Travellust.


A VACATION I WISH WERE SUCH
20 August, 2007, 7:24 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

A sure sign that your blog has been stagnant is when it doesn’t come up in the address bar after the first few letters. But, I assure you it is not because I haven’t been thinking about it. Frankly, I haven’t been cooking much. I’ve taken on a management position in my company as well as continuing to wait tables at night. It’s an equation that yields very little free time to make it to the farmer’s market, and even less to cook.

I am happy to say that the fruits of my labor are coming, as I have an article in the upcoming issue of Uptown magazine. It is small publication here in Charlotte, and the piece showcases one of the most important products to the security of jobs and economy here in North Carolina: Pork. However, it’s shown in a different light: Pork, it’s what’s for breakfast! I’ll post a link when the issue comes out.

Once I get into the routine of my new job, and figure out what 30-minute meals are I will continue regular posting. Until then I am going to kick up my feet and indulge in current issues of Food and Wine and Gourmet, which I have been saving for this day OFF.



Tried and True.
1 August, 2007, 11:36 pm
Filed under: Sweets

coffeecake.jpg

I’ve reached a point in my personal studies with food and recipe experimentation, still very elementary, to where I like to pick an outcome, but try different ways of getting there, in search of the “best” if you will. The outcome of this labor is in a great deal of invested product and time, especially when most recipes are of a baking method, which we all know takes time and patience.

When I came across fresh, local and very modestly priced blueberries at the farmer’s market a few weeks back, I decided that I didn’t want to go the usual muffin route, but I didn’t want to get to technical either. So, I settled on an area of baked goods that I hadn’t visited since I first put my hands on the degree button of the oven: quick breads.

To my credit, I have very little experience with making them, so I always turn to a professional who has tried their own recipes at least a dozen times, of which many are favorites at their local shops. This time I chose Ina Garten. Although she is a Food Network “star” and personality, I’ve had great success with many of her treats, so when I came across her sour cream coffee cake, I knew that it would be a great avenue in which to showcase the blueberries’ intense flavor.

The result was exactly as I wanted it to be, excellent. But, for some reason, as metioned before, I was curious to see if there was someone who could do it better, and so I turned to Martha Stewart, whose recipe was just slightly different, and in the end I came out unhappy. I guess it just goes to show you that sometimes, you shouldn’t try to fix it if it isn’t broken.

I’ve adapted this recipe for my own tastes, and because I do not have a tube pan, like most all coffee cake recipes call for, I tried it first in two loaf pans, and then again in one loaf pan and a standard 12-muffin pan. Both resulted in a very moist, dense, but incredibly light and not too-sweet cake.

Again, with most recipes like quick breads, they are flexible after the standard measurements of flour, butter, eggs, and the various powders in which backbone the recipes. I urge you to try this recipe with different fruits, flavors and wet ingredients. Not a big fan of sour cream, I opted for low-fat Greek yogurt the second time, and I was just as pleased if not more than the first.

Sour Cream Coffee Cake
Adapted from Ina Garten at Foodnetwork.com

Ingredients

12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 extra-large eggs at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups sour cream ** (I used non-fat or low-fat Greek yogurt here)
2 1/2 cups cake flour (not self-rising)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
** I added 2 cups of blueberries to the batter before it went into the pans

Method

For the streusel: 
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed 
1/2 cup all-purpose flour 
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon 
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt 
3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces 
3/4 cup chopped walnuts, optional
For the glaze: 
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar 
2 tablespoons real maple syrup

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 10-inch tube pan.
Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment for 4 to 5 minutes, until light. Add the eggs 1 at a time, then add the vanilla and sour cream.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture to the batter until just combined. Finish stirring with a spatula to be sure the batter is completely mixed.

For the streusel, place the brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, salt, and butter in a bowl and pinch together with your fingers until it forms a crumble. Mix in the walnuts, if desired.
Spoon half the batter into the pan and spread it out with a knife. Sprinkle with 3/4 cup streusel. Spoon the rest of the batter in the pan, spread it out, and scatter the remaining streusel on top.

Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean.
Let cool on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes. Carefully transfer the cake, streusel side up, onto a serving plate.

Whisk the confectioners’ sugar and maple syrup together, adding a few drops of water if necessary, to make the glaze runny. Drizzle as much as you like over the cake with a fork or spoon.