2 tablespoons honey

1 tablespoon pure maple syrup

1 tablespoon coconut oil

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

 

Preheat oven to 350 F. Place all ingredients in a small bowl and toss until almonds are thoroughly coated.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread the almonds evenly onto the baking sheet. Bake 8-10 minutes, stirring after 5 minutes. Keep a close eye on them at the end, there’s a fine line between nicely toasted and completely burned.

Remove almonds from oven and allow to cool completely. A hard glaze will form. Serve or store in an airtight container for a few days, if you can get them to last that long.

 

 

 

 

 


Guinness Chocolate Cake

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I think the thing I like least about working in an office, or at least one of the things that is really hard to get used to after spending the entirety of my pre-office life in school, is: no breaks! I mean seriously…I honestly believe our productivity and morale would skyrocket if we had a company-wide 2-week winter break, week-long spring break just when it starts to get warm, and at least a 2-week summer break. I mean really, it’s in the company’s best interest.

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But no. Instead, we have to work work work until we save up enough vacation days to take a 5-day weekend, calculate whether we’ll have enough vacation days left to go to our friend’s wedding over the summer….the struggle is neverending. Anyway, about a month ago I decided I was in need of a spring break. And today I got up at 2 in the morning to drive to the airport and by the time I normally would have arrived at work, I was already 1200 miles away from my little corner of the office and the few hundred emails that await me every morning.

Yesterday, because I knew I wanted to make something delicious to bring to work for St. Patrick’s Day but I wasn’t going to be back to work by then, I brought in this Guinness chocolate cake. I made this cake last year too so I already knew it was a total winner. And let me tell you, this cake is a dream. Perfect way to eat your Guinness and drink it too this weekend.

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This Guinness chocolate cake is rich but not too sweet, super moist and chocolatey, and the Guinness adds just the right amount of a little savory, yeasty touch. The cream cheese frosting is the perfect complement, adding some sweetness without overpowering the magic of this cake.

I was planning on putting green sprinkles on top, but I forgot to buy them, of course. I do think it would be a great touch though.

Also…two cakes in a row. Oops 🙂

Guinness Chocolate Cake

From Feast by Nigella Lawson, via Shutterbean.com

Makes a single layer 9-inch cake

1 cup Guinness stout (this means you’ll have leftovers to drink while it bakes!)

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, sliced

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

2 cups superfine sugar (I used granulated, it works just fine)

3/4 cup sour cream

2 eggs

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9-inch springform pan and line the bottom with parchment. I don’t have a springform pan and was also out of parchment, so I just used a normal 9-inch pan, buttered it very liberally, and the cake came out of the pan just fine.

In a large saucepan over medium heat, cook the Guinness and butter until the butter is melted. Whisk in the cocoa powder and sugar and then remove from the heat. In a small bowl, beat the sour cream with the eggs and vanilla (you can do it with a whisk). Pour the Guinness mixture into a large bowl, and add in the sour cream mixture. Whisk together until combined. Add the flour and baking soda and whisk until completely combined. Scrape the bowl with a spatula to make sure you get all the flour.

Pour the cake batter into the prepared pan and bake for 45-60 minutes, until a toothpick stuck in the center of the cake comes out clean. Mine was actually done at about 41 minutes, so definitely keep an eye on it. Remove from oven and let cool. If you’re not using a springform pan, run a butter knife around the edge of the cake and turn it out onto a plate when the pan is cool enough to touch, Then invert again onto whatever you’re going to serve it from so it’s right-side up.

Cream Cheese Frosting

by Garrett McCord on Simply Recipes

I was afraid this was going to be too much frosting for a single-layer cake, but I think it was a perfect amount.

1/2 cup butter (1 stick), room temperature

8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature

2-3 cups powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

With electric beaters or in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and cream cheese together until very smooth, about 3 minutes. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl and beat for another 15 seconds or so. Beat in the vanilla extract.

Add the powdered sugar little by little, until the frosting reaches the desired sweetness and thickness.

Once the cake is cool, spread the frosting on top with a spatula, starting from the center and working outwards to make it look like a nice frothy pint of Guinness. Top with green sprinkles if you want to be even more festive. Or you could add green food coloring to the frosting!

Have a great weekend!


Magic Custard Cake

ImageIf you’re anything like me, the name of this cake – magic custard cake – will bring out the skeptic in you. Can this cake really be magical? Like real-life, it-will-disappear-in-less-than-a-day magical? There’s nothing incredibly special about everyday non-cake custard. Can this cake really be that much better?

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And the answer is…yes. This cake is indeed magical. Somehow, the time in the oven makes a thin cakey layer on top while the bottom of the cake remains creamy and custardy and wonderful.

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This custard cake is all the magic you’ll need to make it through your Monday and the rest of the week. It doesn’t take too long to make and you can keep it all week, eat it for breakfast. Even at the risk that the cake is so good, your day might only go downhill from there.

Magic Custard Cake

From White on Rice Couple

1/2 cup unsalted butter

2 cups milk

4 eggs, separated

4 drops white vinegar

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

1 tablespoon water

1 cup flour

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

more powdered sugar for the top

Preheat oven to 325 F and lightly butter an 8×8-inch baking dish.

Melt the butter and set it aside to cool. Heat the milk to lukewarm and set aside.

In a medium bowl, beat the egg whites and vinegar until stiff peaks form and set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the egg yolks and sugar until the mixture is pale yellow and falls in a ribbon from the beater. Add in the melted butter and water and beat until fully incorporated, about 2 minutes.

Mix the flour into the egg yolk mixture until fully incorporated. Slowly mix in the milk 1/2 cup at a time by had with a spatula. Mix in the vanilla.

Fold in 1/3 of the eggs whites until mostly incorporated, and repeat with the remaining 2/3, 1/3 at a time. Mix gently, without deflating the egg yolks, until fully incorporated and there are no more big lumps.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake 45-60 minutes or until the top is golden. I took mine out at 45 minutes and I think it was a tiny bit overdone, but I’m pretty sure the heating mechanism in there is pretty much uncontrolled. Give the cake a gentle shake, it will still jiggle slightly when it’s done. Allow the cake to cool completely before cutting. You can put it in the fridge to expedite the cooling. Dust with powdered sugar before serving. The cake will last for a few days in the fridge, but let it come to room temperature before serving.