Tuesday, February 23, 2010
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. Add milk, water, and butter to a large saucepan and boil on high heat. Remove from heat and slowly add the flour while mixing with an electric mixer set to low. Continue mixing for 2-3 minutes. Then, increase the speed to medium and slowly add the eggs one at a time while mixing. The dough should form a shiny mass.
3. Place the dough in a pastry bag suited with a 3/4 inch plain tip. Pipe 12 mounds measuring 1.5" onto the baking sheets. Bake for 25 minutes on the middle rack. The puffs should be a light golden brown color.
4. Poke .25" deep hole in the side of each cream puff. Turn the oven off and return the cream puffs to oven. Leave the door of the oven slightly open for 2 hours to allow the cream puffs to dry out.
5. In the meantime, beat the cream with the confectioners' sugar in a medium sized bowl until firm. This should take around 10 minutes. Add the vanilla extract and beat again.
6. Cut the tops off of each cream puff and scoop out any soft dough remaining in the center. Spoon the cream into the puffs and put the tops back on the puffs. Place the cream puffs in the refrigerator for 10 minutes. Serve chilled.
1 1/3 cups plus 2 tbsp warm water
1 envelope of active dry yeast
1/3 cup light brown sugar
4 cups all purpose flour
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Pretzel Salt or Sea Salt
2 quarts cold water
1/2 cup baking soda
1. In a large bowl, mix the 2 tbsp of warm water with the yeast. Let the mixture sit until becomes foamy. Next, add the 1 1/3 cups of warm water and the sugar to the bowl and swirl to dissolve the sugar. Ten, slowly add the flour while mixing the dough with an electric mixer set on medium speed. The resulting dough will be firm.
2. Move the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead for 2 minutes. Next, roll the dough into a 2-foot-long rope. Then, cut the dough into 20 pieces. Place the dough pieces on a plate and cover with a damp cloth. Let the dough rest for 10 minutes.
3. Roll each dough piece into a 12-inch-long string. Make a pretzel shape with dough by forming a 'U,' crossing the arms of the 'U' over each other and twisting. Press the ends of the dough on top of the pretzel. pt the pretzels on a lightly floured plate about 1" apart and lightly brush each pretzel with olive oil. Cover the pretzels with a plastic wrap and let sit for 30 minutes.
4. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. In a large pot, boil the cold water and add the baking soda. With a slotted spatula or spoon, move 5 pretzels to the pot of water and boil for 15 seconds on each side. Transfer the pretzels to a drying rack. Sprinkle with salt. Repeat process with the remaining 15 pretzels.
5. Lightly brush 2 baking sheets with oil. Place the pretzels on a baking sheet and bake on the upper middle racks of the oven for 8-10 minutes or until pretzels are golden brown all over. Remove the pretzels from the oven and let them cool for 5 minutes before moving to a cooling rack. Serve warm.
I have finally tried my hand at braising. Braising is a wonderful technique to turn cheap cuts of meat into succulent, tender, and flavorful culinary treats. The technique allows for the collagen in connective tissues to break down into a gel. Additionally, braising uses less liquid than a traditional stew, so the flavors are much more concentrated. The basic procedure to braise a piece of meat is to sear it first in fat to lock in the juices from the meat then you slow cook the meat in liquids to add a bounty of flavors. In this Cuban recipe modified from the book Braise: A Journey Through International Cuisine* by Daniel Boulud and Melissa Clark cheap chicken quarters are marinated in a citrus blend, then seared in olive oil, and lastly slow cooked in the oven with beans and vegetables. The end result is a highly flavorful meal that can be eaten with rice, noodles, or bread to absorb some of the super yummy juice.
4 chicken quarters (legs with thighs attached)
Coarse sea salt
1 clove of elephant ear garlic, peeled, and finely chopped
Zest and Juice from 2 oranges
Zest and Juice from 2 lemons
2 tbsp of fresh oregano
1 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 green bell peppers, chopped
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
1 (15.5 oz) can of chickpeas
4 roma tomatoes, cut in half
4 piquillo peppers**, sliced
1. Season chicken with salt and place in a Pyrex container. In a small bowl, combine orange juice and zest, lemon juice and zest, and oregano. Pour the mixture over the chicken. Cover the chicken and place in the refrigerator overnight.
2. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.
3. Heat the olive oil in a large pan on medium high heat. Remove the chicken from the marinade. Save the marinade. Pat the chicken dry and sear on the hot pan until golden brown on all sides. At this point, the chicken will still be uncooked in the middle but well browned on the outside. Set the chicken aside on a plate. Add the bell pepper and onion to the pan and cook until the onions are transparent and the bell peppers are tender. Depending upon the size of the bell pepper and onion pieces this should take about 8-10 minutes.
4. Place chicken, onions, and bell pepper to a Dutch oven. Add the chickpeas, tomatoes, piquillo peppers, and remaining marinade to the Dutch oven. Cover the pot and place in the oven. Cook the chicken until tender and cooked all the way through. This should take about 1 hour.
** piquillo peppers are from Northern Spain. After being harvested, they are roasted on an open fire pit and packed in small jars. These peppers can be found in specialty grocery stores or on-line. An alternative to piquillo peppers is red roasted peppers.