Thursday, September 30, 2010


FOCACCIA IS THE BEST INVENTION OF ALL TIME, PROBABLY. It's better than the wheel, because wheels don't taste good with soup. 



Yield: 3 lb /1.36 kg

Cornmeal, as needed
18 fl oz / 540 mL water
½ oz / 14 g compressed yeast
2 fl oz / 60 mL extra-virgin olive oil
1 lb 12 oz / 794 g hard wheat flour
½ oz / 14 g salt

Garnish Options
Crumbled goat cheese, as needed
Olives, pitted and sliced, as needed
Pine nuts, as needed
Sun-dried tomatoes, as needed
Chopped herbs such as basil and oregano, as needed
  1. Line baking sheets with parchment. Scatter with cornmeal.
  2. Combine the water, yeast, and oil until yeast is dissolved. Add the flour and salt. Mix the dough until smooth and elastic. Cover the bowl and allow the dough to ferment for 75 minutes. Punch down and scale the dough at 10 oz / 284 g per foccacia. Round off dough. Set dough on prepared sheet pan and proof at room temperature 1 hour.
  3. Press the balls of dough flat and stretch slightly. Brush with olive oil and add any optional garnish items desired. Pan-proof an additional 30 minutes.
  4. Bake in a 425°F / 218°C oven for approximately 30 minutes.
Variation Grissini: Prepare the dough through step 2. Punch down and scale at 1½ oz / 43 g. Round off the dough. Seton a sheet pan and proof at room temperature 1 hour. Roll the balls into long, thin sticks. Brush with olive oil or egg wash and top with desired seasoning: kosher salt, sesame seeds, or fresh herbs. Pan-proof an additional 15 minutes. Bake in 425°F / 218°C oven for 10 to 12 minutes.
Chef’s note: Focaccia may be lightly brushed with garlic and olive oil and served on its own, used as the base of an hors d’oeuvre or sandwich, or dressed with various additions

Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Baked Brownie

OK, I have to admit I was kind of skeptical when I kept hearing how great the Baked brownie was. It's not that I've ever eaten a bad brownie, but I just didn't see how this one could live up to the expectations I had. I mean, it's just a brownie, right? WRONG. This brownie basically will render you speechless. It's definitely my favorite brownie, and Jamie Oliver's Fifteen Chocolate Brownie is a very close second. I actually used milk chocolate instead of dark because that's all I had, but it still turned out fine. But anyways, I am very glad I tried these and I encourage you to try them, too! Also, you will notice a playlist at the end of the post and I am adding that because I love listening to music while baking or cooking and I thought I'd put what I listened to just for fun :)

The Baked Brownie

1-1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp dark unsweetened cocoa powder
11 oz dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 tsp instant espresso powder
1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
5 large eggs, at room temperature
2 tsp pure vanilla extract

- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- Butter the sides and bottom of a 9x13 Pyrex baking pan
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and cocoa
- Put the chocolate, butter, and instant espresso powder in a large bowl and set over a saucepan of simmering water, stirring occasionally utnil the chocolate and butter are completely melted and smooth
- Turn off the heat, but keep the bowl over the water and add the sugars. Whisk until completely combined, then remove the bowl from the pan. Allow mixture to come to room temperature
- Add 3 eggs to the chocolate mixture and mix until combined. Add the remaining eggs and whisk until combined.
- Add the vanilla and stir until combined. Do not overbeat the batter at this stage or brownies will be cakey.
- Sprinkle the flour mixture over the chocolate mixture and using a spatula (not a whisk), fold the flour mixture into the chocolate until just a bit of the flour mixture is visible.
- Pour the batter into the pan and smooth the top
- Bake in the center of the oven for 30 minutes, rotating pan halfway through, until toothpick inserted comes out clean
- Let the brownies cool completely, then cut them into squares

The Playlist:
  1.  Phoenix-1901 (Fortune remix)
  2. The Greenhornes-Saying Goodbye
  3. The Velvet Underground-Sister Ray
  4. Gogol Bordello-Super Taranta
  5. The Black Keys-No Trust
The Velvet Underground song is 17 minutes long, so that was what I was listening to for at least half the time I was baking. What music do you listen to while in the kitchen?


Thursday, September 9, 2010

Classic Apple Pie

I'll be honest. I kind of despise both spring and summer. Spring because of my bad allergies, and summer because it's so HOT. And when it's 100 degrees outside, I have a hard time justifying baking anything. But since yesterday we only had a high of 82 degrees, I was allowed to use up all the apples in the house in this tasty apple pie recipe.

Classic Apple Pie

From Baked: New Frontiers In Baking by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito

Unfortunately, I can't find the recipe anywhere online and I returned this book to the library before copying it down. But most apple pie recipes are winners, so bake your favorite! 

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Grilled Pizza

Pizza on the grill. I thought it was kind of a bad idea until I saw a post about it on one of my all-time favorite blogs, Annie's Eats, and then I wanted to try it immediately. It was a great way to use up some squash and tomatoes before we went out of town, and it tasted absolutely delicious. I wouldn't recommend using a storebought dough for this; the one I used for half the pizzas worked wonderfully in the oven, but didn't hold up on the grill very well. A nice, handmade pizza crust will work much better. So, don't be scared like I was! Do yourself a favor and try making pizza on the grill!

Grilled Pizza


Thinly sliced zucchini and yellow squash

Thinly sliced cherry tomatoes

Kosher salt

½ batch homemade pizza dough, at room temperature*

Olive oil

Thinly sliced red onion

Fresh basil, minced

Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Crumbled feta cheese

Freshly ground black pepper


Heat a grill to medium-high heat. Place the slices zucchini, yellow squash and tomatoes in a colander set over the sink or a large bowl. Toss with ¾ teaspoon kosher salt. Let sit 20-30 minutes to drain excess liquid.

Meanwhile, transfer the pizza dough to a lightly floured work surface. Divide the dough into four equal portions. Let rest 10 minutes. Meanwhile, shape each piece of dough into a flattened round, about 6-7 inches in diameter. When the coals are heated, generously oil the grates (I use a wad of paper towels dipped in olive oil, and hold it with tongs). Carefully place the shaped dough rounds onto the grill and cover. Let cook until nicely browned on the bottom surface, and large bubbles appear on the top surface, about 3-4 minutes. Carefully remove the partly cooked dough rounds from the grill for topping.

Transfer the dough rounds to a work surface so that the cooked side is facing up (this is the side that will hold your toppings). Top evenly with sliced zucchini, yellow squash, tomatoes, and red onion. Sprinkle with minced basil, freshly grated Parmesan and crumbled feta. Season with pepper, to taste. Carefully return the topped pizzas to the grill, cover, and let cook until the bottom surface is nicely browned and the cheeses are melted, about 4-6 minutes. Remove from the grill. Serve warm.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Chocolate-Chocolate Chunk Muffins

Muffins are fantastic because you can bake a huge batch of them and have something delicious to eat for breakfast every morning for the next few days, which is very useful if, like me, you never seem to have breakfast foods in your house. Chocolate for breakfast may not seem nutritious, but think about it: cacao is a bean, and beans are good for you! So I consider chocolate a vegetable, and therefore you should eat it whenever possible.

Chocolate-Chocolate Chunk Muffins

Adapted from Baking: From My Home To Yours by Dorie Greenspan

Yield: 12 muffins

¾ stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter

4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

2 cups all-purpose flour

2/3 cup granulated sugar

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted

1 tablespoon baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

1¼ cups buttermilk

1 large egg

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


12-cup muffin pan

1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Butter or spray the 12 molds in a regular-size muffin pan or fit with paper muffin cups. Place the muffin pan on a baking sheet.

2. Melt the butter and half the chopped chocolate together in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Remove from the heat.

3. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a large glass measuring cup or another bowl, whisk the buttermilk, egg and vanilla extract together until well combined. Pour the liquid ingredients and the melted butter and chocolate over the dry ingredients and, with the whisk or a rubber spatula, gently but quickly stir to blend. Do not overmix the batter. Stir in the remaining chopped chocolate. Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups.

4. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until a thin knife inserted into the center of the muffins comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool for 5 minutes before carefully removing each muffin from its mold.

Chocolate Gelato

Summer's not over yet, is it? Well, it doesn't matter because it's always a good time to make chocolate gelato. Always. Even though "gelato" just means ice cream in Italian, it will make you feel more sophisticated saying it. And eating it is just plain enjoyable. So go ahead and make some!

Chocolate Gelato

Adapted from Epicurious


2 ounces fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened)

2 1/4 cups whole milk

1/3 cup heavy cream

3/4 cup minus 2 tablespoons superfine granulated sugar

1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

4 large egg yolks

1. Coarsely chop chocolate. In a 2-quart heavy saucepan bring milk, cream, and about half of sugar just to a  simmer, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Remove pan from heat and add cocoa powder and chocolate, whisking until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth.
2. Have ready a large bowl of ice and cold water. In a bowl with an electric mixer beat yolks and remaining sugar until thick and pale. Add hot chocolate mixture in a slow stream, whisking, and pour into saucepan. Cook custard over moderately low heat, stirring constantly, until a thermometer registers 170°F. (Do not let boil.) Pour custard through a sieve into a metal bowl set in ice and cold water and cool. Chill custard, covered, until cold.
3. Freeze custard in an ice-cream maker. Transfer to an airtight container and put in freezer to harden, 1 to 3 hours.