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Archive for April, 2010

I thought that I would share these pictures of the pizzas that we made in my cooking class on Monday. Each group made a different kind of pizza and I thought that they all looked beautiful! Our Professor/Chef taught us a great trick. Generously sprinkle cornmeal on the bottom of your baking sheet to prevent the pizza from sticking. It also makes cutting into the pizza and serving it up so much easier! Usually I use olive oil, but this worked a lot better and also was a much easier clean-up! Definitely try this trick next time you make homemade pizza… 

 

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Greek yogurt has been making a lot of headlines lately. While I have always been a yogurt lover, I have stuck to my Yoplait and Dannon Light & Fit brands, since they are low-calorie, tasty, and affordable. I kept hearing about Greek yogurt, but I was so set in my ways that I just kind of ignored it. I mean, I really loved my Yoplaits and Dannons, so why try something else?The other day I was at the grocery store and there it was… Chobani Greek Yogurt, with fruit on the bottom. 4 for $5. I thought, well, it’s on sale, I’ll just try it and see if I like it. Since I’m studying Human Nutition & Dietetics right now, I figured I should probably stay up to date and knowledgeable about the latest trends in my field. So, I got a few flavors… strawberry, blueberry, raspberry, peach, pomegranate, vanilla, honey, ok, well maybe all of them… what can I say, I was really curious! Also, I love fruit on the bottom yogurts, so that was a major seller for me. I brought them home, really excited to see what the all the fuss was about with this Greek yogurt, and as soon as I took my first spoonful, I knew. Rich, thick, and creamy, it is unlike any other yogurt I have had. It is slightly but not overly sweet and the small chunks of fruit are a yummy addition.

So what makes Greek yogurt so special? Well, first, it is strained, which means that most of the water is removed from it. Many brands are fat free, with twice the protein of regular yogurt. They also are full of calcium and contain live and active probiotic cultures and are gluten free. Some people find it to be a bit sour, however I didn’t think this was the case with my Chobanis. I also noticed that on average, the Greek yogurt brands have a bit more calories than the yogurts that I normally eat, but they keep me full and satisfied longer, which is better for me! 🙂 They are a little more expensive, but definitely worth the price. They are a great choice for breakfast with cereal or granola added in (Kashi Go Lean Crunch is what I love to have with it), a snack, or for dessert.

Now I tried the Chobani brand, but there are SO many other brands of Greek yogurt that I would like to taste-test. Other popular sellers are Fage, Oikos, Voskos, The Greek Gods, and even Yoplait has their own Greek yogurt too. I’m sure that there are even more brands out there that I’m not aware of. 

So, if you haven’t tried Greek yogurt, I would definitely recommend it… it’s always fun to try something new. And if you have any brands or flavors to recommend, please let me know! 🙂

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Need to make rolls for a dinner party? I would definitely recommend making these ones that we made in my cooking class last night. Bread is always a bit time consuming, but once you take a bite of what you have made, it is always worth it! And in my opinion, there is nothing like homemade dinner rolls! If you want to jazz up the rolls a little, you can sprinkle either garlic powder or cinnamon and sugar on top. Or, just sprinkle on whatever your favorite spice or seasoning is!

Yield: 64 Rolls, approximately 1¼ oz.

Method: Straight dough

Mise en Place:

  • Adjust water temperature.
  • Soften butter.
  • Prepare the egg wash.
  • Line sheet-pans with parchment while the dough ferments.

Ingredients:

  • 20 fl. oz. Warm water
  • 2 oz. Active dry yeast
  • 2 lb. 12 oz. Bread flour
  • 1 oz. Salt
  • 4 oz. Granulated sugar
  • 2 oz. Nonfat dry milk powder
  • 2 oz. Shortening
  • 2 oz. Unsalted butter
  • 2 Eggs
  • Egg wash, as needed

Directions:

  1. Combine the water and yeast in a small bowl. Combine the remaining ingredients (except the egg wash) in the bowl of an electric mixer.
  2. Add the water-and-yeast mixture to the remaining ingredients; stir to combine.
  3. Knead with a dough hook on medium speed for 10 minutes.
  4. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl, cover, and place in a warm spot. Ferment until doubled, approximately 1 hour.
  5. Punch down the dough. Let it rest a few minutes to allow the gluten to relax.
  6. Divide the dough into 1¼ oz. portions and round. Shape as desired and arrange on paper-lined sheet pans. Proof until doubled in size.
  7. Carefully brush the proofed rolls with egg wash. Bake at 400 F until medium brown, approximately 12-15 minutes.  

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We made this challah bread in my cooking class last night and it was DELICIOUS! Fresh out of the oven, you don’t even need anything on it, it is so yummy on its own. Challah is a special braided bread of Jewish tradition that is known for having a large number of eggs, flour, sugar, and water. Challah is popularly eaten on the Sabbath and special holidays. In my opinion though, challah can be eaten year round, since it makes delicious french toast and can also be enjoyed with butter or jam. 

Yields: 3-12 oz Loaves 

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz Water
  • ½ oz Instant or dry active yeast
  • 1 lb 4 oz Bread flour
  • 4 oz Egg yolks
  • 1 ½ oz Sugar
  • 1 tsp Malt syrup
  • 2 tsp Salt
  • 2 oz Vegetable oil

Directions:

Straight mixing method

  1. Weigh/measure all ingredients
  2. If using dry active yeast, activate in 90 ° water
  3. Place dry ingredients in mixing bowl
  4. Add remaining ingredients
  5. Using a dough hook, begin mixing on low speed
  6. When dough has been formed, increase speed to medium
  7. Continue to mix until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl, approximately 9 minutes to develop the gluten
  8. Bulk ferment or proof until double in size, approximately 1 hour
  9. Punch the dough to allow gasses to escape
  10. Portion the dough into 3 – 12 ounces pieces
  11. Divide each piece into the number of braids desired and allow to bench rest covered until gluten is relaxed
  12. Braid and shape and place on sheet pan with parchment pan and allow to proof until double in size
  13. Egg wash and bake in a 325 ° – 350 ° oven until evenly well browned
  14. Cool

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Unsalted whole butter is approximately 80% fat, 16% water, and 4% milk solids.  Although whole butter can be used for cooking or sauce making, sometimes a more stable and consistent product will be achieved by using butter that has had the water and milk solids removed by a process called clarification.

Procedure for clarifying butter:

  • Slowly warm the butter in a saucepan over low heat without boiling or agitation. As the butter melts, the milk solids rise to the top as a foam and the water sinks to the bottom.
  • When the butter is completely melted, skim the milk solids from the top.
  • When all the milk solids have been removed, ladle the butterfat into a clean saucepan, being careful to leave the water in the bottom of the pan.
  • The clarified butter is now ready to use. One pound (454 grams) of whole butter will yield approximately 12 ounces (340 grams) of clarified butter – a yield of 75%.
  • Clarified butter will keep for extended periods in either the freezer or refrigerator.

Now if you see a recipe for clarified butter, you will know what it is and how you can make it and store it in your refrigerator or freezer for later use!


Pre-clarified butter

 

The finished product!

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Yesterday wasn’t exactly my day.  I woke up on the wrong side of the bed and my mood carried with me throughout the rest of the day, leaving me, at 4:45 p.m., browsing cooking blogs for some inspiration.  I came across a gold mine of scrumptious looking recipes on a blog called Almost Bourdain, and just as I copied, pasted, and emailed the last recipe to myself, my day changed in an instant.

I finished up a few things and headed home, in total awe as to how one chance encounter can lead to new opportunities, how one simple comment can lead to the discovery of unexpected connections…at how completely and utterly small the world is.  Almost on auto pilot I ended up at the grocery store, in the baking aisle.  All I could think about was the orange cake I had come across earlier, and before I knew it I was at home softening butter and practicing my math skills converting the ingredients.

Baking has always been my outlet and tonight was no exception.  Tired but with work to do, I chose instead to bake my cake and let the weirdness of the day fall away.  The result was a much improved mood; oh and a beautiful, moist, citrusy, buttery to-die-for cake that I was tempted to eat in its entirety.

Perfect for an end of the day pick-me-up, brunch, high tea or dessert, this one is a must try for sure.  Here is the recipe, adapted (yet again!) from the one posted here on Almost Bourdain.

Sicilian Orange Cake Recipe
(Adapted from Rick Stein’s Mediterranean Escape)
Makes 9 1/2 inch cake, to serve about 8

Ingredients

1/2 lb (2 sticks) lightly salted butter, at room temperature, plus extra for greasing
1 cup caster sugar (superfine baking sugar – you can find it in the baking aisle with the rest of the sugars)
4 medium eggs (I used large and it turned out just fine)
1 1/2 tsp finely grated orange zest (I love orange zest, so I used a packed tablespoon instead)
1 cup self raising flour
1/3 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
For the icing:
1 cup icing sugar (I used powdered sugar)
5 tsp freshly squeezed orange juice
Method
  1. Preheat the oven to 345 degrees. Grease and line a 9 1/2 inch clip-sided round cake with non-stick baking paper.

    Because I was having trouble getting the parchment paper to stay, I buttered the entire pan slightly, helping it to stick. Now that I think about it, a simple clip until the batter was poured would have worked also...In my defense, I do think the butter was smart, as you want to take the entire thing out of the pan after it's cooled without it sticking. Food for thought!

  2. Using an electric whisk, cream the butter and sugar together for 4-5 minutes until very pale and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, beating very well between each one, if necessary adding a spoonful of flour with the last egg to prevent the mixture from curdling. Beat in the orange zest. Add the flour all at once and mix in well, then slowly mix in the orange juice.
  3. Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 40-50 minutes (I left it in for 40 and it was perfect, but 45 would have made it hold up a bit better I think) or until a skewer, inserted into the center of the cake, comes out clean. If it starts to brown too quickly, cover loosely with a sheet of lightly buttered foil. (*Note: After leaving it in for 30 minutes I found that it was browning rather quickly.  I simply used a napkin to smear a thin layer of butter on a piece of foil slightly bigger than the pan and loosely laid it across the top of the pan while it baked.  I recommend checking it at about 30 minutes and make your own judgment as to whether or not your cake needs it.
  4. Leave the cake, in its tin, to cool on a wire rack, then carefully remove the sides and base of the tin and peel off the paper. Put it onto a serving plate.
  5. For the icing, sift the icing sugar into a bowl and stir in the orange juice until you have a spreadable consistency. Spread it over the top of the cake, letting it drip down the sides, and leave to set. Serve cut into slices, and store any leftovers in an airtight container.

Tip: Why not turn this Sicilian Orange Cake into these cute little Orange Cupcakes?!

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I came across these Food Rules by Michael Pollan, author of several books on healthy eating (An Omnivore’s Dilemma, and most recently Food Rules to name a few), and thought they were worth sharing.  Honest and succinct, we should all incorporate these into our daily lives (says the girl who just ate a glazed donut at my office meeting…).

Michael Pollan’s FOOD RULES

• Eat when you’re hungry, not when you’re bored.

• Eat all the junk food you want, as long as you cook it yourself.

• Eat your colors.

• Treat meat as a flavoring or special occasion food.

• Avoid food products containing ingredients that a 3rd grader can’t pronounce.

• Eat mostly plants. Especially leaves.

• Shop the peripheries of the supermarket and stay out of the middle.

• Spend as much time enjoying the meal as it took to prepare it.

• Avoid food products that make health claims.

• Buy smaller plates and glasses.

• Do all your eating at the table.

• Treat treats as treats.

• Buy your snacks at the farmers market.

• Don’t eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.

• Eat meals.

• Eat food (as opposed to eating edible, food-like substances).

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