Thursday, October 24, 2013

Bread Class: Quick Breads

Monday was our first lab for the bread class. We started out simple, doing some tea bread, and a couple of kinds of muffins.

The first thing we made was an almond lemon tea bread. It has plenty of almond paste and butter, and is flavored with lemon zest and poppy seeds.

While the bread is still warm, a glaze of lemon juice, orange juice, and sugar is allowed to soak into the bread.

This is a great bread, with a texture like a pound cake. The zest and the glaze give it a very strong citrus flavor. I might go a little heavier on the poppy seeds myself. but I really like poppy seeds.

We made two kinds of muffins. The first kind we made were cranberry orange muffins with streusel topping. These are a classic fall muffin.

The orange juice and fresh cranberries give a nice tartness to these muffins. The streusel topping adds a nice bit of crunch, and some sweetness to counter balance the tartness.

These are a simple, straight forward muffin. They have a pleasant soft texture. These are great for breakfast.

The second type of muffin we made was a pumpkin muffin with a cream cheese filling. I love pumpkin muffins, and the cream cheese filling adds a nice twist to another fall classic.

The muffin has a fair bit of spices; in addition to some pumpkin pie spice, it has cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and a hint of cardamom.

The filling is cream cheese sweetened with a little powdered sugar. It is piped into the center of the muffin. The muffin is then topped with a little bit of pecans tossed with cinnamon sugar.

It was really fun to get back into the pastry lab again. I really do thoroughly enjoy my pastry classes.


Almond Lemon Tea Bread

for the bread:

4 oz. by wt. pastry flour
½ tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. poppy seeds
1/8 tsp. salt
5 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
7 oz. by wt. almond paste
7 oz. by wt. sugar
8 oz. by wt. butter
zest of 1 lemon

for the glaze:

3 Tbsp. orange juice
3 Tbsp. lemon juice
5 oz. by wt. sugar

Pre-heat oven to 350 F.

Grease and flour a loaf pan.

Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. stir in poppy seeds. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine almond paste, sugar, butter, and zest. Cream together until light and fluffy.
Add eggs, one at a time, letting each one become incorporated until adding the next.
Add extract, allow to become incorporated.
Add dry ingredients in two stages, allowing to incorporate after each addition.
Transfer to loaf pan, and smooth out top.
Bake for 60 minutes, or until bread is set.
Remove from oven. Let cool ten minutes in pan.
While bread is cooking, prepare glaze. In a small saucepan over medium heat, dissolve sugar into juices.
When bread has pulled away from sides of pan, loosen edges with a small spatula, and invert bread onto a cooling rack over parchment paper.
While bread and glaze are still warm, brush bread lightly with glaze. Let bread absorb the glaze, then repeat until bread has a shiny appearance.

Cranberry Orange Struesel Muffins

for the muffins:

10 oz. all purpose flour
5 ¼ oz. sugar
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. baking soda
2 ½ oz. fresh cranberries, rough chopped
6 oz. orange juice
2 oz. oil
1 egg
1 ½ tsp. grated orange zest

Line a muffin tin with paper liners.

for the streusel:

2 Tbsp. all purpose flour
1 ½ oz. sugar
pinch salt
½ tsp. cinnamon
2 oz. butter, cold, cut into 1/2 inch cubes.

To make streusel, sift together dry ingredients. Cut butter into dry until mixture is crumbly. Set aside.

Pre-heat oven to 400 F.

To make muffins, in one bowl sift together flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda. Stir in cranberries.

In another bowl, whisk together juice, oil, egg, and zest.

Fold liquid into dry ingredients.  Do not over mix.

Fill muffin cups about 2/3 full. Sprinkle streusel on top of muffins.

Bake 15 - 20 minutes, until tops are golden and muffins set.

Makes 10 - 12 muffins.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

for muffins:
7 ¼ oz. all purpose flour
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. ground nutmeg
½ tsp. ground cloves
2 tsp. pumpkin pie spices
pinch cardamom
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. baking soda
2 eggs
7 oz. sugar
8 oz. pumpkin puree
5 oz. oil
1 tsp. vanilla paste

for the cream cheese filling:
5 oz. cream cheese
1 ½ oz. powdered sugar

for the topping:
2/3 cup rough chopped pecans
2 tsp. cinnamon sugar

Line a muffin tin with paper liners.

Cream together cream cheese and powdered sugar. Place in a piping bag with a small round tip.

Toss pecans with cinnamon sugar. Set aside.

Pre-heat oven to 400 F.

In one bowl, sift together flour, spices, salt, and baking soda.

In another bowl, whisk together eggs, sugar, pumpkin, oil, and vanilla paste.

Fold wet ingredients into dry. Do not over mix.

Fill muffin cups 2/3 full. Pipe about 2 tablespoons of cream cheese mixture into the center of each muffin. Top each muffin with pecans.

Bake 12 - 15 minutes.

Happy eating!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Intermediate Culinary Class: Mid-term

Last week we took our mid-term for my intermediate culinary class. I'm pretty happy; I scored 49 out of 50. The only one I missed was a question about what intensifies the flavor of a vinaigrette. I picked mustard, the answer Chef wanted was vinegar. I think both answers are correct, but I'll remember the preferred answer for the final.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Black Hat Tea 2013: The Savory Course

It's fall again, time once more for the spouse to hold her Black Hat Society Tea. Last year, the signature fall flavor was apple. This year, we decided that pear should be the featured flavor would be pear. I think we had about twice as many people attending. I want to thank the two friends that helped me in the kitchen, one acting as my sous chef, and the other washing dishes and keeping tea pots flowing. Also, a huge thank you to Rebecca Freeburn of Freeburn inc. who came out and took great photos of the food.

For the savory course, we served three items. We had a number of people attending that were gluten free, so only served one tea sandwich, and added a soup and a salad.

We opened with a soup. This was a shooter of a cold spicy pecan soup, with a garnish of a little chipotle pepper. This soup is pecans simmered in vegetable stock, and flavored with chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, garlic, onion, and cilantro. It is then thickened with heavy cream. I rinsed the adobo sauce off some of the peppers, and then cut them into fine ribbons as a garnish.

I was very happy with this soup. I got just enough spice to notice, without it being overwhelming. It was very rich, and the cream gave it a luscious mouth feel.

I also made a vegan version, where I used almond milk instead of the cream. It was also very good. It was a bit sweeter, and did not have quite as silky a texture.

The next item was a tea sandwich of walnut onion bread with slices of pear and Gorgonzola cheese.

The bread is a yeast bread with onions and pieces of walnuts.  I alternated slices of red and Bartlett pears, leaving the skin on for the color. I added the Gorgonzola crumbles.

The flavor combinations were good. I think next time I will cut the bread a trifle thicker, and toast it. I might also work the Gorgonzola into some cream cheese and make a spread.

The last item was a three  bean salad with a vinaigrette of date vinegar and olive oil, flavored with basil mustard and herbs.

I used black, kidney, and garbanzo beans. There is some minced red onion mixed in.

The  dressing is a  vinaigrette using date vinegar and olive oil. I added some Trader Joe's Basil Mustard. I also added dried basil, oregano, rosemary, and thyme.

The salad was served in half of a miniature sweet pepper. I added a chiffonade of fresh basil as a garnish.


Spicy Cold Pecan Soup

2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 cup minced onion
3 Tbsp. minced garlic
6 cups vegetable stock
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
3 cups pecan pieces
3 Tbsp. canned chipotle chilies in adobo sauce, minced
1 Tbsp. dried cilantro
2 cups heavy cream
salt to taste

In a stock pot over medium heat, add olive oil. Saute onion and garlic until tender. Add stock, juice, pecans, chilies, and cilantro. Simmer for two hours. Using an immersion blender, blend until smooth. Place pan in an ice bath to cool. Refrigerate soup until time for service. Stir in cream. Adjust salt as needed.

This soup can be made vegan by replacing the cream with the same amount of almond milk.

Onion Walnut Bread

1/2 cup  walnut oil
3/4 cup finely chopped onion
2 cups warm water (105°F. to 115°F.)
2 tablespoons sugar
2 envelopes dry yeast
2 teaspoons salt
5 cups (about) bread flour
3 oz. by wt. walnut pieces

In a skillet over medium to medium high heat, add walnut oil. Add onion, and saute until tender. Set aside to cool.

Combine water, yeast, and sugar. Let stand until foamy.

Sift flour. Place yeast mixture in the bowl of a food processor with onions, salt, and 1 cup of flour. Pulse to combine. Add flour 1 cup at a time, processing after each addition. Do this until dough forms a smooth ball. (My food processor was straining before I got that far. I kneaded the last cup or so in by hand.)

Transfer the dough to a well floured surface. Need until dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Add flour as necessary to keep dough from sticking.

Oil a bowl with walnut oil. Place dough in bowl, rotate to coat surface with oil. Cover, let rise until doubled in size.

Punch down dough, let rest for five minutes.

Transfer to a well floured surface. Roll out to about 1 inch thick. Spread walnuts evenly over surface. Knead dough to incorporate walnuts.

Coat the insides of two loaf pans with oil. Divide dough in half. Shape each half into an  oblong, place each oblong in a loaf pan. Cover, let rise until doubled in size.

Pre-heat oven to 400 F. Bake about twenty five minutes, until golden brown and it sound hollow when thumped. (I think next time, I will try it at 375 F, and bake it longer. I'd like to see if I can get the bottom a bit crisper.)

Remove from oven, place on wire racks to cool.

Three Bean Salad

1 large can each kidney, black, and garbanzo beans
1/2 large red onion, diced
4 oz. by vol. date vinegar
12 oz. by vol. olive oil
1 1/2 Tbsp. Basil Mustard
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. dried rosemary
salt and pepper to taste

Drain beans, and rinse thoroughly. Place in a bowl, stir in onion. In another bowl, whisk together vinegar, mustard, and herbs.  While whisking vigorously, slowly add oil, until dressing thickens. If necessary, a little water can be added to thin it out.

Pour dressing over beans. Mix. Refrigerate until service.

Happy eating!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Intermediate Culinary Class: Fish appetizers

Continuing the investigation into flavors, this week we worked with fish. This was a long and busy night, with a number of recipes.

We started off making ceviche. Ceviche is raw fish that is marinaded in acid and flavorings. The acid denatures the proteins making it appear lightly cooked.

This ceviche has fresh red snapper cut in thin angled cuts across the grain. This slice is called a tranche. The slices of fish are arranged on the plate, and then soaked in lime juice. They were lightly seasoned with salt and pepper. On top are layered red onion, green onion, capers, cilantro, jalapeno, and a dash of Tabasco. We made that right away, then let it sit while we cooked the components of the more complex appetizer. We ate the slices of fish on  slices of baguette that had been lightly toasted.

I enjoyed this quite a lot. It was a nice mix of citrus, sharpness, and heat.

The more complex dish had a number of components. For the first time, we were required to make an attempt at presentation. The dish is pan seared red snapper with mushroom risotto, beet beurre blanc, olive and tomato tapenade, and white wine infused beets.

The first step is the beets. It is a bruniose (very fine dice) of beet sautéed in butter, then simmered in white wine until tender. When complete, the beets are strained, and the juice is reserved for the beurre blanc.

The tapenade is thin sliced pimento stuffed olives, diced tomato, garlic, red onion, and lemon zest, very lightly sautéed in olive oil.

The risotto is Arborio rice that is slowly cooked in liquid while being continuously stirred. The starchy short grained rice will release produces a creamy texture. For this risotto, we sautéed a little mirepoix (finely diced onion, carrot, and celery), garlic, mushroom, and jalapeno in butter. The rice is added, and cooked a few minutes in the hot fat, stirring to coat each grain. Water was added, a little at a time, cooking and stirring. It took about twenty minutes for the rice to reach an al dente texture, and have a creamy texture. Right at the end, some heavy cream and Parmesan cheese was added.

This is the first time I've tried making risotto. It turns out to be easier than I expected. It takes a little patience, and you need to be focused, but it isn't that tricky.

Beurre blanc means 'white butter' in French. It is an emulsion of butter in a white wine reduction. For this one, we used the beet infused wine, some more white wine, and a little white wine vinegar. We added some red onion and garlic, and reduced the volume by about half. We then added some fish stock. Once it was back up to temperature, we whisked in butter to form the emulsion. Finally, whisked in some heavy cream. It was a nice, slightly acidic sauce that went well with the fish and the risotto.

Finally, we pan seared some pieces of red snapper. With so much else going on, we just kept the fish simple.

All recipes courtesy chef Joe Orate.


Chef Joe's Peruvian Style Ceviche

4 oz. fresh red snapper fillets
juice of 2 limes
1/4 red onion, minced
1 bunch green onions, minced
1 jalapeno, minced
1 bunch cilantro, minced
1/4 cup capers
salt and pepper to taste
Tabasco to taste

Slice fish very thin. Place in the bottom of a plate or shallow bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Cover with 1/3 of the lime juice. Layer on rest of ingredients, seasoning with salt and pepper, and sprinkling with juice. When all ingredients are layered on, sprinkle as desired with Tabasco. Let marinade for 2 hours.

Chef Joe's Wine Infused Beets

1 beet, peeled and finely diced
3 oz. by wt. butter
1 cup white wine
salt to taste

In a small saucepan, sauté beet in butter. Add wine, simmer until tender. Drain, reserving juice for beurre blanc.

Chef Joe's Green Olive Tapenade

4 oz. by wt. pimento stuffed green olives
1 small tomato, peeled and diced
zest of 1 lemon
1 oz. fine diced red onion
1 garlic clove, minced
1 Tbsp. olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Briefly sauté all ingredients in olive oil.

Chef Joe's Mushroom Risotto

1 cup Arborio rice
3 oz. butter
1/4 cup finely diced mirepoix (carrots, celery, and onion)
1 tsp. minced garlic
1 cup diced mushrooms
1/2 jalapeno, minced
1 - 2 cups water
1 tsp. shredded Parmesan
2 oz. heavy cream
salt and pepper to taste

In a saucepan over medium high heat, sauté mirepoix, garlic, mushrooms, and jalapeno in butter. Add rice. Cook, stirring constantly, until rice grains are coated with butter and lightly toasted. Add water a little at a time. Cook, stirring constantly, adding water as needed to keep rice a thick slurry. Cook until rice is creamy, and grains are al dente. Season with salt and pepper, stir in cream and cheese.

Chef Joe's Beet Beurre Blanc

Beat infused wine from previous recipe
1/2 cup white wine
1 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
1 Tbsp. minced red onion
1 tsp. minced garlic
1 cup fish stock
4 oz. butter, softened
1/2 cup heavy cream
salt and pepper to taste

Place beet infused wine, wine, vinegar, onion, and garlic is a saucepan over medium high to high heat. Reduce volume by one half. Add stock, bring back to a simmer.  Whisk in butter, about one tsp. at a time. Whisk vigorously to form an emulsion. Whisk in heavy cream. Season with salt and pepper.

Happy Eating!