Archives for posts with tag: Recipes

granola1

If you happen to consistently read this blog and stuck with me during my hiatus, you have probably noticed that I am very fond of breakfast.

It is truly in my genes.  We Phillipses are breakfast people.

Since having a baby, breakfast is even more important to me.  Of course it is my time to fuel-up before heading to a physically demanding job (or until my next breakfast – see previous post), but it is my one and only moment during the day that I get to be completely alone.  It is my time to breathe, read a little, and be at peace before all the unknowns of the coming day begin realizing.  It is definitely worth waking up a little early for.

While on maternity leave I started making my own granola.  I have always loved granola, but the dietitian in me cringes at the store-bought kind which is far too high in sugar with serving sizes that could only satisfy a bird (and we Phillipses are not birds).  So my goal was to make granola that wouldn’t send me into a sugar-coma and could keep me full and energized until my next meal.  The result:  I can’t stop eating granola!

In fact, if I don’t eat this for breakfast, I find myself eating it for lunch…or dinner…or snack.

The biggest task in making this granola is buying the ingredients (and you have to go grocery shopping anyway, so why not buys enough to make several batches; you will be sorry if you don’t when your first one disappears).  Once everything is in place, it comes together in minutes and you get the pleasure of your kitchen smelling like toasted nuts and coconut.

Please, try not to eat it all right out of the oven, your breakfasts’ will thank you.

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Go-To Granola

Makes about 6 cups

Note:  This granola keeps well in an airtight container for about 2 weeks.  I usually make a batch a week.  Serve with cold milk or greek yogurt and seasonal fruit.  For the nuts and seeds, I typically us a mix of cashews, whole raw almonds, sliced almonds, pepitas, and walnuts; use whatever nuts you prefer.  The amounts of nuts and seeds I use in each recipe depends on what I have on hand, but I love nuts so I tend to err on the 4 cup side of things.

3 cups old-fashioned oats

3-4 cups mixed nuts and seeds

3 tablespoons brown sugar

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

1/4 cup canola oil

2 tablespoons maple syrup

1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes (not shredded coconut)

1/4 cup dried cherries or cranberries (optional)

Preheat oven to 375° F.  Combine all ingredients except the coconut and dried fruit (if using) in a large bowl until well combined and oats and nuts are evenly coated in oil and maple syrup.  Spread mixture evenly over a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes, stirring once halfway through.  Remove from oven and sprinkle coconut and dried fruit over the top of the granola.  Bake for 2-3 minutes more, until coconut becomes golden brown (watch it carefully, as coconut burns quickly).  Cool completely and store in an airtight container up to two weeks.

Want more breakfast ideas?  Sure you do:

Saddlebag pancakes – if you can’t decide between sweet or savory

Six Week Muffins – to feed an army (or just yourself for a really long time)

Lemon Blueberry Breakfast Cornbread – because cornbread in a cast iron skillet rocks!

Raspberry Swirl Cinnamon Rolls – best cinnamon rolls ever (no joke!)

Apple and Squash Compote – because veggies are a must, even at breakfast

Goat Cheese Stuffed Squash Blossom and Prosciutto Fritatta – for those of you dreaming of bountiful summer farmer’s markets

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honey cake 2

It is likely impossible that my sweet tooth could ever be lost, but it has definitely been tamed.  After working in a bakery for some time, testing very sweet pastries over-and-over, I no longer rich pastries (read: creme brûlée, eclairs, cupcakes) or fancy layer cakes dressed in buttercream.

What will never get old is a treat that I can enjoy when my pang for second breakfast hits and goes well with coffee.

Oh yes…second breakfast.

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I knew I was in the right place once I realized that, like me, the guys I work with at the bakery pretty much follow the feeding schedule of hobbits.  Just swap the tea and pints with coffee and…yup…pretty much hobbits.

Second breakfast and elevenses are for real and very serious.  To avoid early-, mid-, and late-morning grumblings (and to stay on the guys’ good sides), inevitably we must all take a break for coffee and a not-so-sweet baked good.  Be it cornbread, croissants, muffins,  or some form of coffee cake, we all feel much better after we have taken a moment to re-energize and re-caffeinate (and I am no longer afraid to ask one of them to open that pesky bucket of honey).

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Speaking of honey…  One of my favorite cookbooks from 2012 is Vintage Cakes by Julie Richardson.  Full of beautiful recipes and photographs, this book really cover the gamut from decadent special occasion cakes to whip-it-together-during-naptime treats.

And, I absolutely cannot get enough of the honey cake recipe.  It fits all my requirements for cake: not too sweet, super moist, naturally beautiful (no fussy decoration required), it is perfect at 9am (second breakfast) or 9pm (because if I were a hobbit I definitely wouldn’t stop at supper), it is easy to make using ingredients you likely already have on hand, and it can sit happily on your counter for several days.

Honey Cake

Makes 1 9-inch Cake

Adapted slightly from Vintage Cakes by Julie Richardson

Cake:

Heaping 1/2 cup sliced almonds

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon fine sea salt

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

3/4 cup sugar

1/3 cup honey

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 eggs, room temperature

1 egg yolk, room temperature

3/4 cup buttermilk, room temperature

Glaze:

1/2 cup honey

1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1/4 cup unsalted butter

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Spread almonds evenly on a baking sheet and toast until fragrant, about 10 minutes.  Set aside and keep oven on.

Grease a 9 by 3-inch springform pan and line bottom with parchment paper.  In a bowl, mix flour, baking powder, and salt.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, combine the butter, sugar, honey and vanilla on low speed until blended; increase the speed to high and beat until very light and fluffy 5-7 minutes.  Stop mixer frequently and scrape the paddle and sides of bowl with a rubber spatula.  Beat in eggs and egg yolk one at a time until well incorporated.  With mixer on low, add the flour mixture in three parts, alternating with the buttermilk in two parts, beginning and ending with the flour.   After each addition, mix until just barely blended and stop and scrape the bowl.  Stop them mixer before the last of the flour has been incorporated and complete the blending with a rubber spatula to ensure you do not overbeat the batter.

Spread the batter evenly into prepared pan.  Rap the pan firmly on the counter to release any air bubbles.  Place the pan in the center of the oven and bake for 45 minutes.  The cake will turn a deep golden color and be firm on the top, and a wooden skewer inserted in the middle will have moist crumbs attached.  The cake may crack on the top, this is okay because it will be covered by almonds and will allow more of the glaze to be absorbed into the cake.

While the cake is baking, make the glaze in a small saucepan by stirring the honey, sugar, and butter over medium heat until combined.  Bring the mixture just barely to a simmer.  Turn off heat, but leave saucepan on the burner to keep glaze warm.

Remove the cake from the oven and poke holes all over the top of the cake with a wooden skewer or fork.  Pour half of the glaze over the cake, evenly sprinkle the cake with the almonds, and then pour the rest of the glaze over the almonds.

Place back in the center of the oven and bake for 5 more minutes.

Cool cake on a wire rack for about an hour.  Remove the sides of the pan and transfer cake to a serving plate.  Serve warm or room temperature.

Cake will stay fresh up to five days, stored well wrapped at room temperature.

Last year, someone decided that French macarons were the new “cool kids” in pastry.  I was definitely not this person.  In fact, if given the choice between one of these airy, chewy, colorful, gems, and a chocolate chip cookie, the chocolate cookie would always win.

Yet, I have a soft spot for these flashy, expensive, sandwich cookies.  Maybe it’s because they are so eye-catching, or because customers at the bakery always get a big smile on their face when they see them, or maybe it’s because, last year, I had to spend countless hours teaching myself to make them to perfection in the midst of the hottest, most humid, Houston summers ever (to keep up with said trend).

Mostly, I secretly admire macarons because they play hard to get.  Humidity must be low, the egg whites should be aged just long enough, the almonds must be ground to the precise consistency, you mustn’t over-beat the meringue or over-mix the batter, your piping must be exact and consistent, they need their beauty rest, and finally (whew!) your oven has to stay at temperature.  And even if you can get all those things right, for the ten minutes the suckers are in the oven, you anxiously hold your breath hoping that when you open the door you find a batch of cookies equal in size with smooth, shiny, domed tops and delicate airy feet (or pied) circling their base.

I’m no scientist, and despite having taken 5 semesters of chemistry in college, I am still relatively clueless when it comes to why certain reactions happen and the science that makes baking possible (although Alton Brown and this amazing book do help out a lot).  For me, baking is about feeling and gut instinct.  This worried me when beginning my quest for macaron perfection and was the reason I had never bothered making them before.  Over and over I had heard how precise everything had to be (see above) and while that is true, I found that being patient, failing a few times, and becoming familiar with how recipes look and feel (yes…get your hands dirty!) is a science in itself.

So, bear with me on this recipe.  I created it based on flavor, appearance, and feel.  I want you to have fun and enjoy the process (don’t get frustrated if it takes you more than one try, I have ruined an entire speed rack full of these buggers, just brush it off and try again).

Macarons are also exciting because there are endless flavor possibilities.  I have made everything from açaí to pumpkin spice to hatch chili (be creative!).  I thought grapefruit would be great this time of year, when citrus is so bountiful.  I flavored the cookie with grapefruit zest and made a quick buttercream with even more zest and freshly squeezed grapefruit juice.  The result, a refreshing, zesty, floral cookie!  Enjoy.

Grapefruit French Macarons

Makes about 30 sandwich cookies

Cookie recipe loosely based on my work at Central Market, but with many adaptations.

Note:  At the bakery, we use almond meal as it makes our lives a lot easier, however when making smaller batches at home, I prefer to grind my own blanched almonds.  This results in a slightly coarser meal which I feel results in more consistently beautiful cookies.  You can buy either at most grocery stores.

As for the egg whites, fresher is not better.  I would recommend using egg whites that have been in your fridge for 3-4 days (I have heard that French bakeries us 7 day old whites that have been at room temp the whole time…not so sure about that), for some reason the older they are the better the cookie.  Bring them to room temperature for a few hours before you make the cookies.

If you want to be super precise with your meringue you can use a food thermometer.  When the egg white/sugar mixture has reached about 250°F, it is ready to whip.  I, however, use my finger.  If the mixture has reached the point where it is too hot to touch for more than a second, its ready (works every time…for me).

Lastly, you will need some special equipment.  A kitchen scale, a stand mixer with whisk attachment, an 18″ pastry bag, #806 round pastry tip, and parchment paper.

Whew!!! Now have fun!

For the cookie:

8 oz granulated sugar

6 oz (liquid) egg whites at room temperature, separated (see note)

8 oz finely ground blanched almonds or almond meal

8 oz confectioner’s sugar (sifted if clumpy)

1 heaping tablespoon grapefruit zest, from 2 large grapefruit

2 very small drops red food coloring (optional)

2 very small drops yellow food coloring (optional)

1-2 tablespoons finely ground, unsalted pistachios for decorating (optional)

For the grapefruit buttercream:

3 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature

1 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar

2 teaspoons grapefruit zest

5 tablespoons freshly squeezed grapefruit juice

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Make the macaron cookies:

It’s best if you have everything measured and ready to go before starting and have 3 half-sheet baking sheets covered in parchment.  Bring about an inch of water to a boil in a medium sized saucepan.  Combine granulated sugar and 3 oz of egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer and place over boiling water.  Whisking constantly, cook egg whites until hot (see note above), sugar is completely dissolved, and mixture is frothy.  Remove from heat and place on stand mixer with whisk attachment.  Whisk for approximately 5 minutes, on high speed, until mixture has cooled and medium-soft peaks have formed (you want them to be more firm that soft peaks, but not extremely stiff as this will result in a cracked/dry cookie).

While meringue is mixing, combine granulated sugar, ground almonds, and grapefruit zest in a large mixing bowl.  Mix with your hands until well combined and any clumps of zest have been evenly distributed.  Add remaining 3 oz egg whites and food coloring (if using) and mix with hands or a spatula until well combined.  Once meringue is finished, add in three additions to almond mixture until combined, but not mixed too much as you do not want to deflate meringue completely.  It typically takes me 2-3 minutes to mix properly.  Mixture should be sticky and loose, but not extremely liquid.

Fill pastry bag with some of the macaron batter.  Piping completely vertically (i.e. bottom of pastry tip should be perpendicular to pan), pipe batter into 1/2-inch rounds (once they spread they will be close to an inch in diameter) leaving about an inch between each cookie (I was able to fit about 20 cookies on each tray).  The cookies should spread and be perfectly smooth on top, if you are left will a little peak, dip your finger in some water and gently tap down peaks.  Sprinkle each cookie with a small pinch of ground pistachio, if using.  Allow cookies to rest for about 45 minutes, until they feel tacky and a little dry when touched and they have a slightly matted appearance.  While cookies are resting, heat oven to 350°F and place an oven rack in the center of the oven.

Working with one tray at a time, bake cookies for 10 minutes.  Don’t be tempted to open the oven to take a peak, this will drop the temperature and could deflate the cookie.  Repeat with the remaining cookie sheets.  Allow baked macrons to cool for one hour.

Meanwhile make the buttercream (and wash pastry bag,tip, and mixer bowl as you will need them again):

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat butter on medium high speed for about 1 minute.  Stop mixer and add confectioner’s sugar.  Mix on high speed until mixture is light and fluffy and sugar has dissolved completely.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add grapefruit zest, grapefruit juice, and vanilla extract.  Beat for another minute.  Taste buttercream, if you would like more grapefruit flavor add more zest and/or juice to your taste.

Assemble cookies:

Flip half of the macarons onto their backs and pipe a small dot of buttercream on the center of the cookie (about 1/2-1 tablespoon).  Find a good match (in terms of size) for each cookie and gently sandwich the two cookies together with buttercream in the center.  Repeat with all the macarons (you should end up with about 30 total).  Macarons will keep for about 3 days at room temperature.