Tuesday, April 20, 2010

I'd swim in that stuff..........

I had been thinking about focaccia bread for a while but a great looking recipe didn't come to me until about a week ago. A large majority of my TV watching is consumed by of course the food network, so when i saw this on "Secrets of a Restaurant Chef" I had to give it a try. Fairly easy and absolutely drown in olive oil, this bread is a real winner. After taking a few bites my own father gave it his bread lovers seal of approval by saying, "I'd swim in that stuff." If that's not the best compliment to give about a piece bread, then I don't know what is.

  • 1 3/4 cups warm water
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour, plus additional for kneading
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus coarse sea salt, for sprinkling
  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided


Combine the warm water, yeast and sugar in a small bowl. Put the bowl in a warm, not hot or cool, place until the yeast is bubbling and aromatic, at least 15 minutes.

In the bowl of a mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the flour, 1 tablespoon of kosher salt, 1/2 cup olive oil and the yeast mixture on low speed. Once the dough has come together, continue to knead for 5 to 6 minutes on a medium speed until it becomes smooth and soft. Give it a sprinkle of flour if the dough is really sticky and tacky.

Transfer the dough to a clean, lightly floured surface, then knead it by hand 1 or 2 times. Again, give it another sprinkle of flour if the dough is really sticky and tacky.

Coat the inside of the mixer bowl lightly with olive oil and return the dough to the bowl. Cover it with plastic wrap and put it in a warm place until the dough has doubled in size, at least 1 hour.

Coat a jelly roll pan with the remaining 1/2 cup olive oil. (Chef's Note: This may seem excessive, but focaccia is an oily crusted bread. This is why it is soooooooooo delicious!).

Put the dough onto the jelly roll pan and begin pressing it out to fit the size of the pan. Turn the dough over to coat the other side with the olive oil. Continue to stretch the dough to fit the pan. As you are doing so, spread your fingers out and make finger holes all the way through the dough. (Chef's Note: Yes, this is strange. But when the dough rises again it will create the characteristic craggy looking focaccia. If you do not make the actual holes in the dough, the finished product will be very smooth.)

Put the dough in the warm place until it has doubled in size, about 1 hour. While the dough is rising a second time, preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Liberally sprinkle the top of the focaccia with some coarse sea salt and lightly drizzle a little oil on top. Bake the dough until the top of the loaf is golden brown, about 25 to 30 minutes. Remove the focaccia from the oven and let it cool before cutting and serving.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

It Hit the Spot......

The past weeks I had expressed to my Mother that I would love to make a fruit tart. I had never made one before and it sounded particularly delicious at the time. Valentine's Day approached and after an outing with my sister, my parents came home from lunch with some treats. Not expecting much other than candy, I ignored the Williams-Sonoma bag that sat on the counter. A few minutes later my mom brought the bag to me saying "This is for you too!". A smile spread widely across my face because I knew, if it is from Williams-Sonoma it has to be good! There I sat with a perfectly new tart pan in my lap. Only a few moments later did I begin to make the tart that would definitely hit the spot.

Vanilla tart with Nutmeg crust and Berries

  • 7 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1. Position rack in lower third of oven. Preheat to 350 F. In medium bowl combine butter, sugar, vanilla, salt, and nutmeg. Add flour; mix just until well blended. If dough is too soft, let stand a few minutes to firm up.

2. Evenly press dough on bottom and sides of a 9-to 9 1/2 inch square or round tart pan in a thin layer. (This takes patience, as there is just enough dough.) Refrigerate 30 minutes to firm the dough.

3.Place pan on baking sheet. Bake 20 to 25 minutes, until crust is a deep golden brown, checking after 15 minutes. If dough has puffed from bottom of pan, prick a few times and gently press down with back of a fork. Cool pan on wire rack.

Vanilla Filling:

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 Tbsp plus 2 tsp cornstarch
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 2 cups half and half
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • Any berries of your choice
In heavy medium saucepan whisk sugar, cornstarch, and salt to blend. Add 3 Tbsp half and half and whisk to form a smooth paste. Whisk in remaining half and half. Using a wooden spoon, stir constantly over medium heat, scraping bottom, sides, and corners until filling thickens and begins to bubble. Cook and stir 1 minute more to fully cook cornstarch. Stir in vanilla extract. Immediately pour into crust and spread evenly. Cool 1 hour, uncovered, at room temperature. Refrigerate in covered container to cool completely.

After cooling, place berries on top and enjoy.

Recipe Adapted from: Better Homes and Gardens

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

An Avocado Adventure........

While looking through a magazine my mom and I saw something that made us both look at each other in agreement. We HAVE to make this for Jimi. If your wondering, Jimi is one of my very good friends, and also an Avocado-a-holic. The picture depicted a cheesecake green in color, and made with, now don't be too surprised, avocados. We went to the grocery store hoping to get some good avocados and thankfully when we cracked them open there they were, green and perfect.

Avocado Cheesecake with Walnut Crust


  • 1 cup graham cracker crumbs

  • 1 cup shelled walnuts, coarsely chopped

  • 1 tablespoon sugar

  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed anise seeds

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

  • 6 tablespoons butter, melted


  • 1 envelope unflavored gelatin

  • 1 lemon

  • 1-1/2 cups skim milk

  • 1/2 cup sugar

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 2 fully ripened Avocados from Mexico, halved, pitted, peeled and diced

  • 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened and cut in pieces


Preheat oven to 350°F. To prepare crust: In bowl or food processor, combine graham cracker crumbs, walnuts, sugar, anise seeds and salt. Add butter; pulse until ingredients are thoroughly combined (will resemble wet sand). Press into bottom of 8-inch spring form pan; bake 15 minutes; cool completely.

To prepare filling: In cup, combine gelatin with 2 tablespoons water; let stand for 5 minutes. Using potato peeler, remove strips of lemon zest (yellow portion only). In small saucepan, combine milk, sugar, vanilla and lemon zest; bring to boil. Add gelatin; simmer until gelatin has completely dissolved, about 1 minute; strain. In food processor, place avocados and cream cheese. Pour hot milk mixture into processor; whirl until very smooth. Pour into pre-baked crust; cover and refrigerate until set, at least 2 hours. Remove side of pan. Serve with raspberry sauce, if desired.

Best when served the day of preparation. Any leftover cake should be securely covered with clear plastic wrap and refrigerated.

Recipe from: www.theamazingavocado.com

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Walnut Bread

One of my favorite things to bake, and one of the most time consuming to complete, is yeast bread. It's bizarre but I love the kneading you have to do and all the insane steps you have to follow. So as the mood strikes me to make a loaf or two, I jump on it. I'd seen this recipe for Walnut Bread in a Cooking Light magazine I quickly browsed through, the braiding giving it an especially appealing touch. I collected my ingredients, making sure I had some time to let it rise, and began. A few hours later the smell of fresh bread filled our house, making every one's mouth water. I sliced off a piece, still warm putting a bit of jelly on top. After hours of waiting, just that single piece makes it all worth while.

Walnut Bread:

  • 1 1/4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 package dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm water (100-110 degrees)
  • 1 1/2 cups low-fat buttermilk
  • 6 tablespoons honey
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • 2 cups whole-wheat flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 cup finely chopped walnuts
  • cooking spray

1. Place oats in a food processor; pulse 8 times or until coarsely chopped. Combine chopped oats and 1 cup boiling water in a medium bowl; let stand 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

2. Dissolve yeast in 1/4 cup warm water in the bowl of a stand mixer; let stand 5 minutes. Add buttermilk to oat mixture, stirring to combine. Stir in honey and oil. Add the oat mixture to yeast mixture; mix with dough hook attachment until combined. Weigh or lightly spoon 13.5 ounces all-purpose flour (about 3 cups) and whole-wheat pastry flour in dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flours with salt. Add flour mixture to buttermilk mixture. Mix dough at medium speed 10 minutes or until smooth and elastic, adding remaining all-purpose flour, 1/4 cup at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to sides of bowl. Add walnuts; mix at medium speed just until combined.

3. Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat top. Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 1 hour or until doubled in size. (Gently press two fingers into dough. If indentation remains, the dough has risen enough.)

4. Preheat oven to 400°.

5. Punch dough down; divide in half. Divide each half into 3 equal portions. Working with 1 portion at a time (cover remaining dough to keep from drying), shape each portion into a 14-inch rope. Place 3 ropes lengthwise on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray (do not stretch). Pinch ends together at one end to seal. Braid ropes, and pinch loose ends together to seal. Repeat procedure with remaining dough to form another braid. Cover and let rise 30 minutes or until doubled in size.

6. Spritz top and sides of loaves lightly with water from a spray bottle. Bake on center rack of oven at 400° for 28 minutes or until deep golden brown. Remove from pan; cool on wire rack.

Recipe from: www.myrecipes.com

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Halloween fun

Halloween came so quickly this year I just can't even believe it's already November. So as a celebration of my favorite holiday I made some adorable cupcakes to enjoy on the rather spooky night. Along with the cupcakes I made pumpkin fudge, peanut butter covered pretzels, and a southwestern mac and cheese. All turned out well, (okay maybe not the pumpkin fudge, haha). As the night progressed, I had to get into my costume which was Pocahontas. I quickly enjoyed a cupcake before going out with a friend around the neighborhood to collect candy. The pile was mostly of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, I always seem to grab those first. Sadly, no ghosts visited me this Halloween but there's always next year.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Thanks Martha.......

I forgot to tell you in the last post, but on that wonderful birthday of mine, my mother got me an array of gifts (most of them having to do with the Wizard of Oz), apart from one. Martha Stewart's Cupcakes, a book I had been eying up for a while and finally got. Days passed from my birthday, as I was constantly paging through this cook book for something to make. A Saturday morning came, and I hadn't baked anything in the past couple of days, so of course I had to do something. With over 175 cupcake recipes it was slightly overwhelming, all those choices. But I came to a decision (finally). It was the morning so I had chose to make Streusel Cupcakes, almost like a mini little coffee cake for only your indulgence. The recipe follows:
Martha's Streusel Cupcakes

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups sour cream
  • Streusel topping (recipe follows)
  • Milk Glaze (recipe follows)
1-Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
2-With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Stir in vanilla by hand. Add flour mixture and sour cream; stir until just combined.
3-Divide batter evenly among lined cups. Sprinkle half topping over the cupcakes, gently pressing it into the batter. Sprinkle evenly with remaining topping. Bake, rotating tins half way through, until golden brown and a cake tester inserted in center comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely before removing cupcakes.
4- To finish, place cupcakes on a wire rack set over a baking sheet; drizzle evenly with milk glaze. Glazed cupcakes can be stored up to 3 days at room temperature in airtight containers.

Streusel Topping
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup packed dark-brown sugar
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
Whisk together flour, dark brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt; cut in the butter using a pastry blender, your fingertips, or two table knives until combined but still crumbly. Refrigerate 30 minutes before use.

Milk Glaze
  • 1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • 3 tablespoons milk
Whisk together ingredients until smooth. Use immediately.

Makes 24 Cupcakes.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Yum..........It's all I can say.

I know this is a little late, and I do realize that I've been neglecting Forever Flavorful, but I have now made a promise to myself that I will update a lot more and this time I mean it. These past weeks have been slightly exciting, starting with October 1st, my birthday!! I can now say that I am officially a teenager, definitely a great accomplishment, haha. The day started with a trip to Starbucks, just before school to get a warm, delightful, pumpkin spice steamer. A mix of hot milk and that wonderful pumpkin flavoring with a bit of pumpkin spice sprinkled on top. Since this beginning of Fall I've been addicted to pumpkin, anything that I can get my hands on, so as you might have guessed, when I walked into Starbucks and in that little case I saw a pumpkin scone staring at me, I just couldn't resist. From then on I could tell this day was going to be a pure sugar fest. I got through the day of school, boring as ever, and when I arrived home I couldn't hold in my dying excitement to go pick up my cake. As most people know, I'm pretty much Vegan Treats Bakery in Bethlehem, biggest fan. I go there at least once a week to try another one of their pastries, one sugar rush after another. Conquering at least one of everything on their menu is pretty much my life goal, and believe me, I'm on my way. I stared at their menu all week before deciding upon something I'd never tried. It was called a Vanilla Strawberry Mousse Cake. My parents and I drove to Bethlehem, me in the back telling them to step on it of course. We got there and it was my birthday, so I had to get something as a snack. I couldn't choose anything small, of course, so I went for their one pound cinnamon bun. It's always been one of my favorites, one of the first things that I tried from there and believe me I ate every last bit. We got the box with the cake in it and made our way out, I couldn't help but stare at it the whole ride home. I had asked for a Mexican Fiesta for dinner and when I got home that's exactly what we had. After having a cinnamon bun and tacos in a short period of time, I have to admit, I kinda felt like I was going to throw up, but I didn't, thank God. My stomach was still recovering, but they brought out the cake and I wasn't going to miss having my own piece, no matter what my stomach thought. I ate that piece of cake right down, loving every minute of it. So moist and delicious, it reminded me of why I love that bakery so much. The day was coming to an end, always a sad thing on your birthday, but with all that food in my stomach I was burnt out. I went to bed, with having only one single thing to say, YUM!