Wednesday, December 8, 2010

TEACHING fillo dough class, # 2 BAKLAVA








WALNUT BAKLAVA

In my family, my grandmother made baklava always for New Year. We had a huge tree in the front of the house. Long after school started (in Romania September 15th) it was a very odd type of collecting walnuts from tree. My mother and my grandmother had 2 long poles, and they “beat” the tree, so the nuts will open from the shell and fell on the ground, My brother and I used to collect them and put in basement, to get dry, on the newspaper beds….




Close to New Year Eve, my grandmother (bless her soul) start very early in the morning to knock and clean and knock and clean… many walnuts.

I brought one time, at my neighbor party BAKLAVA and they dream about many year later. I keep telling them it is very easy to make, but they don’t believe me. So this year just before holidays I get them together to teach how to deal with fillo dough.




They were surprised how easy is to use fillo dough, they didn’t know anything about

It is a very, very sweet dessert, and all I remember when I was little, was “fishing” them from a “huge” bowl of syrup. Later I found out that it was not so much syrup but my grandmother recipe it is DEFINITELY a “wet” baklava compare to a “dry “ baklava as people from Egypt make it.





Ingredients:


1lb Walnuts
1 package of Fillo Dough
1 Tablespoon of Cinnamon
1 Stick of Unsalted Butter
Syrup
2 cups sugar
2 cups water
2 tablespoons vanilla powdered
¼ cup of honey
2 tablespoons Rum (Bacardi) at end, just before you take it off stove.

 Directions:

Mix 3 cups of crushed (coarse) walnuts,one tablespoon of Cinnamon and set aside.

Brush 9/12 pan with melted butter.

Preheat oven at 375 Degrees


Use 2 or 3 layers for Fillo Dough as a base,then butter Fillo Dough add a couple more Fillo Dough, spread walnuts mixer, add 5 more layer of Fillo Dough.
Every second or third slice butter the Fillo Dough on the 5 slice of Fillo Dough spread mixture.
Keep repeating until mixture is done.
Cut in squares, with a sharp knife.

Bake at 375 degrees for ½ an hour or until golden brown.

** If Baklava is Hot do cold syrup or vice- versa

To make syrup:
Heat on stove 2 cups of sugar, 2 cups of water, and 2 tablespoons vanilla powdered. Heat until thick then add 8 oz of honey with 2 tablespoons Rum (Bacardi)

When syrup is thick enough remove from the heat and pour over cold Baklava.


Step by step photo cook book and the recipe you can find into my own photo-cookbok:


Bone appetite!

print recipe here

Sunday, December 5, 2010

TEACHINNG fillo dough class #1. CHEESE STRUDEL (ROMANIAN=PLACINTA)




 Teaching people to cook easy and healthy food is one of my dreams for quite a while. I am preparing for this for few years and I am ready to teach few techniques, few dishes, that I master for years, mainly from my home cooking.

I know how to cook, looks like forever…… and coming to this BLESSED COUNTRY I realized how easy is here to make a meal. You can find anything you want, anytime of the year, any spice that you need, and any kitchen tool you ever dream… Just you need to know how and how easy is to master anything!

This is the second time I have a group in my house. These are my neighbors and I am teaching them how to deal with 'FILLO DOUGH" They were amazed how easy is to prepare a desert or a cheese pie with fillo dough, that they never seen in their kitchen.




When they came to my home for my class, I already prepared a cheese strudel ( we call it in Rumanian "PLACINTA") to have something to try and I get all the applause for it: delicious, stunning looking when you bring it to the table...very tasty... They all wanted to know how to make it!




INGREDIENTS:


1 package of Fillo Dough

1 lb Ricotta Cheese (Fat Free Optional)

1 lb Feta Cheese Crumbled

12 Eggs ( EggBeaten Optional) 6+6 ( for topping)

1-Tablespoon Caraway Seeds

1 Stick of Unsalted Butter

1lb spinach, blenched (optional)

Topping:

1 lb Sour Cream

6 Eggs




1. How to make CHEESE STRUDEL


DIRECTIONS:


Mix 1lb of Ricotta Cheese, Feta Cheese and 6 eggs. When mixed well add 1 tablespoon of Caraway seeds mix until blended.

Open Fillo Dough box:




Melt the 1 stick of unsalted butter in the microwave.

Brush 9 x 12 pan melted butter.
Place 3 or 4 Fillo Dough down on the bottom of the dish to make a solid base. Brush butter on the Fillo Dough. Place Fillo Dough on top and spread a large tablespoon full of mixture. 
Place Fillo Dough on top butter place another Fillo Dough spread cheese mixture.



Keep repeating until you get ½ of Fillo pack

Squish to make a roll on one side of the pan.


Now you are going to repeat to make another roll on the other side, which you squish again.


 Mix:


1 lb Sour Cream with

6 Eggs

Mix together then pour on top, all over the 2 rolls of fillo dough and cheese.



Turn on oven at 375 Degrees and bake the cheese strudel for about 1 hour.






The surface must be well baked, with beautiful shade of brown, and yellow. The stick "test" should be clean once you insert inside of the strudel.



Friday, November 5, 2010

VANILLA TRIFLE with PUMPKIN ALMOND FLOUR CAKE

 Pumpkin- almond flour, pound cake:





Ingredients:

2 tablespoons wheat bran

2 1/2 cups almond flour

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

1/4 teaspoon salt

7 eggs

1 1/2 cups canned pure pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract (no sugar added, imitation is usually best)





Directions:

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.

Spray the loaf pan 9 by 5-inch loaf pan heavily with vegetable spray and sprinkle with the wheat bran, shaking the pan to coat on all sides--this will prevent sticking.

In a bowl whisk together the almond flour, sugar, bakes powder, pie spice, and salt. In another bowl, beat the eggs and then whisk in the pumpkin and vanilla. Combine the dry and wet ingredients and stir until combined. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and stir to combine.

Bake until golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean when stuck in the center, about 1 1/2 hours. Cool completely before removing from the pan. Slice into 12 portions.

Recipe courtesy George Stella:






Now the fun begin:

Building a TRIFLE, in tall glasses, is a rewarding fun.

First  I prepared the Vanilla cream, in a double boiler.



Using a double boiler, or a vase on top of a another boiling water pot, I start adding ingredients:

3/4 cup + 2 Tablespoons sugar /
3 Tablespoons cornstarch /
3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour /
3 cups whole milk - /
2 teaspoons vanilla extract  /
6 large egg yolks +1 large egg /
 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter /

Mix first 5 ingredients together in the double boiler and add: 6 large egg yolks +1 large egg.  
When it start boiling, and warming, and heating,  the cream slowly become heavy and creamy
We add:
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter  to bring a shiny sheen, very characteristic for vanilla cream.









I filled the glass with some vanilla cream and I start adding slices of strawberry, but you can add any berry you have.

I prepare some whipped cream in a bowl with a slow beater, and I add some to the tall glasses.


As a decoration you can add more, or the same, berry to tall glasses..... Bone Appétit!



Thursday, November 4, 2010

bread baking challenge # 41 = WHOLE WHEAT BREAD

 It is cold, it is dark, here comes the long unpleasant winter..... It is time for me to turn back to my backing: BREAD BAKING CHALLENGE, which I quit over the summer.......


This is the last recipe in the book we follow for this challenge that Nicole from http://www.pinchmysalt/ started a while ago, and I follow too.
WHOLE WHEAT BREAD, ready to be baked:


 
 I started with a soaker. This is adding to the recipe some wild, natural yeast that it is on wheat kernel. I found "whole wheat shaved grain", unprocessed, that I used for my soaker: one cup of grain and 3/4 cup of warm water.



In the same time I soak/pre-ferment: 1 ½ cup whole wheat flour with 1/4 tsp yeast and 3/4 warm water, at room temp, few hours, until start bubbling. Put in refrigerator until next morning, when I start kneading the bread.

As I learn from the book I follow in this challenge: "the Bread Baking Apprentice" by Peter Reinhart, to overcome the "grassy and bitter tone of this pure bread" we will use the "crumb= coarse =flake wheat flour to oppen both the flavor and the texture" and we use the pre- ferment dough "to give the enzymes enough time to break out the sugars trapped in the starch."
 
 As I learn from the book I follow in this challenge: "the Bread Baking Apprentice" by Peter Reinhart, to overcome the "grassy and bitter tone of this pure bread" we will use the "crumb= coarse =flake wheat flour to open both the flavor and the texture" and we use the pre- ferment dough "to give the enzymes enough time to break out the sugars trapped in the starch."




Next day I used the soaker (room temp, over night) and the pre-fermenter (refrigerated overnight, and warmed about one hour at room temp, before I used) to start kneading the bread, by machine, mixer or by hand.


Add, to soaker and pre-fermenter:

2 cups whole wheat flour

1tsp instant yeast

1tsp salt

2tbs honey

1tbs oil/butter

1/4 cup warm milk

2tbs caraway seeds.

Knead for 15 minutes by machine, until the dough makes a nice ball.

Put the dough in a buttered vase, covered with plastic wrap, at room temp covered with a towel, to double in volume for about 2h.

 I make 2 shapped bread from this dough and I leave it for 2 more hours to rise again, douling thd volume.
 

Bake the bread for 40 minures and used it for avery nice sandwich, for me and my husband who is ready to try ALL MY "BAKING RESEARCH".




Saturday, October 9, 2010

Looking for the best WHOLE WHEAT BREAD recipe:#3 an amateur contest.

Looking for the best whole wheat bread recipe: an amateur contest;
#3 GENE'S  whole wheat bread machine's recipe (Cuisinart bread machine).



This is the recipe Gene used  for Cuisinart  machine, whole wheat bread cycle:


1 1/2 - 1 2/3 cup hot milk put in the machine.
2 heaping teaspoons salt.
3 tablespoons of molasses
put 4 cups whole wheat flour over the previous ingredients.
4 tablespoons gluten
two heaping teaspoons of dry yeast.

I set machine for regular white bread setting for a 2 pound loaf,   lightest temperature setting for the crust.


I had great luck with this,
Gene.


COMPARE THE GENE'S BREAD (LEFT) WITH JANICE'S BREAD (RIGHT)



FINAL NOTES:

 This is the bread that I like the most, adding warm milk instead of water, I think, make all the difference. This is a good idea for all bread machine recipes, instead of adding warm water + dry milk.



Janice was not so happy with the taste, of this bread.


Gene liked the most my recipe, but he did few modifications.



Sunday, October 3, 2010

Looking for the best WHOLE WHEAT BREAD recipe: #2- an amateur contest

Looking for the best whole wheat bread recipe: an amateur contest;

#2- Janice's whole wheat bread, by bread machine ( west bend )



 This is the recipe that Janice tries in her Bread machine “West Bend".

It is a heavy, well cooked loaf of bread, and very tasty and fulfilling.

It is only me that I try; we are looking for what Gene is going to say, and Brandon. Gene liked very much my whole wheat bread, which I baked, using Gluten.


Janice recipe is using 1 cup white flour and 2 cups whole wheat flour. The white flour brings the gluten that needs it for the lack of it in whole wheat.

Janice didn't use gluten, nor the butter.


1 and 1/4 cup warm water

2 tbs brown sugar

1/8 tsp ginger

1and 1/2 tsp salt

2tsp yeast

3 cups whole wheat flour / Janice used 2c wwflour+1c wflour

She just added 1/4 cup oats, to be crispy.


Sunday, September 26, 2010

Looking for the best WHOLE WHEAT BREAD recipe:#1, an amateur contest.

Looking for the best whole wheat bread recipe: an amateur contest 
 #1 Ileana's bread,by bread machine(zojirushi)



My colleague, Gene, came to me if I know a good hole wheat bread recipe, by bread machine, because he doesn’t have good luck with it.

I told him we are a little group who is trying recopies, and taste them and change them, and so on, and bread it is the recipe that is the link in between us, the connection and the reason to start the group. We are all going to try to get the best recipe.

I am going to start with bread machine recipe and then to see if I can improve…. Brandon love to knead and has some old books from his grandmother that he enjoy to try; Janice is trying something too, but she is the taster and the balance of this group. Gene will decide and try some recipes, too…..

I start by reading the recipe from the bread machine book (Zojirushi) and I search internet:

A whole wheat  loaff without gluten: heavy, uneavely baked, raw-a discard


all the recipes for 100% wheat flour bread need gluten. Gluten is a protein that is lacking in the whole wheat flour and is a big part of White flour. Gluten give the elasticity of the dough, and make bread (together with yeast) to rise tall. No matter what bread machine you use, you will get a splendid result for a loaf of white bread compare to wheat bread ( I tried at list 8 brands, and the “Zojurushi” is by far the best brand for this kind of flour).

First, I bought whole wheat flour and gluten and I follow the book recipe:

1 7/8 cups luke water

5 cups wheat flour

3tbs sugar (I amusing honey)

2tbs dry milk

2tsp salt

4tbsp vital wheat gluten

2tbs butter

2tsp dry east



Put all of the ingredients in the order is described and start the process of making bread.

In almost 4 h, I had a quite nice, raised, baked loaf of whole wheat loaf of bread.

Compare to a white flour loaf, my wheat loaf is not bad…






Depend what my group will decide, tomorrow, judging the taste and the look….

Friday, September 3, 2010

POST CARD FROM FARMER'S MARKET

 Friday is farmer's market in Quincy and right now are many things to find.....


Monday, August 30, 2010

RATATOUILLE ( Rumanian “ghiveci”)

END OF SUMMER! The farmer’s market is magnificent! TOMATOES, EGGPLANT, PEPPERS, ZUCCHINI, …. rainbows of colors, variety of fruits and vegetable!!!!!!!!!!!




This time is bringing me to my childhood time, not yet schools day, but close, and my mother and grandmother cooking and cooking for one pot dish, that is going to be around for few days…. It looked so big in my mind and I was waiting and waiting to be ready: Romanian “ GHIVECI” or ratatouille in some American’s cookbooks.


 
Ingredients (Serves 8)

• 1/3 cup olive oil

• 2 medium onions, chopped

• 4 cloves garlic, minced

• 2 large eggplants, (2 pounds), peeled in strips and cut into 3/4-inch cubes

• 4 to 5 medium zucchini, (2 pounds), cut into 1-inch cubes

• Half cauliflower, chopped

• Half chopped cabbage

• 1lb carrot, coarse chopped

• 3 yellow or red bell peppers, ribs and seeds removed, cut into 3/4-inch cubes

• 5 Tomatoes fresh (or 1 /28 oz/ can)

• Thyme (fresh or dry)

• 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil

• Coarse salt and ground pepper

 First of all, you start add all the vegetables you have together to start, cleaning, chopping and adding yo the pot:


Onion and garlic, clean and chopped

 onion, garlic,  caramelized in a frying pot, to bring all the flavor and sweet of sun and summer:

 Start by cleaning  and chopping vegetables, as many as you have:










For the eggplant, slice  and add some salt to be drain all of bitterness.



After a while you should squeeze the eggplant slices, before you add to the pot.

Add tomatoe sliced or tomatoe pasta.


Cut few bunches of dill and parsley, chopped coarse and add to the pot:






Directions

1. In a Dutch oven (or other heavy 5-quart pot with a tight-fitting lid), heat oil over medium heat. Cook onions, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 5 minutes. Add garlic; cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.

2. Arrange layers of chopped vegetable: eggplant, cauliflower, carrot, bell pepper, zucchini; season generously with salt and pepper.

3. Cover generously with sliced tomatoes

4. Stir in basil and thyme.

5. Cover and bake at 350F for 60-70 minutes, until the vegetable are cooked.



6. OPTIONAL: you can add some pork chops or chicken cutlets, in between layers.


Cover and bake at 350F for 60-70 minutes, the vegetables are cooked and there is a little sauce.....



Bonne apetit!

CHOCOLATE PASCA (EASTER) /pasca cu ciocolata ( my mom's)/

My mom's recipe, (romanian): Se pune de cu seara 1kg smantana pe un servet, deasupra unei tavi cu malai. A doua zi dimineata...