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: 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)
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: spices in bottles (spice bottles)
A while back I made me some chocolate mint brownies, which turned out reasonably well. However, after making them I still had quite a bit in the way of creme-du-menthe liqueur left over. Ever since, I've been looking for minty recipes to use it up on. I decided, what the heck, why not try cupcakes? And as it happens, they turned out pretty damn well!

Vanilla Cupcaks with Minty-Green Cream Cheese Frosting )

Tasty cupcakes, with just enough mint flavoring to add some zing. Alternatively, substitute in 2 teaspoons Triple Sec (or other orange-flavored liqueur), 2 teaspoons grated orange zest, and 1/8 teaspoon each of red and yellow food coloring to swap it from minty-green to orange-flavored frosting.
kitchenklutz: tomato sauce ladle (saucy ladle)
With the overblown failure of an overspicy glazed ham on Christmas, I found myself with an overabundance of leftover and somewhat too spicy ham. I put out a request for soup suggestions to use it in, and got more than a few suggestions for ham and potato soup. A little bit of Google-fu later, I had a printed out recipe. I tweaked it, added a few spices, and came up with the following very tasty recipe.

Savory Ham and Potato Soup )

Savory, thick, and tasty soup -- perfect comfort food for a cold winter's night. I am definitely making it again.
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: cookie sheet (cookie sheet)
A while back, I took a recipe that was on the back of a Nestle white chocolate chip morsels package and tweaked it a bit with some varied spices (my holy trinity is cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves). The end result, which I'm actually quite proud of, is my White Chip Spice Island Cookies. )

They always turn out delightfully tasty, with some intriguing hints of spice and flavor that somehow always leave me pleasantly surprised.
kitchenklutz: spoons and bowls (spoons and bowls)
Typically I just improvise when I'm making scrambled eggs for breakfast, but today I decided to actually jot down my various ingredients. So this morning, along with a dozen pieces of bacon (mmmmm, cholesterol!) I made Savory Scrambled Eggs. )

Goes great with traditional breakfast fare -- fresh fruit, toast, bacon, orange juice, and that sort of thing.

Crossposted from Kitchenklutz.

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March 2015

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