HOT CROSS BUNS

Until this year, I’ve been a Hot Cross Bun virgin, as I had never even tasted one. They did not exist in Brazil as I was growing up, but are very popular in many places of the world, United Kingdom, USA, Australia, New Zealand. They are usually served on Good Friday, to mark the end of Lent. They are marked with a cross to represent the Crucifixion of Jesus, and contain spices that were said to be used to embalm his body. Some point their origin to the year 1361 in a monastery in St Albans, England. But that is debatable. What is not debatable is how delicious they are, and how much I regret having waited so long to make them.

HOT CROSS BUNS
(very slightly modified from Global Bakes)

for the buns:
180 mL milk warmed to 110 degrees F
1 tsp granulated sugar
2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast (I used osmo-tolerant yeast)
100 grams light brown sugar
2 Tablespoons greek yogurt, at room temperature
70 grams (5 Tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground allspice
460 grams all-purpose flour, divided
40 g dried figs, finely minced)
100 g raisins
zest of 1 large orange

for the flour cross:
3 tablespoons flour
1/8 tsp baking powder
2 tablespoons cold water

for the glaze:
3 tablespoons milk
3 tablespoons sugar

Make the Buns
Whisk together the warm milk, yeast, and granulated sugar in the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with a dough hook.  Allow to sit for 5 minutes until yeast becomes frothy.

Add to the bowl the brown sugar, butter, yogurt, eggs, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, cardamom and 125 grams (1 cup) of the flour. Beat on low speed for 30 seconds or stir by hand. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula, then add the remaining flour, the dried fruit, and the orange zest. Beat on medium speed until the dough comes together and pulls away from the sides of the bowl, about 2 minutes. The dough should be a little sticky and soft. If it’s too sticky and not pulling away from the sides of the bowl, mix in additional flour 1 Tablespoon at a time just until it comes together and pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Knead in the machine for about 4 minutes in low-speed, then transfer the dough to a greased bowl and allow it to ferment for 2 hours at room temperature.

Butter a 9×13 inch baking pan.  When the dough is ready, punch it down to release the air. Weigh the dough and divide it into 15 roughly equal pieces (my pieces were 77g each).  Shape each piece into a smooth ball, pinching it on the bottom to seal. Arrange in prepared baking pan. Cover shaped rolls and place in the fridge overnight.

Remove the shaped buns from the fridge and let them sit at room temperature for 2 hours. Heat the oven to 350°F.  Whisk the cross ingredients, adjusting consistency with water or flour so that it is thick enough to form a stable design. Spoon paste into a piping bag. Pipe a line down the center of each row of buns, then repeat in the other direction to create crosses.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown on top, rotating the pan halfway through. If you notice the tops browning too quickly, loosely tent the pan with aluminum foil. Five minutes before they are done, make the glaze by boiling milk and sugar until sugar is fully dissolved and the glaze thickens slightly.

When they buns are baked, remove from the oven and immediately brush with the warm glaze. Allow to cool slightly and enjoy still warm or at room temperature.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Tanya was my source of inspiration, she actually made those for the first time also this year, and I just tagged along. I did not have many different kinds of dried fruits in our pantry, so I used just raisins and dried Mission figs. The whole batch went to the homeless meal that happened to fall exactly on Good Friday, but Phil and I decided to share one because I really had to know how they taste.

I loved it! The bread is soft, reminds me a bit of a cinnamon roll, but not as decadent.  I like the addition of baking powder to the flour paste, which I saw in Celia’s blog post of years ago. I think it makes it a bit lighter.

Making them was a very nice, trouble-free process (discreet knock on wood, don’t want to upset the baking gods, as I intend to make macarons in the near future).  I hope you give Tanya’s recipe a try, in her site you can see how to do it in a single day.

Thank you Tanya (globalbakes.com), for your constant inspiration!  Stay safe, stay healthy, stay home… and let’s bake!

ONE YEAR AGO: Avgolemono Soup, My Way

TWO YEARS AGO: Sourdough Chocolate Twist Bread

THREE YEARS AGO: Dan Lepard Times Three

FOUR YEARS AGO: Turkey Portobello Burger

FIVE YEARS AGO: Raspberry Ricotta Cake

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SEVEN YEARS AGO: Whole-Wheat Pasta with Lemony Tomatoes and Spinach

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Blood Orange Duck: A work in progress

NINE YEARS AGO: Grilled Mahi-mahi with citrus marinade

TEN YEARS AGO: Memories of Pastéis

SOUS-VIDE OVERNIGHT OATMEAL

Let me get this out right away: I don’t care for oatmeal. At all.  Growing up in Brazil it was not part of my breakfast, in fact I only learned about it when I was 26 years old and arrived in the US for the first time for a post doc. I thought the texture was unpleasant, the taste very bland, unless you dump a ton of brown sugar and heavy cream and this and that on top. What would be the point then? However, oatmeal is very popular, considered a healthy option to start the day, keeping you full until lunch time with good amount of fiber, the right carbs, vitamins, and anti-oxidants. None of this would make me look forward to a bowl of oatmeal to start my day, especially considering I am not a breakfast person. But hubby loves it. And that was enough to make me try a sous-vide version. I had no idea it would be a game-changer for me. It’s really tasty. So, if you are an oatmeal hater who owns a sous-vide gadget, I urge you to give this recipe a try. If you don’t have a sous-vide, I heard that crock pot versions can be excellent too, but I have no personal experience with it.

OVERNIGHT OATMEAL SOUS-VIDE
(adapted from several sous-vide sources)

jars:
8 jars with 4-ounce capacity
or
4 jars with 8-ounce capacity

for each small (4oz) jar:
2 tablespoons steel-cut oats
70 g water
pinch of salt

for each bigger (8oz) jar:
4 tablespoons steel-cut oats
140 g water
pinch of salt

Using sous vide circulator, bring water to 155°F.  Fill the jars of your choice with the appropriate amount of oats, water, add the salt. Seal jars. If they have screw-caps, don’t tighten them too much. Lower jars slowly in the prepared water bath until fully submerged. Cover and cook for 10 to 12 hours.

Remove jars from water-bath. Stir oats and serve with the toppings of your choice. If using the small jars, you’ll need two of them to make a single portion.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I now realize that texture was my main issue with oatmeal. For some reason, even after cooking for so many hours, the sous-vide results in oats with the exact amount of bite for my taste. I still prefer to have them later in the day with a fried egg on top. I call it light lunch. The jars, once ready, can sit in the fridge for a few days. When you are ready for breakfast (or any other time of the day you feel like it), pour the contents in a bowl and warm very very briefly in the microwave. Add the toppings you love and you are done.  Golden raisins and a touch of brown sugar is a nice combination, and yes, I’ve had that for lunch more than once.

As I mentioned, you can find plenty of recipes for overnight oatmeal using a slow-cooker.  I imagine they will please all oatmeal lovers, but if you are part of my team, sous-vide might be the real winner. Plus, I am always happy to find new uses for my beloved Anova gadget.

One last thing: many recipes using sous-vide call for longer cooking times. I prefer to keep a maximum of 12 hours, but 10 hours worked better for us. After 12 hours of cooking the texture got a tad too soft for our taste.

ONE YEAR AGO: A Valentine’s Day Opera

TWO YEARS AGO: Incredibly Simple Times Four

THREE YEARS AGO: Walnut-Cranberry Sourdough Bread

FOUR YEARS AGO: Ottolenghi in Brazil?

FIVE YEARS AGO: Roasted Winter Vegetables with Miso-Lime Dressing

SIX YEARS AGO: 2012 Fitness Report: P90X2

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Caramelized Bananas

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Roasted Lemon Vinaigrette

NINE YEARS AGO: Whole Wheat Bread

SAVORY OATMEAL WITH BACON AND CHEDDAR AND A COOKBOOK REVIEW

This is a long overdue post. I made this recipe last month, but have been meaning to write about this cookbook ever since I bought it, back in October. Seven long months ago. Shocking.  Oatmeal is definitely something associated with breakfast, and served on the sweet side. With milk, brown sugar, cream, maybe some stewed apples or bananas. In her book Adventures in Slow-Cooking, Sarah di Gregorio shares a version for savory oatmeal and raves about it. I had to try it. It was really tasty, and she gave me permission to share the recipe with you… So, without further ado…

SAVORY OATMEAL WITH BACON, SCALLIONS, AND CHEDDAR
(published with permission from Sarah Di Gregorio)

1 cup uncooked steel-cut oats
Kosher salt
½ pound thick-cut bacon
5 scallions, trimmed, light green and white parts thinly sliced
8 ounces sharp cheddar, grated (about 2 heaping cups)
Freshly ground black pepper
Fried or poached eggs, for topping (1 per person)

Generously butter a 5- to 7-quart slow cooker. Add the oats, 4 cups water, and I teaspoon salt. Cook until the oatmeal is thick and tender: on LOW for 4 hours or on LOW for 2 hours followed by WARM for 6 to 7 hours.

Put the bacon into a cold large skillet and bring the heat to medium. Cook, flipping a couple of times, until the bacon has rendered a lot of its fat and is deeply browned and crisp, about 10 minutes. Drain on paper towels, then coarsely chop. You can do this right before serving the oatmeal or the day before, in which case store the crisped bacon in an airtight container in the refrigerator and bring it to room temperature before using.

When the oatmeal is done, stir in the bacon, white and light green scallion slices, and about three-quarters of the cheese (about 6 ounces). Taste for seasoning and add more salt if necessary and a few grinds of pepper. Serve in bowls topped with the remaining cheese, the dark green sliced scallions, and eggs, if you like.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I’ve always been intrigued by the use of oatmeal in savory dishes. I am not an oatmeal fan in traditional breakfast preparations, but decided to open my mind and give it a try. I don’t normally eat breakfast and found that this meal was perfect at lunch time. Kept me full until dinner, and was full of flavor.  I also made a vegetarian version using sautéed mushrooms instead of bacon. Worked great too, I made sure to brown them well and added a touch of soy sauce at the end. Delicious! In Sarah’s words:

Speaking of the egg: I know most people are tired of the image of egg yolk flooding whatever is served underneath, but forgive me… this was too good to skip…

OVERVIEW OF ADVENTURES IN SLOW-COOKING

by Sarah di Gregorio

First, let me share with you the review I wrote for it at amazon.com

I fell in love with this book at first page. I don’t have much patience for long introductions and considered just skipping that part to dive into recipes. Well, I could not stop reading. Sarah is a talented writer and definitely knows how to use the slow-cooker the way it is intended to be used. No dump and run approach. This is slow-cooking for gourmet cooks, those who will not accept anything with the “crock pot texture.” I bought this book even though there was only ONE review about it. Took a big risk, right? Well, I am so glad I did. I own more than 500 cookbooks, and this might very well be my favorite for slow-cooking. Awesome. Just awesome. Buy it and you will not be disappointed. Now, if you are part of the team of dump it and forget it, this book is NOT for you. This is not a criticism to you, just a warning that you might not like it that much….

That pretty much explains why I had to review it here, I think that anyone who owns a crock pot will benefit from this book. I have a file in my computer (way out of date) called “The Best from Each.” In that file I list recipes from my Kindle cookbooks that appeal to me. Sarah’s cookbook broke the record for the largest proportion of recipes that made into that folder. From 120 recipes, 35 made the cut. That’s almost one-third of them. Pretty impressive.  Here is a cut-and-paste job from my computer:

Classic Chicken Stock (wings)

Winter Tomato Sauce (Marcella Hazan)

Lentils, beans, chickpeas method

Grains, farro, barley, black rice etc method

Smoky Chipotle Ketchup (interesting)

Crisp Chicken Wings with Szechuan Caramel

Chawan Mushi (interesting savory custard)

Pistachios, Coconut, and Cardamon Granola

Savory Oatmeal with Bacon, Scallions and Cheddar

Crustless Quiche with Smoked Salmon

Summer Tomato, Basil and Burrata Grain Bowl

Roasted Red Pepper, Caper, Walnut and Tahini Grain Bowl

Creamy Barley with Corn and Green Chile-Lime Salsa

Farro Puttanesca

Shakshuka with Feta and Olives

Caramelized Cherry Tomatoes

Stuffed Meatballs in Lots of Sauce

Spiced Lamb Meatballs in Harissa Tomato Sauce

Smoky Barbecued Brisket

Chipotle Almond Braised Beef Tacos
(Quick Pickled Onions) – to go with it, very nice method

Orange, Olive and Fennel Chicken Tagine
(Turmeric Yogurt) – to go with it

Miso-Butter Roast Chicken and Potatoes

Buttery Duck Confit 

Harissa Pork Chili with Toppings Galore

Sticky Gochujang Pork

Za’tar Roast Chicken

Sticky Toffee Pudding with Maple Caramel

Coconut Banana Cake with Brown Butter Caramel Sauce

Matcha-White Chocolate Pots de Crème

Vietnamese Coffee Pots de Crème

Cannoli Cheesecake with Biscotti Crust

Dark Chocolate Cheesecake with Earl Grey Cream

Cardamon-Molasses Apple Upside-Down Cake

TEASER RECIPE:  from the list, I made the Farro Puttanesca. To die for! Farro cooked in the crock pot has perfect texture, this preparation was luscious, perfect by itself or as a side dish for roast chicken, grilled salmon, steak, pretty much anything you’d like. A very creative way to serve farro. Made a lot, but froze well too…

 

Sarah, thank you and your editors for allowing me
to publish one of your recipes.

 

ONE YEAR AGO: Air-Fried Carrots, Two Ways (most popular post on my blog!)

TWO YEARS AGO: Five Minutes in L.I.T (a tour of our laboratory!)

THREE YEARS AGO: Chicken Thighs with Artichokes and Capers

FOUR YEARS AGO: Pea Pancakes with Herbed Yogurt

FIVE YEARS AGO: Mushroom Stroganoff

SIX YEARS AGO: Tomato Sourdough

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Gamberetti con rucola e pomodori

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Flirting with Orzo

 

 

 

 

 

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IMPOSSIBLY CUTE BACON & EGG CUPS

Should I be embarrassed to blog about a “recipe” that is essentially two ingredients plus seasoning? Potentially, yes. But in reality I am not, because this non-recipe has a nice little unexpected twist to it: the bacon was pre-cooked sous-vide. WAIT!  Don’t run away, you can make it if you don’t have the Anova gadget sitting in your kitchen drawer. But I must say bacon cooked sous-vide and stored in the fridge waiting to shine in any recipe is a very nice item for the busy cook. Or any cook, actually, because this method gets quite a bit of the greasy “feel” of bacon out of the equation, and the texture will be superb.

bacon-egg-cups2

BACON AND EGG CUPS
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

several slices of bacon, preferably cooked sous-vide
large eggs
salt
Aleppo pepper (or pepper of your choice)

If cooking the bacon sous-vide, place the slices in a bag and submerge in the water-bath set to 147 F (64 C) overnight. I left mine 12 hours, but you can do it longer if more convenient.  At the end of the cooking time, a lot of fat will have accumulated inside the bag. You can save it if you like to cook with it, or discard it.  Place the cooked slices of bacon over paper towels to dry them well. Store them in the fridge until ready to use. If not using sous-vide, cook the bacon on a skillet, but do not allow it to get too brown or crispy.  Drain them well in paper towels before assembling the cups.

Heat the oven to 375 F (175 C).

Cover the bottom of a muffin baking tin with bacon, making sure to come up all the way to the top. Gently break an egg and place it inside. Season with salt and pepper.  Bake according to your preference. I like the egg yolks to be runny, so 10 to 15 minutes maximum will be enough.  If you like your eggs fully cooked, go for 20 minutes, but pay close attention, you don’t want to over-dry the egg.

Remove to a serving dish, and dig in!

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I made this recipe for the first time in July, and since then we’ve been cooking bacon sous-vide on a regular basis. To me, it takes bacon to a whole new level, cutting some of the harshness I find overpowering. If you get your pan screaming hot, you can get by simply searing one side of the bacon slice, as the whole thing is already perfectly cooked to start with. But, even if you crisp up both sides, the texture will be perfect.

compositebacon1

These little cups are perfect for breakfast, or a light lunch.  Having the bacon waiting in the fridge makes this preparation a breeze. All you need to do is warm up your oven (we use the Breville that heats up super fast), grab the muffin tin, and you are less than 20 minutes away from a nice meal.   I also made those using prosciutto and ham.  Both work very well, but the sous-vide bacon is my favorite. Keep also in mind that if you’d like a vegetarian version, cooked spaghetti squash strands can be a nice receptacle for the egg. I intend to blog about that sometime. The secret is to  be assertive in the seasoning, otherwise it can be a bit bland.

compositebacon2

For those interested, this is low-carb, Paleo-friendly, Whole30-friendly, but above all, it’s very very tasty!

impossibly-cute-bacon-and-egg-cups-from-bewitching-kitchen

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ONE YEAR AGO: Pulling Under Pressure

TWO YEARS AGO: Cooking Sous-vide: Two takes on Chicken Thighs

THREE YEARS AGO: Miso Soup: A Japanese Classic

FOUR YEARS AGO: On my desk

FIVE YEARS AGO: A must-make veggie puree

SIX YEARS AGO: Vegetarian Lasagna

SEVEN YEARS AGO:  Brazilian Pão de Queijo

CHOCOLATE TOFFEE BANANA BREAD

I’ve been on a banana bread kick lately, trying some recipes that appeal to me because they have some unexpected twist, some intriguing component. Like this one that pairs a regular, well-behaved banana bread formula with toffee and chocolate. Banana, toffee, and chocolate. A trilogy not to be messed with. I found the recipe during a session of Pinterest surfing, saved it to my cooking board  and now that it’s been tried and thoroughly enjoyed, I share it with you!  Am I nice or am I nice? You decide.

BananaToffeeBread

CHOCOLATE TOFFEE BANANA BREAD
(recipe from The Weary Chef)

3 ripe bananas
2 eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup brown sugar
1½ cup all-purpose flour
1½ tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/4 cup butterscotch chips

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray  a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan with cooking spray.

In a large mixing bowl, mash bananas. Stir in eggs, oil, and brown sugar until smooth.

Add flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt, and stir just until dry ingredients are incorporated. Stir in toffee and chocolate chips until mixed in evenly.

Pour batter into prepared pan, and bake 45-55 minutes, checking at 45 minutes. Bread is done when edges are brown and toothpick inserted in the center comes out dry.

Carefully remove loaf from pan to cool on a wire rack before cutting.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

BananaBread Served

Comments:  I think that nothing perfumes the kitchen more intensely than a banana bread baking in the oven. They say that to increase the chances of selling a home, one should bake cinnamon rolls or an apple pie right before showing it, but I suspect that banana bread would work even better. The smell is intoxicatingly delicious…

The original recipe from Andi’s site called for chocolate covered toffee bars chopped in pieces, but I went with a 50:50 mixture of butterscotch and chocolate chunks from Trader Joe’s.  The butterscotch chips were barely noticeable in the crumb of the banana bread, but their flavor… definitely there.  This was a very moist and tender banana loaf, well-received by our colleagues from the department.   I am sure it will please all the banana bread lovers out there, so give it a try, even if your house is not in the market…

😉

ONE YEAR AGO: In My Kitchen, June 2014

TWO YEARS AGO:  Strawberry Frozen Yogurt

THREE YEARS AGO: Baked Coconut and “The Brazilian Kitchen”

FOUR YEARS AGO: Honey-Glazed Chicken Legs

FIVE YEARS AGO: French-Style Rolls