Friday, May 30, 2008

Another blog for you to read!

Ever scratched your head at cookbooks when they say things like "Cream the butter with the sugar" or ever wondered why bread rise? I have created a new blog for you to read that will hopefully answer these questions. The new blog is Help me Happy! An Explanation of Cooking. I will probably not post there as often as here, but if you have any specific questions, just ask them as a comment on Help me Happy!
I hope it will be useful to you!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Light and Crispy Waffles

More pics!

This recipe is from Catherine Martineau, who says she got it from Bon Appetit the magazine. It's a great recipe if you are looking for airy and crispy waffles; they are not floppy or soggy.
The recipe Originally called for Self-rising flour, but since I don't believe in Self-rising flour, I translated it into all-purpose. If you have self-rising flour just leave out the baking powder and salt.
I made the 15-17 waffles batter and it fed about 7 people.

Here is a handy chart:

# of Waffles (7" diameter)8-1215-1717-20
Flour2 cups3 cups4 cups
Baking powder3 tsp4 1/2 tsp6 tsp
salt1/2 tsp3/4 tsp1 tsp
milk1 1/2 cups2 1/4 cups3 cups
vanilla extract1 tsp1 1/2 tsp2 tsp
melted butter1/6 cup1/4 cup (2 tbsp)1/3 cup
oil1/6 cup1/41/3 cup

  1. Separate the eggs putting the yolks in a large bowl and the whites in a medium bowl.
  2. Add the milk and the vanilla extract to the yolks.
  3. In another medium bowl whisk the dry ingredients (the first three) together, then add them to the wet ingredients (the egg yolks, milk ...).
  4. Add the melted butter and oil to the batter and whisk until smooth.
  5. Beat the egg whites, and fold them into the batter. To fold into the batter use a whisk and, with a rotary motion, gently pile batter on top of the egg whites and pull the egg whites into the batter.
  6. Keep doing this until the batter is smooth.
  7. Heat the waffles irons and cook to desired doneness. (I like brown and crunchy)
I recommend you use real maple syrup on these waffles. The Aunt Jemima's stuff just doesn't taste good. Powdered sugar or jams also work fine. If you are a fan of maple syrup, heating it in the microwave before pouring it onto the waffle helps retain heat and makes the syrup less viscous.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Revision of the Baked Sandwich Recipe

While making the Baked Sandwich for the second time, I decided to skip the second rise to see the outcome. Well, the result is that my sandwich was easier to handle and stretch out to form the sandwich, and it ended up being twice as high as the original version!
The second rise is unnecessary and actually bad for this recipe, so I have changed the main post accordingly.

The higher rise may be because the first time I made this sandwich, I let the dough rise in a oven that was too hot, but the dough rose so much this time with only one hour to rise that the second rise would be redundant.

In this sandwich I added cheese, and in the photo you can see it leaked a little.

The Recipe is here.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Nectarine (Peach) Cobbler

More pics!

It's memorial day weekend, we go up to Tahoe for three days. I visualize myself hiking under the sun in shorts and a T-Shirts. No such luck: the heater is broken and is lightly snowing. The temperature outside is 1 degree Celcius.

Whatever happened to Global Warming???

Since when does it snow at Tahoe in late May???

So what do I do? Make Warm Nectarine Cobbler! Served after Catherine Martineau's (a fabulous cook) delicious Clam Chowder, this dessert really warmed our bellies.

Nectarine Cobbler (adapted from Cook's Illustrated "Fresh Peach Cobbler"

Cobblers are different from crumbles; crumbles are made by covering fruit with crumbs, while cobblers are fruit with biscuits baked on top. The biscuits in this recipe are very soft and tender. I used nectarines instead of peaches because I did not want to bother peeling the fruit. Also, since the area around Lake Tahoe is very dry, I added another 2-3 tablespoons of yogurt to the biscuit dough because they wouldn't come together.

So, here's the recipe:


2 1/2 lbs of ripe but not mushy nectarines (about 6-8 small ones)
1/4 cup (less) sugar
1 tsp cornstarch
1 tbsp lemon juice (I used orange juice)

1 cup flour
3 tbsp sugar
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
5 tbsp cold butter cut up into small cubes
1/3 cup plain whole milk yogurt (like Pavel's russian, more liquid than greek-style)

  1. Since you are using nectarines, you don't have to peel them! Just wash them and slice them into a 9" circular pan, or and 8x8" (glass is best, really) until the pan is full. You might not need to use all the fruit.
  2. Transfer them to a bowl and toss them with the sugar. Let them rest for 30 minutes.
  3. While the nectarines are macerating, pre-heat the oven to 425F.
  4. After half an hour, check if the fruit has spewed a lot of juice. If you think there is more than 1/4 cup, drain a little of it.
  5. Combine the lemon juice with the cornstarch and mix it with the nectarines.
  6. Put them back into the pan and bake for 10 minutes.
  7. While the nectarines are cooking, make the biscuits: Combine the flour, sugar, leaveners, salt.
  8. Add the butter and either pulse it with the flour in a food processor, cut it in with a nifty gadget like the one in the picture (a pastry cutter), or use your fingers. Whatever the method, it should look like breadcrumbs(ish) (Kinda like >this)
  9. Now add the yogurt and mix it until it forms a ball (blob).
  10. When the nectarines are out of the oven, divided the dough into six and scoop it over the fruit. Don't let the blobs touch each other.
  11. Bake for 16-18 minutes (20 in altitude)
So, we got this cool gadget, very useful for cutting butter into flour. Cutting butter into flour is used in pie crusts, biscuits, this recipe, and more.
It's extremely easy to use, just slice the cold butter into small cubes and press the pastry cutter in and out of the flour and butter until the butter is well incorporated.
Here is a good article.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Whole Wheat Flatbread Stuffed with Tomatoes, Basil and Turkey

A.K.A bread dough baked around tomatoes and ham. I call it a baked sandwich, but "Stuffed Flatbread" sounds so much fancier!
This recipe is very flexible; just follow the instructions for the bread dough, but fill it with anything you would put in a hot sandwich. I think onions, cheese, and bell peppers would be good, or pizza style with tomato sauce and mozzarella. Use your imagination! I calculated that a half cup of whole wheat flour would be enough for one sandwich, so I decided to make dough with 1 cup and form two sandwiches. I cooked one immediately after the second rise, but I froze the other one after the rise to be cooked the next day. I left it on the counter during the night before the day I wanted to eat, and baked it in the morning. The dough pooled a bit, but it tasted the same as the first one.

Bread dough (for 2 sandwiches):
  • 1 cup whole wheat
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2-3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp yeast (about half a packet)
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1/4 cup warm milk
  1. Combine the yeast, milk, and sugar; mix well.
  2. Combine flour and salt
  3. Add milk mixture and water to the flour; mush everything together with your hands and knead until the dough is smooth and holds together well, about five minutes. (The dough will be sticky at the beginning)
  4. Let the dough rise in a warm spot for an hour (I tried letting it rise in an oven I had heated to 200F and then turned off, but the dough developed a crust on top; I also tried this for the second rise, but the oven beneath was turned on and the bread had started cooking, the second time I made the recipe I turned the oven on to 150F and turned it off when the air inside felt mildly warm to my hand.)
  5. Form a ball with the dough and divide it into two.
  6. Flour a flat surface and stretch out the dough to form 6" squares.
  7. Place your filling of choice on one half of the dough and fold the other half on top.*
  8. Don't make it rise a second time! Just bake it!
  9. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes (depends how stuffed it is; just don't let it burn)
*After step four you can wrap the sandwich with parchment/wax paper and put it inside a plastic bag and freeze. Leave it to defrost on the counter during the night to bake it in the morning, but don't just place it in the oven because if you do, the frozen from the water will steam the bread instead of baking it.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Confit de Canard

More pics here

Never heard of it? It's French! It was invented as a way to preserve duck meat. It is similar to canned peaches if you replace the peaches with duck thighs and the syrup with duck fat. Are disgusted already? Well, don't be, it's delicious! My parents bring cans back from France sometimes, and my mother cooks it wonderfully.
The duck is lifted out of the fat and either roasted in the oven or in a pan on the stove. My mother usually uses the oven, but tonight she used the stove. We found the problem with the stove is that the duck sticks to the bottom of the skillet. Traditionally, the duck is accompanied with potatoes pan fried in part of the duck fat! This adds a deep flavor to otherwise bland potatoes. To cook the potatoes, first boil them for 10 minutes, slice them up, and then pan fry them.
Complemented by a simple salad, this dish is perfect for cold weather or just an evening of indulgence. Read more on Wikipedia! Be a wikinerd!

Monday, May 5, 2008

Chocolate Raspberry Scones

More pics on Flikr!

Sounds good eh? Well, they were ok. They tasted fine, a bit too sweet for breakfast though. If I ever make them again, I'll leave out the chocolate chips and add more raspberries. My main problem is that weren't scony. The crust was too hard and the inside that chewy. I don't know; I Wasn't crazy about them.
The recipe (from used yogurt, which is not a traditional part of scone physiology, and this might have caused the unsconeness. Another possible cause of the crust may have been that I made the dough Friday night and left the formed scones in the oven programmed to turn on in the morning. This system usually works, but a problem is that the scones are in the oven while it is preheating. This should not have formed a crust though because it did the opposite of crust-making. A hard exterior is usually produced by a too high temperature, but I used a lower temperature than the recipe asked for because I have a convection oven. So I'm confused, but whatever.
If you do not mind crusty scones, here is the good but not amazing recipe at

Note: I used frozen raspberries from a fine brand "Wyman's" They always work when I use them in recipes, but as the website says, they did break and bleed into the dough.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Poll Results! Fudgy or Cakey Brownies?

9 (75%)
3 (25%)
Don't like brownies!!
0 (0%)

Votes so far: 12

Fudgy wins! Why am I not surprised that 100% like brownies?
Personally I prefer fudgy, just like those two-bite brownies you can buy at the store. Soo tasty. They melt in your mouth, ladden with the flavor of brown-- I mean chocolate. Mmmm now I want brownies :(
Well, May fete Parade this Saturday! It's at 10am in Downtown PA. Come watch (or listen to) the Band! (yes I know, as Connie would say, "Shameless Advertising."