Summer Archive

Thursday, May 22, 2014

soft pretzel buns and knots

pretzel hot dog and hamburger buns

Guess what we’re making this weekend?

I have been obsessed with make soft pretzels at home since about 16 seconds after I learned that you could, 7 years ago. For something that looks so twisted, dark and complex, they’re actually simple to make, requiring only a basic bread dough (flour, water, salt and yeast), formed into pretzel knot (a rope with the ends twisted together, then folded back over itself), dipped briefly in a baking soda solution, salted, and baked until pretty. This is almost exactly the way they are made in southern Germany and surrounding pretzel-loving regions, save one bit: instead of a baking soda bath, the pretzels are dipped in a lye solution. Lye, as in the poison. As in the stuff used in oven cleaners, drain openers, the kind of thing you shouldn’t touch without a mask and latex gloves, the kind of thing no sane cook would bother with at home.

what you'll need for the pretzel dough
making the dough

Or so this was the case nearly a decade ago. In the time since, as the DIY/handmade/homemade ethos has swept the food-curious population, things that once seemed adorably old-fashioned (pressure cookers, water bath canning, freezer jams, just to begin) or just plain nuts to do at home (making you own bitters, butter, or barley hops) have become delightfully mainstream, and I suspect directly related to this shift, the last five times I’ve read about pretzel-making at home, seemingly sane people with their whole lives ahead of them have suggested that you, another seemingly sane person who probably didn’t have Dabble In Harmful Chemicals Because This Food Blogger Told Me To on your holiday weekend agenda, should go buy lye, done some gloves and goggles and make Laugenbrezeln as if you were a 10th generation baker in Bavaria. No big deal at all.

the kneaded dough

Continued after the jump »

Friday, October 11, 2013

purple plum torte

marion burros' famed plum torte

This may look like an ordinary piece of plum cake, but it is not. It is a famous plum cake, so renowned that I suspect half of you out there have already made it, and the rest of you will soon commit it to memory, because this cake is like that — it is worthwhile enough to become your late September/early October staple. First published in the New York Times by Marian Burros in 1983, the recipe had been given to her by Lois Levine, her co-author on the excellent Elegant but Easy), the recipe was published every year during plum season between then and 1995, when the editor of the food section told readers they were cutting them off, and it was time to cut it out, laminate it and put it on the refrigerator door because they were on their own if they lost it. As if anyone would dare.

plums, found, icebox, etc.
dark italian plums

Amanda Hesser, who compiled and tested 1,400 recipes dating back to the 1850s, when the New York Times began covering food, the James Beard award-winning 2010 Essential New York Times Cookbook, said that when she asked readers for recipe suggestions to include the in book, she received no less than 247 for this one, and suspects that is because it’s a nearly perfect recipe. There are only eight ingredients, seven of which you probably have around and, if you took my hint earlier this week that “buttery plums” were coming later this week, you might even have the eighth. There are only four brief, simple steps, and the batter seems so simple (“like pancake batter,” says Hesser) that you might have understandable doubts about the greatness of this cake.

the plums had been neglected in the fridge

Continued after the jump »

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

zucchini parmesan crisps

ugly and therefore tasty zucchini chips

Sometimes, I think the internet is trying to tell me something. Well, most days, many things, such as why nobody should ever, ever click on a certain VMA performance (which is like begging me to click, only for me to run away with my hands over my eyes. Why would you do that to me, internet?!), why this lady should be all of our new heroes, the effect of mirrors in grocery carts and also maybe where tiramisu comes from? So much stuff, people. But sometimes, the message is a little more pointed, such as the time a few weeks ago I was checking out a tres leches cake recipe for research on a likeminded popsicle and the sidebar suggested that maybe I might consider making zucchini crisps instead?

let's get ready to make zucchini crisps!
slice them to a scant 1/4-inch thick

I was suspicious — ever-mushy and damp zucchini? as chips? without frying but only using a tiny bit of oil? — and so I clicked over. They looked beautiful. People seemed to universally rave about them. It was almost dinnertime and, as usual, fully prepared food had yet materialize on our table, the forces of the universe disappointing me yet again. And of course, because it was August, I had no fewer than four zucchinis withering away in my fridge, waiting to be called upon for a higher purpose.

eh, skip the oil step

Continued after the jump »

Friday, August 30, 2013

pink lemonade popsicles

pink lemonade popsicles

[It's the last chapter of Popsicle Week, wherein I admitted that I had something of a popsicle incident this summer, wherein incident = gotta a little carried away, made too many and couldn't let summer end without sharing the queue with you. This is Popsicle 3 of 3.]

I began this summer of accidental popsicle obsession by saying that growing up, we made popsicles by pouring orange juice (created with or without manual labor) into these molds, letting them freeze and eating them outside so we didn’t sticky up the kitchen floor. And yet, when I first bought my popsicles molds a year ago, did I put juice in them? No. I had to make things really, really complicated. Banana purees, Nutella and salted pistachios. Strawberries, lime, black pepper and sometimes white tequila. Key lime pie filling rolled in graham cracker crumbs. Butterscotch. Pudding. Pops.

raspberries, lemons, go!
scene of raspberry violence

It seems only right and proper that I end* Popsicle Week with a riff on the same frozen juice popsicle. But, you know, I couldn’t use just any juice, it had to be lemonade, which to me is the quintessential sitting at a picnic table in a beach town icy drink to slurp through a straw while being unable to consider a single other thing on this earth that previously felt urgent, as we did yesterday afternoon on our Maine vacation.

straining the raspberry puree

Continued after the jump »

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

butterscotch pudding popsicles

butterscotch. pudding. popsicles.

[It's Popsicle Week, wherein I admit that I had something of a popsicle incident this summer, wherein incident = gotta a little carried away, made too many and now can't let summer end without sharing the queue with you. This is Popsicle 2 of 3.]

Once you realize that popsicles are more than juice, frozen on a stick, but are in fact a format in which to reformat your favorite desserts, things go downhill. I mean, one minute, you’re slurping your summer away on fairly innocent banana purees and there’s not a thing on earth you would change, and the next minute, you’re wondering why none of your so-called loved ones have ever loved you enough to make you a strawberry cheesecake popsicles (something I came soclose to making last week but my husband begged me to give our freezer a break). I may have even assembled the ingredients for tiramisu popsicles before realizing that my husband had a point, that maybe things were getting out of hand? But it was too late for the butterscotch popsicles, which were already setting up in the freezer, and after he tried one, all the arguments stopped.

this is all you'll need to make butterscotch
this is how we make butterscotch sauce

Of course, who likes butterscotch pudding, anyway? I mean, yeech, right? Brown sugar, butter, cream and sea salt bubble together until dark and syrupy with the complex notes of everything worthwhile in this world (vanilla, brown butter, aged bourbon, kittens) then expanded with milk and a little thickener into a pudding that sets as it cools. I cannot imagine anything worse to eat. In Opposite Land.

this is butterscotch

Continued after the jump »


css.php