May 30, 2011 | From the kitchen of Rose in Baking & Cooking Tips
Here's a simple natural way to enhance the quality of sour cherry pie--a secret given to me by Justin Rachid of American Spoon Food. It's called Michelle's Miracle--an intensely concentrated sour cherry syrup made from Montmorency sour cherries. Just add 1 to 2 tablespoons to your cherry pie filling and you'll be astonished by the depth of flavor it provides. Michelle advises that refrigerated or frozen it keeps just about indefinitely.
If you cant find sour cherries, or you miss the short season, American Spoon Food's Fruit Perfect Cherries is an ideal substitute, in fact, I've often preferred it to the fresh picked cherries and the reason is the addition of the Michelle's Miracle! My recipe for using the filling is on the jar and just below.
Cherry Pie Using Fruit Perfect Cherries
2 jars (13.5 ounces each) Fruit Perfect Cherries
1 tablespoon cornstarch (0.3 ounce/9.5 grams)
1 tablespoon water
l/4 cup sugar (1.75 ounces/50 grams)
Empty the cherries, with their
thickened juices, into a medium bowl. In small bowl, stir together the cornstarch
and water to dissolve the cornstarch. Gently and evenly stir this mixture
into the cherries with the sugar. Bake as for Cherry Lattice Pie, but at 400°F/200˚C for
30 to 35 minutes.
Apr 24, 2011 | From the kitchen of Rose in Baking & Cooking Tips
My favorite frosting for the ultimate chocolate taste, texture and ease in making is chocolate ganache, which I wrote about, in a previous posting, Birthday Ganache.
When artist friend Martha Rast asked Woody, if we had any lactose free frostings,this lead to testing with unflavored soy milk to come up with a ganache that has a slightly tangier taste compared to the standard heavy cream ganache but also has an excellent flavor and texture making ideal for the lactose intolerant or vegan. The difference between a ganache made with heavy cream and one made with soy milk is that the soy milk gives a lighter color more toward a dark milk chocolate. Its preparation requires the addition of a higher percentage of the soy milk to keep a creamy texture that will adhere to the cake.
Here is the recipe for Soy Milk Ganache with Silk plain soy milk and Valhrona le Noir Gastronomie 61% cacao.
Soy Milk Dark Chocolate Ganache
Makes: almost 3-1/3 cups/29.3 ounces/834 grams
|dark chocolate, 60 to 62% cacao, chopped||14 ounces||400 grams|
|plain soy milk, preferably Silk||2 cups (16 fluid ounces)||16.6 ounces||473 grams|
|pure vanilla extract||1 tablespoon||.||.|
Have ready a fine-mesh strainer suspended over a medium glass bowl.
In the bowl of a food processor, process the chocolate until very fine. In a 4 cup microwave proof cup with a spout, or in a medium saucepan, stirring often, scald the cream (heat it to the boiling point--small bubbles will form around the periphery).
With the motor running, pour the cream through the feed tube in a steady stream. Process for a few seconds until smooth. Pulse in the vanilla. Pass the ganache through the fine strainer into the glass bowl and let it sit for 1 hour. Cover it with plastic wrap and allow it to cool at room temperature for several hours, until the mixture reaches a soft frosting consistency.
Storage times are even longer than the heavy cream based ganache of: up to 1 week at room temperature; 2 weeks refrigerated; and 6 months frozen.
The success of the soy milk encouraged us to explore other non-dairy milks. We found that Silk Almondmilk works just as well as a direct substitution for the soy milk, is less tangy, adds a lovely almond flavoring which gives a richer dimension to the chocolate flavor.
Further exploration had us experiment with coconut cream and milks. Canned versions of both, which are thicker than heavy cream, produced a ganache similar in color to that made with heavy cream but had the disadvantage of a noticeably gritty appearance. Coconut cream contains 24% fat and coconut milk contains 17% fat. However, coconut milk in the carton has only around 6% fat. A couple of tests arrived at a ratio that works with the chocolate's weight at 15% higher than the coconut milk, which is the opposite of the soy and almond milk versions. The coconut milk gives a subtle coconut taste to the chocolate and the ganache's color is darker than the ganache made with either soy or almond milk.
Nov 16, 2009 | From the kitchen of Rose in Baking & Cooking Tips
Before beginning to bake, read the recipe through and note plan ahead’s.
If at all possible, make the recipe the way it is indicated. Don’t substitute ingredients before making it at least once to see the way it’s supposed to come out.
When preparing ingredients ahead, cover them with plastic wrap so that they don’t dry out or evaporate.
When a recipe calls for softened butter it means the butter should still feel cool but be easy to press down. This usually takes about 30 minutes at room temperature but slicing it in smaller pieces speeds up the process.
Unless a cake recipe indicates otherwise, it is important to use bleached flour for the best texture.
Cocoa should be sifted to remove lumps and make it easier to measure accurately.
If measuring flour rather than weighing it avoid tapping or shaking the cup. This would pack in much more flour and the cake would be heavy and dry.
To combine flour, salt, and leavening such as baking powder or baking soda evenly use a whisk.
Eggs vary greatly in size and also in proportion of yolk to white. Either use weight or volume especially when a recipe calls for all yolks. A recipe requiring 4 yolks may need as many as 7 if the yolks are very small.
To break eggs the most evenly without shattering the shell, set a paper towel on the counter top to absorb any white that will spill out and rap the side of the egg sharply on top of the towel. It will break more neatly than if rapping it against the edge of a bowl.
When separating eggs, pour each white into a smaller bowl before adding it to the larger amount of whites. If even a trace of yolk or grease gets into the white it will be impossible to beat stiffly. If a small amount of yolk should get into the white, use the eggshell to fish it out.
If the bowl in which you are beating the whites is not totally grease free, wet a paper towel, add a little vinegar to it and wipe out the bowl. Then rinse it and dry it well.
Apr 04, 2009 | From the kitchen of Rose in Did You Know
That egg whites can be frozen for at least a year but to freeze egg yolks you need to add sugar to keep them from getting too sticky and unusable.
For 1 egg yolk/about 1 tablespoon/0.6 ounce/18 grams stir in ½ teaspoon/2 grams sugar. Don’t forget to remove the sugar from the recipe after defrosting the yolks.
My favorite healthful lunch is 0 fat Greek yogurt with 1 heaping teaspoon of lemon curd swirled in and a handful of blueberries.
Feb 13, 2009 | From the kitchen of Rose in Did You Know
I love the Nespresso aerocinno for foaming milk perfectly and effortlessly but when it comes to cleaning the 'non stick' bottom surface it is anything BUT effortless and if it isn't cleaned between foamings it develops little burnt milk points.
My first solution was to scratch at the milk with my fingernails--not a happy one. A better solution turned out to be a dobie plastic sponge reserved for this use. But what a nuisance to have to hide not one but two dobie sponges from my cleaning lady who loves to grab them to scour the cooktop!
I've just discovered the best solution of all to remove the milk scum is to spray the bottom of the aerocinno very lightly with odorless cooking spray. If too much spray comes out simply wipe out the excess.Too much spray could affect foaming.
Voila! I mean ECCO!
When rinsing the aerocinno all the milk comes out easily.
Jan 22, 2009 | From the kitchen of Rose in Savory Cooking
That oatmeal doesn’t have to be mushy? And that the rice cooker is perfect for making stone cut oatmeal?!
I adore the nubbly-creamy texture, flavor, and warm comfort of stone cut oatmeal but it takes about 40 minutes to cook and I don’t want to have to remember to stir in occasionally to keep it from scorching. If you have an electric rice cooker with a porridge setting, all you have to do is combine the water, oats, salt, and I like to add a little brown sugar, turn it on (mine plays Mary Had a Little Lamb to let me know the cooking has started!) and wait til you hear the finished signal.
These cold days, I also like to add a little milk to a bowl and set it in my oven with the pilot light—if you have an electric oven and a very low setting that works too. That way milk cold from the frig doesn’t cool off the hot cereal. Alternatively you can heat the milk before adding it. For an extra treat I sometimes add a small mellow dollop of crème fraîche but that really is a perfect example of Rose gilding the lily!
Here’s my recipe for oatlmeal for one:
Stir together the following:
2/3 cup cold water
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup stone cut oatmeal such as McCann’s Irish Oatmeal
Optional: light brown Muscovado sugar
Jul 05, 2008 | From the kitchen of Rose in Notes
The way in which you process ingredients, especially those containing oil, has a profound effect on the flavor.
Garlic for example, if squeezed through a press rather than minced by hand will be bitter.
The oil in garlic is particularly temperamental. If garlic is heated until golden it takes on a fantastic flavor. If it becomes brown it metamorphoses into a truly nasty acrid smell and taste which is probably part of the reason it is sometimes referred to as “the stinking rose”!
I learned many years ago from the late Barbara Tropp, who sadly died far too young, that washing an orange or lemon with detergent and then rinsing thoroughly with water, would make a huge difference to the flavor of the zest.
Jun 21, 2008 | From the kitchen of Rose in Notes
There is a special technique used in France to mellow the sharpness of fresh garlic. I discovered it years ago in one of Roger Vergé’s books and have used it ever since when adding raw garlic to a dish. It maintains the wonderful garlic flavor but tames the bite just a bit.
You don’t have to peel the garlic cloves because the peel slips off easily after boiling.
Place the garlic in a small saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring it to a boil and drain it immediately. Repeat three to 5 times and then use it to mince or slice into your recipe. Here is my favorite one for Casear salad dressing that I’ve been in the process of perfecting for years.
I discovered the beautiful and highly functional granite mortar and pestle when visiting my friend Anna Schwartz in Melbourne Australia. She offered to ship me one but then discovered that it was available in a terrific little Thai store in Chinatown not far from where I live. Elliott had to take me by car because it was too heavy to carry very far! It was relatively inexpensive—around $35 and will last several life-times.
The store will ship so if so inclined here’s the contact info.
If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, mince the garlic and anchovies by hand.
May 24, 2008 | From the kitchen of Rose in Notes
Many of you know that I am a great advocate of using old starter added to bread dough to enhance flavor, texture, and keeping quality, but much to my regret, not everyone is willing to make, buy, or maintain a starter. There are, however, other ways to introduce extra flavor into bread dough that are really quite simple. My favorite easy method is used in many of my recipes in The Bread Bible. It involves making a sponge with all of the water used in the recipe, equal volume (1 1/2 times the weight) of the flour, and half the yeast and allowing it to sit from 1 to 4 hours before mixing the rest of the dough. But did you know that using just a total of one quarter of the yeast means you can let it sit at room temperature overnight which gives you more leeway time-wise. By the way, the total amount of yeast in the bread dough remains the same, you simply add less to the sponge and more to the final dough in the second stage of mixing.
It is a good thing to keep in mind when you need to slow down fermentation. You can experiment with how much yeast to add depending on the amount of time you want it to ferment and the temperature depending or the time of year. In Summer you may need to lower the yeast, in Winter increase it. YOU have the control!
Jan 26, 2008 | From the kitchen of Rose in Notes
I’ve decided to start a new posting that I will schedule every once in a while as I collect these helpful tidbits that professional bakers take for granted that might not occur to anyone to pass on to home bakers. Here is the first posting:
1) Convection ovens (other than most counter top models) need to be set about 25°F/15°C lower, i.e. to arrive at the equivalent temperature of 350°F/175°C set the oven at 325°F/160°C.
2) Honey and yeast: it’s best to use processed (supermarket) clover honey as other honey, especially raw honey, may have an antibacterial effect which kills the yeast. it’s fine to experiment as some other types of honey will work but make a small batch of dough in case it doesn’t.
3) Brown sugar: store it in a canning jar. If and when it becomes rock hard, all you need to do is to make a little foil cup, set it on top of the sugar, wet a paper towel and wring out the extra water. set it in the cup and screw on the lid. Within an hour it will start to soften and by the next day it will as soft as when you first bought it.
4) How to tell when a cake is baked: if your oven has a window watch toward the end of baking. The cake will lower visible in the pan and you’ll know it’s time to test for doneness.
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