Alert: this post does not describe any home-baked goods. It’s 100 degrees out today, people.
I love that happy serendipity that occurs when you have the impulse to make something and then you discover that you already have all the ingredients you need to make said something. Especially when those ingredients are odds and ends that probably wouldn’t have been used in a timely fashion otherwise. Such was the case when I decided I wanted to make pineapple salsa today. I had fresh pineapple, half of a Vidalia onion, a lime I bought some time ago for goodness knows what, and a jalapeno and some cilantro from my garden. And then I found this recipe on the Whole Foods website. I’ve adapted it slightly, but it’s essentially the same. I enjoyed it spooned on to some Blue Ginger Black Sesame and Sea Salt Brown Rice Chips I had in my pantry.
Fresh Pineapple Salsa
(adapted from wholefoodsmarket.com)
Makes about 2 cups.
2 cups diced fresh pineapple
1/4 cup chopped cilantro or to taste
1/4 cup finely chopped sweet onion
1 jalapeno pepper, finely chopped
Juice and zest of 1 lime
Sea salt to taste
Toss all ingredients together in a large bowl. Serve immediately or cover and chill until ready to use.
Last summer I discovered a new favorite — grilling flatbreads. They are quick and simple to make, and so much fun, and everyone loves to eat them. Yesterday, I made Grilled Asiago Rounds and Zucchini Caponata from King Arthur Flour’s Bakers’ Banter. Both recipes are so easy and sooooo good. Check out the links above for the recipes as well as how-to videos.
I was outside grilling the breads yesterday morning so we could take them along with us into Boston for the fireworks. L. said he could smell them in his sleep. The last time I made this I thought it lasted a bit longer — maybe a couple of days, but the only reason we didn’t finish it all last night was because I only brought two-thirds of the batch of flatbreads and caponata with us. We had other goodies as well, and really, who needs that much food for just one evening? I took a lot of abuse for that decision. Rest assured, we finished the rest of it today.
I made these for a cookout this weekend. I glazed them with white icing and then dotted the cookies while the icing was still wet with red- and blue-tinted icings. Then I used a toothpick to swirl the colors around. The results were pretty cool-looking — they reminded me of the trails of color that fireworks leave in the sky as they die out.
The cookies themselves were from the Holiday Cookies recipe from The America’s Test Kitchen Family Baking Book. WPR.org posted the recipe here so I won’t repost it, but it’s one I’ve used before. I love it because it’s easy to work with and the cookies are soft and have great flavor. The icing is the shiny cookie glaze from The King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion Cookbook.
King Arthur Flour’s Shiny Cookie Glaze
(reposted from Serious Eats, with my adaptations)
3 1/2 cups (14 oz.) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
6 tbs. (3 oz.) milk
1/4 cup (about 1.25 oz.) meringue powder
1 tsp. clear vanilla extract
Wilton icing colors
Place the sifted confectioners’ sugar and meringue powder in a medium-sized bowl. Add the milk and vanilla to the sugar and meringue powder and mix on low for 4 to 5 minutes, until the glaze is the consistency of molasses. Adjust the consistency with a tablespoon of water if necessary. Add icing color if desired. Important: keep the glaze covered while working with it to keep it from forming a skin or hardening up.
Use the spoon for apply the glaze to the cookies and spread using the back of the spoon, removing any excess. Place on a drying rack to let the excess glaze drip off and let the glaze harden and dry for several hours or overnight.
And here are some from the “let’s get rid of the rest of the dough and the icing” batch. They were decorated a bit differently!
I recently finished my first year in the Baking and Pastry Arts program at Johnson and Wales University. Many of the formulas we used in my breads and Viennoiserie classes came from Ciril Hitz’s books, Baking Artisan Bread and Baking Artisan Pastries and Breads. Chef Hitz is our department chair at JWU and occasionally teaches in the weekend program (in which I am enrolled). So far, my interactions with him have been limited to relaying messages from him or hitting him up for equipment and/or supplies, including one occasion in which I narrowly missed (by inches!) whacking him in the face with a transfer peel. So unless he’s forgotten or he’s extremely forgiving, I’m actually pretty happy I haven’t had him for an instructor yet. Come to think of it, I’m pretty sure we all look the same in uniform anyway, so it probably doesn’t matter.
This English Muffin formula is from Baking Artisan Pastries and Breads. It’s different from my previous attempt in that these muffins are baked rather than cooked on the stovetop. The batter is scooped into the muffin rings and proofs on a sheet pan for an hour before they’re baked. Unfortunately, I only have four rings, which isn’t a problem when you’re cooking them the other way because you can only fit four rings in a pan anyway, but it is an issue when you have to proof a dozen at once. I ended up using the four rings, plus the four largest circle cutters from my school knife kit. I know: 4 rings + 4 circle cutters = 8 muffins, not 12. This was not apparent to me even though I was overfilling the molds because I had extra batter. There’s a reason all the math I do involves a calculator; I clearly can’t even count. At any rate, no serious harm was done, as they turned out fine.
We really enjoyed the chewiness from the multigrain soaker that was added to the batter. Chef Hitz suggests using a packaged seven-grain mixture, but I made my own three-grain combination — oats, flax seeds and wheat bran — basically what I could scrounge up from my freezer stash. There’s also some white whole wheat flour in the batter for additional nutritional oomph. The crumb wasn’t as filled with nooks and crannies as a store-bought muffin, but this might be due to my improvisational molding (and overfilling). I didn’t hear anyone complain though!