Tuesday, February 28, 2012

buttermilk biscuits

I love cookbooks. I could collect all of them for days and I wouldn't have enough. Even it it's just to look at them. I have a huge wish list that is ever-growing. My mom got the Sarabeth's Bakery cookbook last Christmas from my dad, and I made no secret of my envy. Imagine my delight when I received it this year from my parents! It's so simple and clean and I want to make and eat everything in it. This biscuit recipe is the first recipe I've made from it, and oh my goodness, they were divine. Salty, buttery, light and flaky. In a word: Perfect. Next time you want/need a savory baked good, make this happen to your face and belly.

Adapted from Sarabeth's Bakery

3 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 1/2 cups buttermilk (I used 1 1/2 cups milk with 1 tablespoon lemon juice)

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 400°F. Line a half-sheet pan with parchment paper or a Silpat.

Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt together into the bowl of a heavy-duty stand mixer. Attach the bowl to the mixer and fit with the paddle attachment. Add the butter. Mix on low speed until the mixture resembles coarse meal with some pea-size pieces of butter. Add the buttermilk (or milk with lemon juice), mixing just until the dough barely comes together.

Scrape the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead a few times until the dough is smooth. Sprinke the top of the dough with flour and roll our a little more than 3/4 inch thick. Using a biscuit cutter, dipping the cutter into flour between cuts, cut out the biscuits and place 1 inch apart on the pan. Gently press the scraps together (do not overhandle the dough—this is very important!). Repeat rolling and cutting.

Bake until the biscuits are well risen and golden brown, 18 to 20 minutes. Serve hot or warm. To reheat the biscuits, wrap them in aluminum foil and bake in a preheated 350°F oven for 10 minutes.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

granola pie

My oldest sister had been telling me for a while that I needed to try this recipe for Granola Pie that 2.0 made for their family before. For some reason, I slept on it trying it. I guess the title Granola Pie doesn't quite indicate just how amazing this pie is. It's like Pecan Pie and Toll-House Pie had a gooey-mouthwatering pie baby. A pie baby that I want to adopt, then consume on the regular. It's an amazing comfort food dessert. Warm, rich, chocolatey, scrumptious. So, the next time you want people to have to pause after taking a bite, just to function, make this pie. Then work out a lot afterwards.

Adapted from Pillsbury

1 Pie crust
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup corn syrup
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 eggs, lightly beaten
4 Nature Valley® Oats 'n Honey crunchy granola bars (2 pouches from 8.9-oz. box), crushed (3/4 cup)*
1/4 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

*To easily crush granola bars, do not unwrap. Use rolling pin to crush bars.

Heat oven to 350°F. Place pie crust in 9-inch glass pie plate.

In large microwavable bowl, microwave butter on high 50 to 60 seconds or until melted. Stir in brown sugar and corn syrup until blended. Beat in salt, vanilla and eggs. Stir crushed granola bars, oats and chocolate chips into brown sugar mixture. Pour into crust-lined pan.

Bake 40 to 50 minutes or until filling is set and crust is golden brown. During last 15 to 20 minutes of baking, cover crust edge with strips of foil to prevent excessive browning. Cool at least 30 minutes before serving. Serve warm, at room temperature or chilled with whipped cream. (I added cinnamon to my whipped cream.) Cover and refrigerate any remaining pie.

**disclaimer, all my photos are taken with my phone, until I get a nicer camera, my pictures will be not that awesome. 

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

banana bread: re-visited

One of the dreamiest smells in the world is banana bread—baking in the oven. Another joy in life is eating this warm, aromatic bread right out of the oven. I've tried a lot of banana bread recipes over the years, and whenever I try a new one, in the back of my mind, I think about re-visiting this one. I remember how crispy the edges were, and how dense and moist the center was. I tried this again without any nuts, and used two ripe bananas from the counter, and ripe bananas from the freezer. (Remember how we learned from this Ultimate Banana Bread recipe that when you thaw them out, you get some awesome juices that add a lot of flavor?) So, the results are: I seriously LOVE this bread. The texture is seriously perfect. Even the next day, when most banana breads get sort of slimy on the edges, this still has crispiness, but still so... you know... moist on the inside. Also, I mentioned this before, but toasting day old banana bread before eating it is incredible.

Here is the recipe again:

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 overripe bananas (two of them frozen and thawed)
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and lightly grease a 9 by 5-inch loaf pan. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside. Mash 2 of the bananas with a fork in a small bowl so they still have a bit of texture. With an electric mixer fitted with a wire whisk, whip the remaining bananas and sugar together for a good 3 minutes; you want a light and fluffy banana cream. Add the melted butter, eggs, and vanilla; beat well and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Mix in the dry ingredients just until incorporated; no need to overly blend. Fold in the nuts and the mashed bananas with a rubber spatula. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Give the pan a good rap on the counter to get any air bubbles out. Bake for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean. Don't get nervous if the banana bread develops a crack down the center of the loaf; that's no mistake, it's typical. Rotate the pan periodically to ensure even browning. Cool the bread in the pan for 10 minutes or so, and then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely before slicing.
Note: The top of my bread was getting too brown, so I placed a piece of foil on top after about 45-50 minutes.