KAREN’S BRAIDED LEMON BREAD WITH BLACKBERRIES

She posted. I read the post while away on a trip. Could not wait to get home to bake it. As far as enriched bread goes, you cannot get much better than this. Think brioche loaded with a tangy lemon cream and luscious blackberries. As I said, cannot get much better. THANK YOU, KAREN!

BRAIDED LEMON BREAD WITH BLACKBERRIES
(from Karen’s Kitchen Stories)


For the Sponge:
3 ounces warm water (95 to 105 degrees F)
1 teaspoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
30 grams unbleached all purpose flour

For the Final Dough:
All of the sponge
85 grams vanilla yogurt, room temperature (I used plain and added 1/2 tsp vanilla)
56 grams softened unsalted butter
1 large egg, beaten
50 grams sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
300 grams unbleached all purpose flour
one beaten egg for the egg wash
pearl sugar for topping (optional, but nice)

For the Filling:
85 grams cream cheese, at room temperature
25 gram sugar
29 grams sour cream (I used creme fraiche)
1 tsp lemon juice
15 grams all-purpose flour
100 grams lemon curd
Handful of blackberries


Combine the sponge ingredients in a small bowl, stir, and cover with plastic wrap. Let it sit for 15 minutes.
In your stand mixer bowl, combine the sponge, yogurt, butter, egg, sugar, salt, vanilla, and flour. Mix with the dough hook for about 8 minutes. Place the dough in an oiled dough rising bucket or bowl, cover, and allow to rise for one to two hours, until doubled (mine took 2 hours and 30 minutes).

Mix the cream cheese, sugar, sour cream, lemon juice, and flour until smooth. Cover and set aside.
Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Place the risen dough not the parchment, and press or roll it into a 10 inch by 15 inch rectangle. Mark the dough lengthwise into thirds by pressing a ruler into the dough. Spread the cream cheese mixture onto the middle third, leaving about an inch uncovered at the top and the bottom. Spread the lemon curd on top of the cream cheese mixture. Top with the blackberries.

Cut the outer sides into strips. Cut off the strips from the four “corners” of the dough, leaving a flap at the top and bottom. Fold up the bottom flap and fold the strips over the filling alternating in a braid pattern. Fold the flap over the top before finishing the braid. Cover loosely with oiled plastic wrap.
Preheat the oven to 360 degrees F.


Let the dough rise for about 45 minutes. When the dough is ready, brush it with the egg wash and sprinkle it with the sugar. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until a deep golden brown. Cool on a cooling rack for at least 20 minutes. Slice and serve.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Make sure to stop by Karen’s post because her pictures and explanations are very detailed and will help you with the shaping. The dough is a pleasure to work with, as enriched doughs always seem to be. You can make the filling while the dough rises, and use store-bought lemon curd to make your life easier. Next time I will add more blackberries, I was afraid they would contribute too much moisture and leak too much, but that was not the case.

This basic method can be used for savory breads, or use different sweet fillings. Karen has a lot of suggestions in her article, so pay her a visit.

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AIR-FRIED CAULIFLOWER WITH POMEGRANATE SEEDS AND TAHINI SAUCE

This is a winning combination that I urge you to try whenever you find fresh pomegranates to play with. In our neck of the woods, it’s not always available. I prefer to buy the pomegranate seeds in those little jars because I am not too fond of the work needed to extract them from the fruit. Yes, I am familiar with all the tricks, but in this particular case, I opt for the easy way out.

AIR-FRIED CAULIFLOWER WITH POMEGRANATE SEEDS AND TAHINI SAUCE
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

for the cauliflower:
1 head of cauliflower, florets only
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
salt to taste
pomegranate seeds

for the tahini sauce:
1/2 cup tahini
juice of 1 lemon
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 cup water to adjust consistency (you may need less)

Coat the cauliflower florets with the oil, season with smoked paprika, salt and pepper. Place in the air-fryer at 390F or as high as your fryer goes. Cook the florets until they start to get brown at the edges, shaking the basket every once in a while. While the cauliflower fries, make the sauce.

Mix all ingredients for the sauce (except the water) in a food processor and process until smooth. It will be very thick. Slowly add the water, until you get to the consistency you like.

Transfer the cauliflower to a serving platter, drizzle the sauce all over and sprinkle pomegranate seeds, as many as your heart desires.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I adore cauliflower and I am crazy for tahini. It was odd that it took me so long to put both together. If you don’t have pomegranate seeds, kalamata olives will work well for the contrast of color and that sharp flavor. A shower of black sesame or Nigella seeds could be great too. Anything to give some contrast to the cauliflower-sauce duet. Because our air-fryer is small, when I made this recipe there were no leftovers. Actually I did have extra sauce that was drizzled on all sorts of goodies for a couple of days. If you want to make this dish for company (or if you do not own an air-fryer), go for oven-roasting, 425F works like a charm. It just takes longer and the texture won’t be as crispy.

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TURKEY TACO SALAD BOWL

I had no intention of blogging on this recipe because it sounded like a simple dinner that would be ok but nothing to write home about. That all changed with the first bite. It is undoubtedly the cilantro sauce that makes it special. Of course, if you are a cilantro-hater, this is not for you. The sauce is cilantro on steroids. We loved it. In fact, the husband exact words were “I hope you’ll make this sauce whenever we cook Mexican-anything.” There you go. Cannot get much better praise than that.

TURKEY TACO SALAD BOWL
(inspired by Averie Cooks)

4 large tortillas (I used Carb Balance flour tortillas)
a few tablespoons of vegetable oil
oven safe bowls to bake tortillas

for the Cilantro Lime Dressing:
1 bunch fresh cilantro, stems included (about 2 cups)
½ cup full-fat yogurt
¼ cup olive oil
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
juice of 1 lime

for the salad:
1 pound lean ground turkey
1 tablespoon taco seasoning mix|
salt to taste
1 cup corn kernels (I used frozen, defrosted)
Romaine lettuce, shredded lettuce
1 cup diced tomatoes
1 cup canned black beans, drained and rinsed
1 avocado, sliced
Shredded Mexican cheese
salsa (I used tomatillo salsa)

Make the tortilla bows. Heat oven to 375F. Heat a little oil on a non-stick skillet, place the tortilla over the hot oil, when it starts to bubble, flip it over, heat for a few seconds, then place inside an oven-safe bowl. Bake for 15 minutes or until it gets crispy. You can do this in advance.

Make the dressing. Place the cilantro, yogurt, olive oil, salt, pepper and lime juice in a food processor and process until smooth. Reserve in the fridge until needed. You can also make the dressing hours or a day in advance.

Make the taco meat. Brown the ground turkey on hot oil, seasoned lightly with salt. Once the meat is getting some color, add the taco seasoning and 1/4 cup water. Simmer gently, cover the pan for 5 minutes, then uncover and let the water evaporate until it reaches the level you like for your salad.

To assemble the salad, add all different components inside the tortilla bowl, drizzle the cilantro dressing all over.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I used a Mission carb-balance tortilla, and it works but it’s definitely not the best kind to make a bowl, so keep that in mind. I only have two oven-safe bowls that are the perfect size to shape them, so we enjoyed some of the salad in the bowl, and either moved on to a regular tortilla (the husband), or the salad by itself (yours truly).

If you only have one or two oven-safe bowls, you can bake one at a time, and save them, heat them all up in the oven for a few minutes before serving. I used frozen corn, and sautéed lightly in olive oil, with salt, pepper and cumin. Pretty much anything that sounds good to add to a taco salad will work here. Black olives, roasted red peppers. Just have fun with it, but whatever you do, do not skip the cilantro sauce!

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CITRUS AND HERBS ROASTED CHICKEN THIGHS

Two types of citric fruits, loads of herbs, fingerling potatoes, all slow-roasting together… Great dinner, fit for company if you so desire…

CITRUS AND HERBS ROASTED CHICKEN THIGHS
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

8 chicken things, bone-in, skin-on
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon sugar
2 whole lemons, one juiced and one sliced
2 whole oranges, one juiced and one sliced
1 tablespoon Herbes de Provence
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon Aleppo pepper
1 to 2 tsp salt
fingerling potatoes, cut in half

In a small bowl, make the marinade by whisking the oil with sugar, juice of lemon and orange, herbs, and 1 tsp of salt. Place the chicken thighs in a large bag or shallow dish, and pour the marinade all over. Leave it in the fridge for several hours.

Heat oven to 350F. Place chicken pieces in a large baking dish, skin side down. Pour the whole marinade over the pieces. Season the chicken with the remaining teaspoon of salt. Add pieces of fingerling potatoes all around the chicken, and the thin slices of orange and lemon all over them.

Bake covered with aluminum foil for about 1 hour. Remove foil, flip the pieces and increase the temperature to 425F. Roast for another 20 minutes or until the skin is golden brown. If desired, run it under the broiler for a couple of minutes, I did not have to do that.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Sometimes it is not easy to get intense flavor on roast chicken when you use a marinade, but this one did a very good job. I am partial to a two-stage roasting, first being gentle and then finalizing with high heat, because to me that produces the best possible texture in the meat and at the same time crispy skin. The fingerling potatoes turn it into a pretty complete meal, although if you are super hungry, couscous could go pretty well as a side dish.

These days, with temperatures getting higher and higher – just the way I love – I am partial to a simple refreshing salad. In this case, lettuce, grape tomatoes, and hard-boiled eggs. A lemony vinaigrette, and that was all…

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ONE BOWL, ONE WHISK CONFETTI CUPCAKES

Cannot get much simpler. These are egg-free cakes, easy and fast to prepare. The buttercream icing is a lot more involved than the cake, but if you prefer you can serve them with a dusting of powdered sugar, or a simple glaze. Many cookbooks and blogs have versions of these cupcakes, I based mine on smittenkitchen.com

CONFETTI CUPCAKES WITH VANILLA BUTTERCREAM FROSTING
(adapted from several sources)

200g all-purpose flour
160 grams granulated sugar
1 + 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup full-fat milk
1/3 cup grapeseed oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon almond extract
1/3 cup rainbow sprinkles

for the buttercream:
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature (1 stick, 113 g)
4 cups powdered sugar (32 oz)
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt

Make the cupcakes: Heat oven to 350°F. Place cupcake liners in a 12-cup standard muffin tin.

In a large bowl, whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt together. To the center, add the milk, oil, lemon juice, and flavoring extracts. Whisk very well until smooth. It will be very liquid. Add sprinkles, fold them gently. Using an ice cream scoop, fill each cupcake lines 2/3 full.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cupcakes cool before frosting.

To make the frosting, beat the butter with 2 cups of the powdered sugar, the milk, vanilla, and salt. Once that is smooth, keep adding the rest of the powdered sugar. You might not need it all, add it until you have the desired spreading consistency.

Frost the cupcakes using a Wilton 1M tip, then add confetti sprinkles, if desired.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: As I mentioned, these are probably the easiest cupcakes ever to make, even a cake-o-phobe will have no issues. They are tender, light, and delicate. Also festive, because rainbow sprinkles make anything festive… I like the addition of vanilla buttercream, even if it increases the complexity of the bake a bit. You can omit it, the cupcakes are delicious without it also.

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