Friday, June 18, 2010

Sasha's Kitchen: Chocolate Chip Brioche

Prior to last weekend, I had only made brioche once.  I had made a loaf of a nice, light brioche bread though.  I wanted this time to make individualized brioche as a dessert. I looked long and hard for chocolate and/or chocolate chip brioche recipes.  I reviewed many, many brioche recipes before coming up with my own that suited my desires of what I hoped to get out of this recipe - muffin tin dessert brioche for brunch.  The end result was delicious and pleasurable - definatly  a dessert but not overwhelmingly sweet.  But don't be fooled, these brioche, like any other contain quite a bit of butter, so they are a special treat and to share with friends - not something I suggest eating three of in one sitting (which I could have done if I let myself).

Sasha's Chocolate Chip Mini Brioche (makes 1 dozen)
1/4 cup plus 2 T milk ( I used Stonyfield Farms Fat Free Milk, my favorite organic milk)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 1/2 tsp (two packages) active dry yeast
1 1.4 cup plus 2 T unbleached bread flour (I used King Arthur Flour)
1 1/2 cup plus 2 T all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
5 large eggs, plus 1 egg yolk for egg wash
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened, and cut into small pieces
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Combine the milk, sugar and yeast.  Warm the milk for about 15 seconds in the microwave first.  Allow to sit for about 10-15 minutes until the yeast is activated (it will become frothy and bubbly and will double in size).

Using a stand mixer, with the dough hook attachment, combine the yeast milk mixture with the flour, eggs, chocolate chips mix well.  Add the butter, 1 tablespoon at a time and continue mixing until the dough is smooth and the butter is incorporated for about five minutes.  If you need to you can add some extra flour (I added a tablespoon or two extra at this point).

Coat a large bowl with PAM and transfer the dough to the bowl.  Allow to stand in a warm place for about an hour and a half until the dough doubles in size.  This is just the same as if you were making my recipe for Challah bread.

Punch down the dough and recover.  Refrigerate for 1 1/2 hours and punch down the dough again. The preheat your oven to 425 degrees.  Spray a silicon muffin tin with PAM.  Evenly divide the dough into 36 small balls, like 36 little ping ping balls. Then, place three of the balls inside each of the muffin tin molds, to make a total of 12 brioches.

Loosely cover the mold with plastic wrap and allow to sit in a warm place for about 30 minutes.  Then brush the tops with the egg yolk wash.  Bake for 10 minutes at 425 and then reduce the heat to 350 and bake until golden brown - the time will vary depending on your oven but it took me another 15 minutes or so.  Allow to cool and enjoy!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Sasha's Kitchen: Homemade Falafel and Israeli Salad With Tahini Yogurt Sauce

When I was in Israel for 8 weeks one summer during my high school years, I tasted some of the best falafel that I ever had.  One of the other things that I liked best about the cuisine in Israel (aside from the amazing giant Apricot fruit rolls that I discovered on Ben Yehuda Street that I have since been unable to find anywhere else in the world) was the basic Israeli Salad which was served with just about everything in Israel from falafel to schwarma.  I decided to create an Israeli meal with my own falafel, a tahini yogurt sauce and an Israeli salad to bring be back to those great memories of my summer in Israel.  The recipe is adapted from Tyler Florence's Recipe on the Food Network, while I added a traditional Israeli salad. I was concerned that the falafel balls would fall apart when they were fried so I added a bit water to the recipe below before forming the falafel balls (just about a tablespoon or two).  In addition, I used canola oil to fry them rather than vegetable oil, so they are actually a reasonably healthy treat.  These were served for brunch with our friends Alica and Alex, and were thoroughly enjoyed with a dessert of chocolate chip brioche (my recipe coming soon!)

2 cups dried chickepeas  (soak for 18 to 24 hours in cold water before using)
1 tsp baking powder
1 small onion, diced
6 cloves of garlic, diced
1 T cumin
1 T coriander
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
2 handfulls fresh parsley, coarsely chopped
1 handfull fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped
salt and pepper to taste
canola oil for frying
warm pita bread

Israeli Salad
2 cucumbers, peeled and chopped
2 heirloom tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1 T lemon juice

Tahini Yogurt Sauce

1/2 cup tahini (tahini is a type of sesame seed paste)
1/2 cup FAGE greek yogurt
1 T lemon juice
2 cloves garlic
pinch of salt
pinch of paprika

Put the chickpeas in a bowl and add water to cover by two inches.  Soak in cold water in the refrigerator for 17-24 hours.  The chickpeas will triple in size from their dried form.  Do not use canned garbanzo beans - I am told that your falafel will be soggy if you do.

Put the soaked chickepeas in a food processor and pulse to grind coarsely.  Add the other ingredients and mix well to combine.  Season with salt and pepper and refrigerate for about 15 minutes.

Pur three inches of canola oil in a deep fryer or a large pot.  Roll the falafel into balls about the size of ping pong balls (this recipe should make about 24 falafel). If you have trouble forming balls that are cohesive, add a tablespoon of water to the mix. Fry until the chickpea balls are crusty brown on all sides and voila - its falafel.  Serve with the pita bread, tahini sauce and Israeli salad.


Sunday, June 13, 2010

MollyD's Kitchen in Seattle: Pickled Beets

I'm not cooking much beyond throwing things together, and thus I haven't posted in a while. Then, the other day, I spied some winter beets in the back of our crisper drawer and decided it was time to bite the bullet and do something with them. I considered roasting them as usual, but I usually tire of roasted beets' flavor before they go bad, which seems like a greater waste than leaving them alone in their uncooked potential. Instead I took a cue from a jar of Ikea herring and decided to pickle them, a great way to use a big ol' beet and have it last.

I googled pickled beet recipes and saw several suggestions of cloves, which complement beets' earthy sweetness. Since I recently picked up a small bottle of clove extract (in alcohol, not oil, which would just float on top of the pickling liquid) I ran with the idea, and with the “earthy sweetness” theme in mind I also added some balsamic vinegar.

Initially I wasn't preparing a blog post on this, so I eyeballed and tasted, and the following measurements are entirely guesstimated. You could halve or double it without problem, or use different ratios of balsamic vinegar to mild vinegar to water; it's a pretty mild pickle, so if you want something stronger you can fill the jar to the top with vinegar. Finally, I'm sure whole cloves would work in place of the extract, though I'd use a fair amount to ensure enough flavor extraction that they wouldn't be overwhelmed by the balsamic. Regardless, all of this recipe is flexible and to taste.

Pickled Beets

2 large beets or equivalent in small beets, with any long greens or tail removed
2 T balsamic vinegar
¼ c rice vinegar or white vinegar
½ tsp salt
few drops clove extract
  1. Place beets in pot and cover with water. Bring to boil, then lower to simmer. Go do something else.
  2. Remove beets from pot when knife can be inserted into center without resistance. Let cool, then peel off skin with fingers and, if necessary, a paring knife.
  3. Quarter, then slice into ¼-inch pieces. Place into quart jars.
  4. Add all other ingredients, then water to cover.
  5. Refrigerate and eat over the next few weeks.
So what do you do with pickled beets? Obviously there's salad, but despite the lettuce in our fridge I haven't felt like it. Instead I chopped a few slices along with some of the pickled herring, mixed in mayonnaise (sour cream would be good too), and spread the Swedish-inspired mixture on toast. Today I made a closed tuna melt in the toaster oven (slice of bread + tuna salad + sliced cheese, plus a separate slice of bread), then laid some beets on top of the cheese before closing the sandwich; the mild, soft beets didn't ruin the texture or dominate the flavor, and it was a surprisingly nice combination. Pickled beets are more adaptable than you might think!


Sasha's Kitchen: Peach, Mozzarella & Bresaola Salad

As i discussed in my recipe for Peach Cobbler, peaches are my favorite summer fruit.  The peach is very versatile, and of course, my favorite summer salad recipe includes peaches.  This salad is a dinner salad - it includes my favorite cured meat, bresaola, which is a type of cured beef.  I think that the taste of the bresaola is lovely with fresh peaches and baby bocconcini, a type of mozzarella cheese.  The salad is very refreshing and perfect for summer.  You can make it without the meat as an appetizer if you prefer. I love the farmer's market peaches - this is the perfect dish for summer and I've been waiting for months to get nice fresh peaches to make this dish, which is one of my favorites!  This recipe is totally mine, but it feels very Jamie Oliver, doesn't it?

Sasha's Summer Peach Salad (makes two salads)
2 farmers' market peaches, sliced 
8-10 pieces of bresaola
fresh organic salad greens
1/3 cup canola oil (for dressing)
3 tablespoons lemon juice (for dressing)
1 T red wine vinegar (for dressing)
bocconcini mozzarella

Assemble the salad ingredients above and top with the lemon vinaigrette (which is just canola oil, lemon juice and red wine vinegar).  This is a very special way to showcase those fantastic June peaches!

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