Posts tagged ‘baking’

Snow Day Fun: Homemade Bagels

My original plans for the weekend before last were to drive to NJ to see a certain little someone turn a year old. Mother nature had different plans though!
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Guess 24.9 inches of snow in 24 hours is pretty impressive… but still doesn’t help my restlessness from being snowed in! I decided to use my housebound time fruitfully: I finished my FASFA, did some paperwork for school, cleaned, and cooked… a lot. And I proved to myself that there is still a chemist left in me! I successfully made homemade bagels on my first attempt! I dutifully followed the recipe as closely as possible, but had to do a lot of converting since I don’t have a functional kitchen scale. (Anyone know where to buy weird batteries?) I found this really helpful chart that made the recipe possible. I was a little worried when the dough was really dry and tough initially, but the final result was impressive! A good-sized, fluffy bagel with a crunch to the outside and a soft fluffy interior! If I can bake bagels, I am convinced that anyone can! I had fun with the toppings – sesame seeds on 6, and chia seeds on the other 4. I can’t choose a favorite, both are so good! Nothing better after a morning of shoveling than a hot, fresh bagel sandwich waiting for you.
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If you have a kitchen scale, follow the original amounts. It will most likely have even better results, and more evenly sized bagels. If you don’t, I included my conversions below to save you some work!

Question: How did you spend your snowed-in time?

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Honey Wheat Bagels

original recipe from here, makes 10 bagels

2 1/4 cups whole wheat flour

3 cups + 1 tbsp bread flour

1 3/4 cups water (80F)

2 tbsp + 1 tsp granulated sugar

4 1/2 tsp honey

1 1/2 tsp salt

2 tsp instant dry yeast

Please see original recipe for instructions. A few notes: the recipe is a little too big for most food processors. You can mix and knead by hand! I also had to add a few drops of water to get all of the dough to combine.

February 18, 2013 at 7:00 am 4 comments

It’s Fall Y’all: Oats

To me, oats scream fall. There is nothing better on a chilly, fall morning than a big bowl of hot oatmeal. Oats are also essential to great apple crisps and crumbles, or fresh oatmeal cookies. I love oats so much that I have earned the reputation amongst my friends as “Oatmeal Queen.” I will gladly wear that title. If oatmeal isn’t your thing, than maybe granola is. My goal has been to perfect the granola making process, and I think I am finally getting there! I like making granola better than buying it because you have so much more control over the amount of sugar that goes into your cereal. These two recipes really fit the bill!

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Almond Butter Granola is a great option for a fast, no-fuss weekday granola. It takes seconds to prep, minutes to bake, and is so delicious! It is not overly sweet and is a great addition to trail mix or over yogurt!

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Like I said last week, this Coconut Ginger Granola is possibly my new favorite treat! I used Smart Balance butter instead of coconut oil, omitted the Brazil nuts, and added a bit of ginger syrup, otherwise following the recipe pretty closely! This recipe makes me never want to buy granola from a store again.

In case those aren’t enough ideas, here are some links to my favorite oatmeal recipes…

Oatmeal

30 Days of Oatmeal

Caramelized Banana Baked Oatmeal

Oatmeal Greek Yogurt Pancakes

Cinnamon Oat Lace Cookies

…and some more that I have yet to try!

No-Sugar Oat Drops

Oatmeal Sandwich Bread

Question: Are you an oatmeal fan?

October 28, 2012 at 7:00 am 6 comments

It’s Fall Y’all: Ginger

Ginger might not be the first thing that jumps to mind when you think of fall, but in reality is one of the unsung heroes of this culinary season. That might sound a bit extreme, but bear with me. What makes the pumpkin in pie sing? Ginger. A really great apple or pear crisp? Ginger. Breads, cookies, pies, and fruit crisps all rely on cozy spices to make them truly come to life. Ginger happens to be one of my favorite flavors, but can be a bit aggressive and divisive. If you love strong ginger flavors, then this post is for you.

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First attempt at homemade candied ginger

It all started out with the goal of making homemade candied ginger. I love the store-bought version, but it is expensive and very sugary. I set out to make my own and, thanks to Pinterest, found this great recipe and tutorial. The cashier at my grocery store looked at me funny when I walked away with a rather large ginger knob tree, but I was determined to accomplish my goal! The result – decent. Honestly, not as great as the store-bought version, but also could be cook’s error. My syrup over-boiled, dried out, and likely didn’t cook for quite long enough. The candied ginger is tasty, but not a solely edible treat like its store-bought counterpart. The resulting ginger syrup, however, is delectable. I cannot get enough!

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The resultant ginger syrup

Here are some ideas of what I have been doing with my ginger creations!

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Homemade Ginger Ale: Mix a few spoonfuls of the syrup with seltzer water for a tasty homemade soda!

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Adult Ginger Ale: Add a shot of whiskey to the above for an adult version. (Or a shot of rum and a squeeze of lime, with a little heavier hand on the ginger syrup, for my favorite– the Dark and Stormy!)

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Honey Ginger Butter: Mix 1/4 cup of ginger syrup, 1 tbsp honey, and 1 stick softened butter. Whip with an immersion blender, and then refrigerate in a small container until solid. Goes great with pancakes, waffles or this amazing Honey Whole Wheat Pumpkin Bread!

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Coconut Ginger Granola: Maybe the best granola I have ever made… seriously. I made a few changes, like using butter instead of coconut oil and adding a dash of ginger syrup and it is DELICIOUS! You should definitely try this.

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Stuffed Delicata Squash: In danger of recipe overload, I am going to tease you with these pictures and post the recipe later in the week! Definitely stop back– you don’t want to miss this one!

In case that isn’t enough for you, here are some ginger recipes I tried out last year…

Gingersnap Oatmeal

Gingerbread Oatmeal

Pumpkin Gingerbread Trifle

Gingerbread Cookies

…and some I have my eye on!

Ginger Sangria

Gingersnap Martini

Ginger Cookies

Question: Are you a ginger fan?

October 21, 2012 at 4:00 pm 6 comments

It’s Fall Y’all: Apple

Recently gone apple picking and have a sudden abundance of apples and no idea what to do with them? Or did the bargain bags at the grocery store simply look too good to pass up, but now you can’t stomach one more apple with your lunch? Yeah… me too! The hallmark of fall in New England to me is the apple craze that covers the region. Such an abundance of great, local fruit is too good to pass up! Even friends who never bake suddenly come running for ideas of what to do with their bounty. I haven’t had the chance to go apple picking this year, and am probably a bit late in the season. I gave up on the idea when a friend posted this on Instagram at the beginning of the week!

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“Apple Death Valley”

I have started getting more great local apples in my Boston Organics box, though! My most recent apple obsession is homemade apple chips. I have loved the store-bought variety for years, but they are so expensive and laden with hidden sugars if you aren’t careful. When I saw this idea, I could hardly wait for apple season! It is simple: take a mandoline to thinly slice your apples, coat them in cinnamon, and then bake them at 225F for 2-2 1/2 hours. The result is a naturally sweet, crispy fall snack that livens up your standard after lunch snack!

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Trail mix with homemade apple chips, pumpkin pie roasted almonds and almond butter granola!

In case that isn’t enough for you, here are some apple recipes I tried out last year…

Apple Pie Oatmeal

Cran-Apple Oats

Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal

Butternut Squash and Apple Soup

Sugar-Free Apple Crisp

…and some recipes I have my eye on!

Apple Braid

Apple and Cinnamon Cake

Question: What is your favorite apple recipe?

October 13, 2012 at 4:00 pm 5 comments

It’s Fall Y’all: Pumpkin

Fall is definitely my favorite season. This was confirmed so many times this week: making fall snacks rich with cinnamon, taking a walk through Beacon Hill in the crisp chill of autumn with smells of fireplaces and fall leaves in the air, seeing all of the rich reds and oranges and yellows that fill the trees on my way to work. I love this season! This past weekend, I spent a lot of time in the kitchen making some fall treats to last me for the upcoming weeks. So look forward to some fall themed posts coming your way! Unfortunately, finding time to write about what I have been creating has been my limiting step as of late…

First up: pumpkin! It is all over the blog world right now – pumpkin in every baked good, breakfast treat, soup, and stew… wherever you can think to look, you can find pumpkin! I decided to be adventurous this year and roast my own pumpkin…from scratch! I did this once before I was blogging, and thought it was a fun process… boy, did I forget how much extra work it is! The beauty of thick-skinned pumpkins and squashes is that you can buy them, keep them as a centerpiece for a few weeks, and then roast them when you have time! Small, sugar pumpkins make the best for roasting, but the seeds of carving pumpkins are delicious too!

To roast a pumpkin, slice the top off, scoop out the seeds and strings, and then season with a bit of butter, salt and pepper. Roast it until it is soft at 350F – about an hour and a half. Then, peel the skin off and use the flesh for soups, stews, or puree to make your own un-canned pumpkin! The interesting thing about pumpkin is that the flavor is very mild. Most people associate pumpkin flavor with pumpkin pie, but the pie is made by the cinnamon, nutmeg and sugar. Take that away and pumpkin itself is pretty mild. That also makes it very versatile if you have an open mind about what it should taste like!

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For a great pumpkin soup, try this spiced up version: Coconut Pumpkin Soup. This was my first pumpkin soup adventure and I would make it again! I am not quite sure what the equivalent of canned pumpkin would be since I used the whole pumpkin method. It has a great Thai flavor profile, thanks to the coconut milk (I used the lighter, boxed kind, 4 cups, in place of cans), coriander, and ginger. You can adjust the spice level by using less chilis. Use vegan margarine or oil instead of butter and it is vegan as well! Also, if you aren’t a soy sauce fan, I’d suggest adding a pinch or two of salt to the soup while cooking! This is a great alternative for a fall soup with great homestyle bread, or as an appetizer.

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While you have the oven going, why not roast the seeds? Rinse them and shake them in some olive oil, salt and paprika. Spread them out on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and roast them at 350F for 20 minutes, stirring them once. This is easier than most people thing, and make for a great fall snack!

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Another great fall snack is pumpkin pie roasted almonds. I made them this weekend and seriously cannot stop eating them. If you are an almond fan, this is a healthier (and cheaper) way to have a sweet and salty snack than most of the pre-packaged varieties!

In case that isn’t enough for you, here are some pumpkin recipes I tried out last year…

Vegan Pumpkin Muffins

Pumpkin Gingerbread Trifle

Pumpkin Brownie Pie

Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal

Pumpkin Almond Oatmeal

…and some recipes I have my eye on!

Pumpkin Gnocchi

Pumpkin Garlic Knots

Pumpkin Scones

Question: What is your favorite pumpkin recipe?

October 8, 2012 at 7:50 pm 1 comment

A Lonely Can of Pumpkin

Along with the rest of the blog world, I was on a huge pumpkin kick in the early fall. I was loving pumpkin oatmeal and pumpkin pancakes, and stocked up on canned pumpkin whenever my grocery store had it on sale. As I was searching for an idea for a vegan muffin to bring to my Bible study last week, I stumbled upon the last lonely can of pumpkin in my cabinet. I decided on making pumpkin muffins, knowing that pumpkin and banana based quick breads are the easiest to make vegan! After a quick Google search and a lot of recipe comparisons, I decided to try out a recipe from Post Punk Vegan Kitchen. After being the self-proclaimed best, it was a no brainer! I made some adaptations from the original recipe: using some whole wheat flour, less sugar, subbing some of the oil with applesauce. The result – a really flavorful, dense vegan muffin! I was really happy with how these turned out, so give them a try! The recipe is pretty fool-proof.

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The only problem: it doesn’t use up a full can of pumpkin! Maybe there is a pumpkin quinoa breakfast bake in my future…

Question: Where do you find most of your new recipes?

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Vegan Pumpkin Muffins

adapted from Post Punk Kitchen, makes 16 muffins

3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

3/4 cups sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground or freshly grated nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

1 cup pureed pumpkin

1/2 cup soy milk

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/4 cup apple sauce

2 tablespoons molasses

In two bowls, mix wet and dry ingredients together; then combine. Spray muffin tins with cooking spray. Fill cups 2/3 full. Bake muffins at 400 degrees for 18 minutes. Allow to cool slightly in pan, then use a knife to loosen the edges. Remove from pan to cool completely.

January 29, 2012 at 5:22 pm 8 comments

An Analysis of Failed Cookies

It is no secret that I am a poor baker. I am ashamed, since baking is essentially chemistry, and I was a biochemistry major. I should be able to make a basic batch of chocolate chip cookies, right?! Wrong. This time, I can’t even blame it on healthy substitutions. I used the recipe from the back of the chocolate chips bag, and followed it to a T. The point of this baking experiment was to satisfy a pregnant friend’s craving, not to perfect my own version of the classic cookie. So what went wrong?

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It is still up for debate, but I have my suspicions. My friend was in charge of dry ingredients, and I made the butter and sugar mixture. She swears that she added enough flour, our first theory as to why these cookies would not stay together. Accepting Avoiding the fact that I could have been the problem, I am blaming the butter as our culprit. Our cookie baking was impromptu, and the recipe called for softened butter. Nothing a microwave can’t fix… until the butter melts. Knowing better, I incorporated the melted butter into the sugar anyway. The dough looked fine, so we scooped it out onto baking sheets. We anxiously awaited our cookies, only to pull out a cookie lava mess! Don’t worry – even ugly cookies still taste good. ;) (And at least our pumpkin chocolate chip cookies were a huge success!)

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Learn from my cookie fail and don’t let melted butter ruin your Christmas cookie baking! The temperature of butter is really important in baking. Cold butter is really important for flaky crusts, room temperature butter for chocolate chippers, but melted butter is rarely a good thing unless called for. Hopefully I can redeem myself with some upcoming Christmas cookie favorites!

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Question: What is your worst baking mistake story?

December 12, 2011 at 7:41 am 10 comments

Pumpkin Baking

I have recently done the opposite of what most of the healthy food blogging world attempts to do. Bake with pumpkin, twice? No, that’s still pretty much everywhere. I un-veganized a recipe, twice. Why, you might ask? (after wondering if that is a real word…) I made plans to bake with friends, and both times ended up traveling to their apartments. Since most of my friends do not regularly stock almond milk, flax/chia seeds, Earth Balance, and specialty flours, I had to change the recipes up a bit to make them more user-friendly. The results: fantastic. They are definitely indulgences, but the best part of baking with friends is that there are many people around to enjoy the results!

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The hardest part about this recipe: you have to let it chill for a few hours to let the pie set! So hard not to eat right out of the oven...

Baking date #1: Oh She Glow’s Pumpkin Brownie Pie. I saw this weeks ago and immediately called my friend to tell him about it. Pumpkin pie and brownie together? What’s not to love. Unfortunately, one of his roommates is allergic to pecans. In order for everyone to be able to enjoy the pie, we used slivered almonds in place of the pecans. You can find the original recipe here. The changes we made, besides the nut substitiution, were to use butter in place of coconut oil in the brownie, as well as to use regular milk and butter wherever vegan alternatives were called for in the recipe. The result was truly decadent. A splurge whether you keep the recipe vegan or not, but so worth every bite.

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I swear there is a pumpkin pie layer in there somewhere!

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Artful icing drizzles

Baking date #2: Eat Live Run’s Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls. M and I are in another discussion class together this semester, so of course we had to bake something delicious for our classmates! Remember those sinful brownies we made last time? Deciding against the chocolate coma this time, we experimented with these fall treats. We again used regular milk and butter, used a real egg instead of a flax one, and omitted a few of the spices that M didn’t have on hand. We also added a few big spoonfuls of pumpkin to the cinnamon sugar filling. The result: decadent, fall-spiced cinnamon rolls. Even with the un-veganizing, these are still on the healthier side of baked goods (not counting that amazing icing of course!) Our classmates enjoyed the treat during a long Wednesday afternoon discussion!

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Convinced of your need to hit the kitchen and bake these yet?

Switching between baking styles can be tricky, but whether you are cooking for a vegan recipe for non-vegan friends, or trying a new trick or two in vegan baking, remember to have fun! If the recipe changes you make don’t work out, just try again! Most of the time, however, your experimenting will result in something delicious!

Question: Do you ever modify recipes to suit your own or your friends needs/preferences?

October 21, 2011 at 7:14 am 8 comments

Afternoon Tea Fit For a Bride

As I mentioned in a previous post, my best friends recently got engaged at the beginning of the summer. Little did we know they would be married by the end of the same summer! After finding a great deal that they couldn’t pass up, the wedding date was solidified for the end of this very short summer. I got the news the day before I left for Europe, and we quickly chose the only Sunday I had free for the rest of July and August for the bridal shower (I am quite the busy girl, what can I say?) There was some whirlwind wedding planning that went down while I was gone, but I was able to stay somewhat in touch via email. Amanda’s future mother-in-law, Momma K, took the lead for a tea party themed bridal shower. She had an incredible vision for the event from the start, and was very organized in executing every detail. She made all of the fabulous favors (mini clipboards that held the menu, but would be great recipe card holders for future re-purposing!) and pulled together the prettiest centerpieces. She is starting a craft blog, and is looking to start selling some of her favors! (You can contact her at lifeisaspecialoccasion@gmail.com if you are interested!) Her talent and creativity are truly inspiring, so check her out.

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Sticking inside of my comfort zone, I offered to make a lot of the food. Little did I know how many maid of honor duties would await me when I got back from vacation. Appointments with the florists, picking out music, bridesmaid dress shopping, catching up with the other bridesmaids… all of these events left me with very little time over the weekend to accomplish everything I needed to do! I drew up a checklist for each day and got completely bogged down. I spent my Friday evening making lemon curd and mini meringues (great to do together because one uses only yolks and the other only whites), as well as prepping the components for my tea sandwiches. I planned to wake early on Saturday to make the scones before our florist appointment, but my sister called me out on my craziness. She offered to bake the scones if I left the recipe up on my computer. What a lifesaver!

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I found a great recipe for mini vanilla scones from the Pioneer Woman. Her recipe called for vanilla beans and heavy cream, neither of which we had on hand. I made a few adjustments: vanilla extract for the beans, milk for the cream. No big deal, right? Wrong! The wet:dry ingredients ratio got totally screwed up, and my sister ended up with something closer to pancake batter than scone dough! (Disclaimer: I have mentioned before that I am a cook and not baker! I have to be exact with everything else I do in life, and prefer to have a little more fun experimenting in the kitchen!) I get a frantic phone call from my sister while at the florist, but luckily she is both smart and determined. She figured out the ratio of flour and baking powder, and then added small amounts of that mixture until the dough was thick enough to be rolled. She watched the first batch like a hawk to get the perfect baking time, and we ended up with perfect miniature scones! I would have been lost without her help!

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The morning of the bridal shower, I kicked Amanda out of the house after feeding her a great breakfast. I enlisted the help of my sister again, as well as another bridesmaid. We got to work on all of the finger sandwiches, a quintessential part of any tea party. We covered the kitchen island with waxed paper and set up out own assembly line. My sister, well-trained as a nanny, began cutting all of the crust off the bread. She handed the bread squares to Sarah, who scooped and spread and filled all of the sandwiches. They were then passed to me to be cut from rectangles to squares to triangles, finally to be artfully arranged on the prettiest of my mom’s serving platters. With all three of us at work, we were done making 3 loaves of bread worth of sandwiches in less than an hour, as well as whip a whole quart of whipped cream! Many hands really do make light work, as does an immersion blender with a whisk attachment ;)

Tea Sandwiches

The bridal shower was perfect. The scones were delicious with the lemon curd, whipped cream, or any number of assorted jams. The sandwiches were a hit, and there were many great cookie options provided by Momma K and the other bridesmaids. The spread was rounded out with a store-bought fruit and veggie platter, as well as by some spanikopita (such a fun word to say!) For beverages, there was a wide selection of teas, as well as a fun jug of water filled to the brim with lemon slices. Not only did the water taste really lemony and fresh, but it also looked beautiful! The centerpieces tied the tea theme together with Amanda’s wedding colors, and really transformed the house into a tea room. We had a great time eating, talking, playing games and opening gifts. A special event for a special bride-to-be!

Tea Party

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I made a lot of food for the event, stocked with recipes and inspiration from many of the blogs I read! My scones were a failure, but I am sure that the Pioneer Woman’s original version would not have the problem if you stick with it! My mini meringues, while tasty, also gave me a problem, but that was likely the high humidity. (Instead of being light and crunchy, they were a little sticky…) If you are interested in the original recipe, you can check it out here. For the lemon curd, I followed Alton Brown’s method exactly. The whipped cream is also simple, as I have pointed out before. It is literally whipped cream, which I lightly sweetened with table sugar and vanilla. So fresh and so simple! If you are having your own tea party, check out those recipes, or look below for how to put together three different types of tea sandwiches! If you do make the sandwiches, save the crusts… you can use them later for croutons! (Hint: look forward to a future post.) Waste not, want not!

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Creamy Dill Cucumber Tea Sandwiches

1 loaf pumpernickel bread

8 oz Neuchâtel cream cheese

1/3 cup Greek yogurt

2 tbsp dill

2 large English cucumbers

Allow the cream cheese to come to room temperature. Mix the softened cream cheese with the plain Greek yogurt and dill. This can be done a few days ahead of time, or right before putting the sandwiches together. Peel the cucumbers with a vegetable peeler. Slice thinly into rounds. Cut the crusts off of the pumpernickel bread. Spread each side lightly with the cream cheese mixture. Spread one to two layers of cucumbers and top with the other slice of bread. The cream cheese will help the cucumbers to stick to the bread. Slice the rectangle in half to create two squares. Slice each square in half to create triangles. One loaf of bread will yield about 48 finger sandwiches.

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Turkey Cranberry Tea Sandwiches

1 lb turkey breast

1 can whole cranberry sauce

1 1/2 oz dried apricots

3 tbsp orange juice

1/4 cup cranberry juice

1 loaf seedless rye bread

Thinly slice the dried apricots. Cover with orange juice and allow to soak, covered in the fridge, for several hours. Combine in a small sauce pan with cranberry juice and bring to a boil. Spoon in a can of whole cranberry sauce and allow to simmer. Allow to reduce for 20-30 minutes, until the sauce is thick and the apricots are well combined. Return to the fridge and allow to sit overnight. When ready to prepare the sandwiches, slice the crusts off the bread. Spread a spoonful of cranberry sauce on one side of the sandwich, and layer the turkey on the other. Combine. Cut into squares, and then cut the squares into triangles. One loaf of bread will yield about 48 finger sandwiches.

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No-Mayo Egg Salad Tea Sandwiches

adapted from 101 Cookbooks

1 dozen eggs

3 tbsp Greek yogurt

4 stalks celery

2 tbsp chives

Salt and pepper to taste

1 loaf wheat bread

Place 12 large eggs in a large pot. Cover with cold water. Bring to a boil, and then set a timer for 7 minutes. After the eggs have boiled for 7 minutes, immediately submerge the eggs in an ice water bath. Shell the eggs; separate the yolks and egg whites but keep in the same bowl. Add the yogurt, finely chopped celery, and chives. Mash with a fork until the eggs are broken into pieces and all of the ingredients are well combined. Season to taste with salt and pepper. To assemble sandwiches, cut off the crusts of a loaf of whole wheat bread. Spoon egg salad onto one piece of bread and top. Cut into squares, and then cut the squares into triangles. One loaf of bread will yield about 48 finger sandwiches.

August 5, 2011 at 9:00 am 5 comments

Learning to be a Better Baker

I am not a great baker. Many people find this odd, since I love chemistry and love cooking. But I simply do not have the patience that baking requires. To get a cake or a cookie or some other sweet treat just right, it requires a lot of precision, accuracy, and attention to detail. I would rather be managing 3 pots on the stove and eyeballing spices and ingredients than precisely measuring and timing my recipe. Luckily, my friend is a much better baker than I am. He is the one who hosted the fantastic dinner party, and outdid himself yet again with these great cakes. It was a great learning experience for me – I picked up some tips and tricks that I can share here – as well as an amazing finished product! I am inspired to try my hand at some more dessert recipes on my own now!

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We made two 6-inch vegan chocolate cakes with the recipe from the Flour cookbook. For anyone who lives in Boston, go to Flour bakery and try this cake now. It is very low-fat, containing just a small amount of canola oil, but you would never be able to tell that the cake is low-fat or vegan because it is so moist and fluffy! If you aren’t lucky enough to live near Flour, check out the recipe here. Some tips and tricks for cake baking, courtesy of Vince:

  • Use a kitchen scale to weigh the dry ingredients, since they tend to be compressible and cup measurements can be variable.
  • Also, sift the cocoa powder into the dry mixture, since the powder has a tendency to clump.
  • Make sure that the oven is fully preheated before putting your cakes in, and don’t open once your cakes are in (you’ll let all of the heat out!)
  • Allow the cakes to cool in the pan for a few minutes so that they are cool enough to handle, but don’t let stay in the pan for longer than necessary or you will get stickage.

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While the cakes were cooling, we got started on a mixed berry mousse, to fill one of the cakes, and a light meringue, for icing. A mousse can have several variations using cream and eggs, but we kept with a light variation using whipped cream and egg whites. We used frozen berries to make a fruit puree, which added such great flavor to the filling! We used most of the mousse to fill one of the cakes, and saved the rest for later. The recipe we used is at the end of the post. Mousse can be served on its own, or can be frozen in individual dishes for a great ice cream alternative! Vince didn’t believe me that this would work, but I convinced him to let me experiment and the frozen mousse turned out great! Some more tips:

    • When whipping cream for whipped cream, it’s all in the wrist. The idea is to incorporate a lot of air into the cream, and so it is more about a quick, upswing rather than a stirring motion. Plus, keeping the movement just in the wrist makes you tire out less quickly!

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  • When whipping egg whites, you want to beat them until they are just stiff enough to make soft peaks, but you don’t want to overbeat them. Once you add the sugar, this will stabilize the egg whites and allow you to beat them further. Then you can continue to beat until you get stiffer peaks.
  • Folding is a good way to incorporate ingredients without losing air. Make a quick cut down the center and gently sweep the ingredients together. You don’t want any compressing motion in order to maintain the body of the mousse.
  • While you can get away with a improvisation and a few basic tools in cooking, equipment for baking is much more important. If you are serious about baking, invest in a variety of pan sizes and shapes, parchment paper, a scale, a candy thermometer, a spatula spreader, a hand mixer, etc. Having the tools makes an incredible difference in the outcome of your finished baked goods.
The meringue icing we made used the same simple syrup and egg white technique. We simply increased the number of egg whites from 4 to 5, and added the flavor we wanted for each cake (vanilla for the berry mousse filled cake and espresso powder for the other chocolate). This will not harden like your classic meringue cookie, but will make for a simple, light and not to sweet icing for your next cake.

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In the final product, I can take credit for approximately 3 things. I successfully whipped the cream for the mousse. It took me forever and my arms burned by the end, but I whipped that cream! I also came up with the idea to sprinkle the coffee-infused cake with a little cocoa powder for decoration – a brief moment of artistry and creativity. Lastly, I was there for moral support, ingredient grabbing, and assistance. Vince was the master baker – he knows so much about baking techniques, flavor pairings, and is a great cake decorator too! I think I make a pretty good baking apprentice, but am not so sure about flying solo. I am looking forward to experimenting in my free time this summer!

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Mixed Berry Mousse
4 tsp (12 g) unflavored gelatin
12 oz frozen mixed berries, thawed and pureed
400 ml chilled heavy cream
4 3/4 oz (135 g) sugar
2 1/4 oz (65 g) light corn syrup
4 egg whites (approx. 120 g)
Strain pureed fruit. Mix gelatin into half of the pureed mixture to let start to form. Whip heavy cream in a separate bowl to make whipped cream. In another bowl, beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Meanwhile, over medium heat, melt sugar and corn syrup with 3 tbsp water. Allow to heat until it reaches 235-240 degrees F, called the soft ball stage on a candy thermometer. Slowly drizzle the sugar syrup into the egg whites while beating, but do not let the syrup hit the beaters directly or it will splatter! Once all of the sugar has been incorporated, continue to beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold in the gelatin-fruit puree mixture. Then fold in the whipped cream, using care not to lose any air. Serve alone, as a cake filling, or as a unique frozen dessert.

May 21, 2011 at 9:00 am 4 comments


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