2012 IN REVIEW

WordPress just released a summary of activity for the Bewitching Kitchen in 2012, and I decided to share it with my readers…  😉

Here’s an excerpt:

About 55,000 tourists visit Liechtenstein every year. This blog was viewed about 240,000 times in 2012. If it were Liechtenstein, it would take about 4 years for that many people to see it. Your blog had more visits than a small country in Europe!

Click here to see the complete report.

THE ULTIMATE CRANBERRY SAUCE

For some odd reason, most people enjoy cranberry sauce once a year only.  I am part of that crowd, reserving cranberry sauce to sit next to the Thanksgiving turkey, in its yearly appearance. This year I could not make it for Thanksgiving because we had a potluck-type celebration. Instead, the “annual sauce” showed up a few weeks later, with delicious turkey leftovers that were waiting in our freezer.  I wanted a truly special recipe, and I hit gold with this version recommended by my  friend Cindy. Dried Mission figs and Port wine mingle with cranberries, for an outcome that will make you reconsider the silly idea of once-a-year cranberry sauce.

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CRANBERRY SAUCE WITH PORT AND DRIED FIGS
(adapted from Bon Appetit, November 2001)

1⅔ cups ruby Port
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
¼ cup (packed) golden brown sugar
8 dried black Mission figs, stemmed, chopped
1 6-inch-long sprig fresh rosemary
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 12-ounce bag fresh cranberries
1/2 cup sugar

Combine first 6 ingredients in a medium saucepan.
Bring to boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Reduce
heat to low and simmer 10 minutes. Discard rosemary.
Mix in cranberries and sugar. Cook over
medium heat until liquid is slightly reduced and
berries burst, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes.
Cool. Transfer sauce to bowl; chill until cold.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

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Comments:  The dried Mission figs are a must in this recipe, and of course the Port wine takes it over the top.  Cranberry sauce can be a bit one-dimensional in texture, as the berries get all soft and mushy, even if you try to avoid cooking them to death.  The figs offer a little body to the sauce, and contribute great flavor.  The main modification of this recipe from its version  in Bon Appetit was a reduction of sugar (it originally calls for 3/4 cup).  If you have a particularly sweet tooth and like your sauce to be real sweet, go for the full amount.   We prefer to keep some of the sourness of the cranberries, particularly when serving it with roast meats.  Of course, you should not use a vintage Port wine for this recipe, it would be painful for your wallet.  Go with a simple Sandeman Ruby Port and call it a day.  Or call it a year!  😉

ONE YEAR AGO: Edamame Dip

TWO YEARS AGO: Gougeres

THREE YEARS AGO: Beef Wellington on a Special Night

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

For those who celebrate, we wish you a Merry Christmas!  In proper holiday spirit, I will share with you a recipe that has festive written all over it: Sourdough Popovers!  They were described quite appropriately in the King Arthur website as “High, Wide, and Handsome”    😉
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SOURDOUGH POPOVERS
(from King Arthur website)

1 cup milk (full-fat, reduced-fat, or skim)
3 large eggs
1/2 cup sourdough starter, fed or unfed
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

In the microwave or in a small saucepan, warm the milk until it feels just slightly warm to the touch. Combine the warm milk with the eggs, sourdough starter and salt, then mix in the flour. Don’t over-mix; a few small lumps are OK. The batter should be thinner than a pancake batter, about the consistency of heavy cream.

Heat a muffin or popover pan in the oven while it’s preheating to 450°F. Carefully remove the hot pan from the oven, and spray it thoroughly with non-stick pan spray, or brush it generously with oil or melted butter. Quickly pour the batter into the cups, filling them almost to the top. If you’re using a muffin tin, fill cups all the way to the top. Space the popovers around so there are empty cups among the full ones; this leaves more room for expansion.  Bake the popovers for 15 minutes, then reduce the oven heat to 375°F and bake for an additional 15 to 20 minutes, until popovers are golden brown.

Remove the popovers from the oven and serve immediately.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments:  Popovers might be the easiest thing in the world to make! In this case, the sourdough doesn’t act as the leavening agent, it is there exclusively for taste, so don’t worry if your starter is not at its peak of activity.  A big bowl, a wire whisk, and a few minutes of preparation is all you’ll need. The real magic happens in the very hot oven.  If you have kids around, let them peek as the popovers rise up and up and up, it’s fun to follow their baking.

Enjoy the popovers as soon as they are out of the oven, because they will deflate somewhat.  Break each one open, and dig in!
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They are perfect with roast meats.  We enjoyed these babies with roast turkey, gravy, and the most delicious cranberry sauce with dried Mission figs and Port wine.  Recipe to be featured soon, stay tuned… 😉
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I am submitting this post to Susan’s Yeastspotting….

ONE YEAR AGO: Merry Christmas!

TWO YEARS AGO:  Sourdough Focaccia, with a twist

THREE YEARS AGO: Merry Christmas!

POTATO GALETTES A L’ALSACIENNE & BOOK REVIEW

served2222Right around the time I started this blog, I stumbled upon Pham Fatale’s site, and fell in love with it.  The site’s name is a perfect choice for someone called Pham and who looks as gorgeous as she does… 😉   But what captured me for good was her multi-cultural style of cooking.  Keep in mind that she was born in Paris, with parents who emigrated from Vietnam in the mid-70s. To make things even more interesting, she married a man who is also the son of immigrants,  his parents came from India.  If that does not make for an amazing array of recipes, I don’t know what would.  Check her site and you will also be smitten by it, she is an amazing photographer and her recipes quite creative and unique.  Jackie is a busy bee – she has a young baby, and cooks for a large family that includes teenagers with dietary restrictions – but even with such intense life she managed to publish her first cookbook. I asked her permission to publish a recipe from it, as well as write a little review.  The book is called Haute Potato, and it includes 75 gourmet recipes using this “humble” vegetable.  In Jackie’s hands, the potato is anything but humble!

POTATO GALLETES A L’ALSACIENNE
(reprinted with permission from Jacqueline Pham)

2 pounds Russet potatoes
1 lemon, freshly squeezed
2 Tablespoons parsley, chopped
4 shallots, chopped
1 piece of leek (3 inches), white part only, chopped
2 eggs
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 + 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup canola oil, as needed

Prepare the potatoes: wash and peel the potatoes.  Shred 2/3 of them and place in a large mixing bow. Add the lemon juice and cover with cold water. Let sit for 5 to 10 minutes. Drain the potatoes and discard the liquid. Place all the shredded potatoes in a cheesecloth and remove as much excess wter as possible, than pat dry with paper towels.  Pace inside a large bowl. Coarsely chop the remaining 1/3 of the potatoes and place them into the bowl of a food processor. Add the parsley, shallots, and leek. Pulse into a smooth raw puree. Add the mixture to the shredded potatoes.

Make the batter: in a mixing bowl, beat the eggs with the cayenne pepper and the flour for 2 to 3 minutes, until slightly thickened. Add the nutmeg and baking powder. Add this egg mixture to the potatoes.   Season with 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper.  Stir well to combine.

Fry the galettes: heat the oil over high heat in a large Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pan.  You should have 1 inch of oil in the pan, so use as much oil as needed for that. Form small flattened patties with the potatoes (if you have disposable gloves, they work well if you grease them lightly with oil). When the oil is very hot, drop the patties into it, making sure they don’t touch each other.  Lower the heat if they seem to brown too fast, and cook them for 5 to 8 minutes, until browned on the first side, then flip them and cook for about 3 more minutes on the second side.  Season them with a little extra salt as you remove them from the pan and place on paper towels to absorb excess oil. You can fry them and keep them warm in a low oven until serving time.

(makes 6 servings, about 12 galettes).

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

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Comments:  I made one small modification to th recipe, and that was to add about 4 times as much parsley as it called for, which explains that my galettes had a bit more of a green aura than Jackie intended to. Let’s not delve too deeply into the issue. Suffice to say that I prepared the parsley to use in two different venues, and some unexpected firing of neuronal cells made me dump the full amount into the food processor.  No harm was done to the galettes as far as taste is concerned.   The key to the great texture of these fritters is the use of potato in two forms: grated and processed into a paste.  It gives the galettes a very creamy and pleasant texture.

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ABOUT HAUTE POTATO, THE COOKBOOK…   I love the way the chapters are divided in an unorthodox way.  Each chapter gives one type of “outcome” for the potato. Here is a list of them with one example of a tempting recipe found in it.

Chapter 1: Refreshing…  Vietnamese-Style Shrimp and Potato Salad

Chapter 2: Decadent… Prosciutto-Wrapped Fig and Gnocchi Bites

Chapter 3: Cheesy…. Pine Nut, Chevre, and Potato Cigars with Lemon-Caper Sauce (this one a favorite of Jackie’s family)

Chapter 4: Crispy & Crunchy… Oven Sweet Potato Fries with Pineapple-Mango Aioli

Chapter 5: Creamy…  Brie Cheese and Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes (and Sally feels a little faint….)

Chapter 6: Spicy…   Traditional Samosa

Chapter 7:  Sweet…  Sweet Potato and Matcha Green Tea Creme Brulee

I had a hard time deciding on a recipe to blog about, and almost went with her carrot and potato souffle, but since we very rarely make fried foods, I took the opportunity to try her galettes.  I am definitely making the souffle next, and the potato cigars will be on our menu next time we entertain.  Jackie said they disappear quickly whenever she makes them, and are the number 1 request of friends who were lucky enough to try them… 😉

This is a cookbook that will please anyone who likes to make their meals a little more special. However, even a cook without too much experience will be able to make most recipes, as they are very well explained. Some recipes are published in her blog, but most are exclusive to the book.  You can find it at amazon.com, and in bookstores everywhere!  I wish Jackie great success in her first adventure as a cookbook author, and look forward to her next cookbook!  😉

ONE YEAR AGO: Caramelized Carrot Soup

TWO YEARS AGO: Miso-Grilled Shrimp

THREE YEARS AGO: Pain Poilane

PUMPKIN ESPRESSO LOAF

Baker Street strikes again!  For the most part, I want to make everything she blogs about, but my frantic life gets in the way.  One of the things that happens as you accumulate more experience in the kitchen, is a certain “feeling” for a recipe.  I usually spot a winner just by reading the ingredients, and this pumpkin espresso loaf, covered with crushed hazelnuts made me dream.  I knew we would love it.  It is quite simple to prepare, and it smells AMAZING (all caps required) as it bakes.  It is moist, not too sweet, the coffee flavor quite subtle, and the crumb topping gives that contrast of texture which is always a nice touch on this type of loaf.

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PUMPKIN ESPRESSO BREAD
(from Baker Street)

for the loaf:
¾ cup (150 grams) brown sugar, packed
1 cup (245 grams) canned pumpkin puree
½ cup (118 ml) vegetable oil
¼ cup (59 ml) milk
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1½ cups (188 grams) all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoons baking soda
1 tablespoon espresso powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon salt

for the topping:
½ cup hazelnut, chopped roughly
3 tablespoons brown sugar, packed
½ teaspoon espresso powder
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

Heat oven to 350F and generously grease a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan.

Prepare the topping by combining all ingredients in a small bowl, and set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, espresso powder, spices, and salt. Reserve. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, pumpkin puree, oil, milk, eggs, and vanilla extract.  Gently fold in the flour mixture and spread the batter evenly into prepared pan.

Sprinkle the espresso topping evenly over the pumpkin batter. Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow to cool before cutting and serving.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

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This was SUCH a delicious bread, loaf, whatever you want to call it.  With a cup of cappuccino in the morning, it starts your day on a perfectly warm note. After the loaf was in the oven, I said to myself that some cardamon could be a good addition. Phil, on the other hand, thinks that mini-chocolate chips would take this loaf to unprecedented levels of decadence.  Interestingly enough, that is exactly the variation recommended over at Baker Street.  Keep that in mind if you make this loaf.  And I hope you do!  😉

ONE YEAR AGO: Caramelized Carrot Soup

TWO YEARS AGO: Miso-Grilled Shrimp

THREE YEARS AGO: A Special Holiday Fruitcake

LET’S BRAID IT ON!

Joanna from Zeb Bakes is a constant source of inspiration. She always comes up with the most amazing breads, just because she got up one day in the mood to play with an idea, or try to mimic something from a fancy bakery.  Not too long ago she shared with her readers a gorgeous bread with a crown, looking like a Roman Emperor, perhaps Julius Caesar on his golden days.  According to Joanna, the Emperor had indulged a tad too much on vino the evening before, so his crown was tilted to one side.  Granted, we’ve all had our days of overindulging, so let’s not be too critical.  Here is my attempt at crowning a sourdough:
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HAIL CAESAR SOURDOUGH
(adapted from Joanna, at Zeb Bakes)

Mix together:
25 g of active sourdough starter
100 g  bread flour
125 g water

Leave for 12-16 hours in a cold kitchen;  6-10 hours in a warm one.

The following day, make the dough:
225 g of the above mixture
200 g water
175 g bread flour
150 g regular bread flour
75 g dark rye flour
1/2 tablespoon of dark malt dissolved in water
3 g dry yeast
10 g sea salt

Mix all ingredients together, except the salt.  Leave the mass of dough to rest for 20 minutes, sprinkle salt on top and knead it in for a couple of minutes until smooth. You can use a KitchenAid in low-speed if you like.

Ferment the dough for 3 hours, with two folds (at 60 and 120 minutes). Leave the dough rise undisturbed for the last hour.   Weigh the dough and separate a small amount roughly 10% of its weight for the braid.  Divide that portion in three, make long strands with it, and form a braid.   Place the braid at the bottom of a well floured banetton, form the remaining of the dough as a ball, and place it, seam side down over the braid.

Ferment the shaped dough for 2 hours, invert it on a piece of parchment paper, and bake in a 450 F oven with initial steam for 20 minutes, reduce the oven to 420 F and bake for 20 to 25 minutes more.  Cool completely on a rack.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click  here

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I loved making this bread!  When Joanna posted her article, she got a comment from the baker who originally designed this recipe, and he advised her to use less dough (5 to 8% from the total weight) to make the braids.  I used 10% because it already seemed like a very small amount, but I ran into some difficulties. I should have rolled my strands a little longer, and glued them better to the rest of the dough.  Still, it is a nice touch to embellish a sourdough boule. I will not lie to you, though.  My  Emperor was also vino-happy the previous night, as these (more revealing) shots will demonstrate. 😉

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This was a nice loaf of bread, with the delicious flavor of rye, and a golden brown crust, boosted by the inclusion of malt. I baked it inside a large roasting pan with a lid, after a nice comment left by Donna on my sourdough mini-rolls post. It worked extremely well, thanks for the great tip, Donna!  I did not add any extra water inside the pan. I just poured some inside the lid, emptied it leaving a little water clinging to the surface, and inverted it quickly to close the roaster.  At the end of 20 minutes I opened the roasting pan and continued baking uncovered.

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Joanna, thanks for another great recipe!  This one goes straight to Susan’s Yeastspotting

ONE YEAR AGO: In My Kitchen, December 2011

TWO YEARS AGO: Festivus Dinner Rolls

THREE YEARS AGO: 100% Sourdough Rye

NO BREAD

I normally schedule my posts to go live a few days in advance. Tonight at midnight a post on sourdough bread would go live.  It will not.  A dear friend of mine, a blogger who loves to bake bread as much as I do, lost a grandson, a 6-year-old little boy,  in the devastating tragedy of Newtown. No bread post today. Instead, a post to  send her the warmest virtual hug I can possibly offer. Life is unbearably cruel sometimes.  And gun control a step our society should stop running away from. Once and for all.

Edited to add:  a fund has been created to help the families affected by this tragedy. Click here if you want to contribute.

Donations to help the family of my friend’s grandson, Noah, can be made by clicking here. In this link you can also read more about beautiful Noah, the youngest victim of this tragedy.

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