CINNAMON TURBAN BREAD

King Arthur all purpose flour and instant yeast: $11

Penzey’s Ceylon cinnamon: $4

Sugar, oil, salt: $2.50

Baking Noon Rogani just in time to join this party: PRICELESS!

NOON ROGANI
(from King Arthur website)

19 ounces all purpose flour
1 teaspoon instant yeast
10 ounces warm water
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

filling
2 ounces melted butter, divided
2 to 4 ounces sugar to taste
2 teaspoons cinnamon

In a large bowl mix the flour, water and yeast to a thick shaggy mass. Let rest for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes add the salt, sugar and vegetable oil to create a dough that is not sticky to the touch but still slightly tacky. Knead by hand, mixer or bread machine until the dough is smooth and elastic.

Place the dough in a greased bowl and cover. Let rise until puffy, about 30-40 minutes.

Turn out the dough onto a well floured surface. Gently deflate and shape into a square pillow. Roll the square to approximately 23″ square and 1/8th” thick.

Mix the cinnamon and sugar in a small bowl. Brush the dough with half of the melted butter and generously sprinkle on the cinnamon sugar mixture. Use more or less sugar to taste.
Roll up the dough tightly, pinching the seam well, and continue rolling and stretching the rope until it reaches a length of 5 feet. Twist the entire length of the rope similar to wringing out a towel, but much more loosely.

On a greased baking sheet or parchment paper, coil the rope into a round spiral, turban style. Don’t wrap too tightly, keep the coil slightly loose to aid in the final rise. Brush with the remaining melted butter and set aside, covered, to rise until puffy 40-45 minutes.

Bake the loaf in a preheated 400°F oven for 30-45 minutes or until deeply golden brown. Cool slightly on a rack before serving. Makes one 10-12″ spiral.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: This was a fun bread to make, the dough was easy to handle, it would be a great baking project for kids. I decided to halve the recipe, but should have taken that in account during baking: 35 minutes was too long, and my bread did not turn as soft and tender inside, as others described. Live and learn, right?  It still tasted great, like a giant cinnamon roll, minus the icing.

Note to self: If halving the recipe reduce baking time to 25 minutes!

I am submitting this post to Susan’s Yeastspotting.

ONE YEAR AGO: Summertime Gratin


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SWEET EMERGENCY

You need to bring something sweet and tasty for an event that will take place in less than 24 hours.

You are cake challenged.

What could you possibly do?   Get into panic mode?   Call 911?   Worse yet, grab something from the grocery store?  No need.    Emergency cupcakes to the rescue!

EMERGENCY BLENDER CUPCAKES
(from Abigail Dodge, The Weekend Baker)

1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder, not Dutch-processed, sifted
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup hot water
1/2 cup canola oil
1 large egg
1 + 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

For frosting:
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup butter, cut into pieces
1 cup condensed milk
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt
Optional: sprinkles for decoration

Heat the oven to 375F.  Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners.

Combine flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda and salt in a blender.  Cover with the lid and process until combined.  Add hot water, oil, egg, and vanilla.  Process until smooth, making sure to stop a few times and run a spatula around the edges to ensure it is fully homogenized. Pour into the prepared muffin cups, filling 3/4 of the way.

Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean – about 17 to 20  minutes.  Transfer to a rack to cool.

Prepare the frosting by melting chocolate and butter in the microwave. Add condensed milk, corn syrup, vanilla and salt.
Whisk until well blended. Set aside at room temperature, whisking frequently. The frosting will thicken as it cools. When completely cool, cover with plastic wrap until ready to frost the cupcakes.  It can be prepared in advance.

Decorate with sprinkles if you so desire…

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: This recipe is all over the internet, getting praises from both experienced and naive bakers.  Experienced bakers love the fact that they can have something simple but delicious ready at the drop of a hat.  Naive bakers… well, we need this recipe.  It is a dream come true for those with cake insecurities.   One important note:  the frosting recipe makes A TON.  Unless you plan to have cake emergencies on a daily basis for a month, consider halving it.  😉

ONE YEAR AGO:  The bread we love

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TOUR DE FRANCE FINAL STAGE: PARIS


Last year I participated in an event with the goal of increasing awareness about cancer,  “The Taste of Yellow“, that was hosted by Barbara from Winos and Foodies.  Now I have the privilege of joining one of her other events:  food blogging along  the “Tour de France,” the premier bike race in the world!  This year   sixteen teams cruised, bounced and blasted through a 2,263 miles circuit that started in Rotterdam on July 3rd.  Each year the race takes a different route, but it always end in Paris, with the final stretch taking the athletes back and forth along the spectacular Avenue des Champs Elysees, between the sublime Place de la Concorde and the gorgeous Arch du Triomphe.  What a visual energy boost it is!  In Barbara’s “Tour de France 2010,”  bloggers posted their descriptions of the food traditions from each locale surrounding the individual stages.  You can enjoy this virtual tour  here.

I was thrilled when Barbara asked me to cover the final stage of the tour, because I love Paris so much! But was also quite nervous about it, because  she was originally going to write about it herself.  Talk about pressure!

So, I’ll start by sharing some thoughts on the City of Lights, and finish by offering the recipes of  three Parisian treats, hopefully as authentic as  La Tour Eiffel itself!

The Paris that everyone knows…
Even people who never set foot in Paris know about its cafes, restaurants, cheeses, baguettes and museums,  that create the aura of romance and charm permeating every corner of the city.  It’s a  favorite activity in Paris to sit outside at a cafe and indulge in people-watching on a pleasant day.  We always gravitate back to  Les Deux Magots and Cafe’ de Flore, that are situated almost next to each other in the shadow of the oldest church in Paris, St. Germain de Pres.

Not bad to enjoy a  cappucino, croissant or pain au chocolat, while staring in awe at the austere tower of the cathedral, provoking dreams of the middle ages, or the days when Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir sat at those very tables, maybe looking across the Boulevard St. Germain to the ultra-traditional Brasserie Lipp, where Hemingway or Modigliani sat and ate Alsatian food fit for the gods (that they were).

Flickr Creative Commons photo

The street markets… are pretty much a French institution.  Our favorite may be  on Rue Cler, in the 7eme arrondisement.  It only takes one stroll through the market to get anything and everything needed to prepare dinner, from the freshest seafood to the most perfect veggies, fruits, cheeses and chocolates.  And don’t forget to stop for a fine Sauternes or Bordeaux!  During the “R” months, fresh oysters from Bretagne will be  waiting for you, either live in the shells or shucked in seconds by the vendor’s expert hands.   If you just want to “window-shop,”  then grab a crepe made at the small stand halfway along the length of the market:  you’ll be amazed at how delicious it is.

Croissants…. are not French by birth, but they will always be associated with Paris.  A great croissant makes a soft crunch as you bite into it, and it covers your lips with tiny buttery flakes.  It’s messy, but you don’t want it any other way.   My favorite  (OK, one one of my favorites)  is from the Lenotre boulangerie in the 15th arrondisement, but good croissants are everywhere in Paris.   Ask for a “croissant pur beurre,” which excludes any lower-fat variations from your lips.  No point in having a croissant unless it comes loaded with buttery flavor and goodness.  You know, “moderation in moderation.”  😉

Macarons… Apparently, I’m the only human being who does not care for macarons (or macaroons,  the English spelling).  I apologize for this handicap, and hope you will still visit the Bewitching Kitchen after learning about it.   Nevertheless, they are a Parisian fever,  so I did my homework and learned that macaron lovers are crazy for those from  Pierre Herme‘s patisserie in the 15th arrondisement.  And if you want to make them at home, click here for a great tutorial!

Bread, cheese, and metro stations… have something in common:  wherever you are in Paris, they’ll all be within walking distance.  Baguettes are freshly baked around the clock, and nothing beats munching on one that’s still warm from the oven you stroll through the streets.   I always go for the “baguette tradition,” made according to precise specifications of the bread bakers syndicate: it has no illegal additives and its exclusively leavened with Saccaromyces cerevisiae (the famous “baker’s yeast”).   No corners are cut with these baguettes, and their taste and texture proves it.   But one cannot mention Parisien bread without also talking about Pain Poilane, and its famous bakery, where you can buy the huge four pound “boule” and enjoy it for days!


With a great bread, one needs some great cheese.  When I first lived alone in Paris, I developed a nice relationship with the cheesemonger near my apartment in the 15th.  Every week I would ask for my “usual suspects” (Brie de Meaux, Roquefort, and a camembert au lait cru), and she would pick a new one for me to try.   That was a happy year!  No, I wasn’t able to finish tasting all of these, but I had fun trying.

The Paris that not everybody knows about….
The bees in Paris are almost as busy as its lively streets, making some of the best honey around!  The largest beehives are in Jardin du Luxembourg and Parc George Brassens (site of a weekly book market that is also worth a visit).   But  smaller hives are on top of the Opera Garnier building, and also on the Hotel Eiffel Park.   Bees travel a maximum of 2 miles around the hive, and collect pollen from a large variety of flowers.  Parisian honey has a complex flavor, and even more “complex” price!  😉   Because production is small, the pots of Parisian honey sell like liquid gold.   When you are in town take a guided tour of the  beehive in Luxembourg, it’s a  must see.

Menu “Faim de nuit” (late night “munchies menu”) at La Coupole

photo from Wikipedia

One of the most famous restaurants in Paris offers an affordable dinner every evening starting at 10:30pm.  Why have dinner so late?  Well, when in France, do as the French do!  No sense going to sleep before 2am anyway!  La Coupole is always packed, a very popular choice not only for tourists, and not only for dining: in the basement you can dance the night away, following a tradition that spans many decades.

Wine, sure… but made in Paris? Mais oui! In the 17th century the vineyards of Paris were the most important in the country, covering a huge area of more than 100 thousand acres.  Later other regions started to produce wine, Paris turned into a metropolis, and the vines almost completely disappeared.  Almost, but not quite.  Small production still takes place in vines located in Montmartre (Clos Montmartre) and a few other spots around town.  With very few exceptions, the wine produced in Paris cannot be commercialized.  This site is an interesting read (in French).

photo from Wikimedia Commons

Now, the most important question:  what to cook at home to celebrate Paris?  Follow me to the next page to find out.

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HEAVENLY HOMEMADE FROMAGE BLANC

When I lived in France I often had lunch with Valerie,  a beautiful French woman with a sensible approach to food and life in general, who was also our laboratory technician.  Her meals always involved a small appetizer, the main dish and dessert, followed by a shot of espresso.  During those lunches she introduced me to three French delicacies: Kyr Royale, Badoit water, and fromage blanc , her favorite light dessert. I became hooked on all three the first time that I tried them.

With regard to French cheeses, fromage blanc doesn’t get the praise it deserves. It’s smooth, tangy, light, and refreshing. Plus, you can enjoy it in different ways: plain, or with honey, sugar or fruit; with salt and herbs as a spread for crusty bread,  or whipped with cream to incorporate in recipes.

I’ve been in a state of fromage blanc withdrawal since then, but no longer!  Thanks to a tiny package from the New England Cheesemaking Supply Company, I’m the proud owner of almost 2 pounds of fresh cheese that sent me straight back to Paris as I drizzled it with honey and raised a spoonful to my lips… I’m sure Valerie would love it too!  😉



FROMAGE BLANC

(recipe from New England Cheesemaking Supply Co.)

1 gallon of whole milk, pasteurized
1 packet of DS culture (order here)
(cheese cloth for draining)

Heat the milk in a large pan to 86F. Add the contents of the package and mix well. Cover the pan and allow it to sit at room temperature for 12 hours.

Line a colander with double thickness of cheesecloth, place it in the sink, and carefully ladle the curdled milk into it. Let it drain for 6 to 12 hours, depending on how thick you like it to be. (You can do this step in the fridge, placing the colander inside a pan to catch the draining liquid).

When the cheese is in the consistency you like, remove it to a container and keep it refrigerated.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

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Comments: If you have ever considered making cheese at home, I urge you to try this recipe! I cannot praise enough the customer service at New England Cheesemaking Supply:  contrary to the other two companies I contacted, they went out of their way to ensure that I would get the culture quickly.    A real pleasure to deal with! I am now tempted to make mozzarella at home, their website makes everything seem pretty easy… 😉 And they have a nice blog too, check it out here.

ONE YEAR AGO: A Perfect Sunday Dinner

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BRIGADEIROS: A Brazilian Party!

It’s time for a virtual visit to Brazil.  Brigadeiros are a mandatory sweet delicacy at children’s parties, especially birthday parties, but they’ll put a smile on  folks of all ages, at any celebration.   At a typical Brazilian birthday party hundreds of brigadeiros surround a beautiful cake in the center of a huge table.   Tropical Miss Manners states that brigadeiros should be enjoyed AFTER the cake, and until then they’re part of the party decor, but by age 5 each Brazilian has already developed his or her unique style of discreetly stealing a few. My Dad – whom I’ve already praised  for his expert kitchen thievery  (in stealing pasteis )  – used to  slowly circle the table while pulling  his white handkerchief from his pants as if to anticipate a sneeze. With a quick but quite elegant move, two or three brigadeiros disappeared into the handkerchief, adeptly pocketed for his later enjoyment while he was away from the other guests.

Remembering these little gems, it’s not surprising  that we all had a difficulty waiting for the candles to be blown.

BRIGADEIROS
(traditional Brazilian recipe)

1 can of condensed milk (for instance, Carnation brand)
1 + 1/2 T butter
1 + 1/2 T cocoa powder, sifted
pinch of cinnamon
chocolate sprinkles (enough for coating all brigadeiros)

Place all ingredients in a heavy bottomed saucepan (preferably enamel coated, but not absolutely necessary). Cook in medium heat until the butter melts, reduce heat to low and cook, stirring, until the mixture starts to pull out of the bottom of the pan. It should take between 10 and 17 minutes. If the mixture starts to boil too furiously, reduce the heat or remove the pan from the burner for a minute or so, always stirring.

Allow it to cool until you can handle it. It is OK to put it in the refrigerator to speed up the process.

Place the chocolate sprinkles in a shallow dish. Have a small dish with cold water to dip your fingers and moisten the palm of your hands. Using a teaspoon, grab portions of the cool chocolate mixture and roll into balls. Immediately roll them in chocolate sprinkles and place in a small paper cup.

Makes 24 brigadeiros.   Scale up the recipe for large gatherings.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Rolling brigadeiros kicks off the party. Usually a bunch of women sit together at a table working in factory-like style. When I was a young child, I recall feeling  jealous of my sisters, because being older than me, they were allowed to “enrolar brigadeiros,” whereas my job was to painfully open and prepare the little paper cups.  It seemed so unfair!   But, they were democratic as far as eating the misshapen ones:  I always had my share when all was said and done… or should I say “when all were rolled and done?” ;-).  As you may have already gleaned from the recipe, brigadeiros are not just about chocolate.  The sweetness and smoothness of the condensed milk cooks down into a retro, fudgy texture that you won’t forget!

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ONE YEAR AGO: Lemony Asparagus

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ANCHO-CHILE MARINADE: PLEASED TO MEAT YOU!

This marinade rocks…and roll, hootchie koo!  And it has all sorts of cool moves on the dance floor…     In a single week, I made it twice, once for butterflied leg of lamb, and again  a few days later  for flank steak.   Published in the June issue of Bon Appetit, it was just what the author promised:  “this smoky grilled meat will be a delicious addition to your barbecue repertoire”.

GRILLED FLANK STEAK WITH ANCHO-CHILE MARINADE
(adapted from Bon Appetit, June 2010)

1/2 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup olive oil
2 garlic cloves, peeled
4 Tbs fresh oregano leaves
2 Tbs ancho chile powder
2 Tbs lemon juice
2 green onions
1 Tbs brown sugar
2 + 1/2 tsp salt
2 + 1/2 tsp black pepper
1 flank steak

Add the wine, oil, garlic, oregano, ancho chile powder, lemon juice, green onions, salt and pepper into a blender.  Blend the mixture until smooth.   Marvel at its color, and take a deep breath to indulge in the aroma…

Make very shallow diamond-shaped cuts on the surface of the flank steak.  Transfer the marinade to a large dish that can hold the meat, place the meat inside  and rub the marinade all over.   Let it sit in the fridge from 2 to 12 hours.

Prepare a hot grill, cook the meat until medium-rare (5 minutes per side maximum).  Let the meat rest for 10 minutes before slicing it thinly.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Ancho chile powder might be my new found love in the kitchen.   Smoky, funky and hot, but very pleasantly so.   The brown sugar promotes a beautiful browning on the surface, and I’ve often been including it in my marinades these summer days.  This ancho-chile version might go equally well on salmon, chicken, or even prawns.   If you’re cooking a butterflied leg of lamb, allow the meat to marinade for a full 24 hours before grilling.

The flank steak?  What a joy it is to eat!   A succulent piece of tender, flavorful beef!  We enjoyed ours  with some simple zucchini sticks: this recipe without the yogurt sauce.

It was a tasty meal in less than 20 minutes,  and my name isn’t even Ray! 😉

ONE YEAR AGO:  The Handmade Loaf

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