Friday, March 27, 2020

Restaurants On the Edge: Local Foods, Memories, and Inspiration #ShelterinPlaceCooking


With our shelter-in-place order in full force, I've streamed quite a few shows in recent days. I never watch this much television. But in just a few days, I watched all six episodes of the Netflix series Restaurants on the Edge. The premise is simple: A restaurateur (Nick Liberato), a chef ( Dennis Prescott), and an interior designer (Karin Bohn) travel the world to rehab restaurants that have great views but lousy food. Once you watch more than two episodes - and there are only six! - you see the formula. But it doesn't make the show any less appealing.

I was intrigued by the ways in which Prescott embraced the local food traditions and helped (re)infuse the restaurants with their cultural roots. Each episode made my mouth water, reminded me of food memories, and put a place on my travel list.

Malta
The trio traveled to Marsaxlokk, Malta where Justin Haber, Maltese footballer and goalkeeper, has a failing seafood restaurant. I loved how Prescott visited the Xuereb family on Gozo’s rugged northern coast where they keep the tradition of ancient salt-harvesting alive. Prescott, then, incorporates a salt-crusted fish into Haber's refreshed menu.


Back in 2013, I interviewed a local-to-me salt maker who was using solar dehydration to create artisan cooking salts. That's the Carmel Valley salt in the photo above. I have never been to Malta, but after this episode, it's definitely on my list!


Hong Kong
The group headed to Tai O, a Hong Kong fishing village where a waterside restaurant is more abandoned gift shop than anything else. Using feng shui principles and a complete reinvention of the space and menu, the Banyan Tree is reinvigorated. Prescott embraces the alacrity and variety of the local street food, trying snake soup, curry balls, and more. If you follow my blog at all, you know that all four of us love street food and, often, choose food trucks when we travel over sit-down restaurants though, my first choice is always to hit the local markets and cook for myself. We hit The Bite in Tumalo, Oregon a few times during our trip there. The Bai Tong food truck offered a variety of traditional Thai dishes. You can see one of the coconut soups I had above. Okay, it's not made with snakes, but it was tasty, filling, and fast. I was also inspired to see if I can make my own version of XO sauce. Seriously, that looked umami-azing!

Tobermory
In Tobermory, Canada, the team took a tired harborside tiki bar from floundering to festive with a fresh Caribbean menu and an updated tiki patio. I am still not sure how a restaurant survives with a six-week tourist season. But, if anyone can, Coconut Joe's looks like it will.


Costa Rica
In Costa Rica’s Playas del Coco, the trio of experts resuscitate a flailing seafood restaurant by turning up the pura vida. Years ago we traveled to Costa Rica for Fall Break and loved visiting the local markets, picking guavas straight from the trees, and adventuring all around the country from the Pacific to the Caribbean.


We didn't remember if we visited the Guanacaste region when we were there, but I was excited to learn about Blue Zones. More on that soon. But that was definitely a trip we still talk about.


Austria
Arlberg Boutique Eatery is located in Pettneu, a village in the Austrian Alps, in the state of Tyrol. And, for the most part, it sits empty because it features a global menu that's far too eclectic to survive. The experts add in more regional fare and more cowbell. Seriously. This episode showcases foraging and schnitzel. I have been lucky enough to have a friend who lived in German for many years make me a traditional schnitzel dinner. Read my post - Feasting for Sankt Nikolaus Tag: German Sips, Schweineschnitzel,Spätzle, and Sauerkraut.

St. Lucia
This episode resonated with me the least for some reason, despite having visited St. Lucia after I graduated from college. In any case, Karin, Dennis, and Nick transform a literal hole in the wall to a chic Caribbean shack that matches the beautiful view and honors the owner's mom.

What are you binge-watching while we wait out the coronavirus? Anything worthy of sharing?

Celebration Tea Layer Cake #ShelterinPlaceCooking


On Wednesday, Jake and I were celebrating two decades of marriage. And while we normally wouldn't have gone out for dinner anyway, I wanted to make a special dessert as we sheltered in place for our 20th wedding anniversary.


I don't know about where you live, but people have been making a run on flour and eggs here on California's central coast. Seriously. I keep asking myself, "Did people decide they were going to teach themselves how to bake during this ordeal, or what?!?" Thankfully, Pia gave me a bag of flour and Lin gave me eggs. That's the perfect anniversary presents for a sheltered-in-place baker by the way!


So, I started looking at cake recipes and was intrigued by the London Fog cake recipes I stumbled across. Basicially that's an Earl Grey chocolate cake with vanilla buttercream. It sounded divine. But I decided to use the Celebration Tea I had on the shelf from The Republic of Tea instead of Earl Grey. And I added brewed tea to my buttercream as well.

Ingredients makes one three layer 9" cake

Celebration Tea was doubly fitting because it was created to for The Republic of Tea's 20th anniversary as well. According to their website: "A Cup of Celebration - We created this elegant blend in honor of our 20th anniversary. Ceylon black tea leaves from the Court Lodge Estate in Nuwara Eliya on the island of Sri Lanka, along with full tea blossoms and white wine grapes from the Orange River Vineyard in South Africa, create an exquisite, light-colored cup with a fruity, floral profile. Infused with the essence of champagne, this blend is a true cup of celebration." That description doesn't mention them, but there are also dried cornflower petals in there and cornflowers are one of Jake's favorite flowers. Perfect fit!

Cake

  • 2½ C all purpose flour
  • 1 C unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 ½ t baking powder
  • ¾ t baking soda
  • ½ C olive oil
  • 1½ organic granulated sugar
  • 3 medium eggs
  • 1 t pure lemon extract
  • 1 t pure almond extract
  • 1½ C whole milk
  • 1 C hot strong-brewed tea (I used the Celebration Tea from Republic of Tea)

Buttercream
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 1/3 C strong-brewed tea (I used the Celebration Tea from Republic of Tea)
  • 1 C organic granulated sugar
  • 1 T organic agave syrup
  • 2 C butter, softened
  • 1 t pure lemon extract

Chocolate Ganache Drizzle
  • 3 oz dark chocolate, chipped
  • 1/2 C organic heavy cream
  • 2 T organic granulated sugar
  • 1 T butter

Procedure

Cake
Preheat over to 350 degrees F. Grease and line three 9-inch cakes pans with parchment papers. Set aside. Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and baking soda.

Whisk together olive oil, sugar, eggs, tea, milk, and extracts until well-combined. Gently fold in the flour mixture in two batches. Stir until everything is just moistened.

Divide the batter evenly between prepared pans. Place in the oven and bake for 28 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean. Let them cool on a wire rack in the pan for 5 to 10 minutes before removing the cakes. Invert cakes onto the wire rack and cool completely. 

Buttercream
Place egg yolks in a mixing bowl and beat on high until they are thick, pale, and ribbon off the whisks.

Combine tea, sugar, and agave syrup in a small saucepan. You can attach a candy thermometer to the side; I just kept testing until it reached soft-ball stage. If you're using a thermometer, heat until it reaches 240 degrees F.

Once the syrup is ready, remove it from the heat. While one hand holds the mixer, use the other hand to pour the syrup into the yolks. When all of the syrup is added, turn the mixer up to high and beat until the yolks have doubled in size and have reached medium peak stage. The bowl should be cooled and just lukewarm to the touch. Mine took about 9 minutes.

Begin adding butter, one tablespoon at a time, mixing well after each addition. The more butter you add, the more firm the buttercream will be. Once your buttercream resembles what you think of as buttercream. Add in the lemon extract and beat until well combined.

Chocolate Ganache Drizzle
Place everything except for the cream in a mixing bowl. In a small saucepan, heat the cream until small bubbles form around the edge of the pan. Pour the cream into the mixing bowl, making sure that the chocolate is completely submerged. Let sit for 3 minutes. Whisk till smooth. Cool until desired thickness for drizzling.


For Serving
Once the cake layers have cooled completely, place the bottom layer on your serving platter. Add a dollop of buttercream and spread to the edges, then place another layer on top. Repeat, then smooth the buttercream over the top and along the sides.


Refrigerate for at least 10 minutes before serving. Drizzle the ganache along the rim of the cake and let it drip down the sides. I also made an organic looking heart on the top.


The boys enjoyed this Celebration Tea Layer Cake with milk. Jake and I did a tasting of our dual bottles of single malt scotch! It was quite a celebration. Cheers...and happy anniversary to me!!


This was as close as we came to a family photo that night: me, Jake, the photo bomber, and the reflection of the photographer!

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Homemade Corn Tortillas #ShelterinPlaceCooking


One thing I will say about this shelter-in-place order: I sure am digging deep into my cabinets and using up ingredients that I didn't even remember that I had!


In any case, Jake requested fish tacos for our 20th anniversary dinner last night. So, I went to a local fish market - we are allowed to go out for groceries! - and picked up petrale sole and rockfish. Then I had the Enthusiastic Kitchen Elf make a fresh salsa; and the Precise Kitchen Elf cranked out some homemade corn tortillas with a bag of masa that I had in the cupboard and the rabbit stock I had simmering on the stove from when I made Kouneli Stifado (Greek Rabbit Stew).


 Ingredients makes about twenty 4" tortillas

  • 3 C masa harina
  • 2-1/4 C warm liquid (you can use water or stock)
  • 1 t freshly ground salt
  • 1 T olive oil
  • corn meal for rolling
  • oil for cooking
  • Also needed: waxed paper or parchment paper, tortilla press (if you don't have a press, you can use a rolling pin...it just won't be as uniform)

Procedure

Put masa flour in a large mixing bowl. Add warm liquid, salt, and olive oil. Use a wooden spoon to mix all of the ingredients together. Let stand for 5 to 10 minutes. Knead the dough to form a smooth ball. If the dough seems too dry, add more liquid; if the dough seems too wet, add more masa. Once the dough is ready, cover it with a kitchen towel and let it rest for at least 30 minutes.


Pinch off a piece of the masa dough and shape it into a ball the size of a plum, or slightly large golf ball.


Take two pieces of wax paper or parchment paper and lay one on the bottom of the tortilla press. Place the masa ball in the center. Place another piece of wax paper over the masa ball. Gently close the press and press down, until the dough has spread to a diameter of 4 to 6".


To Cook
Heat a griddle or a large skillet on high heat. Grease your pan. Working one at a time, hold a tortilla in your hand, carefully removing the wax paper on each side. Allow the tortilla to rest half on your hand, and half hanging down, and gently lay the tortilla down on to the skillet.

Cook the tortilla on the hot pan for 30 seconds to a minute on each side. The tortilla should be lightly toasted and little air pockets forming.


These were delicious as a base for our petrale sole soft tacos.

Kouneli Stifado + Gaia Ritinitis Nobilis Retsina #WinePW


For next month's Wine Pairing Weekend event, Nicole of Somm's Table is inviting the blogging group to look at Ancient World pairings. When I sent her a quick note about the parameters she had in mind, she replied, "my thoughts had been to highlight areas that have claims to oldest evidence of winemaking -- Georgia, the Middle East (Lebanon, Israel, Iran), Armenia, also Greece and Sicily, China also has good claims." Then she pointed me to this article about the History of Wine on Wikipedia that summarized what she had in mind. Sweet! Her invite isn't live yet, but based on my exchange with her, I sourced some wines and started testing pairings.

In the Glass

I began to look for wines that were from those regions and aged in amphorae. That was tougher to find than I thought. Then I came across a bottle of Retsina from the Peloponnese. So for my first Ancient World wine adventure, I headed to Greece.

Retsina is a traditional Greek wine that includes the addition of resin from the pine tree Pinus Halepensis during fermentation. I've actually read that as well as the addition, the barrels are also sealed with pine sap during aging. But I can't find that article again. So, I can't verify that bit of trivia.

This Retsina, a single varietal 100% Roditis, was made by Gai’a Estate which was named after Mother Earth and established in 1994 by Leon Karatsalos and winemaker Yiannis Paraskevopoulos. Their mission was to utilize Greece’s indigenous grapes and merge traditional viticultural and production methods with innovative techniques.


I rarely try a wine that just makes my head spin, as in complete befuddlement. I have never tried a Retsina and honestly couldn't decide if I wanted another sip or to toss it out and drink something else. So completely unique. We ended up experimenting with differing pairings and are more than a little intrigued. I shared those comments on social media and received some responses that ranged the gamut...
  • Not my favorite. - J
  • Whenever I was in Greece, I only had retsina and ouzo! Many glasses thrown into fireplaces! Yasou! It took me a few tries but I grew to like retsina. - I
  • Oh! Now I want to try some so badly!! - A
  • This sounds interesting. A friend gave me a bottle of gin that was very heavily laden with Juniper berry and I loved it. I might have to give it a try. - O
  • I couldn’t really get to a point where I wanted to drink retsina... - C
  • OMG love this description!! Welcome to my world growing up with Retsina that my grandfather made and we enjoyed some variation at every relative’s house! - T

Have you ever tried a Retsina? What did you think??

On the Plate

So, I decided to try a new-to-me Greek recipe with a rabbit that I had gotten from friends who homestead locally. While Jake and I were torn on the wine, and didn't really enjoy this pairing, this recipe was delicious. The version I adapted was from Crete.

Ingredients

  • 1 rabbit (about 3 lbs.), cut into 6 to 8 pieces
  • freshly ground salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 4 T olive oil
  • 1 onion, peeled and cubed
  • 1 fennel bulb, trimmed and thinly sliced (reserve the fronds)
  • 5 to 6 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 4 to 5 carrots, halved and cut into 3" lengths
  • 2 C diced tomatoes
  • 1 C liquid (broth or water)
  • 1/2 C white wine
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 small sprigs fresh organic rosemary
  • one 2" stick cinnamon
  • 2 C potatoes, scrubbed and cubed (I used Yukon gold)
  • 2 T fennel fronds + more for garnish
  • 1 C pitted olives (I used green olives)
  • Also needed: steamed rice for serving

Procedure

Season rabbit with salt and pepper. Heat 3 T oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Working in batches, if needed, add the rabbit pieces and cook, turning once, until browned, approximately 4 minutes per side. Transfer rabbit to a plate.

Pour remaining 1 T oil to the same pot. Stir in onions and fennel, cooking until the onions are softened and beginning to turn translucent. Stir in the garlic and add the browned rabbit back into the pot. Place carrots on top of the meat, then add in the tomatoes, liquid (I used chicken broth), and wine. Nestle the bay leaves, fresh rosemary, and cinnamon stick into the stew. Sprinkle in the fennel fronds. 

Bring liquid to a boil, then cover and reduce to a simmer. Cook for an hour. Stir in the potatoes and olives and return to a simmer. Cover and cook for another 30 to 40 minutes. The potatoes should be fork tender.


Transfer rabbit and vegetables to a large serving platter or bowl. Remove the rosemary and cinnamon stick. Bring the sauce to a boil and cook until thickened and reduced, approximately 5 to 6 minutes. Pour the thickened sauce over the rabbit and vegetables and serve immediately with steamed rice.

Stay tuned for more of my Ancient World recipes and pairings. While this wasn't my favorite wine and pairing, I am enjoying this culinary challenged levied by Nicole for #WinePW.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Käsküeche (Alsatian Cheesecake with Boozy Fruits) #TwentyCheesecakes


Jake and I are celebrating two decades years of marriage tomorrow. That's a whole lifetime...well, at least the time it takes for a child to be considered an adult and then some. On one hand it certainly feels like a lifetime; on the other, it seems to have passed in the blink of an eye.

In this past twenty years, we've had two boys, lived in two states and five different houses, and juggled probably a dozen different jobs between us. We've traveled to Oregon, Washington, Alaska, Florida, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona; we've visited Italy and Costa Rica. We've SCUBA'd, zip-lined, canoed, and tangoed. It's been an amazing adventure.

Under the Wedding Maple at Owen R. Cheatham Redwood Grove, Grizzly Creek Redwoods State Park


But it's also been work. A lot of work. Don't let anyone tell you that marriage is easy. Maybe that is what makes the celebrations all the more sweet. And this year, March 2020, has been particularly challenging - not in our marriage - for the world in general. We're in our second week of shelter-in-place for the county; the state mandate was not far behind. So, it's been lots of board games, books, and streamed movies as we hunker down and try to wait out the spread of COVID-19. But there are milestones to be celebrated and twenty years of marriage is one of those things.



So, why cheesecakes? you ask. Well, we had seven cheesecakes at our wedding instead of a traditional wedding cake. So, it seems a fitting way to commemorate the occasion.

In previous years, I have rallied some blogging friends to help me celebrate with their favorite cheesecakes. In 2015 we posted waaaaaay more than #FifteenCheesecakes. 2016 had us posting #SixteenCheesecakes. I skipped seventeen, but did post #EighteenCheesecakes. And we skipped nineteen. So this year, I definitely wanted to create a virtual cheesecake party with some of my favorite foodie bloggers.

Our #TwentyCheesecakes Party

Käsküeche
Alsatian Cheesecake with Boozy Fruits

Käsküeche. When I was researching cheesecakes from around the world, I came across one from Alsace. Usually this Alsatian cheesecake includes brandy-soaked prunes. Not having brandy in my cabinet...and with only 50% of our household liking prunes...I opted to go with whatever dried fruit I had and whatever booze. So, we ended up with limoncello-soaked apricots.

 
Ingredients
Crust
  • 7 T butter, softened
  • 1/2 C organic granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2-1/2 C flour
  • Also needed: pan with a removable base

Filling
  • 1 C dried apricots
  • 3 T + 1 t limoncello
  • 1 C whole milk plain yogurt
  • 1/2 C organic heavy whipping cream
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 1/2 C  + 1/4 C organic granulated sugar
  • 3 T flour
  • 1 t pure vanilla extract

Procedure
Crust
Cream the butter and sugar together until lightened and fluffy, approximately 3 to 4 minutes. Add the egg and beat until well-combined. Fold in the flour until just incorporated. This is a very soft dough. Wrap in plastic wrap and let chill for at least 10 minutes. While the dough chills, prepare the filling.

Filling
Place the apricots in a single layer in a small rimmed dish. Pour in 3 T limoncello and make sure they are mostly submerged. If they aren't completely covered, let stand for 5 minutes and flip over.

After the fruit has soaked and the dough chilled for 10 minutes, Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Wrap your Springform pan with tinfoil and place it on a baking sheet.

Press the dough into the base of the pan and slightly up the sides. Gently press down with lightly floured hands. Bake for 23 to 25 minutes until cooked and no longer sticky on the surface. Remove pan from the oven.

Shake the excess liquid from the apricots and arrange them in the bottom of the crust.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the yogurt, whipping cream, 1 t limoncello, 4 egg yolks, 1/2 C sugar, vanilla extract and flour. Set aside.

In another mixing bowl, and a clean whisk, beat the egg whites with 1/4 C sugar until stiff peaks form.


Fold the egg whites into the egg yolk and use a spatula until they are just incorporated. Pour the mixture over the apricots and bake for 45 minutes.

Let cool completely, then chill in the fridge overnight. To serve, let stand at room temperature for at least 10 minutes before slicing.

Mexican Street Corn Shrimp Pasta #IncredibleOnePotCooking #Sponsored

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of author Megan Marlowe and publisher Page Street Publishing.
I received a complimentary book for the purpose of review, but all opinions are honest and they are my own.
No additional compensation for this post was provided; this page may contain affiliate links.

Last week I received an advance copy of a cookbook by a fellow blogger: Megan Marlowe of Strawberry Blondie Kitchen. Her new book is entitled Incredible One-Pot Cooking: Easy Delicious Recipes for Exciting Meals - Without the Mess.* Megan and I have blogged in similar circles for a few years, participating in virtual events for #BrunchWeek, #ChristmasSweetsWeek, and she joined my #FreakyFruitsFriday last October. So when I saw the post that she had published a cookbook and was sending copies out to bloggers for review, I jumped at the chance. I am always eager to bolster fellow food bloggers' books and projects.

On the Page

Marlowe is a busy mom of two and created sixty recipes that are tasty, filling, and won't leave your kitchen in a stack of dirty pots and dishes. The cookbook is divided into five sections: Coop'd Up in One Pan, Meaty Classics with Easy Cleanup, Comfort from the Docks, Clever One-Dish Pastabilities, and No-Fuss Soups. I dove into each section and immediately tagged seven recipes I wanted to try. But with the current shelter-in-place order in California, I needed to pick recipes for which I had all of the ingredients on hand. Raw, frozen wild-caught shrimp for the win! So, I made her Barbecue Shrimp with White Cheddar Grits, General Tso's Shrimp Po'boy, and the recipe I'm sharing today - Mexican Street Corn Shrimp Pasta.

I will say that, as a cook, I put less of a premium on only using one pot. So, I used a couple of pots to cook ingredients simultaneously. As an example, for the Mexican Street Corn Shrimp Pasta, Marlowe cooks the corn in the pot and transfers it to a plate. Then cooks the shrimp in the same pot and transfers them to a plate to use the same pot for the pasta and sauce. 

I cooked the pasta separately to speed up the process. So, our dinner was on the table in less than 30 minutes. Transferring and waiting for that one pot would add, at least 15 more minutes. You just need to decide if speed or fewer pots is your goal. But I found all of her recipes inspired and inspiring. I'll be making more of them soon.

Other recipes that will be made as soon as I can are her Peanut Butter and Jelly Wings, Deluxe Cheeseburger Sloppy Joes, Goat Cheese Macaroni and Cheese, and Beefy Peanut Butter Chili. Every recipe in this book is creative and comforting. Marlowe provides a short story that explains why she's sharing the recipe. The photos are delectable; it makes you want to reach right into the page with your fork. And her recipes are easy to follow with both volume and weight measurements. This gem will surely stay within arm's reach of my kitchen.

Though the book isn't officially out yet, you can pre-order it. I've included a link at the bottom of this post. I promise, this will be a cookbook you use again and again.

Mexican Street Corn Shrimp Pasta 
very slightly adapted from Megan Marlowe's cookbook

I opted to share this recipe because there were two major surprises for me on this culinary adventure. First, my husband offered to help me make dinner. That never happens. After I heckled him twenty-two years ago, for serving me Hamburger Helper with canned green beans, he rarely sets foot in there if I'm cooking. But he stood there and flipped the shrimp with chopsticks for me while I prepped everything else.


Second, I thought I would have leftovers for lunch today. Nope. They practically scraped the pan.


Needless to say, they have requested this again. Soon, I promise! 

Ingredients serves 4 to 6

I made some minor adaptations in that my frozen shrimp were not precooked; I didn't have farfalle pasta, so I substituted rotini; I didn't have limes so I garnished with lemons; and I didn't have Chihuahua cheese, so I used Cotija throughout. But that's part of cooking, I think - you use what you have. And Marlowe's recipes are flexible and easily adapted to substitutions. Just another reason to adore this book.

  • 2 C corn, fresh or thawed if frozen
  • 3 T olive oil, divided
  • 1 pound large raw shrimp, peeled and thawed if frozen
  • 1 medium jalapeño, deseeded and diced
  • 2 to 3 cloves garlic, peeled and pressed
  • 1 t chili powder
  • 1/8 t cayenne pepper
  • 1 T cornstarch or flour
  • 2 C milk (I used whole milk)
  • 1 package pasta (I used rotini)
  • 1 C Cotija cheese + more for garnish
  • herbs for garnish (I used parsley and cilantro)
  • lemon wedges for garnish
  • candied jalapeño for serving, optional

Procedure

Cook your pasta according package directions. Drain and set aside.

In a pot (I used my Le Creuset 3-1/2 quart braiser), heat 1 T oil and cook the corn till it's charred. Transfer the corn to a plate.

Add another tablespoon of oil to the pan and arrange the shrimp in a pan in a single layer. Cook them till they are pink and opaque, approximately 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer the shrimp to the same plate as the corn.

Add the final tablespoon of oil to the pot. Stir in the jalapeño and garlic. Cook until softened and aromatic, approximately 2 to 3 minutes. Sprinkle in the chili powder, salt, and cayenne powder.

Then whisk in the cornstarch and cook until the mixture is smooth. Whisk in the milk and stir till the sauce thickens to your desired consistency.

Finally fold the corn, half the shrimp, and Cotija cheese into the sauce. Add in the cooked, drained pasta and stir to coat completely.


To serve, sprinkle with herbs, add citrus wedges, and top with candied jalapeño, if using.

You may find Strawberry Blondie Kitchen on the webon Facebook, on Instagram
on Pinterest, and on Twitter.
You may find Page Street Publishing on the webon Facebook, and on Instagram.

*This blog currently has a partnership with Amazon.com in their affiliate program, which gives me a small percentage of sales if you buy a product through a link on my blog. It doesn't cost you anything more. If you are uncomfortable with this, feel free to go directly to Amazon.com and search for the item of your choice.
I have also added this to #FoodieReads.
Click to see what everyone else read in March 2020: here.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Pomegranate Kouign Amann


So, you might have seen how I made an egg yolk-only version of my Cannelés. You can read that post: 'Bunghole Pastries' and a Little Culinary History. After that little adventure, I decided to make my favorite French pastry, Kouign Amann. That's one good thing about this shelter-in-place order to flatten the curve on the spread of the coronavirus; I have lots of time for baking.


The kouign amann pastry that hails from Brittany, France is pronounced "queen a-mahn." It's like a cross between a croissant and a palmier, with layers of buttery, flaky pastry on the inside, yet caramelized with ever-so-slightly-burnt sugar on the rim. I think I love it because of the texture. The flavor is whatever jam or jelly I happen to have on hand. 

Ingredients makes 12

And, in this case, I had a jar of pomegranate jelly that one of Jake's co-workers made and gave to us. But I have made these with everything from apricot jam to lemon curd. Get creative or use what you have.
  • 1 C water, room temperature
  • 1 T active dry yeast
  • 2-3/4 C flour, divided + more for sprinkling and rolling
  • 1 t sea salt
  • 1 C cold salted butter + more for greasing the pan
  • 1/2 C organic granulated sugar +  extra for sprinkling
  • jam or jelly for filling
  • Also needed: parchment paper, rolling pin

Procedure

Combine the water and yeast in a large mixing bowl. Let stand for 15 minutes for the yeast to bloom. Add 2-1/2 C of the flour, keeping 1/4 C for later, and the salt. Stir with a wooden spoon until a shaggy dough forms.

Cover the mixing bowl and let the dough rise until doubled in size, approximately one hour.

Once the dough has doubled, place it in the fridge to chill for at least an hour or as long as overnight. Pound each stick of butter into rectangle. Some people use a ruler and make it very precise. I am less-precise. Wrap the pounded butter in parchment and chill with the dough.

When you're ready, sprinkle a piece of parchment paper with flour and place dough on top. Roll the dough into a rectangle roughly 12"x 20". Remember, I'm less than precise, but it was around that size.


Remove one rectangle of butter from the fridge and lay it in the middle of the dough. Fold the corners of the dough in to form an envelope. It should look like this...


Using the rolling pin, roll it out to 12" x 20" again. Place the second rectangle of butter on the dough and make another envelope. Then roll it out to the 12" x 20" rectanble, but this time, fold one third of the dough over the other third, like folding a letter. 


Now you have to turn the dough. Turning the dough, by rolling and folding, creates very thin layers of butter and dough. This recipe needs to be turned 4 times. If the butter pushes through a layer of dough, rub it with a little flour. If the butter seems to be melting, chill the dough between each turn. Keep the parchment, the rolling pin, and the surface of the pastry well-floured.

To turn: Rotate the package of dough and butter so that the narrower, open end is facing you, like the pages of a book. Roll the dough out to a rectangle and fold the top third down and the bottom third up, again like a letter. Rotate the dough 90 degrees so that the open end is again facing you. Repeat. Roll the dough out to a rectangle and fold the top third down and the bottom third up. That's 2 turns. Repeat two more times.

Place the dough in the fridge and let rest for 30 minutes. Rub the insides of a muffin tins with butter. Set aside.


Remove the dough from the fridge and roll out to approximately 1/4" thick. Sprinkle with 1/2 C sugar. Slice the dough into twelve squares.


Pull the corners of each square toward the center. Transfer the dough to the prepared muffin tin. Add a dollop of jam in the center, maybe 1 t. Sprinkle sugar over the tops of the pastries.

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Cover the kouign amann loosely and let rise until slightly puffy while the oven heats.

Place the kouign amann in the oven and immediately turn the heat down to 350°F. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes. Pastries are finished when the tops are deep golden and the tips look as if they might be just starting to burn.


Let cool for 5 to 10 minutes in the baking dish but be sure remove them after that. If they cool completely in the baking dish, they will be impossible to remove. Gently wiggle them out of the tray, then transfer the kouign amann to a wire rack to finish cooling completely.


Best served the day they are baked.

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