Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Pithiviers - Tuesdays with Dorie

A French classic that Dorie describes as "one of the great forgotten pastries of France" was one of our Tuesdays with Dorie choices for March from Baking Chez Moi. Comprising two rounds of crisp puff pastry encasing layers of sweet frangipane and homemade prune jam, it was as lovely to look at as it was to eat.
I included the optional lemon zest in the almond cream which added a light, lemony flavour to the dessert, but if I were to make this again, I would also use the juice from the lemon to brighten the prune jam a little. Delicious nevertheless.

Visit here to see what the other bakers made this week. 

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Steel Cut Oatmeal

I've always made steel cut oatmeal according to the package directions, cooked in water with a little salt, with milk, spices, fruit, sweetener, whatever I felt like having at the time, added to my bowl. Then I came across a recipe in Flour, Too by Joanne Chang that replaces half the water with milk. I was amazed at the difference it made....so incredibly rich and creamy you would think it wasn't good for you.
I still follow the package cooking directions for the brand I buy but replace half the water with milk and add some sweetener and spice to my pot so it tastes great just the way it is but you can dress it up even more with dried fruits and nuts, fresh fruit or fruit compotes so it's a different bowl every time.
Steel Cut Oatmeal
inspired by Flour, Too
serves 4

200g/1 cup steel cut oats
540ml/2-1/4 cups low-fat milk
540ml/2-1/4 cups water
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp brown sugar or maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla  

In a medium saucepan, combine the steel cut oats, milk, water, salt and cinnamon. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium, medium-low to maintain a simmer and cook for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the oats are cooked (soft with a bit of chew in the centre - al dente).

Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the brown sugar and vanilla. Serve with your favourite toppings.

Store leftovers in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to a week.  One minute on high with 1 tbsp milk stirred in is all that's needed to reheat a single serving in the microwave.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Nun's Beignets - Tuesdays with Dorie

I rarely eat doughnuts and it's rarer still that I deep fry food but for this week's Tuesdays with Dorie, I did both. The things we do for our online cooking groups!  
These sweet treats didn't involve any yeast-raised dough, just an easy choux pastry that was fried until puffed and golden then rolled in cinnamon-sugar. They were crisp with a tender interior and quite delicious. Who could resist them? My family certainly couldn't - they disappeared as quickly as I could make them

To see what everyone else made this week, visit here.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Chrusty for Fat Thursday

The highlight of any Polish sweets table for me is chrusty. Mounded high on platters and dusted with powdered sugar, these delicate, airy confections are subtly sweet and crisp yet melt-in-your-mouth tender. They're also highly addictive; it's impossible to stop at just one. 
You'll see them often at Polish celebrations but they're also one of the traditional indulgences of Poles on Fat Thursday, the last Thursday and one of the last feast days before the Catholic Lenten fast begins on Ash Wednesday. My mother's friend Irena's are the best I've ever had and she very generously shared her family recipe so that we can make them too.

makes about 50

80g/4 large egg yolks
pinch salt
1 tbsp vodka
1-1/2 tsp white vinegar
1-1/2 tbsp sour cream
1 tsp vanilla
125g/scant 1 cup all-purpose flour

454g/1lb shortening or lard for frying

115g/1/2 cup icing sugar 

In a medium bowl, whip the egg yolks and salt on high speed until creamy, about 2 minutes. Add the vodka, vinegar, sour cream and vanilla and beat 1 minute or until incorporated. Stir in the flour with a wooden spoon and mix until a ball of dough forms. The dough will be quite sticky. Turn it out onto a well-floured surface and knead for 8-10 minutes, adding flour as needed, until the dough is smooth and elastic with a slight sheen, like pasta dough.

Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let it rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.

In the meantime, melt the shortening. Place it in a large, deep skillet or a shallow dutch oven over medium heat, or in an electric fry pan, and heat to 175C/350F.

Once the dough has rested, divide it in two and working with one piece while the rest remains well-wrapped, roll it out into a circle about 30cm in diameter and 2mm thick, dusting the dough and work surface with flour as needed. The dough should be thin enough to read a newspaper through.

Alternatively, if you have a pasta maker, divide the dough into three portions. Working with one piece while the remaining portions are well-wrapped, dust it with flour and roll it through the machine twice each on settings 1, 3 and 5, and once on setting #6.

To shape the chrusty, cut the dough into 4cm wide strips, then cut each strip crosswise into 10-12cm lengths. Cut a 5cm slit lengthwise in the centre of each piece, then pass one end of the strip through it and pull gently. Transfer the shaped chrusty to a parchment or silpat-lined sheet pan and cover them with plastic wrap to prevent them from drying.

Repeat the rolling, cutting and shaping with the remaining dough.

Cover some cooling racks or sheet pans with 2 layers of paper towel.

To fry the chrusty, make sure your melted shortening is at 175C/350F. Add a few chrusty to the hot shortening without overcrowding the pan. They will sizzle and start to puff immediately. After about 30 seconds, once the sizzling has subsided and the bottoms are a pale golden, turn them and fry the other side for about 20 seconds or until the bottoms are the same pale golden shade. Remove them immediately - a fork inserted through the opening works really well - first allowing the excess shortening to drip back into the pan, and place them on the paper towels in a single layer to drain. If they are browning too quickly, reduce the heat under the fat and if they take longer than one minute to cook, raise the heat. Continue cooking them in small batches.

Once they've cooled completely, use a sieve to sprinkle them with icing sugar. Since there's no sugar in the dough, be generous!

To store, stack them gently in containers and cover them loosely with plastic wrap.