Breakfast Bread

As promised… or at least hinted at… I’ll share with you my breakfast bread endeavor.  I know two posts in one day is a lot to handle.  Sorry about that.

But I love this stuff. It’s nutty and dense with bits of fruit and a light sprinkling of chocolate chips and it’s the perfect companion to the fresh peach jam I got in New York coming home from vacation.  I admit, it is another Pinterest recipe.

Another confession.  This was not my best-ever bread.  It was delicious but the process was a little iffy.  My fault.  When I knead bread, I tend to be a bit overzealous.  You may have noticed I’m also slightly impatient, so waiting for bread to rise is a bit of a stretch for me.

Anyway, this recipe is from Roxana’s Home Baking via Pinterest, as I already said.

As far as bread goes, it’s fairly simple and quick.  One things I love about bread is that it really only takes a few dishes, ergo minimal clean up.

So here it goes:

1 cup lukewarm water

3 1/2 cup bread flour, divided

2 t active dry yeast

1 T butter, melted

1/3 cup maple syrup (I used honey and maple syrup)

2 t cinnamon

1 t salt

1 cup rolled oats

3/4 cup walnuts (I used pecans in addition to walnuts)

3/4 cup raisins (I used craisins)

I didn’t measure out the craisins or nuts, and I added mini chocolate chips, nutmeg, and ground cloves.  I love cinnamon and spice, so I used a ton of these things.

Combine water, yeast, and 1 cup of flour and let rest for 10 minutes.  It should double in volume.

(Mine didn’t…)

With the dough hook on, mix in butter, syrup, cinnamon (and other spices), walnuts, raisins, salt, and oats (and whatever else you want).  Slowly add in flour until dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl.  I only ended up using a little under 3 cups to do this, but see what works out for you.

Take out of mixing bowl, place in greased bowl and let rise for 1 hour.

Once dough has doubled in size, punch it down and form it into a log and place it in a greased 9″ x 5″ bread pan, cover it, and let it sit for another half hour.

Preheat oven to 375° F and put bread in oven for 35 minutes once it reaches temperature.  I added about 10 more minutes to my bread, which left the inside barely dough-y, just a tad squishy.

Let the bread cool in the pan for a bit, the cool completely on a wire rack out of the pan.

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When I make this again, I’ll add raisins (possibly in addition to craisins and/or dried cherries), orange zest, and any other meaty nut or dried fruit I have on hand.  I’d also like to try it with whole wheat flour.

I like to think this bread is healthy because it says “breakfast” and it has fruit and nuts and oats in it.  Depending on your diet/opinion on healthy, it could work.  Either way, it was scrumptious.  While the inside was soft and chewy and chock full of delicious fillings, the outside was crusty and delicious.  Crusty, I find, is only a good word to use when describing good crust.

However, the rising thing just didn’t seem to work out for me too well this time.

Not only is this a wonderful breakfast, but a quick dinner before a work shift.  Nuts have protein okay?  I’m covering the food groups mostly.

Anyway, I just got a nice bundle of peaches from a friend’s peach tree… So in the next few days, keep your eyes open for jams, crumbles, and a whole manner of peachy-keen recipes.  I haven’t quite decided what to make with them yet.  If there’s something you’d like to see, or if you have a great peach recipe, comment below.  Have a great day!

I Am Not a Food Photographer

Or any other kind of photographer for that matter.  Sure, I love taking photos with my Canon T1i, but the type of camera you use doesn’t make a huge impact on the results if you don’t know how to a. use it properly or b. set up your photo.  In addition to these things, I mostly use my iPhone to photograph things for my blog because it’s easy to just email them to myself straight from the device and open it on the computer.  To be perfectly honest, a camera is a little less hassle-free when it comes to uploading pictures.  Anyway, with these things in mind, I present to you my Less-Than-Perfect Cannoli!

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I was suddenly inspired to attempt these when I made pasta last night.  I found a recipe on Pinterest earlier that day and decided to try it out.  Even lacking cannoli tubes didn’t stop me.  I found that the handle of a whisk is a semi-adequate replacement for these, and begun.

The recipe from Parsley, Sage & Sweet (via Pinterest) is as follows:

SHELLS:

2 cups all purpose flour (250 g)

2 T sugar (28 g)

1 t unsweetened cocoa powder (5 g)   The recipe notes you can also use freshly ground or instant coffee in addition to the cocoa or instead of it to give shells more flavor in the “traditional Sicilian style.”

1/2 t ground cinnamon (1.15 g)

1/2 t salt (3 g)

3 T vegetable or olive oil (42 g)

1 t white wine vinegar (5 g/0.18 fl. oz)

1/2 cup (approximately) sweet Marsala or any other wine (59 g/4 fl.oz)    I used white cooking wine because there weren’t any open wine bottles around

1 egg white

Frying oil

FILLING:

2 lbs. ricotta cheese

1 2/3 cup confectioner’s sugar (160 g)

1/2 t ground cinnamon (1.15 g)

1 t vanilla extract or beans from one vanilla bean (0.15 g)

3 T good quality chocolate, chopped (28 g)

2 T chopped, candied orange peel or orange zest (0.42 g)

3 T toasted, finely chopped pistachios

(I halved the recipe)

DIRECTIONS (Shells):

With an electric mixer, combine flour, sugar, cocoa, cinnamon, and salt.  Stir in oil, vinegar, and enough wine to make dough soft (but not too sticky)

Turn dough onto floured surface and knead until smooth.  Shape into a ball and let rest in fridge for at least 2 hours to overnight.  I hate letting things rest in the fridge, so I switched between the fridge and freezer, which probably didn’t help at all.  My dough was still fairly soft, but seemed to work out fine.

Start heating your frying oil, two to four inches deep.  make sure your vessel for the oil has higher sides to minimize splashing and burns and over-bubbling.

Flour your work surface and roll dough VERY thin.  I’m talking cardstock paper or thinner.  I read in this post that good, crispy cannoli shells blister (bubbles and things), but they can’t do this if they’re too thick.

From this paper thin dough, cut circles between four and six inches in diameter.  I don’t have cutters like that, so I just pressed them with a five inch Tupperware lid and that worked fine.  Roll your circles into an oval and wrap them around an oiled cannoli tube, wooden dowel, whisk handle, etc.

photo 1

This dough does dry out a bit, so the recipe suggests only using half the dough at a time… which I guess I did because I halved the recipe in the first place…

Anyway, when you roll the oval around your tube of choice, make sure that the open end is tightly sealed against the dough, otherwise it will open and you will get a cannoli shell pancake.  No less delicious, but less tubular.  The recipe says to dab the egg white on the overlapping edges, which I forgot to do, so that may help.  If you’re worried about what way you roll it, think of it as an elongated diamond.  Roll from one obtuse angle side (the long side) to the other.  I actually did from acute to acute (the rounder ends), resulting in a little more overlapping, but it didn’t really affect anything.

Your oil should be about 375° F when you put your cannoli in.  Since I only had one whisk handle that  I deemed appropriately sized, I did one cannoli at a time, but you can do more as long as you DO NOT OVERCROWD THE POT.

To see if your oil is about the right temperature, stick a chopstick in.  Vigorous bubbling is too hot, few bubbles is not hot enough, and steady bubbling is just right!  (Okay, Goldilocks)

Drop your cannoli into the oil and turn it over to evenly fry when it is a light golden color. Fry until a little darker, but not too dark because your shell will continue to cook a little once it’s out of the oil.  As soon as you take it out, remove the cannoli from the tube.  I held the whisk end with an oven mitt and pulled the shell off with tongs.  Let shell cool on paper towels.

photo 2

 

The two flat ones came unrolled, but spread with the filling tasted just as good.  Basically single layer cannoli stacks.

If you have leftover bits of dough, I recommend not re-rolling them, but cutting them into small-ish pieces and frying them as what I like to call, cannoli strips!  Spread with a bit of filling, delicious.

DIRECTIONS (Filling):

Strain ricotta.  All I did was line a wire/mesh-y strainer with a few layers of paper towels.  I wrapped the cheese in paper towels and let it sit, switching out the towels every now and then.  I got impatient and sort of squeezed it, which didn’t really help, but I wasn’t about to wait all night (which the recipe actually recommends…)

Beat your strained ricotta until smooth, then add in your sugar in increments, tasting until it is of desired sweetness.  Beat in vanillaand cinnamon, then stir in some of your finely chopped garnishes.  Chocolate (I used mini chips), pistachios, and orange zest were recommended.  I think the zest is the most important garnish for the filling, personally.  I had a cannoli this morning, and the filling was even better because the zest had a change to permeate the cream even more.  Chill your cream.

Do not fill your cannoli until ready to serve unless you prefer your Italian pastries to be soggy.

To fill a cannoli, either fir your pastry bag with a small star tip that fits inside the cannoli, or if you don’t have a pastry bag (0r don’t feel like using it) cut the corner off a plastic bag and use that.  Squeeze filling into the cannoli until half full, then turn the cannoli around and do the same on the other side.  Press the ends (the cream) into your reserved garnishes.  You can also melt chocolate, dip your unfilled cannoli end into it, let it set, then fill as normal, or drizzle chocolate on top, or really whatever floats your gondola.

Store cannoli shells in an air-tight container.  Reheat them in a 350° oven for a few minutes when ready to use.

To see the original recipe, more tips, and a filling variation, click here

Stay tuned, my breakfast bread is rising as we speak!

Here’s a playlist I hope you’ll enjoy…

Seven Nation Army by  The White Stripes

We Used to Be Friends by The Dandy Warhols

Fidelity by Regina Spektor

Us by Regina Spektor

Dark Blue by Jack’s Mannequin

Sweet Disposition by The Temper Trap

Stacy’s Mom by Fountains of Wayne

Nine In The Afternoon by Panic!  At The Disco

Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked by Cage the Elephant

Have a lovely day!

How to Rescue Sad Bananas

Today I saw three sad-looking bananas on the counter, and my first thought was banana bread.  Specifically riddled with chocolate chips and topped with browned, crunchy walnuts.  Just take a moment to picture that.

So I consulted The Cabinet, basically the home for all recipes and cookbooks and food magazines that make their way into the house.  It’s usually a terrible mess.

 

photo 3

The blue binder on the top shelf that you can’t really see is for all sorts of loose recipes that are organized into handy categories (thanks Mom).  We have a bunch of bread recipes: zucchini, cranberry orange, breakfast breads, dinner rolls, the list goes on.  But there is a specific banana bread recipe we always use.  Since we first discovered it, we’ve barely used any others.  And we’ve annotated it a bit.

The original recipe reads:

1 cup sugar

1/4 cup light butter, softened                                                   Cross out “light”

1 2/3 cup ripe banana (about 3 bananas)                            Preferably VERY ripe*

1/4 cup skim milk                                                                          Use whatever kind of milk you want

1/4 low fat sour cream                                                                **

2 large egg whites                                                                          Two eggs

2 cups all-purpose flour                                                             Plus 1/4 cup

1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt                                                                                     Just a pinch

Cooking spray                                                                                I prefer butter, empty wrappers work wonderfully

(Our modifications are in bold to the right side)

Other notes:

*When it is perfect for banana bread, the peel should be a little more yellow than brown, lots of brown spots, pretty squishy–the banana itself should be fairly limp when you peel it.  I find that these bananas are far easier to mash than bananas ripe for eating.  You can also freeze bananas at this stage for later (there are lots of recipes that call for ripe bananas), but PEEL THEM FIRST!!! Once they’ve been frozen, they’re very difficult to peel, mostly because you have to wait forever…  Put the bananas in a plastic bag, preferably a freezer one, and remove all the air so they don’t get freezer burned.

**I think sour cream is good on chili.  That’s about it for me.  Especially in recipes, I much prefer to use plain Greek yogurt, which is great for all kinds of things.

Avoid using salted butter because I find it to be very salty in a recipe.  If you are using it in baking, void the usual amount of salt the recipe calls for.

If you’re using stone baking-ware, you don’t really need to grease the pan, but I put a bit of butter on the bottom and sides just as a precaution.

And now to the actual preparation of the bread.

Preheat oven to 350°

Combine butter and sugar in bowl (I love my KitchenAid) and blend until combined.  Mash bananas. Stir in milk sour cream/Greek yogurt, and eggs (egg whites if you prefer).  Add these to mixer and blend well.

In a separate bowl, mix flour, soda, and salt.  For any kind of mixing, I love this spoon:

photo 1

It’s really wonderful.  Anyway, then mix the dry ingredients into the banana mixture and beat until fully blended.  Here’s where you can add anything you want.  I usually put chocolate chips in.  But any kind of nut (I think pecans and walnuts are best for this) is good as well.  I usually put walnuts on top.

Spoon or pour the batter into four mini loaf pans*** coated with butter/cooking spray.  Bake for  about 7-10 minutes so the top is just barely firm on the edges and sprinkle chopped walnuts on top.  I put them in after the bread has baked for a while so they don’t sink in as much.  Return the bread to the oven for another 30 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through.  The bread is done when a toothpick stuck in the middle comes out clean or with crumbs on it.

Let the bread cool in the pan for 10 minutes then take the loaves out and cool them completely on a wire rack.

***If you don’t have four mini loaf pans, a 9 inch loaf pan works fine.  Bake it at 350° for an hour and 10 minutes.  You can do two 9-in loaf pans as well, the bread will just be a little squat.  For two pans, take 15-20 minutes off.

I have this really nifty mini loaf pan thing from Pampered Chef that is awesome.

photo 1 (3)

I like baking with stoneware best, and they have really nice pans and utensils there.

The original recipe is called “Mom’s Banana Bread” and the recipe is from Cooking Light.  I now realize that I should have tested both versions of the recipe for you guys… But I didn’t, so next time I have sad-looking bananas on hand, I will do that for you.

Anyway, another thing I love doing with overripe bananas is banana ice cream.  It’s a raw vegan thing, but it’s super delicious nonetheless.  All you have to do is freeze a few bananas completely, then blend them in a food processor or blender until smooth.  It’s good plain, but I love swirling in Nutella and/or almond butter, or topping it with good quality cinnamon and cacao nibs.  Cacao nibs are a Mayan superfood, crunchy bits of raw chocolate that are good by themselves in small portions.  They’re bitter, so be warned.

I also looked up things to do with leftover banana bread.  Some cool ideas I saw were trifles, banana bread pudding, baking them into biscotti, and my personal favorite, banana bread French toast.  I’d love to hear about your experience with any of these recipes in the comments below.  Happy baking!

 

 

My Quandary with Baking Mixes

It’s taken me quite some time but I’ve finally decided that I’ll focus my blog on food. Making food is my passion, I’m in love with it. No denial here. I love making something from a bunch of things that don’t really seem to add up to make the result. I love flavor experimentation and tasting and presentation. The list goes on. Baking is wonderful. It’s soothing and exciting at the same time, it can basically take you anywhere you want to go (Imagination may or may not be required). It results in a creation you can (hopefully) be proud of. But even if it tastes horrible, at least you tried, right? That’s what’s great about it, the homemade factor.

But then there’s baking mixes.

They’re handy, good in a time fix, a good jumping off point for a daunting recipe, but they just don’t have the same appeal for me.

But back up, I’m not a box snob. I’m not embarrassed to use cake mix every now and then. However it certainly takes away from the experience (in exchange for a shorter amount of  time and ingredients).

For example, I’ve never made an angel food cake. Many recipes I’ve seen call for about a dozen egg whites and careful folding. I hate folding batter. So I use a box.

They just seem to take away the creativity and personality of your creation.  So my goal is to (hopefully by the end of the summer) make my own angel food cake from scratch. When I do that, I’ll post for you guys. In the meantime, I’ll attempt to update you more often on my bakig adventures.

If you have any experience with making angel food cakes, tips, funny moments etc. or a great recipe, let me know in the comments below! Thanks!

Blog of a Flower Child

First off, I want to apologize for being absent for months.  I’ll tell you I haven’t had time (or motivation) and leave it at that since you know I’me not a huge fan of excuses.  I know that sounds lame.  It really is.

I’d like to introduce to you a thought that often bugs me when I think about my blog.

Who reads it?  Who actually takes something away from a post, or at the very least appreciates that they did not just waste five or ten minutes of their life?  I can’t even begin to guess how much time I waste on Pinterest and Vine and other social media networks, and to tell someone I was enlightened by those two hours  I wasted would be a lie.  Sure, now I know how to cut a glass bottle and paint like Monet and sew a whale stuffed you, maybe now I know how so-and-so REALLY feels about her ex-boyfriend, but what can I take away from these things?  Appreciation for the single life?  That’s about as deep as that gets, folks.  Passing bits of gossip or a nifty trick aren’t doing anything to really improve my outlook on life.

So maybe blogging, for me anyway, is more enlightening for me than any readers.  It’s a creative outlet, and a way for me to put my thoughts out into cyberspace, even if no one reads or cares about them.

Thats one reason I’m so desperate to find a “purpose” for my blog.  Maybe if my ideas were focused, or my posts could all fit nicely into one cateogory, I could find such a thing.

But maybe it’s even better as just a sort of ADD type thing- it’s a more accurate portrayal of who I am, and how my thoughts work.  I’m called the “flower child” of my family because I don’t always go with the current that my family follows.  Sure, I could be doing my homework, but why not do a craft or paint a picture instead?  It’s the whole right brain vs. left brain type thing.

Don’t get me wrong, if one day I find a good filter for my blog, I’ll apply it right away, but I don’t need one as urgently as I thought.

Since I’ve been gone, I have discovered some new music favorites.  Hope you enjoy!

Bllod Band by Bon Iver

Let Her Go by Passenger

With or Without You (cover) by 2Cellos

Pompeii by Bastille

Cough Syrup by Young the Giant

Merry Happy by Kate Nash

Looking for a Little Help…

Hello all!  I need some ideas.  I’m looking for something that I should blog about every week.  Something like a “Pick of the Week,” like a song I’m in love with or a cool trend I really like.  Why, you may ask?  I think having at least one thing that I’m obligated to blog about with “force” me (in the gentlest way possible) to crank something out at least once a week, just for you guys to see.  That way there will be a certain day for you to check up on the blog, and I’m not posting once in a blue moon.  Also, depending on what I blog about, it might help you guys get to know me a little better.  So here’s a small list I’ve thought of.  Either pick one you like, or come up with your own idea!

Current Event (opinions/overviews)

(the aforementioned) Pick of the Week

A Recipe

A Tutorial (or a review of one)

Comment on which you like best, or share with me your own!  Thanks guys, have a great rest of the week!

Happy September 22nd!!!

IT’S OFFICIALLY THE FIRST DAY OF FALL!!!

Prepare for this delicious season by stocking up on pocket change for lattes and pumpkin bagels!  Also, let me know your favorite fall recipes, and maybe I’ll blog about my favorite…

Fun Fact:  According to Glamour magazine, hats and the color emerald green are in for fall 2013.

I just wanted to wish you guys a happy fall on the account that today actually IS the first day of fall.  Enjoy Thanksgiving and Halloween and Homecoming and all of those other fun celebrations that come with this wonderful season!

Have a good Monday tomorrow (as good as any Monday can really be anyway…), and I’ll post soon!

Here’s a lovely fall poem for you:

Fall

by Edward Hirsch

Fall, falling, fallen. That's the way the season 
Changes its tense in the long-haired maples 
That dot the road; the veiny hand-shaped leaves 
Redden on their branches (in a fiery competition 
With the final remaining cardinals) and then 
Begin to sidle and float through the air, at last 
Settling into colorful layers carpeting the ground. 
At twilight the light, too, is layered in the trees 
In a season of odd, dusky congruences—a scarlet tanager
And the odor of burning leaves, a golden retriever 
Loping down the center of a wide street and the sun 
Setting behind smoke-filled trees in the distance, 
A gap opening up in the treetops and a bruised cloud 
Blamelessly filling the space with purples. Everything 
Changes and moves in the split second between summer's 
Sprawling past and winter's hard revision, one moment 
Pulling out of the station according to schedule, 
Another moment arriving on the next platform. It 
Happens almost like clockwork: the leaves drift away 
From their branches and gather slowly at our feet, 
Sliding over our ankles, and the season begins moving 
Around us even as its colorful weather moves us, 
Even as it pulls us into its dusty, twilit pockets. 
And every year there is a brief, startling moment 
When we pause in the middle of a long walk home and 
Suddenly feel something invisible and weightless 
Touching our shoulders, sweeping down from the air: 
It is the autumn wind pressing against our bodies; 
It is the changing light of fall falling on us.

– See more at: http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/20546#sthash.a7mpRExx.dpuf

 

My favorite songs as of now:

Royals by Lorde

Wake Me Up by Avicii

Fluorescent Adolescent by Arctic Monkeys

I Need Your Love by Calvin Harris ft. Ellie Goulding

Tongue Tied by Grouplove

Talking in Code  by Margo and the Nuclear So-and-Sos

 

Welcome Home by Radical Face

Clarity by Zedd ft. Foxes