Friday, January 30, 2009

Ice Cream! Ice Cream!

Vanilla goes best, we think. This is too simple to post, but in the interests of completeness:

1 cup whole milk, 2 cups heavy cream.
3/4 cup sugar
tsp double strength vanilla

Combine, pour into ice cream freezer. Dump into plastic bowl, cover, place in freezer.

We have one of those small Cuisinart ice cream freezers. It works great! Get the one with the extra freezer bowl so you can make ice cream every day. I usually make this earlier in the day, because straight out of the ice cream freezer it's more like soft-serve. Nothing wrong with that, but for the crostata...

Also, I save the vanilla beans from the Penzeys bottles, along with any others I might use, dry them and dump them in a special jar. I have quite the collection of dry vanilla beans going now, and I keep them with sugar. After several weeks, I sieve that jar into another, and then refill the special jar with plain sugar and the dry vanilla beans in the sieve. Presto! Vanilla sugar. Great for ice cream. (or cookies, or...)

When summer gets closer, I'll tell you more about the ice cream that I cook first, and how to make chocolate or strawberry ice cream...

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

hot fresh bread?

All right. I'm not sure why everyone raves about my bread. It's really nothing all that special, and I don't even work hard to make it. But it was part of that dinner that Jen's friends all wanted to know what the recipes were, so...

It's a simple set of ingredients, but again, you'll want a scale that can measure in grams. 183g of water, heaping tsp of kosher salt, tablespoon of olive oil, tablespoon of honey, 265g bread flour, heaping teaspoon of active dry yeast.

Toss those things, in that order, into your bread maker. That's right. Bread maker. And here's a trick: Take a shot glass, pour in that roughly tablespoon of oil.  Then pour the honey in on top of that. Then pour the contents of the shot glass into the bread maker.  Set it for a 1lb french loaf and let it fly. Come back right before it starts to bake, and dump it onto a floured surface.

Pop the bubbles, flatten it out, fold it over onto itself by thirds, then again the other way. Roll it until you get a foot long tube-ish thing about three inches thick. Set that on a baking sheet and let is rise another 45 minutes. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Make an egg wash and baste it onto the loaf, sprinkle with the sesame seeds, make three cuts across the top, on the bias, and pop it into the oven for 22 minutes. Check doneness by inserting a thermometer. You're looking for 210 degrees.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Life is Uncertain...

Make dessert first. First off, credit for this recipe goes to Danila. Wander back to wine picks and you can see Danila... You'll need a scale that can measure accurately to a gram for this recipe. A food processor helps tremendously.

400g AP flour
150g sugar
1/2 tsp "lievito per torte"*
The zest of one lemon.

200g unsalted butter.
1 egg + 1 yolk
13oz jar of your favorite preserves.

Measure out the flour and sugar and "lievito" directly into the food processor. Zest the lemon directly into the food processor. Give them a spin to combine.

Cube the butter and add it in, then use the food processor to cut it into mix. Here's a hint. 200g is roughly two sticks. I often reserve a tablespoon from one stick to lube the tart pan, and just cube the rest unmeasured.

Add the eggs and process them in as well. Sometimes it looks a little dry, but keep going. It will come together, usually caking up along the wall of the processor. Sometimes I knock the side of the FP with my hand to help it churn. If after a minute or so it still seems dry, toss in another yolk.

Once it comes together somewhat, dump it back into the bowl you used to measure the flour, form a dough ball and cover with a wet paper towel and set it in the fridge for 30+ minutes.

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius, approximately 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Lube the tart pan liberally. Take the dough out of the fridge and  reserve a baseball sized chunk. Press the remaining dough into your tart pan by hand. No rolling required. You want a nice rim around the outside and a nice "bowl" to pour the preserves into. Speaking of which, pour them in.

Press or roll the remaining dough out on a sheet of parchment paper. Cut cookie shapes out and place them on top of the crostata. You can also roll little dough balls in your hand and press them into coin sized shapes to fill in some gaps. Heat a little water and honey in the micrwave and brush onto the cookie shapes and pie crust. Sprinkle with some coarse sugar. You can also just roll out strips and create a lattice.

Bake for 30-40 minutes.

* About that "lievito". It's an optional ingredient. I think it's basically baking soda and some vanilla flavoring, so you could just go with a 1/2 tsp of baking soda and 1/2 tsp of vanilla in the mix. Haven't tried that, but we have omitted the ingredient without trouble. I've included a picture of a small packet. I get two sometimes three crostate out of that. Check out your local Italian grocer. They'll probably have that or something similar.

Make sure you don't get the pizza yeast. This leavening is not yeast!

I've done this without a food porocessor. Proceed like cookie dough: Whisk the dry ingredients to combine, cream the sugar and butter, add eggs and zest, combine, then mix in the dry. In fact, I've probably botched every step of this process at one time or another. It doesn't seem to matter. Just keep churning with that food processor and it will all work out in the end.

Thanks for sharing, Danila!