kitchenklutz: (fresh baked bread)
Continuing to work my way through variations in the Panera Bread Cookbook, I made some modifications and came up with an extra-tasty alternative to their Cinnamon Raisin White Bread -- Cinnamon Toffee Chip Raisin Bread. )

I haven't yet made Option 1 myself, but I'm including it in this recipe because of other spiral breads and cookies I've made before. With option 1, you'll get icing in a spiral pattern throughout the dough; with option 2, you'll get icing as a topping on an already tasty-bread.

As with most Panera recipes, there's quite a bit of waiting around for the bread to rise, but this bread is definitely worth it. I received a ton of compliments on it, and would wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone.
kitchenklutz: spoons and bowls (Default)
This morning was filled up with quite a bit of household tasks and chores, so to take a break I made a batch of banana nut bread. Mostly this was motivated by having plenty of leftover bananas that were overripe and about to go bad anyways -- double bonus!

Banana Nut Bread )

Ridiculously easy to make and cook, smells fantastic, and my loaf is just about to come out of the oven. Of course, I did neglect to properly grease the pan before I put in the dough, so no doubt it'll end up a bit stuck to the pan -- learning experience for next time!
kitchenklutz: (fresh baked bread)
I've got a great new cookbook that I picked up on the discount table some time back -- The Best Ever Book of Bread, by Christine Ingram and Jennie Shatter. Given my desire to learn how to bake a lot more, I thought it an excellent investment, and as I've been looking it over the past week or so it definitely looks like it's worth it.

I've been paging through it and dog-earing recipes that look like they're particularly worthwhile, and the first one I tried out was Monkey Bread. )

Rising time: 1 - 2 hours
Total prep time: 2 - 2.5 hours
Cook time: 35 - 40 minutes

Overall, I was pleased with the resulting monkey bread. (Side note: no one, even Wikipedia, seems to know where this name originated! Lots of theories, though.) It was sweet, sticky and tasty, with any number of chunks easily torn off for finger food. The coating-bits that popped free were incredibly delectable in and of themselves!

However, regardless of the tastiness of the coating the dough itself was a bit on the dry side and was a bit plain. I may end up adding a little more water and milk to the initial dough to aim for a moister end product, and perhaps a little additional sugar to the starting dough to get it sweeter.

Additionally, given my desire to use less in the way of throwaway materials in my cooking and baking, I'm curious to know what alternatives there might be to using plastic wrap/plastic bags during the rising process. I know I've heard of some just draping a damp kitchen towel over the top of the bowl/pan -- how has that worked for others?
kitchenklutz: spoons and bowls (Default)
One of the things I've wanted to do more this winter is try my hand at baking bread. I've got a handful of cookbooks with many recipes to try, but one of the first ones I wanted to try was a recipe card I picked up at Penzey's back around Yule.

It looked intriguing, and I'm definitely more of a fan of bread recipes that don't require yeast and substantial rising periods. I didn't know how it was going to turn out, as I'm usually not an enormous fan of drinking beer, but the result was astonishingly good.

Beer Bread )

Alternatively, instead of placing all the dough in one 8x4 bread pan, you can split the dough into a six oversized cup muffin tin. If you do so, reduce baking time to 28 - 32 minutes -- the smaller volume of dough in each cup means it will bake notably faster.

I admit I had my doubts about this when I first set out to make it, largely because I'm not a huge fan of Newcastle Brown Ale. (I've used Brooklyn Ale for a particular spicy Cajun stew before to great effect, though.) To my delight the Newcastle turned out amazingly well with the Savory Beer Bread option, so I urge anyone else who tries this recipe to experiment with beers of their liking.

Towards that end, I'm intrigued to try out the Sweet Beer Bread option using Redd's Strawberry Ale. Its alcoholic content isn't particularly high (3.2%?) but without any yeast in the recipe I believe it's the carbonation that's important.
kitchenklutz: spices in bottles (spice bottles)
Over Thanksgiving my mom and stepdad came out to Boston to visit, and we had many a culinary discussion. One of the things that came up was mention of a traditional Sicilian cookie that my stepdad has made, which (I believe) he inherited from a distant grandmother from the old country. Called "cuchidades", these are fig-stuffed cookies -- like fig newtons, after a fashion, but sooooo much better.

I managed to track down a recipe online and then modified it to my own satisfaction. The result has been wildly popular with pretty much everyone I've introduced it to.

Fig-Stuffed Sicilian Cookies (Cuchidades) )

The first time I made this, I made the icing with milk and vanilla; the second time I made it with orange juice and orange extract. Overall, I'm far more satisfied with my second batch, but your mileage may vary -- try both and see which one you prefer!
kitchenklutz: cookie sheet (cookie sheet)
Back sometime last year I got inspired by a cup of hot chai tea. Soooo tasty... were there any recipes that could duplicate that particular taste in a cookie? I did a little searching and turned up no existing recipes out on the web.

So what goes in chai tea? A little more creative Googling and I'd turned up the various ingredients that most commonly go into chai tea mixes. From there I started experimenting on cookie doughs, and after half-a-dozen drafts I finally arrived at a final result I was satisfied with. Now, at last, I feel comfortable sharing it with the world. Try these out, and let me know how you like Chai Cookies. )

I always have a fun time handing these to people and asking them to tell me what they think it tastes like. Many of them can identify some of the ingredients, but rarely all of them... and when I tell them they're chai cookies, this look of dawning comprehension always comes over their faces and they immediately agree. Try it and see for yourself!
kitchenklutz: spoons and bowls (Default)
I've been doing a lot of cooking and experimentation since around Thanksgiving, but with the holidays I haven't had as much chance to update this journal. Today, hopefully, that gets corrected.

I've been making a good number of different recipes gotten from Penzey's spices, and one that I tried out for the first time over the holidays was Holiday Cookie Balls. )

Reasonably easy to make, these confections are a little bit sweet and a little bit savory. I thought that the dough was maybe a little too crumbly, rather than chewy, but perhaps that's something I can work on if I tinker with it more in the future.
kitchenklutz: spoons and bowls (Default)
For Christmas, my ever-lovable sister got me an unusual cookbook -- "Homemade Winter", by Yvette Van Boxen. I was immediately intrigued by it -- it's laid out in a very nonstandard, flowing, I-just-wrote-this-recipe-down-by-hand manner. It's got scads of apparently hand-drawn illustrations to go along with the directions, so visually it definitely catches the eye.

This morning, I decided while making breakfast that I was going to give one of the recipes a shot -- Gingerbread, or Pan D'Epice. )

Mixing the dough is probably best accomplished with a standing mixer. I initially tried mixing it both with a wooden spoon and by hand, and the dough was so sticky as to coat my hands with scads of gingery flour that had to be scrubbed off under the faucet.

That said, I'm quite happy with the final, modified, result. The adapted recipe produced a lovely loaf of bread -- light, moist, subtly spiced, and quite delicious. I'll no doubt make it again in the future, keeping my modifications in mind.

Enjoy!
kitchenklutz: spoons and bowls (Default)
Recently, I asked an acquaintance for baking requests. I like baking (if that hadn't already been abundantly clear *grin* ) and I'm always curious to find out new recipes and new ways of putting things together. So when she suggested brownies with walnuts and chocolate chips in them, I started looking around for new recipes to try out. After all, just grabbing a box of instant brownie mix off the market shelf isn't any kind of cooking challenge!

Fortunately, I'd bought a handful of Ghiradelli baking chocolate bars a while back, and on the back of the foil wrapping was a recipe for brownies. I adapted it slightly, and this is what I came up with.

Ghiradelli Classic Brownies (Walnut Remix) )

My batch just got finished baking, so I haven't tasted the finished product yet -- but the batter alone tasted absolutely amazing!

Aaaaand... wow. They're light and fluffy, with an incredibly rich chocolate flavor and very subtle spices. I'll definitely be making more of these in the future. (This recipe makes the brownies turn out rather cake-like in texture -- for a fudgier, denser brownie I'd recommend omitting the baking powder or substituing baking soda instead.)
kitchenklutz: spoons and bowls (Default)
OK, so I'm on a bit of a chocolate baking roll. I did a broad Google search for recipes involving chocolate, and one of the recipes I stumbled over was one for rum raisin chocolate chip morsels. However, as it went for an entirely non-gluten/organic angle (the ingredients of which could be rather difficult to easily get one's hands on) I modified the original recipe substantially. Nonetheless, for what was basically a lot of improvisation off of my past experience, these cookies turned out uniquely and surprisingly tasty.

Rum Raisin Chocolate Chip Cookies )

Moist, subtle, and with a definite rum kick, these were one of the tastier recipes I've experimented with all year. This recipe is definitely going into my book as one to make again -- it's worth it!
kitchenklutz: cookie sheet (cookie sheet)
I've been tinkering with a mint chocolate chip cookie recipe for a while now -- started back this spring, when I was putting together a bunch of different baked goods for the Adam Ezra Group hunger fundraiser. Recently I tried another variation on it, once again adapted from the classic Tollhouse recipe, and it turned out well enough that I thought I'd post it here.

Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies: Redux )

Overall, I was favorably impressed with the way these turned out. Minty enough to tantalize but not to overwhelm, soft and chewy but not cake-like, and with sufficient chocolate to satisfy your average chocoholic, these are fantastic with milk. Enjoy!
kitchenklutz: cookie sheet (cookie sheet)
First time attempting this recipe, so it'll be interesting to see just how it turns out in the end. Nonetheless, it certainly looks promising, and although the dough's cooling now the filling smells enticing.

Poppyseed Spiral Rum Cookies )
kitchenklutz: spoons and bowls (Default)
After the fun of the Ramble Bake-Off, I decided to start experimenting more with cookie recipes. I spotted one recipe on a Livejournal site that included Heath Toffee chips, and immediately thought about adapting it for use in one of my own baking projects. The result was better than I expected, and the cookies themselves turned out both subtle and savory.

Toffee Chip Cinnamon Molasses Cookies )
kitchenklutz: spoons and bowls (Default)
Last week, I made some of my cinnamon carrot raisin muffins for co-workers, and they were such a hit that I've gotten requests for other types of muffins since. One request in particular was for chocolate chip muffins, so I went to a number of sources, looked at muffin recipes I'd baked before, and tinkered about to end up with this:

One Dozen Chocolate Chip Muffins )

All in all, these turned out much better than I was expecting for a first attempt. Light and somewhat airy, with just enough sweetness and an excellent aroma of cinnamon.
kitchenklutz: spoons and bowls (Default)
Late last week, I came across an Emeril recipe for roast chicken. Up until then, I'd never actually gotten a whole chicken at the market and prepared it for a meal. This, clearly, needed to change! I adapted the recipe slightly for what ingredients I had, once I'd purchased the chicken -- mostly in quantities of added ingredients, since the smallest roaster I could find at the local market was somewhat larger than the recommended size on the original recipe. (That, and I neglected to buy a lemon.)

Perfect Roast Chicken (My Version) )

Now, I had my savory main dish -- and it smelled and tasted terrific. However, at the same time I wanted to serve it over something. The easiest thing to do was rice -- but I was rather bored with regular plain white or brown rice. Something inside me asked hey, what about sweet rice? Now, as far as I know, I've never even had sweet rice, so I didn't know what I was getting into, but I flexed my Google-fu and found an intriguing recipe for Lebanese sweet rice. I adapted it into the following:

Sweet Rice (My Version) )

Tonight I had the roast chicken as the main dish, with the sweet rice as a side -- and overall, the tastes were surprisingly complimentary. The chicken and vegetables are rich and savory, and mixed with the sweet rice (which was sweet, but not too sweet), it made a memorable and quite enjoyable dish. I definitely plan to make both again in the future.

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kitchenklutz

March 2015

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