Sunday, January 27, 2013

Savory Sunday: Heart Shaped Toad In The Holes



"How many minutes until you flip them?"  I inquired.  "I don't know, I just go based on the feel of them.  You know, I have been making you eggs for the better part of a decade now, I just kind of know,"  he replied.  He was right.  We have been married for well over 6 years now during the few years we were dating, eggs were date night  food.  For a college kid, there really isn't a better cheap source of protein and my husband will eat eggs three times a day if you let him.  I can still remember the first eggs he ever made for me.  Just plain old scrambled eggs, whipped up in a cheap nonstick pan after class one day.  They were seriously the best scrambled eggs I had ever eaten.  I kept gushing about them, asking what the secret to these fabulous eggs was.  It's pepper, by the way.



Now I wait every Saturday morning for him to stumble into the kitchen and make me eggs.  I have tried, but honestly, mine don't hold a candle to his perfect, never rubbery eggs.  A couple years ago I discovered the fried egg which led to my passion for fried egg sandwiches.  A toad in the hole is like an easy to eat version of the fried egg sandwich.  Plus, the middles make a nice snack!


Heart Shaped Toad In The Hole

makes 4 toads
  • 4 pieces bread
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • salt and pepper to taste

Butter bread on both sides.  Take small heart shaped cookie cutter and cut out middle of bread.  Head up a nonstick skillet over medium heat and toast both sides of the "middles"  Eat while finishing the rest of breakfast.  Put slices of bread on skillet.  Crack eggs into each of the holes.  Cook until you see the whites of the egg start to become solid colored and firm.  Flip.  Cook for another few minutes or until egg  whites are totally firm.  I hate the gooeyness, so my husband always pricks the yolks of mine with a sharp knife and cooks them a few minutes longer to ensure complete cooking.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.


*special thanks to my wonderful husband for letting me interrupt his egg making by taking a bazillion photos so I could share this breakfast tastiness

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Homemade Paneer



For my birthday last year, a couple of my wonderful friends gave me an Indian cookbook and an enormous bag full of Indian spices.  I love Indian food, and where we live, it is sometimes hard to come by so this was an extremely sweet and generous gift.  Throughout the past year, my husband (mostly) and I have been dipping our toes into Indian cooking and have started getting some pretty good results.

Because our cupboard is now full of the key spices, the ingredients tended to be things we had in the pantry.  Except for the paneer.  If we wanted to have a paneer dish, my husband would have to make a special trip to the Indian grocery store and pick it up.  That is when my friend Kim mentioned that she often makes her own paneer (that girl is all kinds of talented).  Hmm....homemade paneer would mean Indian food whenever the whim struck.

Paneer is this delicious Indian cheese that tastes somewhat like really firm bland cottage cheese when eaten solo but to me, when added to an Indian dish is transformed into a major flavor and texture component of the food.

After a quick Google search, I have started using this paneer recipe with excellent results.  In a little over an hour, I have paneer that I can cook with that night with little effort or cost.

After boiling the milk, adding the lemon juice will create lovely curds
Next, you drain off the whey protein and you are left with cheese that closely resembles cottage cheese


Hang it up to drain over the sink

Put the cheese in the cheesecloth in a bowl.  Put another bowl on top and then something heavy, to press the water out of the cheese. (Dutch oven not strictly necessary, a can of soup will do :)


Monday, January 14, 2013

What Is White Whole Wheat Flour?


So, I had hoped to have a recipe that was interesting and healthy and awesome, but alas, I burned the granola and underbaked  the banana bread.  So no new recipe.  I will have to settle with telling you about white whole wheat flour. 

What is white whole wheat flour?  Good question.  I had never seen it before last week when I picked some up at Trader Joe's because I was out of whole wheat flour.

White whole wheat flour is whole wheat flour that is whole wheat flour made from spring white wheat rather than red wheat.  It does have a lower gluten and protein content than red wheat, but you can use it  like you would use regular whole wheat flour. 

Red whole wheat on the left, white whole wheat on the right

Monday, January 7, 2013

What Is Meringue Powder?

It came up over the Christmas season, from a good friend of mine, that not everyone might know what meringue powder is.  Considering it is a key ingredient in royal icing, it would probably be useful information to have.

Meringue powder is basically powdered egg whites.  Not powdered egg yolks, which are also available in stores, which I know because I bought some thinking that I bought powdered egg whites...yeah, definitely not the same thing.  Meringue powder is what makes the royal icing dry hard.  You can find it at most craft stores like Michaels and Hobby Lobby or of course on Amazon.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Whole Wheat Challah


Snowy cold weather and super short days are perfect reasons to jump headfirst back into baking bread on a regular basis.  When the weather is nice and the sun is up until 9 p.m. it is often hard for me to hang around home long enough to get some bread baked.  But now, at 5 p.m., when it is dark out and I can't face my enormous pile of laundry, I turn to the comfort of soft supple bread dough.

This challah is a 100 percent whole wheat bread, a rarity for me.  I prefer to spike just about everything with some whole wheat flour but am never quite brave enough to use all whole wheat flour.  The eggs, sugar, and oil tenderize this dough so that it is as soft and sweet as a white flour challah would be.  The only difference is when you cut it open, you are not faced with the  sunny yellow crumb most associate with challah.  But after one bite, you will fall in love with this new, somewhat healthier, version.  Don't be scared because there are three separate steps, they are easy steps that just take a little time but add a huge  boost of flavor.

Whole Wheat Challah adapted very slightly from Whole Grain Breads

Soaker

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour (I like King Aurthur Whole Wheat)
1/2 tablespoon salt (regular ole' table salt, not Kosher which is bigger)
3/4 cup water

Stir together ingredients.  Cover with plastic wrap and let it sit out for 12-24 hours

Biga

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 egg yolks plus 1 whole egg

Stir together ingredients, knead slightly to form a ball.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or overnight

Final Dough

Soaker
Biga
11 tablespoons whole wheat flour (may use a bit less or a bit more)
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
4 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons olive oil
egg wash and poppy seeds for the top if desired (you could also use sesame seeds or both)

Pull the soaker and biga out of the fridge and let them sit for an hour or two to warm up.  Cut up the biga and soaker into smaller pieces and place into large bowl (or bowl of your stand mixer).  Add other ingredients and stir to combine.  Knead dough for about 5 minutes, or until dough is smooth and elastic.  Cover and allow to raise for about and hour.

Turn dough out onto floured work surface.  Reknead dough for a minute or two.  Divide into 3 separate pieces.  Roll the pieces into long ropes (10-12 inches)  The dough may not stretch that long at first, that is ok.  Roll each piece as long as it will go and then move on to the next piece.  Come back to the first one and roll it further after it has has a few minutes to relax.  Braid dough.  With challah, you typically start from the middle and braid to the outside to avoid too much stretch.  Otherwise you have a one fat and and one skinny end.  I find it easiest to braid the dough directly on the pan you are going to use to bake it.  I use a large jellyroll pan with a sheet of parchment on top.  Cover and let raise another 45 minutes.

Beat 1 egg in a bowl until frothy.  Brush egg generously over dough.  Sprinkle poppy seeds over dough.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes and the rotate loaf 180 degrees.  Bake for another 20-30 minutes.

Allow to cool and enjoy!

Friday, January 4, 2013

New Year


Wow, I managed to miss the whole month of December!  It was a crazy crazy month, a million things happened, some great and some so sad.  I unexpectedly lost my amazing grandmother, a woman, who among many other things, always encouraged my baking and creating from the time I was a peanut.  She will be sorely missed.

Now it's 2013.  A new year.  Like most people, at the new year I always get the itch to revamp some things in my life.  I also like to take this time of year to learn new things and have new experiences.  I received an ice cream maker for Christmas and have been diving headfirst into making ice cream (yes, even in December) so expect some creamy deliciousness to come your way when it starts to get warm.

I hope to explore many other facets of baking and maybe a bit more cooking too.  This will be the year I tackle puff pastry and officially master pie crust!  Hope to see you along the way.

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