Best scones

Posted August 12, 2017 by kitchenmyths
Categories: Baking, Uncategorized

I got this recipe from my DIL who learned it while taking the pastry chef course at the French Culinary Institute. Currants are traditional but you can use pretty much any dried fruit, chopped if necessary. Note that the recipe uses weights, not volumes – important for this kind of baking. Makes 12-15 scones.

Scones1

325 grams (11.5 oz) all-purpose flour
20 g (2/3 oz) baking powder
45 g (1.5 oz) table sugar
Pinch salt
100 g (3.5 oz) dried currants
110 g (4 oz or 1 stick) unsalted butter
2 eggs
Heavy cream, about 2/3 cup

Oven at 350 degrees f.

If the currants are really dry and hard, plump in warm water for 5-10 minutes then drain well before weighing.

Cut the butter into 1/2 inch cubes and keep chilled.

Sift the dry ingredients into a large bowl. Stir in the currants.

Cut in the butter until the butter bits are about the size of a dried lentil. Do not overwork or the scones will be tough.

Put one egg and the yolk from the 2nd egg in a measuring cup (discard the white). Add cream to come up to 200 ml (6.75 fluid ounces). Beat lightly together and add to the dry mixture. Mix together (fingers are great for this) until the dough comes together. It will be on the dry side and a bit shaggy. At this point you can wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for a while, up to overnight. Or, simply continue.

Roll or pat out to about 3/4 inch thickness. Do not overwork! Cut into the desired shapes and transfer to a parchment-lined sheet pan. Brush the tops with cream and bake for 12-15 min. There should be some browning around the edges and only the slightest hint of browning, if any, on the top. Serve warm, if possible. Can be frozen.

 

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Eggplant Parmesan

Posted August 9, 2017 by kitchenmyths
Categories: Ethnic, Vegetables/potatoes/rice, Vegetarian

Like most simple dishes, this is dependent on highest quality ingredients. If you use pre-grated cheeses your result will be meh. Be sure you have a chunk of fresh, preferably local mozzarella and some real Parmesan (that is, from Italy). Breading and browning the eggplant gives a better taste and texture than simply using the bare eggplant slices.

2 medium size globe eggplant, as fresh as possible.
1 quart best marinara sauce, I like either Nellino’s or Rao’s (see Note 1 below)
10 oz fresh mozzarella
1/2 c freshly grated Parmesan
1 egg
flour
fine dry breadcrumbs
About 2 dozen fresh basil leaves

Peel the eggplant and cut into 1/2 inch slices. Sprinkle with salt and set in a colander for an hour or so. Rinse and pat dry. You can omit the salting step with super-fresh eggplant.

If you did not salt the eggplant, sprinkle with salt; then dredge in flour followed by beaten egg and then crumbs. Brown both sides in 1/8″ of olive oil. You do not have to cook it thru, just a browning.

Working a few at  time, roll the basil leaves tightly and slice thinly (see Note 2 below).

Cut the mozzarella into 1/4 inch slices and then into stick-of-gum sized pieces.

Spread a little sauce in a 12″ square baking pan. Layer half the eggplant, half the basil, half the cheeses,  and half the remaining sauce. Repeat with remaining ingredients. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 30 min until cooked thru and bubbling a bit at the edges. Let sit for 5-10 min before serving.

Note 1: I find some jarred sauces, such as the ones I mention, to be every bit as good as almost all homemade sauces, and better than many. They certainly are convenient! The downside is price – you are not going to get really good sauce for a few bucks a jar.

Note 2: It’s a common misconception that one should tear basil leaves rather than cut them for best flavor. This is not so. If you are interested in the details, click here.

Simple yet delicious sour cream coffee cake

Posted April 15, 2017 by kitchenmyths
Categories: Baking, Uncategorized

This is basic, traditional coffee cake at its best. Nothing fancy, just the basics well-executed. The key to a great coffee cake is (duh) the cake, and this gives you just the moist, tender, and light – yet flavorful – cake you want. The specific instructions and measurements are important – don’t try throwing it all together at once.

Streusel:

1/2c pecans
1/2c white sugar
1/4c brown sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon

The Cake:

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1c granulated white sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp baking soda
1c sour cream (NOT low fat, please!)
2c cake flour (see note below)
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp table salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350

Put the pecans in a small dry skillet and toast over medium heat, shaking, until lightly browned and fragrant. Cool, chop, and mix with the other streusel ingredients. Set aside.

Using a separate scoop, overfill a 1 c dry measure cup with flour and level the top with the back of a knife. Put in sifter. Repeat for second cup of flour. Add baking powder and salt and sift into a bowl.

Put butter and sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer and beat on medium until well-creamed, about 3 minutes, scraping down the sides as needed. With the mixer running, add the eggs, one at a time, and beat well.

Mix the sour cream and baking powder and let it foam for a few minutes.

With the mixer on low, add 1/3 the flour mixture to the butter/eggs, then 1/2 the sour cream, then 1/3 the flour, etc. Mix for 10 sec or so between additions to incorporate each addition. Add the vanilla.

Grease a Bundt pan. Spread not-quite-half the batter in an even layer, then sprinkle on 1/2 the streusel. Spread remaining batter over the streusel, making a nice even layer while doing your best not to disturb the streusel. Finish off with the remaining streusel.

Bake for about 40 minutes until a wood skewer comes out clean.

Cool in the pan for about 20 minutes then invert onto a plate to finish cooling.

Flour note: Cake flour has lower gluten than all-purpose or bread flour. It is not good for raising bread well, but the lower gluten results in a more tender crumb – just what we want here. You can buy specially packaged cake flour, at a premium, but I find that a “soft” (low gluten) all-purpose flour, such as White Lily, works just as well.

Chili-Cheese-Egg Toast

Posted April 11, 2017 by kitchenmyths
Categories: Uncategorized

This makes a great breakfast or lunch or even a light dinner. A few slices of ripe tomato on the side wouldn’t be amiss.

2 relatively thick slices good quality white bread
1/2c green chili salsa
1/2c grated sharp cheddar cheese
2 TB minced onion, preferably red onion
2 eggs
butter
Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper

Put the salsa in a small strainer and press out the liquid with the back of a spoon. Mix salsa with the cheese and onion and set aside.

Toast the bread fairly dark and spread both sides with butter. Smear one side with some mustard. Spread the salsa mixture evenly on the mustard sides. Broil until the topping is melted and maybe bubbling a bit.

While you are broiling, pan fry the eggs in a little butter until the whites are set but the yolk is still runny. Top each toast with an egg, season to taste, and there it is!

Home-cured corned beef

Posted January 8, 2017 by kitchenmyths
Categories: Beef, Uncategorized

Corned beef is both delicious and versatile and it is so easy to make from scratch yourself. Compared with buying an already corned brisket to cook, you control the whole process, can make a point of getting a high quality cut to use, plus the satisfaction of doing it yourself.

Corned beef is, in essence, just salted beef. It’s name comes from the fact that in the old days, the salt that was used to cure the beef was in large crystals that looked a bit like corn kernels. Today we typically add some sugar and spices to the brine.

A whole brisket is quite large and it is usually cut in half for sale. The so-called first cut is rectangular in shape and a bit leaner, while the second cut is sort of triangular and has a bit more fat. Both are fine for corned beef, although the first cut makes for neater and larger slices. You want a nice cap of fat on the top.

To Pickle the Beef

One 4-5 lb brisket

Put the meat in a pot or bowl just large enough to hold it and add room-temperature tap water, measuring as you go, to cover by half an inch or so. Remove the meat and for each quart of water add:

1/2 c kosher salt
2 TB sugar
1 tsp pink salt (see note below)

Stir until the salt and sugar are dissolved. Return the meat to the pot and toss in

4 minced garlic cloves
2 TB pickling spice

Put a plate or other clean object on top to ensure the meat stays submerged, then put in the fridge for 5-6 days.

To Cook the Beef

Remove the meat and discard the brine and spices. Rinse the meat under cold water. Return to the pot and cover with fresh water. Add 2 TB fresh pickling spice. Bring to a gentle simmer, cover, and cook until fork-tender, about 3 hours. Replensish the water if needed to keep the meat covered,

About Pink Salt

Pink salt contains 93.75% regular table salt and 6.25% sodium nitrite. This is NOT the same as pink Himalayan salt. It is sometimes called Insta Cure #1 or Prague Powder #1. And yes it is really pink, it is dyed pink to make sure it is not accidentally mistaken for regular salt. It is used in very small quantities when making cured meats, sausage, etc. It has three benefits: inhibiting the growth of bacteria, improving taste, and giving the meat a better color. There are no demonstrated health dangers, you can read more here. You can omit it from this recipe but your result won’t be as tasty or attractive.

Applesauce

Posted December 29, 2016 by kitchenmyths
Categories: Desserts, Miscellaneous

Making applesauce used to be a chore, what with all the peeling and coring. Turns out all that work is unneeded if you have a food mill, a device that uses a rotating blade to press food thru a perforated disk. And the results are better, too, because the skin adds flavor to the sauce.

foodmill

You can use pretty much any apples here, although my preference is for apples on the tart side such as Granny Smith and pink lady. A mix of apples is best.

All you need do is wash the apples, remove any stickers, and cut in half. Place in a large, heavy pot with 1/2 inch of water on the bottom. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring now and then, until completely soft. Taste and add a bit of sugar if you like. Put thru the mill using a relatively fine disk – the seeds and skins stay behind. That’s it! Freezes perfectly well and can also be canned using traditional methods.

Chicken with porcini mushrooms

Posted December 23, 2016 by kitchenmyths
Categories: Uncategorized

The rich umami flavor of dried porcini makes this specially flavorful.

1/2 oz dried porcini mushrooms
4 whole skin-on chicken legs
2-3 shallots
1 c dry white wine such as an Orvieto or pinot grigio
2 or 3 red-skinned potatoes
1/4 c minced chives

Cover the dried mushrooms with about 2 c of boiling water. Strain thru a fine strainer or cheesecloth. Set the mushrooms and liquid aside separately.

Peel the potatoes and cut each into 4-6 chunks.

Separate the legs into drumsticks and thighs and trim away any excess fat and flaps of loose skin.Pat dry with paper towels.

Peel and thinly slice the shallots.

Heat over medium-low heat a covered skillet that is large enough to hold the chicken comfortably in one layer. Film the bottom with olive oil and add the chicken, skin side down. Cook slowly, uncovered, until the chicken has a rich brown hue. Flip over and repeat for the other side. Remove to a plate.

Remove most of the fat from the pan.  A convenient way to do this is to wad up a paper towel and holding it with tongs soak up the excess fat.

Add the shallots and saute for a few minutes, then pour in the wine. Simmer until reduced a bit then return the chicken to the pan along with the potatoes and mushrooms. Add about half the mushroom liquid and season with S & P. Make sure the potato pieces are nestled between the chicken so they are exposed to the liquid. Cover and maintain at a simmer for 30-35 minutes, until the chicken is done and the potatoes soft. Check now and then and add more mushroom liquid if needed. The final dish should not be soupy but should provide a small amount of sauce for each diner.

 


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