Saturday, May 11, 2013

Three tiny cranes

I love things that are tiny. Little cookies, dollhouse furniture, petits fours, baby socks, and these itty bitty cranes.

My brother and sister-in-law were visiting a few weeks ago for our first BBQ of the season and my husband made a paper airplane for my niece. While we were seeing who could throw it the farthest, my brother started making cranes out of a scrap piece of paper. He made one, then a much smaller one, and not to be outdone, my sister-in-law made the tiniest one I have ever seen. It was about 1/4 the size of a watch face. I couldn't believe it. Here are the cute little cranes.

first there was one...then a smaller one...

it was hard to see how small they were so here is the end of a pen to compare

this one was about the size of half of a watch face...I didn't think a smaller one could be made

...but I was wrong! My sister-in-law has nimble fingers...

OMG, look how tiny hers is!

small, smaller, smallest


Bye for now...

Revisiting Buttery Pull-Apart Dinner Rolls

I originally made these delicious Buttery Pull-Apart Dinner Rolls as part of the Avid Baker's Challenge club. I made them again for a make-your-own BLT lunch party, and then again two weeks ago. They are really lovely rolls. Light and tender and pretty easy to make, even if you have a fear of break-making.

Here are my photos from my most recent adventures with Buttery Pull-Apart Dinner Rolls. The recipe can be found on page 208 of The Weekend Baker by Abby Dodge. I definitely recommend giving these rolls a go. We're having a BBQ next weekend so I'm planning to try to make these double-sized so we can use them as hamburger buns. I'll let you know how it goes...Can't wait!

mise en place - you probably already have all of these ingredients in your kitchen

so easy - the dry ingredients get mixed together - no need to even proof the yeast, which I love!

voila - the dough has come together beautifully

it goes into an oiled bowl and is set aside for the first rise

risen to double its size

slightly deflated and ready to be split into rolls

using a bench scrapper, cut into 16 equal pieces (a scale really helps here)

my little bits of dough, ready to be rolled into...well, rolls
roll each one in your palm, against the countertop, using your thumb
to force it in the shape of a ball...

...and then you end up with these pretty round rolls;
set them aside in a buttered pan for the second rise

ready for baking

when they are fresh out of the oven, brush some melted butter over the tops

so pretty!

and so light and tender inside

ready to enjoy

Bye for now...

Friday, May 10, 2013

Garlicy Swiss Chard

My multi-talented sister-in-law recently made a delicious dish of sauteed greens with garlic. I haven't been able to recreate it perfectly, but here is my version which has quickly become a favorite. It's fast, easy, and healthy...and garlicy. I love garlic!

I've used green Swiss chard here, but kale is also great, as is red Swiss chard. I have also started using some frozen chopped (mixed) greens to fill out the pan since the fresh greens cook down so much. I've found that the frozen greens won't let off too much water if I microwave them first until thawed (about 1 minute 30).

For this recipe I used 1 bunch of fresh Swiss chard, 1/2 a bag of frozen chopped greens, 2 heads of garlic, olive oil (a few tablespoons, to coat the bottom of the pan), sea salt, and about 1-2 T. soy sauce. (Add less salt if you use more soy sauce.) A little hint to remove the garlic smell from your hands is to rub them on stainless steel. I'll wash them with a little soap and then rub my soapy hands over the neck of the kitchen sink faucet...rinse and bye-bye garlic every time.

Heat the olive oil over med-low heat and add the chopped garlic and salt. Cook the garlic (until it just starts to turn golden) while you chop the greens. Add the greens, cover, cook. Add the soy sauce, stir, and cook until the liquid evaporates...and, done! Serve with rice, as a side dish, or just enjoy on its own.

everything you need for a quick meal

peel the garlic quickly by giving each clove a smash with the flat side of your knife
the papery bit should come off easily

give the garlic a rough chop...I like larger pieces which will get really sweet as they cook

saute the garlic over medium-low heat (so it doesn't burn), sprinkle on a little salt,
and chop up the greens while the garlic cooks

I cut off the ends and then slice the leaves and stems down the middle the long way

then stack the two halves and slice the long way again

then slice crosswise into a sort of large julienne


add the fresh greens and thawed frozen greens to the garlic and give it a good stir
cover and let cook down

add a tablespoon or so of soy sauce and stir

done and delicious...where is my fork?

Bye for now...

Homemade Granola: Maple Pecan with Raisins

My husband has been on a granola kick lately and - in an effort to save money and control what goes in it - we decided we'd try to make our own. Oats, honey, raisins, nuts...I figured it couldn't be too hard, right? Right! It was easy, inexpensive, and yummy! I brought some to work and have been eating it with yogurt. And, it's delicious with milk, of course! It's also nice because a little goes a long way and is very filling.

It's is also one of those recipes that is completely flexible. Since I hadn't made it before, I wanted a recipe to go from so I wouldn't make any major mistakes, so my recipe below is adapted from the wonderful David Lebovitz. My husband made a different version, adapted from Alton Brown's recipe. My recipe (below) has pecans, raisins, maple syrup, and I tried using Lyle's Golden Syrup instead of honey. At first, when fresh out of the oven, it tasted way too apple-cinnamonny, but the next day that strong apple-cinnamon flavor had dissipated and I liked the flavor a lot more. My husband's recipe has almonds, walnuts, brown sugar, and sunflower seeds. He eliminated the maple syrup and coconut and used walnuts instead of cashews from Alton Brown's recipe. We also both thought that recipe had too much salt.

Homemade Granola: Maple Pecan with Raisins

Preheat oven to 300 degrees and set aside a sheet pan (jelly roll pan, with edges). I also love parchment paper - easy cleanup! - so I also used some parchment paper on the pan.

Mix the following "dry" ingredients (except raisins) in a large bowl:
3 c. old fashioned oats (not quick cooking)
2 c. pecans, roughly chopped
1/3 packed brown sugar
approx. 1/8 c. sunflower seeds, more/less to taste (I only used a bit as I'm not too partial to them)
approx. 3/4 t. ground cinnamon, to taste
approx. 1/4 t. ground ginger, to taste
approx. 1/2 t. salt
1 c. raisins, added during last 10 minutes of baking

Mix wet ingredients in small bowl:
approx. 1/3 c. unsweetened applesauce
approx. 1/3 of 1/3 c. Lyle's Golden Syrup (or honey), see below for screenshot of how much I used
2 T. pure maple syrup
2 T. oil (I used safflower)

Add wet ingredients to dry and mix well with a spatula or large spoon until completely covered. It won't seem like enough liquid but it will eventually coat the dry ingredients.

Spread evenly onto a sheet pan and bake for about 1 hour, stirring well every 10-15 minutes. Add the raisins for the last 10 minutes only or they will burn. The raisins will puff way up and look like re-inflating grapes, but they will re-raisin themselves when they cool.

Bake until the oats have dried out and mixture is no longer moist when you stir. Enjoy on its own as a snack, or with milk or yogurt!

my finished granola with pecans and raisins

my husband's recipe included oats, sliced almonds, chopped walnuts,
sunflower seeds, brown sugar

from the beginning...mix and match whichever flavors you like best

I used about 1/3 of 1/3 of a cup of Lyle's Syrup

wet ingredients mixed together

spread onto my sheet pan, ready to bake

add the raisins for the final 10 minutes of baking

baked, cooled, and ready for snacking

also delicious with milk!

Bye for now...

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Blueberry Muffins (Baking with Julia)

In writing up some of these 2012 adventures in baking posts, I realize I was going through quite a blueberry phase last summer. So far, I've made:

Blueberry Galette
Warm Cinnamon-Spiced Blueberry Cake
Blueberry Crisp
Blueberry Crumble

And now, these amazingly light Blueberry Muffins, courtesy of Julia Child's Baking with Julia. Rick Katz is the contributing baker for this recipe. This is one of my all-time favorite cookbooks. I can always tell my favorite cookbooks from those that are just okay by the number of dog-eared pages, pages stuck together, and notes in the margins. This book has all of those hallmarks and more. Julia Child was a master! And, I love that she didn't find her passion until later in hope to all of us who may still be looking.

mise en place

for cupcakes, the blueberries get covered in flour, which keeps them mixed
evenly throughout the batter instead of falling to the bottom as they bake

creaming the butter and suger

eggs, added

wet and dry ingredients added...

and mixed well

then the blueberries are gently stirred in

scooped into the muffin papers

and baked until golden brown


a close-up of a sprinkle of turbinado sugar on the top

an amazingly light and tender crumb

Bye for now...