This summer has been intense. We hunkered down in our basement through some blistering heat waves, and I’ve been powering through a tough school and work schedule.
Last week, however, was my birthday, so John, Motu and I got out of the city for the weekend. We spent a couple days at a house on the Shenandoah River. Canoeing, swimming and grilling was just what my body and spirit needed to get me through my last month of school.
I don’t know about you, but I’m looking forward to cooler nights and not being scared to turn on the oven. Until then, I’m going to eat my fill of juicy Virginia peaches and fry things instead of bake them!
I made these pies twice in one week because I gave too many of the first batch away and needed more for myself. I really enjoyed the jalapeño jelly in the filling and cayenne pepper in the coating, but feel free to leave them out if you’re trying to please children or aren’t a fan of spicy-sweet combos.
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons sugar
3/4 teaspoons kosher salt
9 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small cubes and put in freezer until ready to use
1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 large peaches (firm-ripe is best), peeled, pitted and diced into small cubes
1/3 cups sugar
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon cold water
1 1/2 tablespoons jalapeno jelly
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch of cayenne
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
peanut or canola oil, for frying
Put flour, sugar and salt in a food processor. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the milk and lemon juice and pulse until dough starts to come together. Don’t over mix.
Turn dough out onto work surface and gather it into a rectangle and flatten slightly. Wrap the dough in plastic and refridgerate until cold, about 2 hours (or up to 3 days).
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. On lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to 1/8 inch thick. Cut 12 4-inch circles out of the dough. If necessary, gather scraps and re-roll. Place dough circles on prepared baking sheet and refridgerate while you make the filling.
Prepare a ice bath by filling a bowl half-way with ice and water and placing a smaller bowl on the ice water.
In a saucepan, combine peaches with 1/3 cup of sugar, the lemon juice, and salt. Cook over medium heat until peaches have softened and released their juices.
In a small bowl, combine cornstarch with 1 tablespoon cold water and add the slurry to the peaches. Continue cooking until thickened. Add hot pepper jelly, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, and pinch of cayenne. Remove from heat and stir to blend. Transfer mixture to ice bath bowl and stir occasionally until cool.
Assemble the pies by brushing the edge of each dough round with water and place a tablespoon of filling in the center. Fold the pies up like a taco and pinch the edges to seal. Place on baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 15 minutes or up to 24 hours before frying.
To fry the pies, combine the 1 cup of sugar, 1 teaspoon cinnamon and 1/8 teaspoon cayenne in a shallow bowl and reserve. Fill a 10-inch cast iron skillet with 1/2 inch of oil. Heat oil to 365°F and fry pies in small batches until golden brown, about 1-2 minutes per side. Be careful the bottoms don’t burn. Remove pies to a paper-towel-lines baking sheet and let then drain until cool enough to handle. Dredge in the cinnamon sugar. Pick one up and eat it.
Well, the inevitable has happened, and it’s my Cake and Bread classes’ fault. I gained 10 pounds. I’m not usually that concerned about my weight (my giant sweet tooth is more persuasive than my vanity), but I recognize that if I’m going to happily and successfully complete my journey toward becoming a pastry chef, I’ll need to keep my health a priority. Tight chef’s pant aren’t comfortable no matter how many people say they’re like pajama pants.
So while I get myself to the gym more often, I hope y’all don’t mind a few lighter recipes on the blog this summer. It won’t be bad, I promise. No diet soda cakes, or weird fat-free ingredients used, just lots of fresh fruit and smaller slices of cake!
Don’t think of these cookies as diet food. Think of them as French Macarons without the filling, or surprise your gluten-sensitive friends with these delicious gluten-free cookies! They’re crunchy on the outside and a bit chewy on the inside from the almond flour. The secret ingredient is the cinnamon. I never would have thought about adding cinnamon to merginue cookies, but the spice is so delicious with the intense sweetness that meringue cookies can have.
Almond Cloud Cookies
adapted from Weight Watchers (sorry I can’t link to the original recipe)
3 egg whites
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup almond meal
Preheat over to 250°. Line baking sheet with parchment paper or spray lightly with non-stick spray.
Beat whites, salt and cinnamon to a soft foam.
Add sugar, about 1 tablespoon at a time and beat until stiff peaks form. Fold in almond meal.
Pipe or spoon batter into 1-inch mounds or rosettes.
Bake for 1 1/2 hours or until firm and dry to the touch. Let cool on sheet and then gently lift off the pan.
Sometimes I like to think of myself as a high-powered career woman. I’m officially addicted to coffee, I work (or go to school) 7 days a week, and I have a conference call to be on this morning. I’m constantly scolding my subordinate, Motu, for her lack of focus and reward-centered mentality.
Never mind the fact that I’m in my pajamas right now and the conference call is about a cupcake shop.
These cupcakes perfectly represent my life right now. Lots of butter, sugar and eggs, with some coffee on top to get you through it.
For the cupcakes:
1/3 cup walnut halves
11 Tbsp unsalted butter
2/3 cup sugar
3 egg whites
4 egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
For the frosting:
3 Tbsp milk or cream
1 Tbsp butter
3 tsp instant coffee granules
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups powder sugar
12 walnut halves for decoration
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 12 cup muffin tin with paper liners or grease each cup.
Finely chop 1/3 cup walnut halves.
Melt the butter and sugar over low heat until it simmers. Simmer for 2 minutes stirring constantly. Set aside to cool.
Add egg yolks to warm (but not hot) butter mixture and whisk to combine. Stir in the vanilla. Add walnuts and dry ingredients. Stir to make a thick batter.
Whip egg whites to medium-stiff peaks in the bowl of an electric mixer.
Add the egg whites in 3 additions. For the first addition, stir the egg whites into the batter to lighten it. Gently fold in the next two additions of egg whites.
Spoon batter into muffin cups and bake for 15-20 minutes until golden and a tester inserted comes out clean. Cool in pan for a few minutes and then cool cupcakes completely on a wire rack.
To make the frosting, sift the powdered sugar into a medium bowl. Heat the cream, butter and coffee granules until butter is melted in coffee is dissolved. Add the vanilla and pour mixture into the bowl with the powdered sugar. Stir until smooth. Add a dash of milk or powdered sugar to reach the consistency you like. Spread on top of cooled cupcakes and decorate with a walnut half.
I haven’t been able to come up with many words for you today. I think maybe I have too many things to tell you so they are clogging up my brain.
I will however tell you a little about these cookies. They are a nice subtle change from the ordinary lemon bar. They aren’t as tart, and the lemongrass gives them a nice floral flavor. I also thought the coconut in the crust was perfect. It added flavor and some nice chewy texture underneath the creamy filling.
If you decide to make these, and I think you should, make sure your lemongrass has the white bulbous end. Unfortunately some grocery stores trim this part off thinking it is the unusable part when actually that is the only part you can really chop up and eat.
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup sweetened, shredded coconut
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons, unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 cup sugar
3 lemongrass stalks, bottom 4 inches only, tough outer layer removed
5 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup all purpose flour
pinch of salt
powdered sugar, as needed
Preheat oven to 350° F. Butter a 13×9 inch baking pan.
Finely chop the trimmed lemongrass, it should measure about 1/2 cup.
In electric mixer with paddle attachment, combine flour, coconut, powdered sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt until well blended.
Add butter and beat on low speed until dough comes together in large clumps. Press dough into bottom of pan and 1/2 inch up the sides. Bake crust until golden and slightly dark on edges, about 25 minutes.
Meanwhile, put sugar and lemongrass in a food processor. Pulse until lemongrass is finely ground and sugar is moist. Add lemon juice and process until well blended. Add eggs and process to blend, 10-15 seconds. Add flour and a pinch of salt. Pulse until smooth.
When crust is removed from oven, reduce temperature to 325° F. Pour filling over hot crust and bake until filling is firm, 22-23 minutes. Cool completely in pan on wire rack.
Dust with powdered sugar and cut into desired bar sizes.
I have a crush on the weather man. His name is Doug, and he has great eyebrows. Yesterday, alone on my couch, I found myself smiling whenever his reports came on, and I even laughed out loud at one of his jokes.
We have so much in common. He used to report on the weather in Orlando and Jacksonville; I’m from Florida. He went to college at the University of Northern Colorado; I went to the University of Colorado-Boulder. He loves talking about the weather; I love talking about the weather!
Speaking of weather, we are slowly moving into spring here. There are sweet little flowers popping up all over the neighborhood and the Cherry Blossom Festival is in full swing this weekend.
It’s still cool enough that the spiciness from the ginger in these scones is warm and comforting.
Wait, I’m not sure if I’m selling you these scones by talking about the stupid weather. These scones are really awesome. They’re tender and melt in your mouth with the richness of the butter. The toasted pecans and three types of ginger add so much depth of flavor that it keeps changing on your tongue.
3 cups all purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
12 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into small cubes and placed in the freezer
1 1/3 cup pecans, toasted and then chopped
1/2 cup chopped, crystallized ginger
1 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 tsp finely grated fresh ginger
1 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 425° F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
Whisk flour, 2/3 cup of sugar, baking powder, ground ginger, salt, and baking soda in a large bowl.
Add butter and using fingers, blend butter into the flour mix until it is pea sized. Toss in pecans and 1/2 cup crystallized ginger.
Whisk 1 cup buttermilk, grated fresh ginger and vanilla in medium bowl. Form a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the buttermilk. Stir with s fork until moist clumps form (use hands if you need help bringing it together).
Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead once or twice until dough comes together. Divide in half.
Form each half into a 6-inch disk. Cut each disk into 6 wedges. Transfer wedges to the baking sheet. Brush with 1 1/2 Tbsp buttermilk, 1 Tbsp sugar, and 3 Tbsp crystallized ginger. Press the ginger lightly into the scones.
Bake until scones are golden brown and toothpick inserted comes out clean, about 20 minutes.
This week I joined a gym and am impressed with how often I have gone. I really love the group fitness classes and even woke up at 6:00 this morning to go to a spin class! As a reward and to balance out all those calories burned, I made Bacon Cheddar Crumble Muffins.
These are definitely the tastiest muffins I have made in a long time. I love making muffins because they are such an easy breakfast or snack to grab when I have a busy day. I was super excited when my friend sent me a cookbook in the mail called Muffins Galore. It’s filled with really great ideas, but I’m afraid I may have already made the best recipe from it.
Savory muffins are a nice change from the usual, sweet, cake-like ones, and these particular muffins are nice and hearty from the bacon and whole wheat flour. My favorite part of these muffins, however, is not the bacon. It is the savory crumble on top. You blend finely grated cheddar cheese, butter and flour into a crumbly mixture and sprinkle it on top before they are baked. I can think of so many different uses for it. It would add great flavor and texture to any other savory baked good, and I can’t wait to try it as a topping for macaroni and cheese.
4 oz bacon, cooked, drained, and crumbled
1 cup self-rising flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp dry mustard
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
4 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1/4 tsp freshly grated black pepper
1 1/4 cup milk
6 Tbsp butter, melted and cooled
2 Tbsp butter
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup finely grated cheddar cheese
Preheat oven to 400° F. Grease a 12 cup muffin pan or use paper liners.
For the crumble topping, rub butter into the flour in a small bowl until it is mealy but still has some large crumbs. Blend in cheddar cheese. Set aside.
Mix flours, sugar, baking powder, mustard and salt together in a large bowl. Stir in cheddar cheese, parsley, and bacon. Add black pepper.
In a separate bowl, mix together egg, milk and melted butter. Pour wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir gently with a rubber spatula, just until mixed.
Spoon batter (I like to use an ice-cream scoop) into muffin cups and sprinkle the crumble mixture over tops. Bake in oven for about 20 minutes or until lightly brown and well risen. Cool in pan for a couple minutes and then turn onto wire rack. Eat warm, or reheated in microwave for 10 seconds.
This afternoon did not go as planned. Motu, the dog, had an incident. She was overcome with “separation anxiety” while we were at work and tore up some stuff in our bedroom. She also found my stash of Christmas chocolate. A nice big bar of organic dark chocolate that I was really looking forward to eating.
To make a long story short, did you know that hydrogen peroxide induces vomiting in dogs?
In lighter news, things are going great right now. I started classes this week and already love my nutrition class. Tomorrow I have my first day of Introduction to Baking and Pastry and can’t wait to see what we make! Also, I got a promotion at work! Yay!
I made this simple cake twice in one week. The first time was when we were expecting a friend for dinner and my gluten-free beet cake completely failed and I needed to whip something up real quick. I made it again with some of my own little changes. I used greek yogurt and olive oil. Although I would not call this diet food, it definitely fits in with my lighter meals that I am aiming for this month.
1 cup flour
1/2 cup ground almonds
2 tsp baking powder
scant 1/4 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
zest of one lemon
1/2 cup greek yogurt (low-fat or non-fat is fine)
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup olive oil
2 Tbsp raspberry jam
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp sliced almonds
Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease one 8×4 inch loaf pan or two mini loaf pans.
Whisk together flour, almonds, baking powder and salt.
In separate bowl, whisk together sugar and lemon zest until moistened and fragrant.
Whisk in yogurt, eggs and vanilla. Whisk in olive oil.
Add dry ingredients and stir with a rubber spatula until combined.
Pour into greased pan(s) and bake for 50-60 minutes or until golden brown and a tester (thin knife or toothpick) comes out clean. Let cool for 5-10 minutes in pan on wire rack. Cut around edges and remove from pan. Let cool completely.
To make topping, put raspberry preserves and lemon juice in a small bowl. Microwave for 20 seconds and stir to combine. Brush on with a pastry brush or pour over the top. Sprinkle the sliced almonds on the raspberry glaze.
Happy 2011! John thinks this is a stupid year. He says 2010 was exciting because it was the start of a new decade, and 2012 is exciting because it is an election year, and 2011 is just lame. I think 2011 is awesome because 11 is my favorite number. And since 11 is such a great number and it is the start of a sparkling new year, I am going to make some lists. Like resolutions, but not.
5 things I need more of in my life this year:
Blogging! My goal is once a week.
Friends in DC. John and I always feel like it is creepy and weird to ask someone for their phone number.
Vegan and gluten-free baking. It is time to expand my baking skills into new territory.
Exercise and fruits and veggies. Cliché but true.
Adventures. I would love to explore this new area we are living in. There is the Chesapeake Bay, Blue Ridge Mountains, all sorts of stuff!
5 things I need less of:
Naps. Some of you may laugh or roll your eyes, but I found myself taking way too many naps last year instead of being productive. Instead of napping, I can blog, or exercise (see list 1).
Parking and traffic tickets. These are such an infuriating waste of money.
Meat. I feel so much better about my food choices when they contain less meat and I got out of that habit last year.
Excuses. No more!
Although these pinwheels are in violation of List #2 (they are meaty), they are so delicious and would have been perfect for a New Year’s Eve party if I had gotten them up in time.
I have to give a shout out to my best friend for these, because her mom made them when we were growing up. I was always excited to see a plate of them on her counter and they wouldn’t last long once I had shown up.
Roll the biscuit dough out to a 10×20 inch rectangle about 1/4 inch thick.
Thinly spread the sausage out onto the dough leaving a clean 1 inch border on the long side away from you. To do this, I grab a hunk of sausage and flatten it between my hands, then I lay it on the dough and push it around until it is thin and touching the other hunks of sausage.
Roll it up into a log and pinch the seam. I cut the log in half and put one half in the fridge while I worked with the other half.
Slice the log into 1/4 inch slices and place on an ungreased cookie sheet.