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Not As Good As Pork Cracklins

misadventures in cooking

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Hoppy Easter, every bunny

White Velvet Butter Cake, The Cake Bible, p. 46
Neoclassic Buttercream, The Cake Bible, p. 230

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Fougasse... take 2

This more closely resembles what the fougasse should look like. Even so, it had more oven-spring than I anticipated, which caused some of my slits to nearly close. This one was made from a batch of European Peasant Bread. I'd like to try it with the semolina. And I'd like to try to get it a little thinner. It's delicious no matter what it looks like. Roasted red peppers sprinkled with fresh thyme and coarse salt, wrapped in homemade bread dough that's brushed in olive oil? What's not to like?

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Fougasse Stuffed with Roasted Red Pepper

Fougasse Stuffed with Roasted Red Pepper from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. Whoops! Mine ended up larger than I intended, and definitely larger than the space that I had floured on my peel. When I went to shake it loose, it wouldn't budge. I was finally able to pry it off, at which time it landed partly off the baking stone.

I have high expectations for this recipe and my problems today rest fully on my shoulders. I'll try again on Thursday or Friday. Until then, to see what it is supposed to look like, pop on over to Breadbasketcase for a mouth-watering photo.

Blueberry Muffins

Awake and up early enough to swim, but had already talked myself out of it, based on inaccurate weather forecasts that threatened death by flood and lightning. So I whipped up a batch of muffins instead. The crunch of the coarse sugar on top is perfect.

Blueberry Muffins
Adapted from Gourmet Magazine, July 2006

3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup whole milk
1 large egg
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup blueberries
turbinado sugar

Preheat oven to 400°F. Put paper liners in 12 muffin cups.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together butter, brown sugar, milk, and egg in a bowl until combined well. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir only until barely combined. Gently fold in blueberries.

Divide batter among muffin cups. Sprinkle each muffin with 1/8 tsp. turbinado sugar. Bake until golden brown and a wooden pick inserted into center of a muffin comes out clean, 20 + minutes.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Orange Glow Chiffon Cake

A photo of a single slice would have been prettier. Oh well.

Chiffon cake is like a cross between angel food cake and normal butter cake, but it leans toward the angel food side. It's light and airy, because you whip a boatload of egg whites to stiff peaks. But moist and tender like butter cake, because it also has egg yolks and safflower oil. This particular chiffon cake is flavored with orange zest and fresh orange juice.

Even if you're full, you probably have room for this.

Orange Glow Chiffon Cake
The Cake Bible, Rose Levy Beranbaum, p. 155

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Sear-Roasted Cod with Horseradish Aïoli & Lemon-Zest Breadcrumbs

Central Market received a fresh shipment of cod, just in time for me to test "my" recipe for Fine Cooking Magazine before the deadline. I bought four lovely, thick chunks. With sear-roasted recipes, it's important that you not use thin fillets. The rest of the ingredients were easy to find and I followed the directions to a T. I even measured the oil, which I rarely do. It turned out perfectly!

We opened a bottle of rose', but I didn't serve a side dish. Six ounces of fish is a good-sized portion for us, we had a little bit of starch with the breadcrumbs, and the parsley salad added a nice green to the plate.

I filled out and submitted the survey form, and they pieced together a couple of sections as quote for the magazine:

The directions for the sear-roasting technique were easy to follow, and the results were fantastic. We loved the horseradish aioli and the breadcrumbs, too. Their flavors and textures were the perfect complement to the mild, flaky fish. Since the aioli and breadcrumbs could both be made in advance and the fish only took a few minutes to cook, I loved that I was able to put together a company-worthy dinner with very little effort.

Sear-Roasted Cod with Horseradish Aïoli & Lemon-Zest Breadcrumbs
Fine Cooking 92, p 48

Spice-Rubbed Salmon with Honey-Glazed Fennel

Last fall, I received an email from Fine Cooking Magazine, wondering if I would be willing to test a baguette recipe. Oh boy, would I! I am a novice bread baker with lots to learn, so I quickly hit "reply" and said yes. I got a rapid response thanking me for my interest, but they already had a tester. Very disappointing.

Then in December, I got another chance. My absolute perfect ideal of a dinner is a nice piece of fish with a salad, and Fine Cooking was offering me the opportunity to test a recipe for Sear-Roasted Fish! I hit "reply" so fast it would make your head spin. And it worked! I was in! They told me to expect my recipe in the middle of January and that I would have a week to prepare it and fill out a survey form.

I went straight to my favorite fishmonger at Central Market. He was as excited as I was and even gave me his home phone number so that I could call him when I knew exactly what I needed. At that point, I just needed to sit tight.

Finally, mid January rolled around and Fine Cooking gave me warning that they would Fed-Ex the recipe to me. I expected a type-written sheet of paper with one recipe, but what I received was the actual color layout of the entire article. The article included three recipes, and they requested that I test the one next to a little box that would have a quote from a reader. The little box had gobbledygook typed in it, awaiting my feedback.

My test recipe was "Sear-Roasted Haddock or Cod with Horseradish Aioli and Lemon Zest Breadcrumbs". I promptly called Mario to talk about haddock and cod. He warned me that there were storms in the northeast affecting their shipments of both, but that if I would come in on Friday, that would be my best bet. That was fine, actually, because it gave me a couple of days to study the article.

I thought I should read all three recipes, for hints and tips that would make mine successful. As I did, I noticed something that didn't seem quite right. I emailed my contact person at Fine Cooking, wondering if I should ask questions or if I should do the best I could and then fill out the survey. She said to please ask it now... if there is something that was unclear in the story/recipe they wanted to know so that they can change it. After I asked my question, she replied "Amy, what a good catch! Thanks for taking this so seriously..." and went on to tell me that they took that sentence out of the article because it was confusing. THIS IS WHY I LOVE FINE COOKING MAGAZINE!

Friday arrived and I went to Central Market. Of course, they had no cod or haddock. I decided to make one of the other recipes as practice, and cross my fingers that they would get cod or haddock before I needed to return my survey form. Of course, I could have gone to Whole Foods or even some other market, but I'm partial to my fishmonger :)

I'm also partial to fennel and I love the detail that Fine Cooking tends to include in their recipes. For example: "It will look like there’s not much room, but you will be able to squeeze this amount of fennel around the fillets." Because my exact thought was "hmmm, are you sure this is going to fit?" And fit it did. The glazed fennel along with some julienned Granny Smith apple set off the richness of the salmon perfectly.

Spice-Rubbed & Sear-Roasted Salmon with Honey-Glazed Fennel
Fine Cooking 92, pp. 49

Stay tuned for THE test recipe.