Thursday, July 24, 2014

Mid-Year Resolution

After having so much fun in July making berry galettes and one-pot zucchini mushroom pasta* for the first time, I decided to keep up the trend. For the rest of the year, I'm going to try at least two recipes I've never tried before. I'll try to blog about it here.

I discussed this idea with my bff, and she agreed that "mid-year resolutions" should totally be a thing. July is a world away from January. Why limit your self-improvement goal-setting to the dead of winter? Also, I think I have a lot better chance of actually completing my resolutions if I only have to keep them up for 6 months at a time.

* If you make this one-pot pasta dish, I highly recommend halving the recipe. We had SO MUCH pasta left over. My dad is a leftovers eating champ (we lovingly call him our garbage disposal), and even he reached his limit and had to throw out what was left. So unless you're making this for a family of 8, half the recipe should be plenty.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Better in theory: Blueberry Lemon Breakfast Loaf

After the success of my last loaf of bread, I decided to mix it up a bit. You know what I love? Blueberries. You know what else I love? Lemons. So I decided to follow Simply So Good's lead and change her Orange zest/Cranberry bread to Lemon zest/Blueberry. It came out perfectly edible, but there are a few things I would do differently if I make it again.

Do differently:

1- Use dried blueberries. Y'all, my baking dish is a MESS. Usually this bread recipe pops out of the baking dish and you can barely tell anything was made in it. I may have, on occasion, not washed it between loafs.

2- Omit the lemon zest. You can't even taste it, and I got a little overzealous in my zesting and cut my thumb on the grater. Not worth it.

3- Add some sugar to the dough. It wasn't bad, but it could have used a little extra sweetness.

4- Less flour on the counter. I ended up with too much flour stuck to the outside of the dough and that raw flour taste doesn't help the finished product.

Do again:

1- Activate the yeast. I've been using active dry yeast, because it's what my local market had, but in the past I've been too lazy to activate it. This time I added the yeast to some warm water and then mixed it in with the rest of the wet ingredients, and I definitely think the dough rose better this time around.

2- Mix in the morning. In the past I've mixed it up in the evening and then baked it in the morning, but I actually think that might be too long. The recipe says to let it rest for 12-18 hours, but I baked this loaf at 10 hours and the texture was great. I mixed it up before I left for work, checked on it at lunch time, and then baked it that evening. Worked great.

So, while I didn't love the finished product as much as I thought I would, it was still a valuable learning experience.

Sunday, July 06, 2014

My weekend of baking

What did you do this weekend? I baked. And everything was edible and I didn't burn the house down! Success!

It all started a few days ago when Smitten Kitchen posted the recipe for blue and red berry ricotta galette. As soon as I saw the pictures I fell in love and knew I had to try my hand at this recipe. Sure, I'd never made anything like it before. I hadn't used a  rolling pin since I was a kid and would "help" my  mom. But I wasn't going to let that stop me. I dreamt about these galettes, you guys. I had to make them.

So Friday I took my ingredients over to my parents' house (because I don't have my own pastry cutter, zester, or rolling pin). The galettes were supposed to be desert for our family 4th of July cookout, so it actually worked out better to make them at their place instead of mine. I got the dough mixed up without any problems (except for the fact that my mom doesn't have a zester either, so I had to get creative with a vegetable peeler and paring knife). Then, just as I popped my dough in the fridge to chill for an hour, my mom got a call from my grandmother. My uncle had fallen and broken his good arm and had to go to the ER. So our 4th of July cookout was pushed to the 5th. Thankfully the dough would keep in the fridge for up to 48 hours and we hadn't started cooking anything else yet.

Saturday was when making the galettes really turned into a learning experience. If your dough warms up too much you'll have a really hard time rolling it out properly. So you know what is the worst spot in the kitchen to roll out your dough? On the counter-top directly above the running dishwasher. Whoops. So, that dough got rolled back up into a ball, wrapped in its plastic wrap and popped in the freezer. Then I moved to a different counter-top because DUH.

The other half of the dough rolled out much easier. But when I transferred my pentagon-shaped dough to the baking sheet, the pentagon got all wonky. It became more of a vaguely 5-sided blob. I got smarter for my other galette: it works much easier if you transfer the dough to the parchment paper and THEN cut the dough into a pentagon. My blueberry galette was so pretty I took a picture just in case it lost the star shape during baking.

I did not take a picture of the raspberry galette pre-baking, because it didn't really look like a star at all going in to the oven. It actually came out of the oven looking more star-like than it did going in.

Blueberry still turned out prettier, though.

These were a huge hit at our cookout. The raspberry filling could have used a little more sugar, but my dad actually likes tart flavors more than sweet ones, so he thought the raspberry was perfect. Both galettes are completely gone today, so I'd say they were a winner. I think they'd be cute for Christmas, too, so I might be breaking this recipe out again.

I wanted to brag, so I texted a pic of my galettes to my bestie. She introduced me to Smitten Kitchen so I knew she'd appreciate. Turns out she had also made the galettes. Great minds think alike.

But the baking doesn't end there! When I got home Saturday night, I was in the mood to make something. I broke out an old no-knead bread recipe that I've used in the past. I haven't made it in a while, but it's still as tasty as I remember.

So delicious.

So what's next on my culinary agenda? Not really sure, but my uncle just brought over a ton of zucchini, so maybe I'll keep up the galette trend and make SK's zucchini and ricotta galette. Or perhaps some ratatouille? Oh man, zucchini parmesan crisps might be the winner. Stay tuned.