Tuesday, June 24, 2008


I have wanted this book for ages. As in, since I saw it in passing while shelving books and was sorely tempted to flip through the pages, but managed to resist by reminding myself that I am not, in fact, paid to read books. However....I continued to lust over it for months and finally, just a week and a half ago, I bought it! A couple people had given me giftcards, I had an extra ten percent on my employee discount, and I bought it! Despite having all this free time, I 've only tried out four recipes so far; but as soon as I buy a tub of sour cream tomorrow, I'll be baking recipe number five.

The first recipe I tried was the one for bagels. It was Father's Day weekend and my dad has this thing for bagels. Apparently, way back when he found a bagel place with the Perfect Bagels. He loves to reminisce about their chewy yet firm texture, ideal height (tall enough to slice and toast, not so tall that they become the epitome of all that is wrong regarding bagels: "bready") and subtle yet distinct flavor. He has a thing against Panera. Anyways, I decided to try my hand at re-creating the Perfect Bagels, and according to him I was pretty close. I had some issues with toppings (sauteed onions=very, very slippery when applied to an egg wash) and the bagels weren't quite tall enough, but still. I was happy with them.

Next up was the cinnamon rasin bread. My sister left for camp and she had been asking about the cinnamon raisin bread ever since she'd spotted the picture of a luscious slice coated with butter. She hates raisins, so I made simply cinnamon swirl bread, which was absolutely delicious. Tight, soft crumb, soft crust and a lovely swirl that pulled apart just slightly as the bread baked. Me being me, I decided to make the bread around 8pm, so had I followed the meticulously written directions exactly, I would have been baking around 12:30 am, so I decided to just shove the dough in the fridge after mixing. I also ended up giving the dough a rather short rise time after having my sister pull it from the fridge while I was at work...so it was a bit flat. However! It did rise, and was still light and yummy, so I'm not being too hard on myself.

My next (perhaps far too ambitious) project was the Rosemary-Foccacia squares, which were, sadly a total failure. Not due to the recipe at all, just my own poor planning. See, since this dough has such a high water percentage, I needed to borrow my aunt's stand mixer in order to make the dough. However, I didn't want to get in her way in her kitchen, so I decided to make it while cat-sitting for her, and then just bring the dough home. However, I made plans for the evening and didn't actually have time to bake it just then...so I stuck it in the fridge. Bad idea. Terrible idea. Admittedly, it worked for the cinnamon swirl bread, but there was no way I could have expected it to work for this dough. I mean, I had the Kitchen-Aid going at #4 for almost an hour, attempting to get my blobby soup to turn into the "smooth, elastic dough ball" so nicely described by the Bible. And it did turn into a lovely, elastic-y dough...until I stuck it in the fridge. When I pulled it out 24 hours later, I had soup again. Ever the optimist, I poured it on a well-olive-oiled pan, sprinkled with rosemary and shredded cheese, stuck it in the oven and hoped for the best. 20 minutes later, it was clear that no, it would not simply be flat and crispy but still yummy. It would be flat, gummy, mushy and burning around the edges. Clearly, it was at this point that I scraped it into the garbage can.

The fourth recipe was the lovely, simple pizza dough recipe, which actually turned out quite well. Except that either the intended pizza has an insanely thin crust, or my dough simply refused to rise sufficiently...because my boyfriend and I had one really, really, thin crust pizza. Kudos to him for very patiently stretching and patting out dough, and later scraping off slices of paper-thin pizza. However, the pizza crust had a great flavor and a really nice texture; I'll just be doubling the recipe in future for my own thick-crusted pizza enjoyment.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Because my mom finished off the last of the cake...

I made chocolate chip cookies! Whenever we run out of baked goods, I start doing crazy things like eating out of the sugar bowl or buying Sour-Patch Kids at Rite-Aid, so I decided the cookies were absolutely necessary. I was going to find/modify/dream up a recipe with lots of strawberries to celebrate another of my favorite summer foods, but last night I wanted something sweet and easy, and there was a bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips waiting for me...

This recipe is also from allrecipes.com (I love that website. Epicurious.com is nice and all, but when I don't have the energy or the inclination for fancy food, allrecipes.com is perfect). While I've never gotten my cookies to turn out as thick and puffy as the recipe claims, they have turned out perfectly chewy and soft (without raw centers) every time. However, as many, many, many of the comments for this recipe stated, you must refrigerate the dough before baking it, otherwise the cookies will spread, flatten and make a gigantic cookie sheet! This time I stuck the cookie dough in the freezer for about 45 minutes, as well as the cookie sheet (separately) before baking them, and they turned out nicely. Next time I think I might divide the dough, place it on the cookie sheet (as if about to bake) and then stick it into the freezer together, just because the dough was harder to scoop once refrigerated.

I can't find my recipe right now, but I'll change the post later and add it, if anyone cares...

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Tasty food but no camera

Yes, sadly I'm out of batteries for my camera, and the other household camera was at my sister's party today, so I don't have any pictures of my delicious lunch. I was in a hurry and my house is a bit lacking in groceries right now, but I managed to make quite a yummy bagel pizza for lunch.

The bagel pizza thing began when I was maybe eight years old and obsessed with The Babysitters' Club, this series of books about four girls who had highly unlikely adventures while babysitting. And one of the girls had this thing for English Muffin pizzas. You know, cheese+tomato sauce+English Muffin=tiny miny pizza. Naturally, I had to try out this "recipe" at my next slumber party, at which point I discovered that I didn't really care for English Muffins. Some months later...the bagel pizza was born! And this was before those pre-made frozen Bagel Bites (TM)... All summer long, my sister and I made bagel pizzas on the non-macaroni and cheese days; our version didn't require an oven, as we simply toasted the bagel, added toppings and zapped it in the microwave. Perfection! Our first attempt at cooking!

Today's bagel pizza was similiar to those early pizzas in form (bagel+sauce+cheese=pizza), but the toppings have changed over the years. For one thing, we no longer make a point of keeping pizza sauce in the house, and thus I used a nice mild salsa. Instead of pepperoni, I topped my pizza with chopped basil and San Daniele Calabrese (like spicy salami, only skinnier and a weird shape). We did, however, have shredded Colby Jack cheese, possibly tied for first place as my favorite type of cheese with Muenster and sharp cheddar cheese.

In case you actually want instructions in recipe form (as opposed to addition problems) here's how I made my pizza. Well, pizzas, really, once you slice the bagel.

Awesome Bagel Pizza
1 onion bagel (or garlic, plain, anything savory)
2-3 tablespoons mild salsa (or tomato sauce/pizza sauce)
1/4 cup shredded cheese
1 slice San Daniele Calabrese (or whatever)

1. Slice and toast bagel.
2. Spread each half of your bagel with the salsa/sauce, dividing equally.
3. Sprinkle each half with cheese, reserving about half of the cheese,
4. Add additional topping of choice.
5. Sprinkle with the rest of the cheese.
6. Microwave for 20-30 seconds, or until the cheese melts.

Really, I think the addition problem had it covered.