Saturday, March 31, 2007

Tribute-to-Katharine-Hepburn Brownies

Yet another recipe from "Baking: From My Home to Your's." These brownies had a great consistency--they were gooey and soft, and had a nice papery crust . The recipe only calls for 1/4 cup of flour, making a thin and very chocolaty brownie. The coffee and cinnamon flavors really came through. They are lovely if you want something a bit different than the traditional brownie. Wonderful with coffee ice cream!


Pizza Dough

I tried a new pizza dough recipe today from the new blog A Year in Bread, posted as Kevin's Pizza Dough. With 3 rises, the entire process took about 4 hours--not too bad for a lazy Saturday afternoon. The dough was very smooth and easy to work with. The result was a bready dough with a nice texture and yeast flavor. I tend to prefer thinner, crisper crusts but this was a nice change. The crust is sturdy and able to support more toppings. I think it would be great for a "supreme" pizza. Next time, I will add a touch more honey and just a tiny bit more salt. Overall, a very nice and easy dough to work with, but definately has a pronounced yeasty flavor.


Thursday, March 29, 2007


My wonderful friend Laila is an excellent cook and this sambar came from her kitchen. The spicy, lentil and vegetable soup has fresh curry leaves and is one of my favorites with idli. We had an afternoon of Indian cooking in which she showed me how to make chhole masala (chickpeas), a fresh bean curry, spicy cauliflower, and my favorite--Beigan Bharta. Yum!! I love eggplant! She also fed me Chicken Kesari Kurma with homemade coconut chutney for lunch. I am so fortunate to have such a friend! Contiune for recipe.

Laila Pallai

1 cup dry yellow lentils (yellow split peas)
1/4 t tumeric
1/2 t cumin seed
1/4 t black mustard seed
1 dried red chili
5-6 fresh curry leaves
1/2 small onion, diced very finely or pulsed into paste with processor
veggies of choice: zucchini, yellow squash are perfect -- cut into large chunks
2 t sambar powder (2-3 or to taste)
2 roma tomatos, diced
1/2 teaspoon sugar
cilantro (optional)

Cook lentils in saucepan or pressure cooker with a salt and the tumeric until done.
Heat a bit of oil in saucepan over medium high heat. Add cumin, mustard, and chili. Stir.
Add curry leaves and onion. Cook until onion is browned and soft.
Add veggies and cooked lentils. Add about 1 cup of the lentils and smash with the back of your spoon.
Add sambar powder.
Add tomatoes and water to get the consistency that you want.
Add sugar.
Let boil about 15 min. or until veggies are finished.
Top with cilantro, if wanted, and season with salt to taste.


No-Knead Bread

After reading so much about this bread, I just had to give it a try. And so easy! A minimal effort really yielded a nice, airy loaf with a chewy crust. I was impressed. Very nice loaf. Huge holes--great texture. This recipe was posted in the NY Times Dining & Wine Section, November 8, 2006.

I used 3 generous cups of bread flour and 1 1/2 cups of water instead of the 1 5/8 cups listed. After mixing flour, yeast, salt, and water (cool, filtered directly from fridge), I covered with plastic and let ferment for 16 hours and proof 2 1/2 hours. The dough was very sticky--it stuck to the floured towel. I thought it might turn into a disaster but I was able to turn it out onto the baking stone. Following advice from other blogs, next time I will turn dough onto a floured silpat mat, cutting board, or parchment instead of the towel and cover with plastic wrap. I also might try baking in covered dish.

Instead of a Dutch oven, I baked the bread directly on a preheated baking stone and it turned out fine. I misted water into the oven 5-6 times during the first 15 min. of baking, generating steam important for a crisp crust. Total, it baked about 30 min. What a wonderful, artisanal bread--and no kneading!! With a slathering of butter, this loaf did not last long! Continue for recipe

No-Knead Bread

Yields one 1 1/2 pound loaf

3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting (3 large cups of bread flour)
¼ teaspoon instant yeast
1¼ teaspoons salt
Cornmeal or wheat bran as needed.

1. In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 5/8 cups water (I used 1 1/2), and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.

2. Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.

3. Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.

4. At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats (I just used a stone and misted the oven at the beginning of baking). When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over into pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess, but that is O.K. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.


Caramel-Peanut-Topped Brownie Cake

I immediately thought of Dad when I saw this yummy cake. Anything that involves peanuts and chocolate should be a winner! I surprised him at work with a picnic lunch followed by cake and ice cream fpr his birthday.

This is another great recipe from Dorie Greenspan's "Baking: From My Home to Your's." Instead of a springform pan, I used a regular 8" cake pan. After removing and cooling the cake, I wrapped a double layer of aluminum foil around the edges of the cake to catch the carmel topping. This worked well but next time I will wait to pour the carmel sauce on until it is a bit cooled and thickened. I probably didn't carmelize the syrup quite enough. Really let it darken to a nice amber color before lowering the heat and adding the nuts.

This cake is like a brownie in that it begs for soft, vanilla ice cream to top it off. Coconut ice cream would be heavenly. The carmelized nuts give it a candy bar-like topping. Coconut would probably be great, although even richer, added to the topping. Delicious!!