Home In Disarray

January 29, 2011

What the heck color is this mixer?!

What the heck color is this mixer?!
By

I’m beginning to get frustrated. You see, I adore this mixer. When my parents got divorced, and my mom and I were picking out things to start our new house, we of course needed a kitchenaid mixer. My mom, trying to make this as fun as possible for me, let me pick out the color of the mixer. I immediately decided upon the color that Martha was using at the time, which in the late 90’s was an antique greenish color. When I moved out to go to college, my mother got me a mixer as a graduation present. It was awesome, dark blue, and so modern! Within a year I burned out the transmission. Kitchenaid replaced it under warranty, and I didn’t bother to take the replacement out of the box for a year or so as I had been moving around a fair bit and not baking all that often. Within months of taking it out of the box, the transmission was developing the same telltale groans and grunts as the previous one had. Remembering KA’s amazing customer service, I called them up again, and the woman that I spoke with tersely told me that she’d happily get the address and phone number for a local repair shop; making it clear that they wouldn’t be footing the bill on this one! I continued to use it until it too, bit the dust. Then I lucked out. Just a few months later, my mother was moving to Australia and trying to liquidate most of her unnecessary possessions. I inherited the Martha Mixer! While I’m pretty sure it was manufactured too late to have been built by Hobart (they made the good mixers that last generations: I’m still hoping to inherit my Dad’s), it’s held up to considerably more abuse than the 2 previous artisan mixers (this is the Ultra Power model).

Photobucket

I plan to have it around for a long time (and take her in to have the transmission replaced when -not if- she kicks the bucket) As such, I’m trying to figure out what the name of the color is. I’ve gone so far to bring scores of paint cards home from the hardware stores to see if I can match it. It’s Behr’s 460D-5 Tree Fern, and Benjamin Moore’s 586-1B Northern Lights. Martha’s paint line has nothing close. Colors that I can tell you with a good degree of certainty that it ISN’T in the KA lineup are: Pistachio, Green Apple, Bay Leaf, Martha Stewart Collection Blue. I’d like to find a toaster in this color.

[UPDATE: The color is Jadite.  I’m on the lookout for some of the Fire King Jadite collectible glass stuff from the 50’s now.]

Posted in: Kitchen, Misc
January 25, 2011

10 best ingredients in my kitchen

10 best ingredients in my kitchen
By

Kosher Salt
Butter
Eggs
Heavy Cream
Garlic
Onions
Homemade Chicken Stock
Lemons
Red & White wines
Cheeses – primarily parmesan, sharp cheddar, and chevré

what are yours?

Posted in: Cooking, Food, Kitchen
January 25, 2011

Makin’ Bacon!!!! Part 2

Makin’ Bacon!!!!  Part 2
By

Ok, so here’s my FINAL follow up to making bacon. It’s easy. We left off with refrigerating the pork belly in a ziploc and turning it over every day or so to keep it curing evenly. When the belly begins to turn from squishy to firm, you are ready to cook the bacon. If you have a smoker, good for you and do you want to be friends? If you don’t have a smoker, follow my instructions.

Remove your belly from the brine. Rinse thoroughly, trying to remove as many loose chunky bits as possible, like your pepper. If you were making something like a cured pork loin (canadian bacon), you’d place it a fresh baggy, and back in the fridge for a day or so for the salt content to equalize a bit more. Loins probably need less brining time than fattier pieces. I made one a few months ago and it was a bit too salty. Brining for less time would have fixed this.

Once the hunka meat is rinsed and whatnot, set it on a rack over a sheet pan, and let it come to room temperature. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 250º or so.

Photobucket

When the bacon is warmed up, and so is the oven, pop the pan in the oven. It’ll usually take a couple hours or so, but pull the meat out when it reaches an internal temperature of 155-160. It’s cooked. Let it cool, then refrigerate or freeze. Slice it as needed, and be rewarded with tasty salty porky deliciousness on demand. I’ve had it stay good for over 2 weeks before, but I’d suggest portioning it out better and only having 1 weeks worth defrosted at any one time. Gentle heat is the best way to fry this up. A baking sheet or pan on medium-low will be your best bets.

Photobucket

Posted in: Cooking, DIY, Food
January 17, 2011

My first foray into cupcakes

My first foray into cupcakes
By

I just want to be clear with you. I abhor the “cupcake craze” that is going on in this country. It’s ridiculous. People will spend $4 on a tiny little cake that most of the time sucks. I have NEVER had a commercially produced cupcake that was any good. Either the cake is junk, or the icing is no good, but most of the time, they are both crap. Given, I pretty much only have tried ones that my mother in law buys and takes to gatherings. Maybe she’s not buying the right ones? Maybe if you spend $7 on a cupcake, the bakery can be bothered to actually make it worth eating, not just pretty. Despite my contempt for cupcakes, I understand that people less sensible than myself seem to adore them. And since I was making cake for a gathering, I figured I’d try to please the masses by selling my soul. I made 2 types of cupcakes. One was the coconut cake turned into cupcakes, and the other was the most adorable chocolate malt cupcake that I found on tastespotting.

Photobucket

The first hurdle to overcome is making a proper icing. I am a big fan of egg white buttercreams, but they are very buttery. This is perfectly acceptable on cakes as there’s only a minimal icing to cake ratio. The way fancy cupcakes are iced, this can become a bit of an issue, as the icing to cake ratio is so high. Another of the reasons cupcakes are lame. Egg whites only (no yolks) helps to lighten the icing a wee bit.

Photobucket

This egg white only chocolate buttercream is a cinch.
4 egg whites, beaten to soft peaks
2 cups of sugar added slowly, then beaten to stiff peaks
1 lb of butter, whipped/beaten until light and fluffy, added in tablespoon increment to the egg whites
10 ozish of bittersweet chocolate, chopped into chunks and carefully melted; added all at once when all of the butter has been incorporated, then whipped a wee bit more to incorporate more air.

Photobucket

The icing I made for the coconut cupcakes was a wee bit more involved, making a sugar syrup that partially cooks the egg whites. It’s a mousseline buttercream, and holds up exceptionally well to heat.

Photobucket

You beat 5 egg whites and then stream in 2 cups of 248º sugar syrup, beating it until it’s cool. Then you (once again) add in 1 lb of beaten butter a tablespoon at a time. To make this suited for the coconut cupcakes, I added about 6oz of coconut cream.

Photobucket

Photobucket

Easy Peasy. The only thing you have to be concerned with is getting things cool enough. Your target temperature for both the beaten butter and the eggs when all this goes down is 65º or so. Thankfully, I have the fanciest thermometer ever made.

Photobucket

The buttercreams are a good place to start, as they can be made and refrigerated quite a while, then brought back up to room temperature, rebeated, and piped as usual.

Photobucket

The chocolate malt cupcakes are a waste in my opinion. I got good reviews from the people who ate them, but to me, the texture and flavor was similar to that of a cake mix. And why go to the hassle of making something from scratch if it would be just as good as a cake mix? Whatever.

Photobucket

If I were to try these again, I’d probably make the cake from a reputable cake recipe and just add in some malt powder to the wet ingredients. I won’t bother sharing the recipe for the chocolate cupcakes as a result. But apparently Martha Stewart has it on her website.

Photobucket

Frosting the cupcakes is a cinch. You use a 1M star tip (Michael’s has these for a couple bucks). I use a gallon ziploc freezer bag (the freezer part makes it stronger and less likely to burst under pressure) and snip a small bit of the corner off, then drop the tip down into the corner and fill the bag, then use as a regular pastry bag.

Photobucket

The coconut cake is the greatest cake I’ve ever had. It’s dense, delicate but complex, moist, chewy, but still very tender. It’s Craig’s dad’s favorite cake, and he’s the reason I made these cupcakes. So he could have some more of the cake.

Photobucket

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
2 cups sugar
3 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup whole milk
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk (available canned in the Asian section of most grocery stores, or see Tip)
1/4 cup coconut cream (Coco Lopez)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
8 large egg whites at room temperature

Preheat the oven to 350º. Place paper liners in a regular sized cupcake tin.

Using an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, and salt to blend. In a small bowl, stir together the milk, coconut milk, and coconut cream until smooth. Add the flour mixture in 3 increments, alternating with the milk mixture in 2 increments, starting and ending with the flour mixture. After each addition, mix at low speed just to combine the ingredients. Stir in the vanilla.

Using an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on high speed until stiff peaks form. Gently fold the egg whites into the batter until evenly blended. Fill each cupcake liner ~2/3 full and bake for 20-25 minutes; until a toothpick comes out clean. Makes approximately 28 cupcakes.

Photobucket

Pipe the coconut buttercream on and top with toasted coconut. Become a goddess and have several people suggest that you open up a cupcake shop. Try to tell them that you think cupcakes are stupid in the most tactful possible way.

Photobucket

Posted in: Baking, Cooking, Food
January 2, 2011

Laurel’s Almond Biscotti

Laurel’s Almond Biscotti
By

This biscotti recipe is a combination of my dad’s and my dad’s wife’s recipes. They’re both good but neither are perfect. My dad’s recipe is very flavorful but it’s hard as a rock. Kim’s is OK, but it’s texture makes it edible without being dipped. Many recipes call for anise of some sort in them. It makes me gag when I smell it, and I find that I don’t much like baked goods that include it, so I left it out. If you wanted, you could add a 1/2 teaspoon or so with or in place of the almond extract.

Photobucket

This combo recipe of mine is still pretty hard, but the flavor is great, and it does something magical when dipped in coffee. It immediately becomes soaked through to the center, and is immediately soft. It also maintains some level of crispy crunchiness. I have no idea what the science behind that is, but it’s totally rad.

Photobucket

When these have been finished, you can either dip them in your coffee and enjoy, or you can melt some dark chocolate and dip them. It makes the biscotti look fancier if you’re giving it as gifts. The chocolate does affect the liquid absorption rate though.

Photobucket

Laurel’s Almond Biscotti

3 1/3 c all purpose flour (475 g)
2 t baking powder (6 g)
3/4 t kosher salt (4 g)

2 c sugar (410 g)
1/4 c butter (60 g)
3 eggs + 1 egg yolk
1 t vanilla or the caviar from 1 bean
1 t almond extract

1 1/2 c almonds, chopped into smallish pieces (.5 lb)

Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Stir to combine.

Combine all of the wet ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer. Scrape sides of bowl and remix to ensure that everything is combined evenly.

Add dry ingredients in a few batches, fully incorporating after each addition.

Add almonds and stir until just combined.

Form into 2 logs on a parchment or silpat lined baking sheet. Brush with 1 egg, beaten.

Bake in a 360º oven for 45 minutes, turning baking sheet partway through cooking.

Remove, cool 10-15 minutes on sheet, then remove to wire cooling rack.

Let cool until you can easily handle the loafs. Remove to a cutting board and slice on a bias.

Place sliced biscotti back on silpat or parchment lined baking sheet. Bake at 310º for 20 minutes, turn each cookie over, and bake an additional 20 minutes.

Remove from oven and let cool several minutes before removing to a cooling rack.

Can be kept in an airtight container for weeks. These have never lasted long enough for me to find out how well they keep for extended periods of time.

Photobucket

Posted in: Baking, Cooking, Food