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Archive for May, 2012

It’s been a while since my last post, so I figured I’d share the last few successful recipes that I’ve used.

(You Don’t Have to Be a Vegetarian to Like This) Grilled Tofu Marinade

  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 tbs sesame oil
  • 4 tsp brown sugar
  • 3 tbs soy sauce
  • 2 tbs rice vinegar

Mix that up, press some of the water out of the (firm) tofu, and let it marinate for a couple of hours or overnight. We’ve made this on the grill twice, but the tofu always sticks to the grates, so I may experiment with baking it next time.

Side note: tofu and salad is a delicious and healthy dinner, but DO NOT rely on it before a night of drinking. (Lesson learned.)

But maybe tofu isn’t for you. In that case, why not try some delicious Margarita cupcakes? I made these for Cinco de Mayo and then again for Memorial Day because I still had the leftover Margarita mix. They are delicious!

Margarita Cupcakes

  • 1 box white cake mix
  • 3/4 cup – 1 cup Margarita mix
  • 1 tsp lime zest
  • Juice of 1 lime

Follow the directions for the cake mix, but substitute water with Margarita mix. You can use all mix for more margarita flavor, or dilute it with 1/4 cup of water.

Lime Buttercream Icing

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
  • 4-5 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 3 tbs lime juice
  • 1-2 tbs milk

Cream the butter, then add powdered sugar one cup at a time, alternating with lime juice and milk until it reaches the desired texture.

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Well, hopefully my last post left you in total suspense and dying to know how the croissants came out. Let’s continue where we left off.

I left the folded-up dough in the fridge overnight. The cookbook said to put a 5-lb weight on top of it to keep it from rising again. Coincidentally, there was that 5-lb bag of bleached flour that I had just purchased but will never use, so it seemed like a great weight at the time. I put it in a small roasting pan and put that on top of the dough. It turned out not to be the best system, for two reasons. One: part of the dough still managed to bulge out from the side, and literally tore through the plastic wrap (That is some serious dough! Luckily, I caught it before it got too out of hand.). Two: I guess the setup was sort of precarious, because when Michael went downstairs for a drink in the middle of the night and opened the fridge, the pan toppled over and the bag fell onto the floor and split open (oops). So, I’ll need to think of a better weight next time.

The next morning, I took the dough out of the fridge and rolled it out into a long rectangle. Then, I cut it and refrigerated one half so it would be easier to work with later.

I took one half, rolled it out some more, and cut it into three sections. Each of those sections got rolled into a square and then cut into two triangles. Rolling the squares out to the correct size (5.5″) was actually the most challenging part. After all of that rolling, the dough was starting to get pretty thin and the butter started seeping through to the surface, making the dough sticky and hard to work with. The dough was also very springy, so every time I rolled it, it would spring back to its original size. As a result of these troubles, some of my “squares” turned out to be more rectangular and, consequently, didn’t make for very good triangles.

Once I got them down to shapes that sort of resembled triangles, I rolled them up into the traditional croissant shapes. This step went relatively smoothly. Some of my dough triangles were bigger than others, so some looked pretty nice while others looked a little puny and/or misshapen. The recipe yields 12 total. If I made these again, I would probably double the recipe so the croissants would be bigger and easier to work with.

After letting them sit for an hour, I brushed them with an egg wash and put them in the oven. They baked for 12 minutes at 475 degrees. Much to my delight, they came out beautifully! They were golden brown, flaky, and greasy to the touch (but in a good way). I was worried that the center of the croissants would be dense, but they actually had some nice layers.

After they cooled, I put them in a freezer bag and stored them in the freezer until that evening, so they’d stay fresh. I defrosted them in the toaster oven and then Michael and I used a few of the bigger ones to make ham and Swiss sandwiches for dinner. They were pretty delicate and difficult to cut in half, but they still made delicious sandwiches. All in all, it proved to be a great baking experience!

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The other day, I was in the mood for a baking challenge, so I started searching the internet for something fun to make. There is a web site called The Daring Kitchen, and within it is a group called The Daring Bakers who participate in The Daring Bakers Challenge. Unfortunately, unlike the Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge, I was unable to find a site that simply lists the recipes that have been made in the past. I’ve found random recipes here and there on various blogs, but no comprehensive list. I tried creating an account on The Daring Bakers site, but having additional access didn’t provide me with any extra info. All in all, I think that site kind of sucks. ANYWAY, somewhere in the middle of all this, I happened upon a blog where someone had baked Julia Child’s croissants, and I thought that seemed like a good project. The blog had reposted the instructions, but there were so many steps (57) that I thought it would be easier to get the actual cookbook. So, I went to the library and obtained Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume 2.

The recipe goes from pages 96-103, so obviously this is no joke. I read over the recipe a couple of times in the days before actually starting it, which is something I rarely do. I also watched Julia Child make the croissants on an old episode of The French Chef. While I thought that would help, it actually caused some confusion as Julia’s methods on TV were different than those described in the cookbook. The other slight problem I had prior to starting the croissants was the fact that I accidentally bought bleached AP flour instead of unbleached. I did a little research to determine the difference, and bleached flour has a lower protein content, which gives baked goods a softer and lighter texture. BUT, it also undergoes a chlorination process to change the color. I try pretty hard to avoid chemicals in any food situation, so there was no way I was using bleached flour. Instead, I decided to use the little bit of unbleached AP flour I had left, along with some bread flour. Once I had that figured out, I could actually start. Onward…

I combined flour, milk, salt, sugar, yeast, and vegetable oil. It made a very sticky dough. The other discrepancy between the cookbook and the TV show: cookbook says 1 3/4 cups of flour, and Julia used 2 cups. I wish I would have remembered that detail when I was mixing the dough according to the book’s directions. I probably added about 1/4 cup of flour during the kneading process, but all the while was worrying that I was going way over the flour quota. Below is the dough, before and after kneading, and before and after the four-hour rise.

After the dough tripled in size, I kneaded it into a rectangle and then gave it a tri-fold (like folding a letter). Then, the dough had to rest for another hour and a half. After that, I took a stick of butter out of the fridge and started slamming it with a rolling pin, as per the instructions. Once it was adequately smushed, I rolled out the dough into a rectangle and spread the butter over the top 2/3 of the dough. Normally, I HATE working with butter when baking. When I make buttery cookie dough, it always winds up getting too warm too fast, and therefore very sticky and difficult to work with. I expected to have similar troubles here, but surprisingly I did not. The butter was relatively easy to smush and spread onto the dough without getting too warm and greasy. Huzzah!

After spreading the butter, I gave the dough a tri-fold, then rotated it, rolled it out again, and did a second fold. Then, I wrapped the dough in plastic wrap and put it back in the fridge for two hours. When the two hours were up, I removed it and did the “roll and fold” two more times. I’d post pictures of that, but they’re kind of boring to look at.

After the fourth fold, the dough went into the fridge overnight. On Day 2, we will be shaping and baking the croissants!

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