Tag archive for bon appetit

Slicing into breakfast

pitted

This is a story about breakfast, but not my breakfast. This is the breakfast I have been making for my husband ever since I spotted this recipe early this year in the January issue of Bon Appétit. First, I should tell you that I don’t usually worry about making breakfast for anyone during the week. We are more of a fend-for-yourself household in the mornings. Sean has a coffee routine he follows with almost religious fervour. He doesn’t deal in big productions, simplicity is the story of his morning. I prefer to take my breakfast to work to eat when I have a little more of an appetite. And I take a big enough bowl of fruits and grains to fill me up for the morning.

mix

Enter this delicious oat bar. It is like a granola bar, only better and packed with oats, nuts and seeds. Mix and match ingredients to add in favorites or suit specific tastes. It is already gluten free, but can be vegan or nut free if needed. Bake up a loaf and prepare for a week of easy and portable breakfasts. We might not be eating breakfast together, but we have been baking this morning treat together just about every Sunday for the last several months.

melted

But don’t limit this bar to just breakfast. It packed up perfectly for winter adventures for months around here. Paired with the sweetest winter citrus, it made for a great snack out in the snow. I can’t help but think it will be equally at home packed up for a summer adventure or stashed away as a ready-made camping snack. Tuck a slice into the back pocket of a cycling jersey or feast on a quick bite after a run. And if dessert is needed, pair a slice with some ice cream or fresh fruit. There is not stopping this oat bar.

loaf
I feel like I must make mention of the dates in this recipe. Sean takes a pretty tough stance on dates, they just are not his favorite. So the first few times I made this recipe, I kept that little detail from him. Trickery in cookery? Why yes, sometimes we must all resort to it. And in this case it was a success. He now knows that there are dates in the bar, but still is a big fan. I hope you’ll give them a shot!

breakfast

Breakfast Oat Bars

Adapted from Bon Appetit

Mix and match your favorite nuts and seeds in this bar. Swap out the almonds for walnuts, cashews or other favorites. Coconut also makes a tasty addition.

6 large Medjool dates, pitted and chopped
1 cup pure maple syrup
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter or coconut oil
2 cups old-fashioned oats
½ cup almonds or other nuts
½ cup shelled sunflower seeds
½ cup pepitas
2 tablespoons sesame seeds

Lightly coat a glass loaf pan with oil, then line with parchment paper, leaving the edges out of the pan. (See picture above.) Heat oven to 350.

Combine dates, maple syrup and salt in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Turn heat down to medium high and cook to soften, about 10 minutes, stirring often. Remove from heat and mash the dates until they combine into a thick paste. Add butter and stir to melt and combine. Set aside to cool for a minute or two.

Stir oats, almonds, sunflower seeds, pepitas and sesame seeds in a large bowl. Add the date mixture to the bowl and stir to evenly coat. Spoon mixture into prepared loaf pan. Tightly pack the oat mixture into the pan with a spatula. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until dark golden brown. Remove the pan from the oven and allow to cool for five minutes. Run a knife around the edges of the pan to ensure the bar does not stick as it cools. Transfer to a wire cooling rack and leave the loaf in its pan until it is cool, even overnight.

Wrap tightly and slice when ready to use. Keeps for a week of delicious snacks.

baked

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Cook the cover or die

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Have you ever had someone tell you that they would basically disown you if you didn’t cook something for them? Yeah, that happened to me. The whole ordeal started about a week and a half ago at the grocery store when my partner in crime noticed the April cover of Bon Appétit. He is either fairly observant, or maybe just an eavesdropper, but he certainly is a tricker and some how knew how to play me to get just want he wanted. After examining the cover he said to me “Hey, weren’t you and Ginger going to try to cook the cover of Bon Appétit again soon?” You can guess what happened next. I absent-mindedly confirmed his suspicion and the next thing I knew the magazine was in our grocery bags and I had committed to spending my Sunday making Fried Chicken Sandwiches with Slaw and Spicy Mayo.

Long story short. I cooked the cover and it was delicious!

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Ultimate sticky buns

The Bon Appetit covers keep getting me, and April’s Ultimate Sticky Buns were no exception. In fact, I was so excited about making them, I asked Tina to join me in our own attempt to duplicate their amazing results! And I’ve got to say, these are pretty delicious treats. Don’t delay!

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Cooked it!

I Cooked the Cover of Bon Appetit’s April issue. This months cover featured The Ultimate Sticky Bun! And by ultimate I think they meant not only the ultimate in taste but also in kitchen disaster bombs, I had a bit of a mess to clean up afterwards.

I bet you wish you were at my house for breakfast yesterday morning.

 

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Pizza Pizza

So it turns out that I might be a sucker for the Bon Appétit cover recipes. And while taking on cover recipes is always a little daunting, it’s been a rewarding experience overall! The recipes are always delicious although my presentation tends to be a bit off! March’s pizza issue was no exception. When it first arrived in my mail box a few weeks back, I knew we’d be having pizza.

Actually, the timing was pretty good. Last winter, I had a bread starter going, inspired by this amazing book, so most weekends I’d be baking bread. And as noted in the book, pulling off a little piece of dough for a pizza is almost a requirement when you’ve taken all of that effort to make the bread. And not one to take pizza lightly, I have some fun extras – a great pizza stone, a pizza peel and cutter. Anyway, no starter is brewing this winter and there has been some general dissatisfaction noted about the lack of pizza.

This recipe looks easy and it is. Really, all you need is a little time, so make sure you’re planning ahead of your pizza craving! Oh, and this is a good recipe to read all the way through, but isn’t that always the case. If you don’t have a scale to measure the flour, make sure you measure carefully – I find that the softer the dough, the better the pizza. And, this recipe makes enough to feed a small party of friends, or yourself for several days! Either way, it’s all good.

No-Knead Pizza Dough

From the March issue of Bon Appetit

7 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (1000 grams) plus more for shaping dough
4 teaspoons fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast
3 cups of water

Measure and mix the flour, salt and yeast in a large bowl. I prefer to get my hands dirty, gradually adding the water and stirring by hand. Continue gently mixing the dough until it comes together and forms a rough ball. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and tuck it in a protected corner or warm spot in your kitchen. Let the dough rise at room temperature (about 72°) until the dough has more than doubled and small bubbles cover the surface. This will take about 18 hours, but could vary depending on temperature, etc. Once the dough is ready, transfer it to a floured work surface. At this point, you’ll want to work carefully with the dough to preserve all of those amazing little bubbles. Gently shape the dough into a rough rectangle. Divide the dough into six equal portions. One at a time, gather the four corners to the center to create four folds. Turn the seam side down and mold gently into a ball. Dust dough with flour and set aside on work surface or a floured baking sheet. Continue shaping the remaining dough.

Cover the dough with a kitchen towel or plastic wrap and let rest for about one hour. If you don’t plan to use all of the dough at once, wrap individual portions in plastic wrap and refrigerate. Before using, bring to room temperature for two to three hours.

To Make the Pizzas

While the dough rests, prepare the oven. Arrange a pizza stone on a rack in the upper third of the oven. Preheat oven to its hottest temperature, ideally 550°. Let oven heat for one hour.

Handling one ball of dough at a time, dust generously with flour. Use your hands to gently shape the dough. Try as I might, I never get a circular pizza, but it always seems to turn out OK. The dough should stretch out into a nice thin shape, circular or not!

When you are ready to bake, increase the oven heat to broil. Sprinkle your pizza peel or other transfer surface with flour. You could use a rimless baking sheet or even a piece of clean cardboard. Place the dough on the peel and prepare with toppings. Simple toppings are usually the best – see below for a few ideas.

Using quick motions, slide the pizza peel back and forth so the pizza slides onto the hot pizza stone. Broil the pizza until it looks done – the cheese should have melted into bubbling goodness and the crust should be crisp and blistered. This should take about 5 minutes.

When the pizza is done, use the peel to transfer to a clean work surface for slicing. If you are making multiple pizzas, allow the stone to reheat for about five minutes before baking the next one.

Topping ideas:

My favorite topping has to be one of the simplest. Top the pizza with mozzarella and once baked, finish with lightly dressed fresh basil or arugula. I like to toss the greens with a little olive oil and some spicy pepper flakes.

A little homemade tomato sauce and mozzarella can’t be wrong, either. Consider topping with a few more of those greens, or some thinly sliced prosciutto, or other meat of your choosing.

 

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Try, try again…

Last time we talked, I was pretty enthusiastic about these meringues. First off, they look amazing on the cover of bon appetit. Magical, really. Light, crisp and pink, they seemed like a dreamy addition to any holiday cookie assortment. I must diverge just a tad and admit that the whole cookie spread was amazing and I want to bake most everything featured. Adam, thank you for making my world more beautiful! But first things first, those meringues…

 When my copy first arrived, I knew it was time to start with the holiday baking. The meringues looked too cute to be passed up. Never mind the fact that I’d never made meringues, didn’t even have all of the needed equipment, and hello, this is the cover photo of a magazine. Note to self, when something appears on the cover of a magazine, beware! Knowing that a recipe made it onto the cover means several things, just one of those being that your expectations going into the project are likely much, much higher than they should be.

But, I’m willing to give it a go. So, I go and I buy the equipment. I was thinking about buying a pastry bag last Christmas when I was wrapped up in the idea of making french macaroons, but I didn’t do it. (As luck would have it, there is also a macaroon recipe in the same article as the meringues, so maybe I’ll be able to put this pastry bag to good use.) Now, with two ideas on how such a tool could be used, I put aside my concerns about adding to my overall kitchen clutter and purchased a pastry bag, along with a couple of simple tips. It is foldable, after all! I check the cupboards for peppermint extract and red food coloring, which is not really a staple at my house. Really, it’s a simple recipe, most everything else is bound to be available in your pantry.

Fast forward to my first attempt, the egg whites are standing up in perfect peaks, my son is delighted with the whirring of the mixer. Then, I add the peppermint extract. Minty, fresh and devastating! I watch my meringue disappear into puddles, a glossy, soupy froth in the bottom of the mixer. My heart is sinking, I know that this, what ever “this” is, is just not right. But I am not baking alone and I’ve come this far and don’t intend to turn back. And despite the utter failure of the meringue, we manage to put something in the oven, knowing full well that nothing magical is going to happen while they bake. The peppermint puddles dry well, but are nothing to speak of.

Looking at them sitting there are on the tray brings me back to that beautiful cover. What did I do wrong? Apparently I shouldn’t be dabbling in meringues. I’m annoyed to have wasted my time and ingrediants on the puddles. Turns out I can be pretty good at beating myself up for things. There is really little need to suggest introspection to me after a mistake.

Coming into round two, I am a little suspicious of that peppermint extract. I think that was a culprit in my first attempt. After a week, I’m willing to give it another chance. I’m at that crucial moment, perfect peaks, spinning round in the mixer. Now it’s time to add the peppermint extract. And I add it, one drop at a time. One, two…siiiinkk…three. We’re done. At three drops, there is no way I am adding another, not matter how short I am of the 1/8th of a teaspoon that’s called for. The mixer keeps on, whirring the meringue around and around. And it’s holding! At this moment, I know that the outcome is going to be much better, even if it’s not cover-worthy.

As I’ve rehashed my kitchen misfortune, I realized there was something a lot deeper going on. Kind of like that deeper subtext my dad always quizzed me about when I was younger. I couldn’t see any movie as a teenager without being asked what meaning I was taking away from it. Just like with those meringues, I realized I’m going to make mistakes. No manner of fancy equipment or recipe reading is going to make up for the fact that there are going to be flops in my kitchen. (Same in real life, outside the kitchen.) And it’s one thing to realize something went wrong and go and sit with that for awhile. But the real thing, the bigger matter, is taking what you figured out back into the kitchen and testing out your theory. Were you right? Or is it just a good idea with no substance? Maybe you’re just plain off track. You are never going to know unless you test it out. That courage to try, especially to try again, might be the biggest part.

So, I warn you, go gentle with the peppermint. It’s hard on the meringue. And while you’re at it, tone down the red a drop or two.

Cook the Cover AKA Peppermint Meringues

From Bon Appetit, December 2011

Made about 25 meringues

3 large egg whites, room temperature

1/8 tsp. salt

1/3 cup sugar

1/2 cup powdered sugar

3 drops peppermint extract

5 drops red food coloring

Preheat your oven to 200.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper, you don’t want to scent your Silpat! Beat egg whites and salt until white and foamy, about 1 minute. Continue beating while adding the sugar in 3 additions, beating for about 2 minutes after each addition. Peaks should be forming, beat another 2 minutes for firm peaks. Add powdered sugar and peppermint extract, all 3 drops of it!

Remove beaters and dot the red food coloring on the meringue. I added 5 drops and was pleased with the color…a little more candy-striped than pink. Spoon meringue into a pastry bag with a 1/2-inch tip. Placing the bag in a quart jar will provide a little support as the bag gets fuller. Pipe 1-inch rounds onto a prepared baking sheet, about 1 inch apart.

Bake meringues until dry, about 2 1/2 hours, then cool completely. Store in an airtight container to retain crisp texture.

 

 

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