Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Avocado Toast

I love avocadoes!  When on a three week business trip to Indonesia many years ago, one of the lunch options was a whole avocado, cut in half with a little seafood salad in the pit hole. Ordered it every day.  Love avocado Tacos, Guacamole, and avovado slices in turkey/chicken sandwiches. When having lunch at Forge Baking Company recently, I ordered the pizza slice. No pizza, but if you want something light, the server suggested, order:
AVOCADO TOAST – Avocado topped with salt, pepper, and olive oil on choice of housemade bread .  
Missed this on the menu because it is actually a breakfast offering (thinking now of the avocadoes offered for breakfst during a trip to Costa Rica), but also available for lunch.  Yum! Why didn't I think of this? So delicious and easy to make.  

Recently, I had a box of fresh basil from Chris's indoor garden, a loaf of Dave's Killer Bread, which I had bought on reccomendations posted on our town "link", and of course, avocadoes, so I improvised accordingly. 

Serves 1, scale accordingly.

1 large slice of bread.

While bread is toasting, thinly slice lengthwise 
1/2 avocado

Arrange sliced avocado on toasted bread.
(Looked prettier at Forge.  Avocado was very thinly sliced and  arranged in aperfect line on the toast. Think they must have use a slightly firmer avocado.)

Top with

Olive oil, drizzled
Salt (this is a recipe where salt is important!)

Then sprinkle with (addition to Forge recipe)
Basil, coarsley chopped

Silce in half. Enjoy for breakfast and lunch!

Moogie's Plum Pudding

Last winter a friend of Mom's asked me for Mom's Plum Pudding recipe.  It took a fair amount of digging through her recipe books and folders but finally I came upon a "xeroxed" recipe - a vintage copy where the print gradually vanishes as if written with disapearing ink. Most all of it was still, though faint, readable. By then it was early spring and hardly the time to post a winter holiday recipe. I probably won't make this since  Christmas Pudding is not as popular at our house now that Chris has taken over making holiday desserts, but given this blog is mainly for family this recipe, a medieval dessert cooked in a microwave oven,  deserves to be included.

I'm pretty sure this recipe contains the most ingredients of any recipe on this blog.  It also makes a huge amount. As I recall, Mom made a few smaller puddings for gifts, served some pudding at Christmas and took some to a New Year's Eve gathering she and Dad attended for many years.  I'd definately consider halving or even quartering the recipe though a partial recipe would probably result in lots of leftover ingredients.

"Recipe for Plum Pudding makes 4, 4 cup large puddings."

In a large mixing bowl, combine:

"12 oz raisins - or 1/2 lb
8 oz currants - 2/3 box
3 oz lemon peel
8 oz fruitcake fruit
3 oz orange peel
1 c dried bread crumbs
1/2 c apple, grated (1)
1/2 c carrot grated (1)
1/2 c potato (1 small) [assume potato is grated]
3/4 c candied pineapple
1/4 c + 2 TBL butter or 4 oz ground suet (I use butter) (kidney suet)
1 c sliced almonds
4 c flour (sifted)
1 1/2 c sugar
1/2 t ground cinnamon
1/2 t ground cloves
1/2 t ground nutmeg
1 c brandy
2 c apple cider"

Cover and let sit in a cool place overnight. Next day add

1 c molasses
1 3/4 t soda

"and stir into batter. [Pour batter into? - illegeible, ink vanished! Should the containers be buttered/"greased"? I would butter] any of the following containers:

A 4 cup glass measure [ing cup] makes the traditional high shape. A Pyrex casserole or bowl with a glass in the center makes a ringed shape, or a glass bread pan makes a loaf shape.

Fit 2 layers of brown paper into the bottoms of the molds. Fill molds 2/3 full with the batter.  Cover tightly with plastic wrap to get the steamed effect.

Microwave 10 to 15 minutes until top is almost dry and a toothpick comes out clean. Timing depends on shape and volume of mold. For best results cook one at a time and turn as it bakes.

To Store: [Remove from molds. ]Wrap in brandy soaked cheesecloth then in plastic wrap. Store in a cold place or freeze.

To Serve: Reheat, without unwrapping, in microwave oven 2 - 3 minutes.

Unwrap pudding, place on plate.  Dim lights. Carefully pour warm brandy over the pudding and light.

Serve with brandied hard sauce."


1/4 c butter
1 c conf[ectioners] sugar
1 t boiling H20
2 TBL Brandy

Cream together butter and sugar, add boiling H20, salt, Brandy. Beat til smooth and fluffy.

Hard sauce recipe should be triple or 4 times the above to serve with pudding."

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 (now called Vegan Chocolate Pudding with Cinnamon and Chile). 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. Since then I have cut the sugar by two-thirds and the chocolate by at least one quarter. See variations, including FAVORITE VARIATION below.  

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.)

November 2022
: First Stonyfield Farm went from nonfat frozen yogurt to whole milk frozen yogurt, now they have stopped production of our go-to dessert. After failing to find a good commercially produced alternative, I've found this is a good replacement. However, since it is not a special occasion dessert, I've modified the recipe:    

6 oz bittersweet chocolate

1/4 c sugar
1/4 c water

16 oz silken tofu

1 t vanilla or almond extract 

Chili powder and cinnamon to taste. I usually omit and occasionally top with cinnamon.

I add the tofu first, then then chocolate on top (chocolate less likely to stick to the bowl). I pour the sugar water mixture into the glass measuring cup I melted the chocolate in (after putting chocolate in the food processor) to get the last of the chocolate out.

I often put in the freezer (in a covered container) to chill for an hour before eating then top with a few chocolate chunks (chips) or a few fresh or (mostly thawed) frozen raspberries. This pudding though a tad higher in saturated fat, due to the large amount of chocolate, has no sodium or cholesterol, much less sugar (2 t per serving). and fewer calories than the frozen yogurt.

Substitute 3 T of cocoa powder for 3 oz of the bittersweet chocolate. Add 1 T cornstarch.
While this saves about 60 calories, 7 g of saturated fat and 4.6 g of sugar per serving, despite the cornstarch, the resulting pudding has less body.

In an empty food processor bowl place: 

4 oz toasted hazelnuts or almonds and blend until the nuts are finely ground

Use vanilla extract if using hazelnuts, almond extract if using almonds. Chili powder and cinnamon to taste. I usually omit both but occasionally top with a dusting of cinnamon, especially after a Mexican dinner.

Proceed with the original recipe.  When well blended divide into eight ~3.7 oz servings (rather than six 4 oz servings) or spoon into a quart container and refigerate until serving.

A 3.7 oz serving:  235 calories with hazelnuts, 3.3 g sat fat, 13.01 g sugar, 5.82 g protein. (154 calories without nuts).

Reviewed 5/17/17
Revised 11/21/22
Revised 2/10/24