My favorite mistake

I’m going to say right up front that I forked this one up royally from beginning to end. So, I can’t say that it was a great recipe, but I do think that it’s salvageable, as in, the blame lies with me.

And, to be honest, I still had a lot of fun making it.

It’s been a stressful week, and I came home grumpy. But once I started to make this week’s poppy seed streusel and listening to podcasts about “Doctor Who” (*nerd alert*), I felt immensely better. I didn’t even really care that I was forking up.

Streusel ingredients. Notably not pictured is the milk I should have used.

I have loved my Amy Thielen “The New Midwestern Table” cookbook, so the fact that this recipe didn’t turn out I think is a fluke. I have made a lot of things from it, including hand pies this year.

And, seriously, it has a butt-ton of butter, sugar, and flour, so it should have been perfect.

Also, while her recipe said to bake for a half hour, I knew it looked done about 7 minutes early, and instead of trusting my gut, I let it go for another 5.

So, the fact that it’s hard as a rock, is on me.

Then, the second page of the recipe really spends a lot of time on the importance of grinding the poppy seeds well. This was after I had, uh, not done that. See, I bought a bunch of cream and figured there was not harm in replacing whole milk with cream. Except that, obviously, cream whips quite quickly. So, when I mixed them together in the blender, there was whipped cream well before poppy seed broke and bruised.

I made up for it by adding water instead of more cream later … but the damage (or lack thereof to the poppy seeds) was done.

So, the fact that the poppy seeds are intact and the innards of the streusel didn’t turn out as expected, is also on me.

Again, though, it was an adventure to make, and I’m pretty sure if I follow the recipe, and trust my gut, I’ll nail it next time.

It doesn’t look that bad until you noticed the blackened edges and that that ain’t *lightly* golden.

Here’s what I did. Actually, scratch that, here’s what I should have done:

Ingredients

  • ¾ c. poppy seeds
  • ¾ c. whole milk (DO NOT SUBSTITUTE)
  • 1 c. raisins
  • 3 c. sugar, divided
  • ½ c. heavy cream
  • 2 t. apple cider vinegar
  • 3 c. all-purpose flour
  • ½ t. sea salt
  • 3 sticks butter (the recipe calls for salted; I used un- so hopefully that didn’t mess things up), and more for coating the pan, all at room temperature

Directions

Combine poppy seeds and MILK in a blender and process on high until the poppy seeds have broken down down. Add the raisins, 1 c. sugar, the cream, and the vinegar. Process until smooth.

Pour the mixture into a medium skillet and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Stir often to prevent it from sticking, and continue reducing heat to keep the mixture at a slow bubble. Keep cooking until the mixture thickens to like jam, about 30 minutes. I’d say a little less but that might just be because I overcooked the thing from top to bottom in the oven.

Meanwhile, heat the oven to 375 degrees, and lightly butter a 9-inch by 13-inch sheet pan.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, the remaining 2 c. sugar, salt, and the butter. Use your fingers to work the butter into the flour mixture until well combined, and the mixture holds its shape when squeezed together.

Scoop 5 loose cups of the butter mixture onto the sheet pan, and use your hands to spread evenly, and then gently press down. Bake for about 10 minutes, and then let cool for about 10 minutes.

Then, pour the poppy seed mixture on top, and spread until smooth. Then squeeze the remaining butter mixture on top of the poppy seed mix to make decorative nuggets, leaving some space for the filling to show through.

Bake for about 30 minutes, or until LIGHTLY golden brown, *checking often*, and then cool in the pan before cutting into squares. Enjoy, if you got this far and succeeded!

 

Beautiful briny bread

The checkout girl at Target told me not to tell anyone that the bread I made this week had anchovies on it. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that I’d be telling everyone through this blog post. So, let me get it out of the way at the front.

This bread is not for the faint-hearted.

If you can think of everything flavorful and potentially off-putting, this bread has it. Anchovies. Capers. Kalamata olives. Onions (lots of ‘em). Garlic.

Briny bread* ingredients. *Actually called “pissaladiere.”

It’s also got tomatoes, a butt-load of olive oil, and a no-knead yeasty bread.

Basically, me and my sweetie thought it would be perfect. And the recipe didn’t let us down. It’s been amazing.

The recipe comes from the cookbook my brother turned me on to about bread: “Bread, Toast, Crumbs” by Alexandra Stafford. I finally got myself a copy.

Unlike last time, my deviations from the original recipe worked just fine. I mostly stuck to it — including all those delicious toppings — but I have regular yeast, not instant, and I figured there was no harm in swapping. Especially since I spent a year making bread.

To correct, I just upped the amount of yeast and added a little honey to get it kickstarted, but otherwise I stuck close to the original.

My only complaint — and it’s expected — is that it took a long time and dirtied quite a few dishes, including the pain-in-the-ass-to-clean food processor. But I knew all that going in, and a lot of the time is pretty passive and a great time to rewatch this amazing season of “Doctor Who.”

It looks so pretty, and it’s tasty too.

Here’s what I did (with notes to use instant yeast):

Ingredients

For the dough

  • 4 c. all-purpose flour
  • 2 t. salt
  • 2 ½ t. active dry yeast (1 t. If using instant)
  • 2 c. lukewarm water
  • 1 T. honey, optional

For the bread

  • 6 T. olive oil, divided
  • 3 medium onions, halved and thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 4 anchovies
  • 1 T. capers (I didn’t measure, I love capers)
  • ½ c. kalamata olives, halved
  • 1 c. cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered

Directions

Make the dough. If using active dry yeast, mix together the yeast, warm water, and honey, and let sit for about 10 minutes before stirring in the flour and salt. If using instant, the recipe says to mix together the dry ingredients, and then add the water (and honey). Either way, use a rubber spatula to stir until the mixture combined and you have a sticky dough that’s sort of ball-shaped. Cover the mixture with oiled plastic wrap, and let rise for about 1 ½ hours until the dough has doubled in size.

Just before the dough is ready, heat a large pan on high heat. Add 1 T. olive oil, and then add the onions. Cook on medium heat, stirring every few minutes, until the onions are golden, about 15 minutes. Set aside.

In a food processor, mix together the garlic and anchovies with 2 T. olive oil until pureed. Add the capers and pulse till chopped. Set aside.

Heat the oven to 425 degrees, and set the rack in the middle of the oven. Line a large rimmed sheet pan with parchment paper, and pour on the remaining 3 T. olive oil. Use two forks to deflate the dough by releasing it from the sides of the bowl and pulling it toward the center until you get a rough ball. Lift the dough with the forks or pour it onto the oiled sheet pan. Roll the dough ball in oil to coat it all over, and then let it rest for 20 minutes.

With greased hands, push the dough to stretch it to the edges of the sheet pan, and use fingers to dimple it. When the dough resists stretching, let it rest for about 5 minutes and then stretch again until it fits most of the sheet pan.

To assemble, spread the anchovy paste on the dough. Scatter on the olives, and then the carmelized onions. Top with the tomatoes. Use fingers again to dimple the dough and stretch more if necessary.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until the underside of the dough is golden and crisp. Transfer to a cutting board and let cool for at least 10 minutes before cutting into squares, and enjoy!

Quiche me like you mean it

After two weeks of traveling, I’m finding it nice to be home. And one of the surest signs that we’ve been on the road too much (and that I’m officially grown up) is that I got burnt out on fast food. Yes, I was craving salad and vegetables.

Of course, I do not need to be nudged too hard but the need for healthier fare hit like a craving. So, I was glad I had saved this quiche recipe for a post-travels dinner.

Sheet pan quiche ingredients.

It isn’t all healthy, what with an all-butter crust, cream cheese, and more cheese. But it was topped with my comfort food veggies, marinated artichokes and asparagus. And eggs, well, I think the jury is still out on whether they’re healthy or not. For the sake of this post, let’s say they’re a good source of protein.

Plus, I was happy to have another reason to make a pie crust in this year of sheet pan recipes.

The recipe was adapted from food blogging fave Smitten Kitchen. But I chose my favorite vegetables over spinach (which is a fine green!) and had to tweak to fit my size sheet pan (roughly 11×15 inch). All worked out perfectly and I found a relatively simple recipe I am sure I’ll be returning to again and again.

Look at those beautiful vegetables and that perfect crust.

Here’s what I did:

Ingredients

For crust:

  • 2 sticks butter
  • Scant 2 c. all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling the dough
  • 3 oz. ice water (I used a handy shot glass and shaker, don’t judge)
  • Salt, if desired

Or, feel free to roughly double your favorite pie crust.

For quiche filling:

  • 1 brick (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
  • 1 c. half and half
  • 7 large eggs
  • 1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced white and light green parts
  • About ¾ bunch asparagus, ends removed and cut into about 1 ½ inch pieces
  • 1 (about 6 oz.) jar of marinated artichokes, drained
  • 1 c. grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • ½ c. grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Oil, for coating

Directions

Prepare crust. Use a food processor, pastry blender, or hands to mix together the butter and flour until well blended. Add water slowly until dough forms. Pat into a disk, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for about an hour. When ready, roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to about ¼ inch thick and slightly larger than the size of your sheet pan. Carefully place the dough in the sheet pan and trim the edges as necessary. Freeze for about 20 minutes.

Heat the oven to 425 degrees. Then, when ready, pierce the cold dough throughout with a fork. Cover dough with a lightly oiled piece of aluminum foil. Add weights. (I forgot this step and all turned out fine.) Bake for about 20 minutes until partially done, and then remove foil (and any pie weights) and bake for another 3 to 5 minutes to lightly golden the crust.

Meanwhile, make the filling. I was lazy here and used my stand mixer, but do what works for you. Beat the cream cheese in a large bowl. Carefully add the half and half. Whisk in eggs one at a time, until combined. Stir in the scallions, cheeses, and salt and pepper.

Once crust is ready, pour on the egg mixture. Do not overtop the crust (this amount of egg mixture worked perfect for my sheet pan, but amounts and sheet pans vary). If you have extra, consider you’ve got breakfast in the morning.

Top egg mixture with asparagus pieces and quartered artichoke hearts.

Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees, and bake the quiche until the crust is fully golden and the eggy filling is set, about 25 to 30 minutes. Cool for at least 10 minutes or until warmed to desired temperature, and enjoy!

Extra Post: Let’s celebrate Casimir Pulaski Day

So, I didn’t make this recipe recently, but I couldn’t resist a Polish post to celebrate Casimir Pulaski Day.

Since I grew up in Illinois, there were two extra holidays we got each year. They were Abraham Lincoln’s birthday (of course in the Land of Lincoln, we celebrated the 16th president individually), and Casimir Pulaski Day.

Pulaski isn’t celebrated much outside of Illinois, but he was a Revolutionary War hero from Poland and is credited as a founder of the U.S. cavalry. And he seems like a pretty cool and worldly dude.

Usually I try to make something each year to celebrate my Polish roots and celebrate the Illinois holiday. This year I didn’t have my [expletive deleted] together to get something Polish together in time for today’s holiday.

Fortunately, I made bialys a few years ago in my previous life as a newspaper reporter, and the little not-bagels are made on a sheet pan.

Bialys, a tasty Polish treat

So, here’s a little recipe extra for lyal readers:

Ingredients

For the starter or polish

  • ½ c. all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 c. water
  • ¼ t. active dry yeast

For the bialy dough            

  • 1 starter
  • 1 ½ c. warm water
  • 2 ½ t. active dry yeast (or one package)
  • 1 ½ T. honey
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 1 ½ t. salt
  • 3 c. bread flour
  • 1 c. all purpose flour

For the bialy filling

  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 2 T. oil
  • 2 T. poppy seeds
  • Salt, to taste

Directions

The night before you plan to make the bread, make the starter before going to bed. Stir together the flour and yeast. Mix in the water until a sticky dough forms. Cover and let rest overnight.

When ready to make the dough, mix together the yeast, water and honey. Let the yeast activate for about 15 minutes. Then, add the starter, olive oil, salt, all-purpose flour and about 2 c. of the bread flour.

Turn out on a floured surface, and knead, adding in the remainder of the bread flour as necessary. Knead for about 5 to 10 minutes.

Place dough in a large bowl that has been coated with oil. Over with oiled plastic wrap and let rise in a cool place for about 2 hours.

Once dough has about doubled in size, punch it down in the bowl and then divide it into about 20 even pieces. Roll each dough piece into a ball and then stretch out to about a 3-inch round. Place round on floured baking sheet and indent around the middle, leaving about a 1-inch lip around the edge. Repeat with remaining dough pieces, leaving enough space in between dough rounds so the bialy can rise a second time.

Cover with oiled plastic wrap or a tea towel and let rise for about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

During second rise, mince garlic and chop onion. Pour oil into large cast-iron skillet and let warm over medium heat. Once hot, add in onions and garlic and cook for a few minutes before turning heat to medium low. Cook for 20 to 30 minutes over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally until caramelized. Once browned, remove from heat and add in the salt and poppy seeds.

Once second rise is complete, add ½ to 1 T. of the filling into each of the bialy indentations until it’s all used up. Place baking sheet (or sheets) into oven and cook for 12 to 15 minutes. Enjoy warm and with cream cheese!

Breakfast for dinner!!!

I was looking for something simple to make this week because I had been feeling under the weather and thus, behind on everything. But what made me select a breakfast recipe was an ulterior motive to test out how long to cook eggs in the oven.

I figured that if every other piece was easy this time — frozen hash browns and bacon — I could focus on the eggs. So, when I do my next egg recipe(s), I’ll be ready for it.

Ingredients for sheet pan hash brown breakfast.

While I managed to overcook the eggs slightly, they were still well within the realm of edible and acceptable. And now I know at 400 degrees, with an already warm dish, eggs cook in less than 10 minutes, probably closer to 8 minutes if you want them a little runny.

Otherwise, using a couple different recipes with very different ideas of how to use the same ingredients and also making my own twists, I made a delightful and pretty easy hash brown breakfast for dinner.

My last note is the recipes called for just laying the slices of bacon straight on the hash browns, and that worked. But next time I make this (and there will be a next time), I’ll take the time to use cooking shears and cut the bacon into bits, both so it ends up crunchier and so it’s easier to eat the final product. Oh and I tested both turkey and pork bacon and both worked well.

So much bacon! (And eggs, and hash browns.)

Without further ado, here’s what I did:

Ingredients

  • 20 oz. frozen hash browns
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 4 T. butter, melted (plus more or oil for coating the sheet pan)
  • 1 c. shredded cheese (I used more and opted for a Mexican mix, but you do you)
  • 12 slices bacon, cut into bite-size pieces if you like
  • 6 eggs
  • 3 T. Parmesan, shredded (optional)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Use oil or butter to coat a rimmed sheet pan about 15 ½ x 12 inches in size.

Add hash browns in an even layer. Top with onions, pepper, cheese (except the Parmesan) and melted butter. Stir gently to mix. Add salt and pepper.

Place bacon on top. It will seem like a lot if you didn’t cut it, but it’ll shrink some in the oven. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until the bacon is nearly done and hash browns are starting to brown around the edges. Remove from oven and make wells (I actually just used bacon as rims to hold the eggs, which is an option if you don’t cut the bacon). Carefully break eggs, keeping them whole. Top with Parmesan if using and add a little more salt and pepper. Return to oven and bake for about 7 to 9 more minutes. Remove from oven, let cool slightly and enjoy!