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applesauce cake

adapted from Gale Gand's Applesauce Cake 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened to room temperature 2 cups brown sugar (dark or light), ...

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

of course.

um, ahem. the reports of the Zojirushi bread machine's death were a little exaggerated. I managed to resuscitate it for at least one more loaf. but it's definitely time for it to live out its last days baking simple loaves while I quietly search for a worthy successor. so still looking for (Zojirushi only; I'm fanatically loyal to this brand) recommendations, but please keep them kind of quiet, in case the old bread machine reads this blog.

no, I'm NOT crazy. why do you ask?

the Zojirushi bread machine is dead. long live the new Zojirushi!

it seems that after my last post, I forgot to knock wood -- my good old Zojirushi seems to have been banished to the land of wind and ghosts. so now I can contemplate a NEW machine! one that won't make sideways loaves of bread! with a jam cycle! and a cake cycle!

it'll be a Zo again, of course. the only question is: which one?

Sunday, September 26, 2010

darned good sandwich bread

I have an ancient (well, at least 20-year-old) Zojirushi bread machine. I'd get a new one, with all the cool new features, but this one refuses to quit. so I love it, despite its funky-shaped loaves. when it's cooler out, I use it to knead the dough, and bake in the oven -- the best of both worlds. but it's still hot here, and I started getting tired of my usual bread machine recipe -- just wasn't doing it for me. I tweaked it and came up with something I really like. it has a nice, tight, fine crumb and tasty crust and works perfectly for toast and sandwiches.

1.5 cups milk (water's fine, too -- I just had some extra milk I needed to use up; buttermilk would also be good)

1.5 tablespoons sugar (or honey)
2 teaspoons salt
1.5 teaspoons yeast
2 tablespoons olive oil (sometimes I use butter)
3 cups unbleached white flour (currently liking Bob's Red Mill or King Arthur)
.5 cup whole wheat flour

dump it all in the machine in order, set machine for a 4-hour cycle (on mine, this is called "dry milk basic bread," for some reason). the extra kneading and rising cycle makes a difference here. next time, I'll try using a higher proportion of whole wheat flour.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

very decent arrabiata sauce

1/4 cup (or a little less) olive oil (but use more than you normally would -- it's what makes the sauce taste sumptuous)
6 cloves garlic, slivered
1.5 teaspoons red chile flakes (more or less, to your taste -- mine came out nicely hot, but not too hot)
28 ounces canned tomatoes (crushed or diced; doesn't matter, but get the best ones you can find)
a couple of handfuls of small, tender basil leaves, whole (or tear them in pieces if they're larger)
a healthy splash of sherry (first choice) or white wine or even white vermouth
2 teaspoons sugar (I used brown sugar, probably doesn't matter but I like how it colors the sauce)
salt and crushed black pepper to taste

small amount of good balsamic vinegar, to taste

this came out so good that I had to restrain myself from eating it all by the spoonful or on bread.

heat the olive oil over medium heat, then add the garlic and chile flakes and cook for a couple of minutes (don't let the garlic brown or burn). add the tomatoes, 2/3 of the basil leaves and sherry, and simmer for about 20 minutes. add the remaining basil leaves and sugar, simmer for a bit, then add salt and freshly crushed black pepper to taste. remove from heat and season with balsamic to taste, starting with a little less than a teaspoon.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

waffles, waffles, waffles!

I broke down (rather easily) and got a Presto 3510 FlipSide Belgian Waffle Maker at amazon.com (actually, someone else broke down and bought it for me. thank you!), and have been spending the past week making waffles in my spare time. first, a word about this nifty little device: people, you *need* one. not only does it make beautiful, round, huge, deeply pocketed Belgian waffles in about 3+ minutes each, it's very easy to clean and will make you instantly popular. *update: this little waffle iron is a star! it does everything I want it to do: not stick to batter, bake waffles that have the proper texture (a crisp, crackly crust enshrouds each waffle's tender, delicious interior.

instead of using regular cooking oil or spray to season the grids, I brushed them lightly with a mixture of canola oil and lecithin in a ratio of 3:1 -- this (or an olive oil version) is what I use to make all my cookware nonstick - more about it some other time. not a one of the waffles has stuck to the iron nor come apart -- they all release instantly and beautifully.

the first recipe I tried (one I found somewhere for buttermilk waffles that uses a popular baking mix) came out all wrong -- too eggy, too sweet, too soft. so I decided to go back to an older waffle recipe I used to bake in a regular waffle iron with great success, and it turned out great! here it is:

fabulous cornmeal waffles

1-1/4 cups all purpose flour (I used King Arthur unbleached white flour)
3/4 cup cornmeal (for extra yummy texture, I used Bob's Red Mill medium-grind yellow cornmeal, and no, I don't work for Bob's, I swear!)
2 tablespoons sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder (aluminum-free)
scant 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1-3/4 cups buttermilk (I always have tons of real buttermilk in my freezer, as it's a by-product of making butter)
6 tablespoons melted butter
2 eggs, separated

first, mix the dry ingredients: in a large bowl or jug stir together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. make a well in the middle of the dry mixture, and pour in the buttermilk, melted butter and egg yolks, stir to combine (but don't overmix). beat the egg whites to firm peaks, stir 1/4 of the beaten egg whites to the waffle batter to lighten it, then fold the remaining egg whites in. make sure to get your waffle iron clean, prepared and heating before beating the egg whites; by the time you're done with the batter, the iron should be hot.

to cook, pour a generous 3/4 cup - scant cup of this batter into the center of the iron and let it spread out a bit. set a timer (with my particular iron, I found these waffles took between 3 minutes 15 seconds and 3 minutes 30 seconds to cook completely without over-browning). I then flipped the waffle over -- it's fun, but I don't think it's essential to flip. if your waffle iron doesn't have have this feature (or you forget to flip), it doesn't seem to make much difference. cook the waffle just until the steam stops pumping out of the iron (it doesn't have to stop completely, but if you stop the cooking while the steam is still going strong, your waffle will be under-cooked). keep the finished waffles warm in a toaster oven or regular oven set at about 200 °F until they're all done, then serve.

I topped these with homemade butter, fresh raspberries and maple syrup. in the fall, I like cornmeal waffles as a side dish for roasted chicken or pork, served with sliced apples sautéed in butter, cinnamon and a little brown sugar. I'm sure there are many more variations; next time I'm going to omit the sugar and add shredded sharp cheddar and jalapenos to make savory waffles to serve with fried chicken.

this recipe made about 4-1/2 waffles, so I'll probably double it next time and freeze the extra to heat in the toaster oven for quick breakfast. and perhaps some day, my freezer will no longer be overflowing with buttermilk!