Monday, October 24, 2016

carrot tahini muffins.

Tahini, much like all things Middle-Eastern is having a bit of moment and quite frankly I couldn't be happier about that.   

I love peanut butter (only chunky) so it should come as no surprise that I love tahini since it has a similar nuttiness and consistency to it.   It works exceptionally well in savory dishes (and makes for one killer salad dressing/sauce) but I've begun testing it out in more sweet applications.   Its roasted, earthy flavor works well in baked goods as it provides a nice juxtaposition to the sugar.   

These carrot tahini muffins had been on my list of "must try soon" for a couple of months now and I finally got around to them this past weekend.   This is my dream weekday morning muffin.  Filled with good for your grains, a slew of carrots, and subtly spiced with just enough glaze to make you feel as if you're indulging which makes Monday all the more bearable.   

Carrot Tahini Muffins
Recipe adapted slightly from Smitten Kitchen

Makes 12 Muffins 

For the muffins

1/4 cup (60 ml) olive oil
1/4 cup (30 grams) well-stirred tahini
1/2 cup (80 grams) firmly packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
3/4 cup (175 ml) buttermilk, almond milk or (nonalcoholic) apple cider
1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 cup (130 grams) whole-wheat flour 
1 cup (130 grams) spelt flour
2 cup packed coarsely grated carrots (from about 9 ounces or 5 slim carrots)

For the Glaze

1/2 cup (60 grams) powdered sugar
3 tablespoons (25 grams) tahini
2 tablespoons (30 ml) water
Toasted sesame seeds for garnish

Heat oven to 425 degrees F. Whisk olive oil, tahini and brown sugar together in the bottom of a large bowl. Whisk in eggs, then buttermilk and vanilla. Whisk in baking powder, baking soda and salt, then switch to a spoon or flexible spatula and stir in flours, then carrots, mixing just until combined.

Either line a 12-cup standard muffin pan with paper liners or coat them with a nonstick spray and then fill with batter.  Bake muffins for 14 to 16 minutes, or until a tester inserted into the center of each comes out batter-free. Muffins should be domed and lightly golden on top. Let them cool in pan for 5 minutes on a rack before transferring them to the cooling rack to cool completely.

If you’d like to glaze your muffins, whisk powdered sugar, tahini and water together in a medium dish. Either drizzle this over the cooled muffins or dunk them into the puddle. Sprinkle with sesame seeds, if desired.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

yeasted apple coffee cake.

Ever since Tyler and I went apple picking last month, I've had visions of an apple coffee cake in my head.  

Not pie (because only normal people look to make pie) but apple coffee cake.

The strange thing about this vision is that I had yet to find a recipe for apple coffee cake.  I had seen pear and rhubarb but never apple and I couldn't understand why.  Please explain to me what is more fall then apples nestled between cake and streusel and drizzled with icing (best eaten while wearing plaid.)   

And then the October issue of Bon Appetit arrived and there was the recipe for apple coffee cake.  It was dreamy looking and exactly what I had in mind.   

This cake is now a favorite in our apartment as it is everything you want to eat right now.  A yeasted cake/bread hybrid with the perfect amount of tang serves as the base for freshly picked apples.  And on top?  Streusel!  Not an overwhelming amount but just enough.   And then there is the dizzle of icing which takes the whole thing over the edge in the best possible way.   

Yeasted Apple Coffee Cake
Recipe adapted slightly from Bon Appetit 

I made some changes because I felt the recipe could be more fall.   So I swapped the orange juice for apple cider, added in some additional spices, and used a little more then 2 pounds of apples because you can never have too many apples this time of year.  Also - this cake freezes brilliantly.   

For the Cake

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, slightly cooled, plus more
1 ¼-ounce envelope active dry yeast (about 2¼ teaspoons)
⅔ cup (packed) light brown sugar, divided
1 large egg, room temperature
3 cups all-purpose flour, divided
½ cup sour cream, room temperature
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
⅓ cup fresh apple cider 
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt

For the Streusel and Assembly

½ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup old-fashioned oats
⅓ cup (packed) light brown sugar
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
Kosher salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, slightly cooled
2 pounds firm baking apples (about 4 large), halved, cored, very thinly sliced
1½ cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon (or more) apple cider
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Make the Cake: Butter a 13x9" shallow baking dish. Mix yeast, 2 Tbsp. brown sugar, and ¼ cup warm water in the bowl of a stand mixer; let sit until it foams, about 5 minutes. Whisk in egg and remaining brown sugar, then stir in 1 cup flour and mix with a wooden spoon to incorporate. Sprinkle remaining 2 cups flour over top but do not mix in. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit in a warm, draft-free spot until mixture is visibly puffed and flour has cracks in places, 60–90 minutes.

Add sour cream, lemon zest, apple cider, baking powder, and salt to mixture and mix on medium speed with dough hook until smooth, elastic, and just sticking to the sides of bowl, about 4 minutes. Add 6 Tbsp. butter in 2 additions, beating well between additions; beat until a soft, slightly glossy, sticky dough-batter hybrid forms, about 4 minutes.

Using buttered fingers, pat dough into prepared pan in an even layer, spreading to edges. Cover and let sit in a warm, draft-free spot until puffed and nearly doubled in size, 60–70 minutes.

Make Streusel and Assemble: Just before dough is finished rising, preheat oven to 350°. Pulse flour, oats, brown sugar, granulated sugar, cinnamon, ginger, and a pinch of salt in a food processor a few times to combine. Add butter and process in long pulses until streusel is the consistency of moist crumbs.

Working with several slices at a time, fan out apples slightly and arrange over dough, shingling rows in different directions; sprinkle streusel over top. Bake until apples are tender and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 35–45 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool. 

Whisk powdered sugar, apple cider, lemon juice, and a pinch of salt in a medium bowl, adding more apple cider by the teaspoonful as needed, until icing is very thick and smooth and falls back onto itself in a slowly dissolving ribbon. Drizzle over coffee cake.  Serve immediately.  Can also be wrapped and frozen for up to 1 month.   

Thursday, October 6, 2016

martha's mac and cheese.

I tried to start this blog post a million different ways but at the end of the day all I have to say is that this is the absolute best mac and cheese around.   With October kicking off as the month of gloom comfort food is all I want to eat.  (I'm looking at you soup, cheesy pastas, and apple crisp. )

If you scour the web, a lot of people have waxed poetic justice for this particular recipe for cheesy pasta.  I didn't need to add my name to the list, but I'm going to but it's just that insanely good.   Yes it requires you making a bechamel and buying two types of cheese but the resulting dish is the definition of comfort food.   Incredibly rich and impossibly creamy whoever you make this for will be begging for you to make it again and again.  

Martha's Mac and Cheese
Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart

Here are my notes.  This makes an INSANE amount of mac and cheese.  Unless I'm hosting a party, I always half the recipe.   I also find in the original recipe that the ratio of sauce to pasta is high so I upped it by 1/2 a pound.  In addition I've added in some extra flavorings (hot sauce and dry mustard) because that's how Mom made it growing up.   

Serves 12 (or even 14)

1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs   
6 tablespoons (unsalted) butter, plus more for dish
5 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard 
5 dashes of hot sauce
4 1/2 cups (about 18 ounces) grated sharp white cheddar
2 cups (about 8 ounces) grated Gruyere or 1 1/4 cups (about 5 ounces) grated pecorino Romano
1 1/2 pounds elbow macaroni

In a medium saucepan set over medium heat, heat milk. Melt 6 tablespoons butter in a high-sided skillet over medium heat. When butter bubbles, add flour. Cook, stirring, 1 minute.

Slowly pour hot milk into flour-butter mixture while whisking. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, until the mixture bubbles and becomes thick.

Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in salt, nutmeg, black pepper, cayenne pepper, hot sauce, dry mustard, 3 cups cheddar, and 1 1/2 cups Gruyere or 1 cup pecorino Romano. Set cheese sauce aside.

Fill a large saucepan with water. Bring to a boil. Add macaroni; cook 2 to 3 fewer minutes than manufacturer's directions, until outside of pasta is cooked and inside is underdone. (Different brands of macaroni cook at different rates; be sure to read the instructions.) Transfer the macaroni to a colander, rinse under cold running water, and drain well. Stir macaroni into the reserved cheese sauce.

Pour the mixture into the prepared casserole dish. Sprinkle remaining 1 1/2 cups cheddar and 1/2 cup Gruyere or 1/4 cup pecorino Romano; scatter Panko breadcrumbs over the top. Bake until browned on top, about 30 minutes. Transfer dish to a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes; serve.