Archive for ‘Pastries’

September 27, 2013

Zucchini Nutella Swirl Muffins

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Summertime in Strasbourg means discovering gardens. As a Long Islander, born and raised, the only two times anything grew in my backyard was when 1) a pool appeared and 2) my Italian great uncle Cono managed to make a cucumber grow out of the sandy soil.

As you can see my experience with fresh produce, literally in my own backyard, was fairly limited up until this year.

The Beard’s mom has a garden. And she has zucchini plants. Flowers? What do we call those anyway? Alls I know is that we received zucchini deliveries by the crateful. The weekly task is therefore to find ways to use them all up before they go bad.  There was therefore a lot of cake made in our household…

..but it is zucchini, so it is healthy, right?

Or so I told myself…

This recipe was unbelievable, my only qualm was that it didn’t make yield nearly enough muffins!

 

Zucchini Nutella Swirl Muffins

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What you’ll need:

  • 1 ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, softened
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 extra large egg
  • 1 cup grated zucchini
  • Zest of one lemon
  • ½ cup Nutella (or the German knockoff NUSS-something or other)

Now what?

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 f/ 180 c. Line a 12 cup muffin tin with paper liners. In a large enough bowl, combine the flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder and cinnamon. Whisk to mix well.
  2. Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Scrape the bowl. Beat the egg in.
  3. Slowly add the dry mixture to the wet mixture until just combined.
  4. Stir in the zucchini and lemon zest.
  5. Use a ¼ cup scoop to evenly distribute the batter between the muffin liners. They should be 2/3 full.
  6. Dollop 1 teaspoon of Nutella on top of each scoop of batter and swirl with a toothpick.
  7. Bake for approximately 15-20 minutes. Check the centers with a toothpick. The toothpick should come out clean before removing the muffins from the oven.(I am sure this would make a wonderful zucchini loaf, to be baked for about 35-50 minutes, depending on the loaf size.)

Bon app!

3

(look at that swirl!)

May 31, 2013

5 ingredient cookies by the lovely Kim

Due to my prolonged absence due to a hurried attempt to finish a masters thesis in a foreign language, a foreign school system and a foreign economic system, Kim has come and saved the day with a guest post. This is how it happened.

Kim: “I am making cookies!”

Me: “snap some pics and guest blog!”

Kim: …….ok! (20 minutes later the drop box folder was shared.)

I present to you all, Kim.

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I cleaned the kitchen yesterday, top to bottom.  It really needed it.  Then I cooked and a beetroot salad and new potatoes somehow managed to leave me in a state of bereavement.  The clean surfaces of yesterday were still marked by the beetroot juice from yesterday’s salad, and the potato pan, the bowl I mixed the dressing in, the colander, the salad bowl, the chopping board…  YEP all STILL dirty.

My good friend at à L’aise fraise sent me a recipe yesterday that had been playing on my mind.  Craving gooey chocolaty stuff as I often do, especially in times of endless “home-working”, as the French put it – which for me meant sitting at my table in my PJs all day looking at articles and feeling lost, I couldn’t get this woman’s recipe off my mind…

I set to accumulating the ingredients and realised I didn’t have everything, and although not difficult, they would add to my washing up rather more significantly than I was prepared to LEAVE the house to GET DRESSED to GO to the supermarket for.  So sat right back down, and tried, my very hardest, to WORK.  Inevitable continued surfing of the food blog entailed until I set my eyes on these beauties.

I counted the ingredients: 1,2,3,4… 5!  I had everything I needed.  No less than 2 minutes later, I had forgotten about those papers and my mind was focussed on COOKIES, (In another life I must have been blue, furry and had someone’s hand up my arse).  I set to work and they really did only take 10 minutes to make as promised on the blog.  I popped them in the freezer, and set to the washing up from last night’s salad.  I had finished by the time they came out of the freezer, all I had to do was pop them in the oven and WAIT… EIGHT WHOLE MINUTES.

Got them out, sprinkled them with salt and bob is very much your mother’s brother…

THE best motivation I have EVER found, bar none, to do washing up:

What you’ll need:

  • 1 cup nutella (135 grams for me and my UK/FR readers)
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup flour + 1 tablespoon (around 65-70 grams)
  • coarse sea salt for sprinkling

Monique at Ambitious Kitchen, reckons that there are 12- 14 cookies to be made from this batch… maybe I was a little too generous as I only got 10 out of it – but whatever the case…

All you do, is:

1.Mix up the ingredients (apart from the salt)

2.Put it in the freezer for 10 minutes (while you wash up)

3.Cut the dough  into even portions to make 1 inch chocolate balls

4. Stick it in the oven at 180° C or 350° F for 8-10 minutes

You will never ever buy a cookie again when it is THAT simple to make one.

November 28, 2012

FrenchGiving : The Third Edition (Chocolate Croissant French Toast | Pain au chocolat pain perdu)

This past Thanksgiving marked my very third Thanksgiving spent in France.  The first Thanksgiving was spent in intimate company where I attempted to recreate my mom’s recipes with plastic cups as estimated cup measurements.  The second Thanksgiving was a bit larger: 12 guests, innovative recipes, classic recipes, a wild goose chase for fresh cranberries, the whole kit and caboodle.  The tradition of cooking for this holiday was something that fulfilled me and made me less sad about being so far away.  This is why I have not called this year’s day Thanksgiving.  Because it was not.  This year was a new idea.  Seeing that I knew I couldn’t give this holiday my whole heart (5 days of cooking, days spent biking back and forth to supermarkets across town, hours to do the dishes afterwards), I decided not to do it.  I hesitated.  I thought about making one infamous dish.  But then I decided that you can’t have Thanksgiving with just one dish. It doesn’t work like that.

So I put a moratorium on Thanksgiving for this year and this year alone.  I couldn’t bear to go at it half-heartedly.  But my roommates, now with a taste of Thanksgiving in their hearts after 2 years gone by, were desperate to celebrate somehow.  I did what any American parent knows will thrill their children and I said….”how about breakfast for dinner!?”  Worked like a charm.  They were happy to do something,  I was happy that it wasn’t a shoddy version of Thanksgiving, and everyone cooked a frenchicized version of an American breakfast dish, sending all of us into food induced Frenchgiving comas after our 10 pm dinner.

My contribution was thanks to my darling Schnooze : croissant “french toast” / pain perdu.  In French, french toast is translated by “lost bread” because it was initially made out of stale brioche in order to salvage the hardened treat.  I bought some pain au chocolat (chocolate ‘croissants’ for a lack of a better translation) and turned them into a French toast worth making over and over again.

Chocolate Croissant French Toast | Pain au chocolat perdu

What you’ll need:

  • 4 croissants | pain au chocolat
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar
  • nutmeg, cinnamon, vanilla as desired

Now what?

  1. Cut the croissants in two length-wise
  2. Dip them, but not for too long, into the milk/egg/sugar/spices mixture.
  3. Cook them in a heated frying pan with a little bit of salted butter until they are crispy, crunchy and melty.

Et voilà.  Bon appétit.  It is as easy as that.

October 20, 2012

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies | cookies au potiron et pépites de chocolat

‘Tis the season. My favorite season of the year! Where the leaves start to come to life just before they are shed from the trees to let us know that winter is on its way.  It’s the time where we find ourselves getting reacquainted with scarves and boots and hot chocolate by the bowl and all sorts of warm things and that — my friends — is fine by me.  I love feeling cozy.  I love not sweating.  I love all things pumpkin-flavored.  This is my happy time.

This weekend I am going on a little “hike” (more like walk) in the mountains to celebrate birthdays.  In true French fashion, someone usually brings along a snack that is eaten as a reward for approximately every step taken (wish I were kidding.) Après l’effort, le rénconfort (after effort comes comfort) — am I right?

I decided that I would make myself responsible for the snack and decided to go along with the autumnal theme by making some pumpkin chocolate chip oatmeal cookies.  The house smelled like autumn heaven and the taste felt like a giant October hug.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

Makes 3 dozen, adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod

What you’ll need:

  • 1 1/4 cups (160 g) flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup (145 g) sugar
  • 3/4 cup (130 g) packed brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup (240 ml) pumpkin purée
  • 3 cups (250 g) old-fashioned oats
  • 1 cup (160 g) dark chocolate, chopped

Now what?

  1. Preheat oven to 375 f / 190 c.  Line two baking sheets with wax paper or slipmats.
  2. Whisk together flour, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, salt and baking soda.
  3. Meanwhile, in a stand mixer or by hand, cream butter and sugars.  Stir in the egg and the vanilla.  Add the pumpkin purée.
  4. Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients, stirring well.  Once combined, add the oats and the chocolate chips.
  5. Drop dough onto the baking sheets using a teaspoon measure (about 12 per sheet.)  Bake for 10-12 minutes or until cookies look set.  Let cookies cool on the tray for 2 minutes before removing them (this will allow them to set even more.  Cool on a wire rack and resist all urge to dive in immediately.

URGENT QUESTION: If anyone knows why my cookies are never plump, feel free to let me know :-\

September 15, 2012

Salted Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

I am addicted to salted butter.  After 2 years in France, I find myself buttering baguettes with a far higher butter to bread ratio than I ever could have imagined.  There is something about the salted butter in this country that makes it go ‘crunch’ between your teeth and leaves you (endlessly) hankering for more.  In fact, if I could eat only baguette and salted butter for the rest of my days, I think I would be totally fine with it (and totally 3000 pounds.)

The other day, I started taking classes again.  They are in French and 7 hours long.  Hour 1 is fine, I’m perfectly attentive and learning…but by hour 6.5, I am planning what I am going to bake/cook in order to “change my ideas” and think about something else.  During our last in-class 15 minute break, while all of the other students were conversing about formation and adult education, I was on my phone googling David Lebovtiz’s chocolate chip cookies (a tried and true recipe) in order to know what ingredients I might need on the way home.  The first chocolate chip cookie recipe that popped up wasn’t the one I was looking for, but it seemed to tempt me even more.  A traditional cookie made with SALTED BUTTER.  Hallelujah, the angels were singing.

I stopped at the supermarket on the way home from school and splurged on the nicest, saltest butter that I could find.  I wanted it to “croque” (crunch) in my mouth. And crunch it shall.

This cookie is delicious. That is all I really have to say.  Make them and see for yourself.  In the US, salted butter really isn’t as salty as in France, so you might have to add some thicker salt (iodized salt just won’t do it) along the lines of fleur de sel or kosher salt…anything large and lumpy!

Salted Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

(adapted from David Lebovtiz) my baking guru

(I got about 36 cookies)
What you’ll need:

  • 4 ounces (115g) salted butter, at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup packed (110g) dark or light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/3 cup (180g) flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon flaky sea salt or kosher salt
  • 1 1/3 cups (200g) coarsely chopped bittersweet or semisweet chocolate

Now what?

  1. Mix butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar in a stand mixer (or by hand) until creamy. Do not overmix! This leads to flat and crunchy cookies rather than large and fluffy ones.
  2. Add the egg, vanilla extract and flour and combine until smooth.
  3. Finally, add the baking soda, sea salt and chopped chocolate (and chocolate ‘dust’)
  4. Place the dough in the refrigerator for at least a half an hour (ideally overnight).
  5. Once it is chilled, place spoonfuls on an ungreased baking sheet evenly spaced out.  Be sure to press down on the top of the dough to flatten them.
  6. Bake for 10 minutes, rotating the tray halfway through (for even baking!) After 10 minutes, flatten the tops of the cookies with a spatula and put back in the oven for about 2 more minutes.  Be careful not to over bake (if you do they will still be delicious, just crunchy.)
  7. Remove from the oven and let cool completely.

(coming home to cookies.)

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