Archive for ‘Baking’

January 8, 2012

Delightful yogurt biscuits

We made these simple and completely amazing biscuits a few weeks ago as an accompaniment to sauteed chard and egg salad made with garlic and yogurt. The egg salad and the biscuits both come from a great new cookbook I was given by friends of ours.

So, from Super Natural Every Day:
Yogurt Biscuits

1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/4 cups white flour, plus more for rolling
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 cup unsalted butter, chilled and cut into tiny cubes
1 1/3 cups greek yogurt (we used ordinary yogurt and it seemed fine)

Preheat the oven to 450 and place an ungreased baking sheet in the oven to preheat as well.

Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl and then cut in the cubes of butter. Mix/cut until the butter is the size of “tiny pebbles.” And the yogurt and mix until just combined. Avoid over mixing, dry patches are okay.

Make the dough into a ball, place on a floured surface, an knead five times. Then press the dough into a square about an in ch thick. Cut the dough square in half and stack the two halves. Do this twice more, flattening, cutting, stacking. Add more flour as needed to prevent sticking.

Press or roll the dough into a 3/4 inch thick rectangle. Don’t let it be any thicker than 3/4 of an inch. cut the dough into 12 equal square biscuits and put them on the preheated baking sheet. Leave at least 1/2 an inch space between them for expansion.

Bake for 15-18 minutes, until the bottoms are golden brown.

We ate them with the egg salad (yogurt instead of mayo and 1 teaspoon of chopped garlic) and chard cooked steamed with cooked onions and garlic. Delightful.

December 4, 2011

Pie: and why I feel like the coolest person ever.

So, we made that pumpkin and black bean soup a few weeks ago.  And, since we used real pumpkin, this left us with half a roasted pumpkin, nicely pureed and ready to use. Now, I’ve never made a pie before.  Sure I’ve helped pour filling into crusts my mother or father have made.  And I’ve laid little pie-crust leaves on top of pumpkin pies at Thanksgiving.  But I’d never actually made a pie myself.  But the idea really stuck with me.

Pumpkin to roast


So, my first ever pie: pumpkin maple with a crust so delicious I couldn’t believe it.  This was seriously one of the best pie crusts I’ve ever had.

Crust, from Smitten Kitchen:

2 1/2 cups flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks (8 ounces, 16 tablespoons or 1 cup) unsalted butter, very cold

Fill one cup with extremely cold water (Smitten Kitchen recommended putting some ice cubes in there, but since we didn’t have any ice, I just put the whole measuring cup in the freezer for a few minutes).

In a large bowl combine the flour, sugar, and salt.  Cut two sticks of very cold butter and put them in with the flour.  Since I don’t have a pastry blender I used our whisk to mix them all together.  I did this pretty quickly, to keep the butter from getting soft.  when the butter was in pieces which Smitten Kitchen calls the size of small peas.

Slowly pour 1/2 a cup of the cold water over the mixture and use a spoon to mix it all together.  Add more water one tablespoon at a time until it’s mostly sticking together well.  Lump the dough together with your hands, kneading a little and gently so that the dough makes a cohesive ball.

Wrap in wax paper and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

When you’re ready to make the crust: get your dough (divided in half since this recipe makes two crusts).  Using a ton of flour roll it out to about 1/4 inch thick. Lift the crust into your pie pan and press into shape.  Use a sharp knife to cut off the excess.  Shape the edges in a pretty way and then weight the bottom with parchment paper and dry beans.  Pre-cook for 10 minutes at 350 then remove from the oven and remove the dry beans.  Use the extra crust to cut out cool shapes.  Pre-cook these for 8-10 minutes on a sheet.



Next, make the filling.  Make any kind of filling you like. I’ll say that the filling I used was okay, but not phenomenal. It went like this:

  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup packed dark-brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 2 cups pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Combine the dry ingredients.  Then, separately, combine the other ones.  Mix them all together, pour into your amazing pie crust, and pop in the oven, again, at 350.  Bake about 25 minutes, then put your fun shapes back on top and bake another 10-15 minutes.

It’s a Martha Stewart recipe my mother recommended, but again, it wasn’t amazing filling.  Good, but not as good as the crust.

And here is your pie!


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September 17, 2011

No-Knead Bread

Since friends have asked up to post our recipe, here it is.  We originally got it from Mother Earth News.

Makes about 25 rolls or two loaves of bread.

3 cups lukewarm water
1 ½ tablespoons active dry yeast
1 ½ tablespoons salt, coarse is better
6 ½ cups flour, no more than 2 ½ cups whole wheat

1. Mix flour, yeast, and salt evenly.
2. Add lukewarm water in half-cup increments, stirring with each half cup. Do not over mix.
3. Cover loosely and let rise two hours.
4. Now you can cover the bread with a non-airtight lid and leave it in the fridge for up to a week.

1. Grease and flour a baking sheet. If you’ve never done this before: spread a thin layer of oil over a baking sheet first; second, take a small handful of flour in one hand and lightly sprinkle it over the oil.
2. Flour your hands and pull off a lump of dough about half of the batter. Gently stretch the dough into a smooth ball, turning it as you go and folding the edges underneath.  For rolls, of course, do smaller lumps.
3. Preheat the oven to somewhere between 425 and 500, depending on your oven and the sensitivity of your smoke detectors (ours always go off if we bake above 475.  Place the ball on the sheet.
4. Dust the top of the dough with flour and slash it with a knife to allow expansion in the oven.
5. Place a small oven-safe metal dish on the lower rack of the oven and put the baking sheet with the bread on it on the middle/upper rack. Bake for 5 minutes.
6. After 5 minutes, open the oven and pour 1-2 cup of water into the empty dish on the lower rack and quickly shut the oven to trap the steam.
7. Bake another 25 minutes or until the crust is firm and brown.
8. For rolls, do without the water and bake for 20 minutes straight at 425.

May 22, 2011

L Makes Peanut Butter Cookies

Our good friend L, who often bakes for us, visited this weekend and made these amazing chocolate chip peanut butter cookies.  We had a jar of extra healthy peanut butter which turned out to be inedibly terrible.  So, instead, we made a lot of cookies.  We have cookies to eat, L went home with cookies, and we have several logs of dough in the freezer for later.

The recipe is from Smitten Kitchen, a website which has been recommended by two different friends and you can find it here.

May 11, 2011

Loaf of Awesome

This recipe is roughly based off of a Turkish spinach roll recipe a friend taught me years ago.  Since she made me memorize the recipe, and since it’s been six years, I had to somewhat reconstruct it.  But it came out wonderfully.  Instead of making individual rolls we made one big loaf.

I should also say that this is tagged under “fast and easy;”  it really is.  From getting started to getting this thing in the oven was under half an hour.  It does bake for a while though.

The dough, smooth and ready to roll.

Spinach and asparagus filling spread out over the dough.

Spinach and asparagus filling spread out over the dough.

Finally, the loaf, sliced at a slight angle into spiraled rounds.



















The dough:

3 ¼ cups flour (I did 2 white and 1 ¼ wheat)

2 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup milk, at room temperature
½ cup oil, neutral or olive

Lightly beaten egg yolk for glazing (optional)

  1. Combine all the dry ingredients and use a whisk to mix evenly
  2. Add the oil, stir a bit.
  3. Add the milk and mix with a spoon until it is too solid for the spoon, then use your hands.
  4. Knead the dough just a little until it is smooth and pliable.
  5. At this point make the filling.  Do everything on the filling list now.
  6. Roll it out until it’s a bit more than a ¼ inch think then spread the filling over most of the dough and roll it from one end towards the other.
  7. Use your fingers to press it shut at the ends and bush it with a lightly beaten egg yolk.  Last sprinkle coarse salt and ground pepper on top.
  8. Bake on a lightly oiled and very lightly floured sheet at  350 for 35-40 minutes


½ lb spinach

A handful of chives


Green garlic, 1-3 stalks

Salt, pepper,

¼ – ½ teaspoon each oregano & basil

Olive oil

  1. Chop the asparagus into 1 inch pieces
  2. Finely chop the chives and green garlic.
  3. Put the asparagus, chives, and green garlic in a sizeable saucepan with the olive oil and cook on medium low heat for about five minutes.  Add some salt, pepper, oregano, and basil.
  4. Meanwhile, wash and roughly chop about of spinach.
  5. Turn off the heat, mix the spinach in the saucepan and cover, with heat turned off.
  6. Add to the dough as explained above.
May 10, 2011

Zucchini Bread & Muffins

This is a recipe we’ve had around for years.  Looking back through my cookbook (a book I made  years ago and which charmingly tracks my developing ability to cook from age 15 onward, complete with recipes such as “eggs stuck to toast” and detailed instructions on how to make and use natural indigo dye, which is, of course, not food at all) I’d say I copied this one down in the summer of 2008 when we were working on a farm in Vermont.  I don’t remember what I based the recipe on, but the slightly idiosyncratic increments make me think it has been fiddled with.

The great thing about zucchini bread is this: it is always delicious and you can freeze grated zucchini in the summer when there are those big baseball bat sized zucchinis and then enjoy fresh zucchini bread of muffins all winter long.  Last summer I froze eight packets of grated zucchini, all in 2 cup increments to make the baking easier.  A brief digression about freezing zucchini: it’s really easy, just grate it up into a strainer, save the extra liquid for stock, and pack it into freezer bags.  press out the extra air and lay the bags in the freezer.  If you smooth them out and lay them flat they will become very easy to stack and move around.  However, I did note that two cups of fresh zucchini seem to come down to about 1 cup frozen.  So, if you’re making this recipe with frozen zucchini, make sure you do get two whole cups.

Now, the recipe:

This makes approximately 2 loaves

3 eggs

2 cups grated zucchini

2 1/8 cup sugar

3/4 cup melted butter.  Note: if using unsalted butter, also add 1 teaspoon salt.

1/4 cup neutral oil

3 teaspoons vanilla

3 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon

smattering of nutmeg (optional)

1 cup slightly crushed wallnuts (optional of course)

1 cup chocolate chips

  1. Preheat the oven to 350
  2. Beat the eggs until foamy, then add the sugar, butter, oil, zucchini, and vanilla
  3. Add baking soda, baking powder, flour, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  Again, if using unsalted butter, add a teaspoon of salt here.  Mix well.
  4. Add nuts and chips and again stir until evenly mixed.
  5. Pour the batter into a lightly greased loaf pan or into a lightly greased muffin pan.  Fill to just below the top since they do rise somewhat.
  6. Bake loaves for 40-50 minutes.  Bake muffins for 15-20 minutes, depending on size. 15 on the nose seems to be perfect for mini muffins.
May 7, 2011

Mid Spring White Pizza

This awesome pizza was very easy to make (assuming you don’t mind making pizza dough) and was a perfect way to enjoy some of our new fresh herbs.  Here’s the recipe:

Chives, fresh garlic, garlic clove, spinach, portobello mushrooms, olive oil, parmesan, and mozzarella

  1. Cut a small handful of chives into 1/4 inch pieces (a pair of scissors works well for this) and place into a small saucepan with a little less than 1/4 cup of olive oil.  You should have about 1/3 cup of chives.  Then add 1 head of finely chopped cured garlic and cook on low heat for 10 minutes, stirring almost constantly to prevent burning.
  2. Roll out the pizza dough and spread the garlic-chive oil over the dough evenly.
  3. Spread a layer of fresh spinach, 1 finely sliced stalk of green garlic, and 4 portobello mushrooms, cut into 1 inch pieces.
  4. Top with mozzarella and grated parmesan.
  5. Cook at 425 for about 15 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, heat tomato sauce in the same pan the garlic chive oil was in to flavor it.
  7. Serve the pizza with tomato dipping sauce on the side.
  8. Rejoice.

April 10, 2011

Biscuit and dumpling recipe

These are the biscuits/dumplings which we put in the potato dill soup.  The recipe first came from Veganomicon but I thinks it’s been changed a bit since I first made them.  They are quick, easy, and very yummy.  For a sweet biscuit you can add a little sugar and cinnamon instead of the savory spices.

3/4 cup milk

1 1/2 cups flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 cup earth balance

healthy pinch of any of the following: parsley, thyme, and tarragon

  1. Mix the milk and vinegar and set aside to sour
  2. Mix all the dry ingredients together in a medium bowl
  3. Add the butter in small bits and mix it in evenly with your hands
  4. Add the milk and vinegar and mix just until combined.  It’s okay if there are dry bits
  5. Now, either plop balls of the dough into soup and bake in the oven (like in the previous post) or bake them at 425 for 15 minutes on lightly greased sheets.


March 22, 2011

Purim Part 2: Hamentashen recipe

And now, my mother’s hamentashen recipe:

1 cup sugar

1 cup shortening

1 orange

1 lemon rind

1 teaspoon vanilla

3 1/4-3 1/2 cups flour

3 teaspoons baking powder

3 eggs



lemon rind

matzo meal (you can use flour if you like)

ground walnuts

jam of choice ( lekvar/prune butter and apricot are traditional; I did apricot and then nutella for the second batch)


  1. Cream the sugar and shortening then add the eggs.
  2. Add the rind and juice of one orange.
  3. Add the lemon rind, then the vanilla.
  4. Combine the flour and the baking powder separately (I like to use a whisk to mix dry ingredients together)
  5. Add the flour and baking powder mix.
  6. Make sure everything is smooth and not too sticky.  You can add flour by the tablespoon until you have a smooth, slightly sticky ball.  Now wrap it in a plastic back or something similar and put it in the fridge overnight.


  1. Mix all the ingredients together until you have a slightly stiff but very sticky mixture.  I did the following quantities:       1 10 oz jar of apricot jam, 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, 1 1/2 tablespoons matzo meal.
  2. Grind the walnuts in a small cuisineart and then add them to the jam.  Mix until evenly combined.
  3. Add matzo meal in small increments and mix thoroughly.
  4. For Nutella: do just under 1 tablespoon matzo meal and do about 3/4 cup of nutella.  Still use 1/2 cup chopped walnuts.

Now the fun part, putting it all together:

  1. Take the dough out of the fridge and put it on a very heavily floured surface.  You want to work with cold dough and with tons of flour.  Your first few tries may not work out perfectly and you might need to just mix the dough back into itself until you get the rolling correct.  To avoid the dough becoming too warm I cut off chunks and left the rest in the fridge while I worked.  But I have never seen my mother do this.
  2. Gently roll out the dough, flipping often and re-flouring every few moments, until it is about an eight of an inch thick, maybe a little thicker.
  3. Use the top of  a cup to press through the dough making circles.  Peel away the extra dough between the circles.  
  4. Now, place a teaspoon of filling in the center of each circle and fold three side inward.  You should have a triangle with the filling tucked inside.  Here is my very basic diagram for shaping hamentashen.
  5. Pinch the edges of the flaps so that they stick together well and make sure the corners and pinched shut so the filling doesn’t run out.
  6. Place all your cookies on a very lightly greased baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes at 375.  They should be just starting to turn golden-brown.
  7. This recipe makes a ton: give them away freely, mail them to your friends and family!  They are best within the first few hours, but usually stay very good for at least a week.

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March 8, 2011

More Delicious Bread

This past week I tried out Mark Bittman’s “Rick Golden Bread” recipe (How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, page 714).

The result:

The recipe:

3 1/2 cups flour (I did one cup wheat and the rest white)

2 teaspoons yeast

2 teaspoons salt

1 tablespoon sugar

2 tablespoon cold butter

2 eggs

about 1 cup of milk

softened butter as needed

melted butter as needed

  1. Combine all the flour, salt , sugar, yeast, and cold butter in a bowl and mix with your hands until the butter is broken up into the dry ingredients.
  2. Slowly add 3/4 cup of milk and mix until the dough is soft and smooth.  Add the remaining milk if need-be.  It should be slightly sticky.
  3. Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface for a few minutes, just until it is smooth.  This is a chance to knead in more flour if you need to.  Put the dough in a bowl, cover with a plastic bag and a cloth, and let rise 2 hours.
  4. Next, divide up the dough into however many loaves you intend to make.  I cut 1/3 off and made a single small loaf with that portion and cut the remaining 2/3 into three pieces to braid for challah.
  5. Shape the loaves (for the challah, roll out each section into a snake about in inch thick and then braid them together).  Cover and leave them to rest 20 minutes on a floured surface.
  6. When they have puffed slightly, use your fingers to seal the bottoms of the loaves and place them in buttered baking pans.  Cover and let rise 2 hours.
  7. Now, baking: preheat the oven to 350.  Brush the tops of the loaves with melted butter.  Bake until golden  brown (about 40 minutes, or less with out unpredictable and hype-active oven).  As a baking guide, we sometimes pull the loaves out of their pans and knock on the bottom: when  the bread sounds hollow, it is done.