Sunday, October 30, 2011

Halloween the fun way

Halloween was way more awesome when we were little. You got to dress up in order to walk around outside and get candy. These days, it seems like people dress up in order to go into cramped indoor places with loud music full in order to get beer and hang out with drunk people. Total lose. Matt and I spent yesterday in our jammies making deliciously seasonal soup and playing computer games and reading Winnie-the-Pooh (ok, that was just me). Hard to think of a better way to spend a day/evening.

The deal with this recipe is you get to make your own strudel dough i.e. phyllo dough. Phyllo has always been one of those mysterious ingredients that seemed impossible to make on your own. Not so. Haha

Apple Strudel

For the filling:

  • 1 Tbsp cinnamon
  • 6 Tbsp toasted bread crumbs
  • Rind of 1 lemon
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup raisins
  • 8 cups finely chopped apples (~6 apples)
  1. Combine ingredients.
For the dough:
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1/4 tsp vinegar
  • 2 tsp melted butter
  1. Combine ingredients and knead for 10 minutes until the dough is silky, adjusting water/flour content as needed.
  2. Brush the surface of the dough with melted butter and roll as thin as possible.
  3. Stretch the dough being careful not to tear it. If it tears easily, it probably needs more kneading. The dough should stretch an unbelievable amount, to about a square yard.
  4. Cut the edges off of the dough, as they will be think and bulgy.

For assembly:
  • 6 Tbsp melted butter
  1. brush the dough with melted butter and place filling is a log on one end. Carefully roll the strudel, making sure that the ends are covered with dough. It's ok if the dough rips, as you'll have a lot of layers. Brush the rolled strudel with more melted butter and bake for 20 minutes at 400F, then at 10 350F for 10 minutes.

Friday, October 14, 2011

adventures in chai

I have a strange relationship with tea. Namely, I'm an Asian girl who doesn't like tea. Sometimes, I'm curled up on the couch with a book when the weather is yucky, and I think. . . hey, some tea would be nice. And it never is. I do like sweet milk tea though. When in Nepal or India, I always was excited for tea when I visited someone. Since moving to Boulder, I have become a major fan of Bhakti Chai, which is a local type of chai that is sold in a lot of coffee shops around. It is wonderfully spicy and gingery. (Yes, I know the predominant flavor in chai is supposed to be cardamom, not ginger. But I don't like cardamom.) I've been a little worried about being disappointed with chai for the rest of my life. So I tried making it at home. I plan to use even more ginger next time.

Bhakti Chai Concentrate Imitation
  • 4 cups water
  • 5 black tea bags
  • 4 inches fresh ginger, sliced (~1/2 inch diameter)
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 piece star anise
  • 6 cardamom pods
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 cup crystallized ginger pieces, sliced.
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  1. Put tea bags, sliced ginger, cinnamon, anise, cardamom, and pepper in a medium saucepan. Add water and bring to a boil. Simmer for 5 miunutes.
  2. Meanwhile, oil your chefs knife and slice the crystallized ginger as thin as you can. Combine the crystallized ginger and sugar in a food processor and pulse until large pieces or ginger are broken up.
  3. Turn off the heat and add the ginger-sugar mixture. After 5 minutes of steeping, remove the tea bags, and let the spices steep for another 30 minutes. Strain and store in the fridge.
  4. Combine with equal parts milk and serve hot or cold.


This picture is a lot more exciting that it might look. This week was a big milestone in my PhD project, as I started my field project. I've been working on developing a new antimicrobial concrete coating and finally finished some samples to place in a manhole. Yay! It's something that's been stressing me out since May, and it feels really good to get things rolling.

We had a night on the town last night (Barnes and Noble and the Pearl Street Whole Foods). I should probably never be unattended in a bookstore, as I get way too excited about many things and disturb other patrons. Like illustrated books covering all of science. And crayons (not sure why they had crayons). And bookends.

Village Baker's Holiday Cranberry-Orange Bread
from A Passion for Baking

  • 1/3 cup warm water
  • 5 tsp rapid-rise yeast
  • 4 to 5 cups flour
  • 3/4 cups warm milk
  • 3/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1 egg
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 1/3 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp orange oil (I used zest)
  • 1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped fresh or frozen cranberries (I used dried)
  • 3/4 cups minced chocolate chips
  1. Dissolve yeast in water and let stand 2 minutes to dissolve. Add 1 cup flour and milk, butter, eggs, salt, sugar, vanilla, and orange zest. Add 3 cups of flour and knead, adding more flour as needed, for 10 minutes.
  2. Form dough into a ball, oil, and let sit covered in bowl or on counter for 30 minutes to an hour until doubled.
  3. Grease a 9-inch springform pan, and place it on a baking sheet.
  4. Gently deflate dough and press into a rectangle. Dump cranberries and chocolate on top and fold into the dough. Let the dough rest 15 minutes and then shape into 12 balls. Arrange the balls in the pan. If you like lovely browning, brush with a whisked egg. Cover with plastic wrap and proof 45-60 minutes.
  5. Prehead oven to 350F. Bake bread until browned, 40-50 minutes. Cool.

mmm delicious.

Friday, October 7, 2011

More Pumpkings!

The great pumpkin scare of 2010 and the general shortage on the east coast had some of us here in Boulder nervous about pumpkin supply. So when I saw canned pumpkin in a grocery store out of town last weekend, I went a little nuts. Turns out, cans have been appearing in local King Soopers this week. Scare averted. But we still had a large quantity of pumpking and a plethora of ideas of how to use it. So a couple of girl friends and I got together yesterday for a whirlwind pumpkin party.

Results: Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins, Iced Pumpkin Zucchini Bread, and Pumpkin Cookies with Maple Frosting. The only thing better than baking alone is baking with awesome friends. Friends who promote batter sampling.

In other news the chinook winds have picked up and it's crazy windy and chilly in town. Tomorrow is Ultimate Club Regionals and the forcast is not positive. It should feel like ultimate in Minnesota. I'm prepared with 5+ layers and a huge thermos ready to be filled with spiced cider.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins
adapted from Annie's Eats
Makes 24 muffins

  • 8 oz. cream cheese
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 tsp cloves
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups pumpkin puree (will need a big can)
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 5 Tbsp flour
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 4 Tbsp cold butter
  1. For filling, blend cream cheese and powdered sugar. Roll into a log with 1 1/2 inch diameter and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill in the freezer for at least 2 hours.
  2. Grease or line with muffin liners 24 muffin wells. Heat oven to 350F
  3. Make the struesel: Combine sugar, flour, cinnamon, and butter in a small bowl and blend until combined.
  4. For the muffins, mix dry ingredients (flour, spices, salt, and soda) together. Mix the eggs, sugar, pumpkin and oil in a separate bowl. Carefully fold the dry into the wet, being careful not to overmix.
  5. Spoon about 1 Tbsp batter into each muffin well. Cut the cream cheese log into 24 equal pieces and place one in each well. Top the muffins with remaining batter. Sprinkle a little struesel on each muffin.
  6. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Cool completely before serving.

Monday, October 3, 2011

My Favorite Month

Happy October. Matt and I went up to the mountains for a mini-vacation this weekend to catch the end of the turning of the aspen leaves. We had an awesome time hiking, biking, and mostly lazing around. Watching movies in the afternoon is one of my favorite activities because it means that you don't really have to be doing anything.

We had the last pickup for our farm share last week. It's been pretty fantastic and I have already signed up for next year. We'll miss our amazing tomatoes and potatoes. That is, after we work our way through our backlog (4 weeks of beautiful, small, colorful potatoes).
I made two loaves of brioche to leave at the mountain house for french toast throughout the ski season (Middle-class french toast = 1 stick butter per loaf). We made a preliminary round of Alton Brown's french toast (mmm half-and-half), which was very tasty, even for the girl who doesn't like french toast. We also made a batch of the baked brownie to freeze and bring to the ski hill. I'm looking forward to many 2pm brownie breaks on the lift. I separated them into edge and middle brownies, because then I can feed the edges to the crazies who like them. Here's how I dig into a pan of brownies: