Extras, Main Dishes, Sides, Snacks

Name the Artwork: A Pop Quiz in Famous Food Paintings

I have a deep affinity for quizzes, particularly for those related to food. So naturally, I was thrilled when Food52 decided to publish my article about food in art, featuring (you guessed it) a quiz! Can you name them all? Head over to Food52 for answers and recipes!

ps- check out my new clips page to see other things I write outside of the blog~

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Breakfasts, Sides, Snacks

158

Challah

With January over and 2015 in full swing, I’m officially back in New England for my *last semester of college*. Unbelievably terrifying. I think the weirdest part is how quickly that happened. Although plz kill me if I become one of those grown-ups that’s all, “four years? that’s nothin’! It just keeps getting faster…” My thoughts on becoming this someday. I can already tell these next few months are going to be insane. I’m designing costumes for a show that goes up in three weeks (SJdnaksjdjkasbdjLBAsJGhb) and then jumping right into sets for a show in April. So we’ll see how that plays out. I’ve decided I’m going to try to make at least one recipe to blog about a week, because honestly, this space feels the most important to me. Which is strange to think about, as it’s just a webpage. But I like having something to really care about; it helps me wake up in the morning almost as much as knowing the sooner I get up the sooner I will have coffee. I’m going to ride out senior spring dealing with a combination of actually important things and things that seem important right now, but don’t really matter in the long run. Examples? I made a chart because that’s more fun than homework.

Did you actually read it? It’s okay if you didn’t, no need to enter the randomness that is the inside of my head. Back to food: I’m so excited to share this post today, as it was a huge personal triumph. Emily and I got together pretty much the moment we got home for winter break to make challah, something we’ve seen Molly Yeh do a million times perfectly. We figured it was about time we took a whack at it. After all, how hard can in be to make the bread of our ancestors? Answer: not as hard as we thought, but definitely time consuming. There are moments where you have to let the bread do it’s thing without bothering it, so there were a decent amount of Netflix/hot chocolate breaks in between creating our masterpieces. We also let the dough proof overnight in the fridge just to break the process up a bit. But then that meant we had to let it return to room temperature for a while right before baking, so that was another lengthy break. So Emily watched me take a million more prep photos and then face-palmed as I changed exposure and tinted shadows. (Side note: I’ve now realized when I’m making something for the blog it takes approximately 2.3 times longer than it would normally because of all the stopping and picture-taking). As we kneaded and braided and egg-washed our breads we kept going back and forth on how we thought they would turn out. Maybe if they don’t rise properly they’ll still taste the way they’re supposed to? If they look this good, it doesn’t even matter if they taste weird! Do sesame seeds add flavor or just look pretty? All in all, it was a very eventful experience. And oh yeah, the bread came out tasting AMAZING. Make it yourself. Make it right now. You won’t be sorry!

Challah (from Food52 with notes from Becca & Emily, makes 2 large loaves)

Note: Challah can be made in an electric mixer or by hand. We did it in a mixer, so I’ve only included instructions for that. Follow the link above for all by hand directions!

1 1/2 cups warm water, divided
1/4 cup + 2 teaspoons sugar, divided
2 tablespoons instant yeast (we figured that if the packets of yeast actually had pictures of challah on it we were on the right track)
6 cups + extra* all purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup honey + an extra tablespoon for eggwash (optional)
2/3 cup vegetable or canola  oil
4 eggs + one yolk for eggwash
sesame seeds (optional)

Put 1 cup warm water in a small bowl or glass measuring cup. Add 2 teaspoons of sugar, sprinkle the yeast over top, mix just to combine, and leave it to proof for five minutes. While yeast is proofing, mix flour, salt, and 1/4 cup of sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Blend on low speed. In a separate bowl, mix remaining water, honey, oil, and eggs. When yeast has finished proofing, add it to the flour, then immediately add wet ingredients. Mix on medium-low speed, just until combined, about 30 seconds.

Switch to the dough hook and begin to knead on low speed, making sure to incorporate what’s at the bottom of the bowl with a spatula if the dough hook misses it.Knead until smooth and no longer sticky, adding extra flour with as needed, 7-10 minutes *we ended up using a lot of extra flour, the dough was extremely sticky. Add it sparingly but often and you should be golden!

Divide the dough into two equal pieces. Set each in a large oiled bowl, cover both bowls with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until doubled in size. This should take about 2-2.5 hours. We let ours rise in the refrigerator overnight to break up the process; if you go this route just remember to take it out of the fridge first thing in the morning so the dough can fully return to room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Separate each mound of dough into three equal balls (six in total). Roll each ball into a log almost 1-foot long. Braid the logs together to create your loaf. Food52 braiding tip: For the nicest-looking braid, do not pinch the top edges of your logs together before braiding; simply place one log over the next and braid until you reach the bottom, then pinch those edges together. Then, flip the unfinished loaf the long way, so that the unfinished edge is now at the bottom and the loaf has been flipped over and upside down. Finish braiding and pinch these edges together. This way, both ends look identical. Tuck the very tips beneath the loaf when braiding is finished. Repeat with second loaf.

Transfer each loaf to its own parchment or silpat-lined baking sheet and leave to proof for about an hour. Make the eggwash by mixing the extra egg yolk with 1 tablespoon water and 1 tablespoon honey. Brush over loaves. Sprinkle with sesame or poppy seeds (or both! or everything bagel seasoning because dreams do come true) Bake 20-22 minutes, until are golden and baked through. You’ll notice that there are no pictures of the sliced bread. This is because it was SO GOOD the loaf literally did not make it to daylight, there were only a few meager pieces left the following morning when nice photo lighting returned. Use your imagination to see the insides. Or better yet, make one yourself!

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Musing

eighty seven

Emily’s back to share some delicious looking bread!

Guest Post: Herbed Focaccia

Do you guys remember that Dutch Oven Bread I made earlier this summer? Lets call that my gateway bread. Not only is baking your own bread easy and rewarding, you automatically seem more impressive when you tell someone that you bake your own bread. Honestly, it would probably make a really good opening line for making friends, running for president, etc. “Hi my name is (your name here), and I bake my own bread.” Now I can’t really speak for anyone else, but if someone said that to me they would have my love (or vote).

This focaccia recipe is great because you can pretty much flavor it with whatever you want. I went with basic rosemary and sea salt. However, it would also be good with sun dried tomatoes and parmesan cheese or caramelized onions. Make your bread how you like it. And feel free to eat the whole loaf. I won’t tell anyone.

 

Herbed Focaccia (adapted from America’s Test Kitchen Family Baking Book)

– 1 medium russet potato (about 8 oz.), peeled and cut into large chunks

– 3 1/2 to 3 3/4 cups all purpose flour

– 1/2 cup olive oil

– 1 envelope rapid-rise yeast

– 1 1/4 tsp salt plus extra for sprinkling

– 2 tbsp fresh rosemary coarsely chopped (or another herb of your choice i.e. sage)

Boil the potato in water until it can be easily pierced by a fork, about 10 minutes. Remove the potato from the water using a slotted spoon. IMPORTANT: you will be using some of the leftover potato water so do not drain it in a colander. Measure out one cup of the water and set aside to cool until its temperature reads 110 degrees. You don’t want it to be too hot or you will kill the yeast. Grate the potato on the large holes of a box grater. You are looking have about 1 cup of lightly packed potato.

*for this next part I did everything in my food processor using a dough blade, but I’m sure it would work using a stand mixer and a dough hook*

Combine the cooked potato, 3 1/2 cups of the flour, 2 tablespoons of the oil, yeast, and salt in the food processor. While the process continues to run, add the reserved potato cooking water through the chute. Mix until the dough comes together.

Turn your dough out onto a floured surface and knead until it is smooth and elastic. Add the remaining flour if it is sticky. Form a smooth round ball.

Place the dough in a large, lightly oiled bowl and with a damp cloth towel or plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Coat an 18 by 13-inch rimmed baking sheet with 1/4 cup more oil. Using wet hands, press the dough into the prepared baking sheet. Brush the top dough with a little oil and cover. Allow to rise until doubled in size, 45 to 75 minutes.

Heat the oven to 425 degrees. Dimple the dough with wet fingertips, then drizzle and sprinkle with the rosemary (or other herb) and coarse salt. You could even crack some black pepper on top here. Be creative! Make this your dream bread!

Bake until the focaccia bottom is golden and crisp, 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer the focaccia to a wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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Sides, Snacks

fifty four

Welcome to yet another new section on the blog: the Guest Post! For anyone who’s been living under a rock and doesn’t get this concept, don’t freak out, it’s just someone who’s not me doing something cute with food/DIYs. Readers of Spices and Spatulas, meet Emily. She doesn’t have a blog of her own, but like me, she spends the majority of her time making delicious baked goods (she’s actually helped me on a great many posts here in the past) so you can definitely trust her on this recipe. You can read a recipe from the birthday brunch I threw her here. Now, onto the post!

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Guest Post: Dutch Oven Bread

“How do you tell how good bread is without tasting it? Not the smell, not the look, but the sound of the crust. Listen.” –Colette, Ratatouille

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Do you remember this scene from Ratatouille? If you don’t, go watch it immediately. The sound of the crust as she squeezes the loaf of bread is probably one of the most delightful sounds in the world. I will gladly admit to squeezing every loaf of bread at the grocery store to find the one with the best crust. A crusty crust (does that make sense?) is the ultimate sign of good bread.

This recipe allows you to achieve this without needing to leave your home. By baking the bread in the dutch oven, the steam is trapped, helping to make your crust extra crusty and delicious. It also makes your kitchen smell excellent. This was my first time baking bread, ever. It was incredible. If I can do it, you can do it.

 

Dutch Oven Bread (Adapted from the Food Coma Blog and the America’s Test Kitchen Family Baking Book)– 1 package active dry yeast

– 1 1/3 cup warm water (you will want it to be around 110 oF so that you don’t kill the yeast)

– a pinch or two of sugar

– 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour

– 2 teaspoons salt

– vegetable oil

Activate the yeast by mixing it with the warm water and sugar until dissolved. Allow it to sit while you assemble the rest of your ingredients. In a large bowl combine flour and salt. Stir in water/yeast mixture until you form a loose dough. I just used my hands to do this, but if you have an electric mixer with a dough hook that will work too. Knead the dough for 3-4 minutes. Place your dough ball in a large bowl that has been lightly coated with oil, cover with a damp cloth, and allow it to rise for 2 hours (or until it doubles in size).

On a lightly floured surface, knead your risen dough 15 times (try not to use the flour in excess or your bread will be dry). Return the dough to the bowl and let it rise for another hour until doubled in size.

Preheat your oven to 400 oF with your empty dutch oven inside (putting your bread in a warm vessel allows a beautiful crust to develop on the bottom). Turn your dough ball out onto a large sheet of parchment paper. When your oven in heated, take out the dutch oven and carefully use the parchment paper to lower it in. Use a sharp knife to score the top of the dough.

Cover the dutch oven with the lid and return it to the oven. After 20 minutes remove the lid and continue to bake your bread for another 20-30 minutes, it should take on a deep, golden hue. If you want to get technical, the internal temperature should register 210 oF. If you don’t, when you knock the loaf, it should sound hollow because of all the wonderful air bubbles that you created.

I know this looks like a lot of directions, but I promise this is not difficult and so worth the time. Good luck not eating the whole loaf in one sitting.

 

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Breakfasts, Desserts, Snacks

twenty four

Mini Morning Glory Breads
I’m baaaaaaaack!

Hi. As you can probably guess, college is the time for studying, doing homework, buying books, and basically just not keeping up a cooking blog (except for the lucky few who are blessed with kitchens and still seem to only make Ramen noodles in the microwave..but that’s another story). Anyway, I finally took the plunge: walked myself to the store, shelled out my hard earned little-kids-fashion-camp-summer-job money for ingredients, and brought out the toaster oven to make Morning Glory muffins! And no, you didn’t read the title wrong, after getting all ready with the teeniest muffin tin I could find I realized it was still too big for my oven. So I broke out the Cook-n-Carry mini loaf pans (link takes you to full size, apologies), which work perfectly!

Now, for anyone who cares if I stick to the whole retro recipes thang, yes, I did in fact find a recipe for a version of these on my girl Betty Crocker’s website, and that is retro enough for me at this time. Haters can DEAL. And now for the recipe!

PS- anyone who can think of an appropriate name for the toaster oven will win either a freshly baked batch of cookies or a very big hug, you can take your pick. (I know, I know, you’re all gonna pick the hug.) ((I think I’m funny sometimes)) (((I also am apparently very into parentheses)))

Breads/Muffins

– 2 cups all-purpose flour

– 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar

– 2 tsp baking soda

– 2 tsp cinnamon

– 1/4 tsp salt

– 2 cups shredded carrots

–  1/2 cup raisins or Craisins (or 1/4 c. each)

– 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

– 1 apple- peeled, cored and shredded

– 3 eggs

– 1 cup vegetable oil

– 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 3 mini loaf pans OR 12 muffin cups OR 1 large loaf pan with cooking spray. In a bowl, mix together flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Add carrots, apple, walnuts, and raisins. Stir well. In a separate bowl blend eggs, oil, and vanilla. Add to flour mixture and combine very well! Pour into desired pan.

Mini Loaves: bake 35-45 mins.

Muffins: bake 18-22 mins.

Large Loaf: bake 50-60 mins.

Let em’ cool and eat ’em up. Or save them and have them for breakfast with that delish half-caffeinated dorm coffee. Yes, that was the second mention of the mediocre coffee in two posts. Who’s clearly upset? This girl.
Also the low watt institutional lighting of the kitchenette doesn’t do this bread justice. It tastes AWESOME.

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