Matthew: Now that it is getting cooler I’ve been itching to do more baking. But with so much late summer produce at hand, I decided to try something a little different. I found the basic cornmeal biscuit recipe in The Joy of Cooking and then added some roasted corn, red bell peppers, jalapeno, and cheddar cheese right before forming the biscuits. They didn’t rise as much as I hoped they would, but they still taste really good, especially warmed up. Next time, I would add a little more than the half of a jalapeno that I used to spice them up a bit more. Below is the biscuit recipe:
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Whisk together 1 1/2 cups flour, 1/2 cup cornmeal, 2 t baking powder, 2 T sugar, 1/2 t baking soda, and 1/2 t salt. Cut in 5-6 T cold butter until pieces are the size of breadcrumbs. Add 3/4 cup buttermilk, mix. (Add roasted veggies and cheese.) With floured hands, gather dough into a ball and gently knead in the bowl. Roll dough out 1/2 inch thick and cut into 2 inch squares. Bake 10-12 minutes.
Matthew: Recently, my friends at work have been obsessed with putting eggs on top of dishes that one wouldn’t always think of putting an egg on top of. I think the appeal of this is if the yolk is runny, you can then break it open and it will become a sauce for whatever food items it is perched upon. These eggs also add more sustenance and can turn snack-like foods into meals. For my “put an egg on it” dinner, I tried making a sandwich with CSA veggies and Madison Sourdough bread. I toasted the bread, then topped it with grilled patty pan squash, heirloom tomatoes, basil, feta, salt, pepper, and olive oil. For the egg, I followed the overly complicated directions for poached eggs in The Joy of Cooking which involved putting the egg in boiling water with vinegar until set and then transferring it to 150 degree water. I had a hard time getting water to be 150 degrees, so my eggs ended up slightly over-done. They weren’t bad, but after they alighted on my sandwich, the yolk failed to run. I’d like to try my hand at poached eggs again, perhaps following a different recipe. I do have to say that after trying it, I like the idea of putting eggs on things. I will definitely be doing more of this.
Matthew: Lately, I’ve been watching Two Fat Ladies, a British cooking show from the 90’s, and I was inspired to make something a bit old-fashioned and fancy, similar to the dishes they make on the show. I decided on Pommes Anna from the Joy of Cooking. The recipe has you pour a substantial amount of clarified butter into a cast iron skillet over low heat on the stove. You then layer in potatoes, overlapping the edges. I decided to spice up the recipe a bit with parmesan cheese and paprika between some of the layers. Once the potatoes are all in, it’s transferred to the oven and baked. Then, you drain off the excess butter and flip it over to reveal the crispy brown underside. Mine fell apart a bit when flipping since I used small potatoes that didn’t overlap too well. I’m sure if you used large baking potatoes, it would hold together. It was very tasty and I’m sure would be nice alongside some fish or other main course dish.
Matthew: I really enjoy eating pitas and hummus, but I seem to have a hard time finding good pitas in the store. First of all, it is difficult to find them at all since different stores put them in different locations. It baffles me that they are not just put near the rest of the bread. The only stores that I have found with really good pitas are Whole Foods and Trader Joes. Since I don’t go shopping there too often, I thought I would see if I could make my own. I used this recipe from the Joy of Cooking. After 1 hour, my dough had risen plenty, so I went on with the recipe at that point. The baking part was a little tricky, but I managed to bake two at a time on my overturned baking sheet. If you have a pizza stone, I’m sure it would be easier. To spray some water in the oven, I used a pastry brush dipped in water and flicked it in. Since I was going in and out of the oven a lot, I tried to be quick by just grabbing the pitas with my oven mitt and throwing them up onto the cooling racks on the counter.
For the hummus, I used Ina Garten’s recipe. I made it it my blender, forcing me to add a little extra liquid from the chickpeas in order to get it to blend. I omitted the hot sauce and only added the juice from half a lemon since that is all I had. It tastes great, so I don’t think any more is necessary. The first freshly baked pita with some hummus made a really delicious nighttime snack. Since then, I’ve been making pita sandwiches for lunch with hummus, raw green beans, and sharp cheddar cheese. I think my coworkers are jealous!
Matthew: I had some leftover buttermilk from making Irish Soda Bread, so I decided to use it in the Basic Reduced-Fat Muffin recipe from The Joy of Cooking. To make them more interesting, I used brown sugar and added chopped dates, slivered almonds, and flax seeds. They turned out really well and didn’t take long to make (~20 minutes). You could pretty much substitute any nuts or dried fruit and maybe add some grains. Also, if you didn’t have buttermilk, yogurt would work well too. Here’s the recipe:
Whisk together 2 cups flour, 1/2 cup sugar, 4 teaspoons baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon baking soda. In another bowl, whisk together 1 egg, 3 tablespoons oil or melted butter, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and 1 cup buttermilk or yogurt. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and add fruits and nuts (I used a handful of each). Stir until just combined. Put in muffin pan and bake at 400 degrees F for ~12 minutes. Cool on a rack.
Matthew: I’ve been making this bread almost every week so far this year. It slices great for sandwiches and is really delicious toasted. I started with a basic white bread recipe in The Joy of Cooking, and added whole wheat flour, millet, and flax seeds to make it healthier. It’s a great recipe because it only takes ~2 hours from start to finish. Here’s the recipe with the adjustments I’ve made:
Fast White Bread from The Joy of Cooking
Combine with a mixer or by hand in a large bowl:
2 cups flour (I use 1c regular and 1c whole wheat)
1 T sugar
1 package quick rising active dry yeast (2 1/4 t, I add a little bit more to help it rise better)
1 1/4 t salt
handfull of millet and flax seeds (or whatever grain or seed you want)
1 cup very warm (115-125 degrees F) water
2 T melted butter
Mix for one minute on low or by hand. Gradually add more flour (~1/2 to 1 c) until the dough is moist but not sticky.
Knead for 10 minutes. Transfer to an oiled bowl and cover loosely. Let rise for 45 minutes or so.
Punch down, form into a loaf. Put into an oiled bread pan and let rise for 45 minutes or so.
Bake at 450 for 10 minutes, then turn oven down to 350. It is supposed to bake for 30 more minutes, but mine is usually done in less than 10 more minutes.
Matthew: The Joy of Cooking has a recipe for cottage cheese pancakes which I’ve made several times and thoroughly enjoyed. The pancakes are, as they describe it, “puddinglike” on the inside and slightly crispy on the outside. The batter is thicker than typical pancake batter and actually calls for egg whites to be folded in at the last moment. I didn’t have any cottage cheese this morning, but I did have some ricotta. It made a great substitute and made the pancakes slightly richer, but still soft and delicious in the center. I will definitely make these again!