Monday, April 17, 2017

Cranberry Orange Brioche

© 2017 Edward C. Kern, Jr.
I decided in the absence of finding my old brioche recipe, I would check out recipes in my more recently acquired cookbooks. How to Cook Everything has an easy looking brioche recipe and The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, an intriguing recipe for Chocolate Chip Brioche Pretzels.

Using ideas from both, here is the recipe I used this Easter:

In a small bowl wisk together until the yeast has dissolved:

1/3 c milk
1 t instant yeast

(I tried using a fork first but found I really needed to use a whisk to dissolve the yeast).

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment [Smitten Kitchen uses paddle; my engineer son says paddle is not designed for dough --- see * below] place:

9.8 oz (2 1/4 c) flour
2 T sugar
1/2 t salt

Add the yeast mixture and:

2 large eggs, at room temperature, lightly beaten

Mix at at low speed  until the dough comes together in a shaggy pile then turn to medium speed and beat for 10 minutes. [Then switch to the dough hook --- if you are using padddle and your mixer hasn't died] and knead  until a smooth dough forms, another 5 minutes.*
Then add:

8T (1 stick) butter, cut in small slices, at room temperature and continue mixing until a smooth dough forms.

Then add:

1 c dried cranberries
Zest of 1 organic orange

Continue mixing until cranberries and zest are well distributed in the dough.

Turn into a large, well buttered dish, cover with plastic wrap and let sit in a warm place for 2-3 hours until doubled in bulk.  Turn onto a floured board and divide dough into thirds, Roll into three long cylindrical strips and braid. Flatten and shape the loaf then let it rise for about an hour.

Brush with a glaze made of:

1 egg
1 t water

Bake in a 400 degree over for about 1/2 hour. Check after 15-20 minutes,and if the brioche is getting too brown, cover the top with foil. When done the bottom of the brioche when tapped, should sound hollow.

Despite the disruptions in intended technique (see below), the brioche came out well and was shared with Alex and her family Easter morning.  It's the third generation (Henry despite all the chocolate eggs he had already eaten, enjoyed a big slice and part of a colored hard boiled egg before negotiating for another chocolate egg) restart of a tradition and the recipe will no doubt be tested and tweeked before next Easter

© 2017 Edward C. Kern, Jr.
* Full disclosure: The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook starts out using an electric mixer with a paddle attachment at slow speed until the dough becomes a "shaggy pile".  It then directs the speed be raised to medium and the mixture beaten for ten minutes --- "the long mixing time creates the soft, stretchy strands brioche is known for" (page 18).  It then directs a switch to the dough hook for the remainder of the recipe. This is the technique I had intended to use. However, my mixer lasted about two minutes into the long mixing time then crashed (fourth photo from top). Time to improvise. I kneaded by hand for a while though maybe not a full 8 additional minutes then tried not so successfully to knead in the butter by hand. I then switched to my food processor fitted with the dough blade.

Ms. Perelman notes: "Unfortunately I find this to be the rare bread dough that's radically easier to make with a stand mixer. Nevertheless, should you feel up for the challenge, you can vigorously "knead" the dough in a large bowl with a wooden spoon for a good 10 minutes before adding the butter. Yes this takes longer than your average bread dough, but that long kneading time is what yields the long stretchy strands essential to great brioche" (page 18).  Well good brioche this time --- great, I hope, after my mixer gets fixed.

Although in my hurried improvision, I used the dough blade, it turns out the metal blade may in fact be better for bread. This is in fact what Mark Bittman recommends in his recipe for Brioche (page 232) in  How to Cook Everything.  The difference is he adds the yeast with the dry ingredients, processes for 5 seconds. Adds cold butter and eggs and processes for 10 seconds, then with the machine running adds the liquid (in his case both milk and water). He then adjusts with water/flour to get the dough to the right consistnecy.  Using 4 c (18 ounces) of flour his recipe makes about twice the dough as the recipe above.

Reviewed 5/8/17

Looking for a Recipe --- Easter Brioche

The virtues of being a messy cook..... The main purpose of this blog is to organize family recipes, particularly those associated with a special occasion. Alex called a few days ago, surprised the recipe for the "brioche" I used to serve on Easter was not on my blog and asked if I could find it. We haven't had a family Easter morning in many years and it is too buttery a loaf for just Ed and me so I hadn't made the bread in a long time. Even so, I was pretty sure I could find this recipe. Among other things, I kept lists of favorite recipes at the start of each section in my old paper notebook. Oops, no "Brioche" under BREAD.
I thought it was in one of my New York Times cookbooks, but checking all three, I found two brioche recipes ("American" and "French") but both were spotless, no notes, no spilled ingredients and no lingering bookmark.  Very unusual for a recipe I had made so often.  Both recipes called for refrigerating the dough overnight and the "French" recipe called for placing the dough in a bowl, covering with lukewarm water, and letting rise until the ball floats in the water.  I don't remember either technique.

The brioche recipe in The Silver Palate Cookbook was also suspiciously clean, but if I had compared recipes I probably would have chosen it because it used less butter, eggs and sugar than the Times recipes.  None of the recipes suggest braiding the brioche, rather baking in muffin tins or brioche molds (with a top knot of dough), or in loaf pans. Then  I realized I had not checked  The Art of French Cooking. No brioche. In fact I was surprised to find the only entries under bread are "preparation of" (as in cutting off the crusts and making toasted bread cases), "crumbs", "croutes", and "rounds". Viva la Boulangerie!

Photos top to bottom 1994, 1995, 1996
There is always the possibility I used the Christmas Stollen recipe. This recipe is covered with ingredients and notes, for many years I've made this just using raisins (not candied fruit) and the Easter "Brioche" does contain raisins (something lacking in all of the above mentioned brioche recipes).  I checked all my paper recipe collections but am going to keep looking for the recipe with the tell-tale spills and notes (like add raisins, braid). Meanwhile Alex may find her own recipe and I'll add a new potentially traditional recipe to Cook's Cache.

Reviewed 5/8/17

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Vegan Mexican Chocolate Pudding

Yesterday while reading the New York Times I saw a reprint of a Mark Bittman recipe for Mexican Chocolate Tofu Pudding. Reminicent of my favorite Vegan Chocolate Flourless Torte as well as another favorite, Boulder Mexican chocolate ice cream, I decided to give it a try. Besides, it would be a perfect finish for the enchilada lunch I planned to make my Mom tomorrow  Then I reread the recipe, I planned to use really good bittersweet chocolate which I eat right out of the bag and tofu isn't really bitter, why so much sugar? I cut the sugar and water by a third and the result was just right.

In a small pot combine:

1/2 c sugar
1/2 c water

Bring to a boil and stir until sugar is dissolved.

Place in a glass container:

8 oz bittersweet chocolate (the better the quality, the better the pudding)

Microwave for 2-3 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds, until melted. Do not overcook, chocolate will burn in the microwave!

Put the sugar water mix and chocolate a blender or the bowl of a food processor and add:

16 oz silken tofu
1 1/2 t cinnamon
1/2 t chipolte chili powder
1 t vanilla

Puree until smooth.  Divide among 6 ramekins (about 4.5 oz in each) and chill for at least an hour. Before serving (or before chilling), garnish with

chocolate shavings

(A chocolate bar works, but a block of chocolate would provide longer chocolate curls.)

Reviewed 5/17/17

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Butternut Squash Enchilladas

Last winter when Ed and I had dinner at Town on recommendation of friends, I ordered "BUTTERNUT SQUASH ENCHILADAS ROASTED TOMATO SALSA, AVOCADO, QUESO FRESCO, TOASTED PEPITAS"  I was not disappointed.  They were excellent and I resolved to try to make them myself soon.  Well soon turned out to be this fall but I have made them quite successfully on several occasions. While I lked the texture of the cubed squash, these would work well with leftover Thanksgiving squash. Serves 2 (4 enchiladas), scale accordingly.

 I first tried them stacked, the way I do traditional Enchiladas (photo at left) but decided I liked them rolled as they were at Town (top photo). I used goat cheese instead of quesco fresco (found with tortillas not other cheeses where I shop) because the quesco fresco blocks were huge. I liked the goat cheese better. I also added chopped sweet onion to the filling

First make the Enchilada Sauce. If you have previously made Version #2 you may have sauce in your freezer.  I use Option #1, which is very quck to make.  Half a recipe is more than enough for two servings. Of course canned enchilada sauce may be used instead.

Preheat ovee to 450 degrees F. Then finely chop:

1/2 small (1#) butternut squash

1/4 large sweet onion

several sprigs of fresh cliantro*

Toss the squash cubes in olive oil and bake  for about 15 minutes until tender.  Reduce oven to 350 degrees F.

Assemble the enchiladas:

Microwave on high for 30 seconds, two at a time

4 corn tortillas

Place two tortillas on two ovenproof plates that have been lightly greased with olive oil. Spread enchilada sauce on each tortilla, then 1/4 of the chopped onion and 1/4 of the cubed squash.
Roll the tortillas, then turn them 180 degrees so that the seam where the edges of the tortilla meet is on the bottom

Top with more enchilada sauce and

1 1/2 - 2 oz. crumbled goat cheese, divided 4 ways.

Bake in 350 degree F oven for 12 minutes.

Remove from oven and top with

1 avacado, silced thin, divided two ways, chopped cilantro

1 T toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds), divided two ways (optional, I sometimes omit)

* I keep chopped cilantro in the freezer.  The frozen cilantro sprinkled directly on the enchiladas also works well.

Reviewed 7/11/2017

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Shaved Zucchini Salad

After several days on our boat there are fewer vegetable options. Zucchihi keeps for a long time on the shelf of our ice box so we grill a lot of zucchini. It was a hot night and we weren't planning to grill, so what to do with the zucchini? I thought of a shaved zucchini pizza we had recently at Three Tomatoes.  I had been intending to use shaved zucchini with pasta, but it was too hot a night for pasta.  Then I remembered Shaved Asparagus Salad. I didn't have scallions, but I did have a have basil (rooted basil keeps for a very long time in water).  Recipe serves 2, scale accordingly.

Wash and dry

2 small zucchihi, remove the stems and cut in half lengthwise

Using a vegetable peeler, thinly slice the zucchini, starting at one edge, into thin ribbons.  Use a sharp knife to slice any residual pieces into small, thin pieces.

Put the shaved zucchini into a bowl, The make the dressing by combining:

2 T extra virgin olive oil
2 t fresh lemon juice
Pepper to taste
2 T thinly sliced basil (and/or 2-3 thinly sliced scallions)

Add the dressing to the salad and gently toss.

Top with freshly grated Parmesean.

Reviewed 6/18/2017

Make Strawberry Stains Vanish

Ever take a toddler strawberry picking, or for that matter give the toodler warm, juicy strawberries to eat?  The delightful result is a trickle of strawberry juice out the corners of the mouth and down the front of the shirt.  When Henry recently decorated his shirt with red strawberry juice, Alex said not to worry just pour boiling water over the stains.  Hot water removes strawberry stains!
I felt like a magician! On contact with boiling water the stains vanished.  Alex advises, DO NOT use any soap or other stain remover on the fabric before applying the hot water. If other treatments are used prior to the hot water, the stains will not dissappear.

Wish I had known this trick last Christmas when strawberry juice from our Strawberry Shortcake ended up on my white table cloth.
And, I must confess this technique also worked well on my clothes after a recent morning of strawberry picking.
Reviewed 9/20/2017

Friday, May 20, 2016

Best Ever Strawberry Rhubarb Pie/Strawberry Rhubarb (Ginger) Crisp

A pair of revised recipes just in time for the beginning of the local rhubarb season.  Time to dig the last of the sliced strawberries out of the freezer and enjoy these better than ever treats..

Two of the earliest posts on this blog were Strawberry Rhubarb Pie, a family recipe, and Strawberry Rhubarb (Ginger) Crisp.  Awesome desserts but alas they "puddled".  I tried cornstarch instead or in addition to flour but the resulting texture was gummy so I resigned myself to a pie that was going to puddle.  However, last week before making my brother's favorite birthday "cake", a Strawberry Rhubarb Pie, I decided to consult one of my favorite cooking blogs, Smitten Kitchen.  TAPIOCA!!! Deb Perelman was not the source of this idea, she gives others credit for using instant tapioca in pies and, in fact, when I rushed out to get a box of instant tapioca, I found a chart on the back of the box devoted to "Favorite Fruit Pies"*  Just as Ms. Perelman added a new recipe when she discovered tapioca, "Improved Strawberry Rhubarb Pie", I decided this pie is good enough, at least in the opinion of my brother and other birthday guests, to merit a post of its own.  It does not puddle and the texture is great!


I did not link to the old recipe, with instructions to delete the flour and add 1/4 cup of instant tapioca, because I have slightly adjusted other ingredients and changed the step by step instructions.

Make a double recipe (I do one crust at a time) of Pie Crust using the VARIATION instructions. Roll 2 large circles of pastry and with one line a 9" pie plate.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

In a large bowl mix together

3 1/2 c  (1/12#) rhubarb, cut in 1/4" pieces
3 1/2 c  (1 #)  strawberries, sliced
5/8 c sugar
1 T lemon juice (optional)
1/2 - 1 t cinnamon
1/4 c instant tapioca

Mix well and let sit for 15 minutes.

Pour mixture into the 9" pastry lined pie plate. Make a top crust. I prefer a lattice rather than a full top crust. Be sure the crust is well sealed at the edges.  Place on a cookie sheet to catch any overflow drippings (though unlike the previous version, this pie will probably not overflow!) and place in the hot oven. Cook for 35 - 40 minutes until crust is nicely browned.

The proof is in the serving dish --- no puddles of juice in the bottom!


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F

In a large bowl mix together, in the same quantities given for the pie, the fruit, sugar, instant tapioca and other ingredients as well as (optional)

1 T finely minced candied ginger.

Let sit for fifteen minutes, then place in a 10" tart dish.  In same bowl (no need to wash) mix well:

1 T melted butter
2 T brown sugar

Then add:

3 T all-purpose white flour
3/4 c rolled oats

Mix again (mixture should be crumbly) then sprinkle over the fruit.

Bake in 375 degree F oven for 35 - 40 minutes.

Again, the proof is in the serving. Excellent texture and no puddles of fruit juice in the bottom of the serving dish!

Both pie and crisp are good served with vanilla ice cream/non-fat frozen yogurt or ginger ice cream

* Apple 6 cups fruit 2 T instant tapioca
  Blueberry 4 cups fruit 1/4 cup instant tapioca
  Strawberry-Rhubarb 4 cups fruit 1/4 cup instant tapioca

AND if some of this delicious pie or crisp ends up on your white tablecloth or toddler's shirt see Make Strawberry Stains Vanish

Reviewed 6/17/2017