Gallery

Resolution Recipe 6: Chocolate Chip Brioche Pretzels


addtext_com_MTc1NzM3MTMwOTYw


I am not going to lie…this recipe killed me in so many ways. I earn my novice status with many recipes but my badge should be gold after making these. I know they may look like pretzels and they may even look good to the untrained eye, but I had so many issues with this recipe, I just want to spill my guts and get it over with…and pray they turn out better if I ever dare to try again…ugh.20140308_135337

Ingredients are minimal and you probably have everything you need in the pantry unless you’re like me and don’t keep chocolate ships in your pantry because that isn’t a healthy decision!

As grumpy as I am even typing this up, I do have some thoughts on what might have gone wrong for me….

20140308_135831

YEAST: I hate working with yeast sometimes. It’s so temperamental. It always feels like such an amazing victory to see your bread rise after you’ve been standing in the kitchen  biting your fingernails watching the dough like a worried mother. I guess these guys rose better then they could have but the consistency of the dough was like clay or even Play Dough and not at all soft like I would have expected to see for pretzel dough. So, while it’s possible I killed the yeast or that it was too old to be nice to me, I actually wonder if it wasn’t something else…

20140308_141725

MIXING: Guys this was a total disaster! The recipe says to mix it for like 10 min (I might be exaggerating, but I don’t have the recipe in front of me while I type this…) and within 2 min it was so tough that the mixer was literally skipping and hopping on the counter top. *sigh*. 20140308_141753

 

This is a picture of me holding the top down because it was not wanting to stay put. The dough hook had a terrible time working the dough and I was 100% sure I was going to have to apologize to my room mate for breaking her very expensive mixer and then some how replace it with the money I don’t even have to buy my own. Nightmare. I have no idea how I would have been able to mix it for the amount of time they suggest. But things got worse when I added…

20140308_142943

BUTTER: Oh geez. Imagine putting clay in your Kitchen Aid and then adding butter. Imagine with me for a second what that mess would look like. A greasy mess! That’s what it looks like. The dough was not able to absorb the butter (as you can see above) but it did start to soften it a bit out of the hard rocky ball that it had been previously. I continued to run the mixer, hoping it would improve and while it did show some signs of  improvement, but I was really discouraged by what I was seeing.

20140308_150905

 

Things seemed to shape up a bit after I added the chocolate chips. You can see below that it’s looking more like cookie dough and less like a wet buttery mess. Score!

20140308_181013

Back to the bad news…the dough totally didn’t rise. It looked like this after the set amount of time for raising. It was not yeasty and squishy like other doughs are. It should have been fluffy and doubled. It was not. I decided that this situation might end up a little bit like those experiences you have at the hair dresser getting a cut or style….you know that moment….about 10 min in to your new quaff you  inwardly start groaning thinking the person doesn’t know what they are doing and they didn’t listen and you’re going to look terrible!!!….and then…you just let them finish…haha. The relief ! All is right in the world. They get to keep their jobs and you’re happy….I was hoping these hopeless guys would turn out the same way with a little time and patience…soooo…ONWARD!

20140308_182001

 

Because I let my dough raise in the oven (dumb choice) the chocolate chips got nice and melted which turned the dough the chocolate color you see. These should be more like a chocolate brioche pretzels since you can’t see the chips in there but we’re going to keep the name the same for consistency sake. 20140308_181811

 

I started to work out the dough by rolling it out into long snake like strips before I started twisting it. Twisting it got easier once I figured out you need to twist the two ends together a few times before pressing them into the curve of the base and that you’ll have more twisting space in the dough the longer you make them.

20140308_182359

I decided to have gravity help me out since the dough was pretty thick and kind of hard to work with.  That seemed to do the trick to get them the length I needed. I believe I divided the dough into rounds based on the serving size so I know what I had to work with for each pretzel. That helped them all be about the same size and shape when all was said and done. 20140308_184001

The egg was you put on them makes them look a little more exciting then the chocolaty marbled dough. This is what they looked like before a trip into the oven…moment of truth folks! Wasn’t sure what I was about to get….


20140308_192243

Well I guess you kind of already saw them at the beginning of the post (sorry for the spoiler after this dramatic interpretation of my experience!) but here they are in all their pretzely glory! I am really happy to say that they actually had a bready (…making up words here, friends…) consistency and tasted very much of chocolate which seems like a good place to be at the end of making this recipe. They are far from as lovely looking as Deb’s are and are not even sort of the best pretzels I’ve ever had…but…they are mine and I am happy with them. They were pretty sweet so they make a good after dinner treat.

I would love to try these again and see what I can do about fixing that rubbery dough. Deb has not blogged this recipe but I’ve found another happy Perelmanite fan like me who has the recipe posted on her blog as well as her review of the cookbook. Check out Think Well. Love well. Dine Well.

If you have tried something like this before or know what I might have wrong, would you be kind enough to tell me! I get a little nervous at the thought of doing this again, but I know there has to be redemption out there for me to find for these pretzels. It will happen :)

Coming up next…Almond Date Breakfast Bars and hopefully restaurant or dish reviews. As I type, I am on the way to Delaware to visit my best friend! I hope to do some fun food reviews of my travels around Delaware and Pennsylvania. I had some majorly good eats last time I was here and can’t wait to see what other goodies I get to try!

Weight Watchers Update: Ladies and gentleman I am 1 lb away from having lost 10% of my original body weight. I have been circling the 10% mark for the past 3 weeks and while I was hoping to hit it sometime in August, I’ve decided that with this trip, my upcoming birthday and school starting that I need to let my routine settle a bit before I beat myself too much. I’m still doing all I can to eat right and plan to keep it up but this plateau might just need a jump start with routine change to get me back in the loss. What a way to spend the summer :) I’m happy with the progress I’ve made. I’ll made these before I started weight watchers so I don’t know the points, but if I remember I’ll come back and post it.

Blessings, friends!

 

 

Gallery

Resolution Recipe 4: Gingerbread Spice Dutch Baby


Final DBIf you’re looking for a simple and fun breakfast idea that is outside of the norm, then try this little guy. Such a quick and easy thing to throw together and the sky is the limit for what you can add Deb has one on her website that is great for this season since cherries are plentiful …check it out (Cherry Almond Dutch Baby). Serving size is 1 to 2 people. If you’re a WW person then probably you should share since it’s a bit higher in points. Ingredients

Ingredients for this recipe include: 

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon unsulfured molasses
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
  • Pinch of ground cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground or freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon table salt
  • 1/3 cup whole milk
  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Confectioner’s sugar, maple syrup, or heavy cream, to serve.

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  • Run the eggs in a blender until they are pale in color. Blender with Eggs
  • Add remaining ingredients except butter and confectioners’ sugar and process until smooth.

Blender with all ingredients

  • Melt the butter over high heat in a 9 inch ovenproof skillet and swirl it up the sides, making sure the pan is nicely coated. Butter in Pan
  • Pour the batter into the prepared skillet, and bake for 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Cake in PanPan in Oven 2
  • Slide pancake onto a plate. Serve with powdered sugar maple syrup, maple syrup, and/or a drizzle of heavy cream. finished in ovenOn Plate from side 1

I don’t have any tips or tricks for this one other then just follow the directions and it will turn out great. This is a rarity that I get a recipe right the first time but I’ll take it. WEIGHT WATCHERS MODIFICATIONS: For those of you doing weight watchers with me I recommend splitting this guy with someone so it’s only 9 points for you since it’s 18 for the whole thing (not counting syrup or confectioners sugar). One modification I thought of is not using butter but spraying the pan down with a low point spray. The butter probably helps give it flavor but also keeps it from sticking so that would be a 6 point reduction making it 14 points so 7 for half (but make sure to count the spray you use).

Image

Resolution Recipe 2: Cinnamon Toast French Toast



Final Plating 2

Recipe 2 is complete and I’m excited to say how easy this resolution has been so far. It’s always a major drag to start a New Year’s Resolution and within the first week you know just how hard it is going to be to keep it up.

However, before I get too excited, let’s consider that I’m still on vacation, school hasn’t started back up yet, and I am not back to my regularly scheduled program. Who cares…I’m going to continue to be optimistic about this one!

On the brighter side, I’ve had more viewers, visitors, and new subscribers  to my blog generated off my last post then I’ve ever had. Don’t get me wrong…we’re not talking bunches and bunches (more like 3 or 4) but everyone has to start somewhere. Thank you new subscribers for making my week exciting! To those of you who decided that I might have something interesting to say about food…I warn you…I probably do not. But if you like a little comedic relief in your life, I do believe this blog may meet your needs with my questionable writing, overly detailed anecdotes, and dumb cooking mistakes. I’ll take any audience. But seriously…thank you. It is fun to do this whether people are reading it or not, but it makes it a ton more fun to share the experience with others.

Recipe Number 2: Cinnamon Toast French Toast

(from Deb Perelman’s The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook [smittenkitchen.com])

You can read Deb’s original post about this recipe by clicking here. You’ll get to see just how fun she is with her easy to read instructions and beautiful photography. I’ll let you check that out for her exact recipe and instructions.

For this post, I just wanted to show-and-tell about my adaptations to her recipe that went well and…not so well.
Tray of cin toastFirst of all, I decided to half Deb’s recipe since I was just cooking for myself. I’m glad I did this because it produced enough breakfast for me to enjoy for the next few days but not the next few weeks! We’ll see how it heats up tomorrow to see whether it’s left over worthy.

Instead of the suggested 16 slices of toast I only did 8 and used parchment paper to lay it out. I have never done toast in bulk like this, but it was so easy that I do believe it will be my new method for toasting (…the art of toast making of course…) if I’m ever cooking breakfast for an army. I just need to remember 450 degrees for 7-10 min. 7 min was perfect in my oven.

Toast with Custard 2

Deb has a very long explanation of how you should cut your toast and place it in the pan. I was reading it through with a scowl  on my face because I thought…”Why in the world is she telling me how to cut and place the toast in the pan like it’s a Jenga column?? It’s french toast for goodness sake…you just put it in the pan and call it a day!” (If you read her directions you’ll know what I mean) Well, she’s not being a pest by telling you to cut and place your toast like that in your pan. You’ll see in my picture that I just cut all the pieces in half and filled my pan. What you’ll notice about hers that is different from mine is that you can see all the pieces of toast in her pan from the middle to the top. More on what I think that was all about towards the end…

Flipped and soaked toast with custard 2

Final plating 1I was a little concerned that the “custard” to toast ratio was going to be way off.  Splitting the recipe in half was not a big deal but when she says the toast needs to sit 15 min to soak up the custard, I was not totally sold that it was actually going to happen. Be encouraged! It does indeed happen. If you notice in the picture, the custard reaches about 3/4 the way up the cut toast in the pan. You’ll see the next picture was taken after 15 min or so when the custard had saturated the toast. To help it along, I did flip the toast from crust side up to cut side up. That seemed to help soak up the last of the custard so the bottom of the pan was nearly dry. 

Something that Deb says in her recipe is to butter your pan well. I thought I had buttered my pan just fine, but I ended up having quite a bit the toast sticking to the bottom and a ton of fun scrubbing that pan afterwards. Since I had crust side down, many of the pieces I pulled out were less then attractive so do yourself a favor and do as she asks. Butter liberally…even if there are chunks of butter on the side. Who cares anyways…it’s butter!

Okay back to the crazy instructions on cutting and placing your toast in the pan…I think Deb suggests you cut and lay your toast in such a way so that you don’t end up with soggy bread. I think mine was a little softer then I would have liked it for french toast, and I’m thinking that if the pieces had been more exposed, they would have firmed up better. My trouble was in having a pan big/small enough to allow me to set up my toast to look pretty like hers. The 9×13 was way too big for half the recipe so I settled for a square casserole dish which held all the pieces just fine (if you sandwiched them against each other like I did!) but was not a good set up for her method. It might be worth making the whole recipe if you don’t have a small enough pan…or halving the recipe again to fit the small pan. I’ll have to let you know how it works as left overs to help you decide what the best idea is for you.

Overall, I REALLY liked this way of making french toast. Her recipe is delicious and it came out to be the best french toast I’ve ever made since the flavors were so much better set into the dish then I’m use to. If you want an easy do-ahead breakfast then Deb has some tips for you about how to go about doing that this dish.

I hope you give her recipe a try. You won’t be disappointed!

COMING UP NEXT….I’ll be attempting Deb’s next recipe which is a Gingerbread Spice Dutch Baby….wow, right? That just sounds super impressive. I think we are wandering quickly out of…”I’ve got this” territory to….”uh-oh…do I even have all the kitchen items required to make this/what the heck is a Dutch Baby??”. Looks like I’m going to have to invest in both a blender and an iron skillet before I make this recipe next weekend. I may be calling my sister to tell her I’m coming to her house to make breakfast Saturday morning since it may not be in my budget to buy new supplies just yet. I’ll let you know how that turns out…haha.

Happy cooking readers! If you haven’t already done so, please take the poll about this New Years Resolution adventure!

Image

Ode to the Egg: Benedict Style


Southern Eggs Benedict

Southern Eggs Benedict

I have always loved eggs benedict. I think it’s the hollandaise sauce that really brings the whole thing together and is the “something different” needed to make it more special than a typical egg dish…ah…love it. My family use to make it on Sundays for brunch when we were in the mood to work on poaching eggs. I remember watching my parents work as a team to try and drop the eggs in boiling water and do their very best to remove them without doing damage to their precious cargo. I remember hearing a lot of frustrated sighs and maybe even a few expletives in the process I think my mom has finally gotten it down to a science using ramekins and the microwave to help with the process. I’ve yet to attempt it on my own and since I like scrambled eggs better, I take the easy way out.

I got excited by eggs benedict again recently when I went to a local restaurant in Fullerton, CA that has a very inventive and tasty breakfast menu. Early Bird is the new go-to place for breakfast or brunch on our area. I went there with my co-workers for a fun team building day and got to know the owner a little bit as he interacted with our group. He’s serious about good food and took a showy offense to one persons comment about his chicken for the chicken-n-waffles dish being “like KFC but better”. (P.S…never tell a chef his chicken is even remotely like KFC. You will get a run down for all the reasons it is NOT like KFC and a dirty look to boot.  Insult at your own risk my friends). Needless to say, his passion and creativity in his menu was obvious and made you want to pick his brain and try a little of everything he raved about.

The menu contains a few interesting versions of eggs benedict on his menu which were all very unique and inviting. However, the one I chose for the day was a special. It was a pork belly benedict! The bennie had the expected English muffin on the bottom topped with crispy pork belly and an over easy egg. It was drizzled lightly with a spicy chipotle sauce and garnished with chives. I really enjoyed it and found it to be a deliciously, creative and tasty version of Eggs Benedict. The components of the traditional were there but the outcome looked and tasted like no benedict I’ve had before.

Pork Belly - Percy Street BBQ

Pork Belly – Percy Street BBQ

The egg and pork belly parts of the dish reminded me of something I had in Philadelphia at Percy Street BBQ. Percy’s  pork belly appetizer (photo cred goes to Foobooz)  What you see pictured is a salt cured egg placed on top of a toasted round of potato bread which is laid next to some crispy, salty pork belly, while sitting in a puddle of maple syrup.  OMG. It’s a somewhat atypical thing to have on a dinner menu at a BBQ restaurant but it was so incredibly decadent and delicious and something you did not want to stop eating. (And just for context, I’ve never used the word “decadent” to describe anything I’ve eaten before. Ever. It was THAT amazing.)

At our initial visit we asked them what “salt cured egg yolk” meant since it was a foreign concept to us.  The waitress explained that they basically take an egg yolk and let it sit in salt (not sure what kind) over night. It creates a thicker outside of the egg and makes it easier to handle and very tasty. I’ve never been one for runny yolks, but this just pulled it all together.

As a whole, we tried a lot of their meat and side dishes and we were not disappointed by any of them. The group I was with in Philadelphia went back two other times during our stay just so they could order that appetizer again.  It’s a really fun restaurant with a lively atmosphere and a lot of fun things to try. So, next time you’re in Philadelphia, please give Percy Street BBQ your business. It’s worth it and you won’t be disappointed.

Sorry back to eggs…So Benedict. What’s that all about? My recent inspiration to get creative with the traditional recipe got me researching a bit about the name and origin of the dish. I’m remembering an introduction to this history from some Food Network show (probably Alton Brown) but decided to freshen up on my knowledge of it for this post. (You’re welcome). I found a quick history of Egg’s Benedict on What’s Cooking America which tells the story of an unsatisfied customer desiring something a little more special then what the menu offered at the famous Delmonico’s Restaurant. Chef Charles Ranhofer took on the challenge and was the creative brain child behind said dish and thus was born…Eggs Benedict. Ta-da!

What I love about this story is the unsatisfied customer, because I am just such a customer when it comes to eggs in general. They are such a bland food when I think about them in breakfast food. But that also makes them an exciting ingredient to work with because they are obviously versatile and a sponge for flavor. I’m always wanting to try something new with eggs (trying to earn a crease in my chef’s hat) and my most recent creations with eggs have been a very encouraging improvement to my previous attempts. So, I am coming out of a some what long hiatus from writing to share my inspiration and hopefully get myself back into blogging and cooking.

I give you…Southern Eggs Benedict! My own creation, mind you, so don’t get offended if you see this and don’t believe it’s actually Southern. It’s the name I’ve giving it and along with that name is room for improvement and hopefully the building blocks for your own version of Southern Eggs Benedict. I wasn’t inspired to write until after I took the first bite so there are no, work-in-progress type pictures I usually try to include. But hopefully the instructions below will be helpful! Enjoy :) Tell me if you try this recipe and what changes you end up making!

20130804_120609SOUTHERN EGGS BENEDICT

Ingredients

  • 3 Eggs(we’re doing scrambled eggs folks)
  • 3 Tbs milk or water (for eggs)
  • 3 slices of bacon chopped (pre-cooked is easier)
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup onions chopped
  • 2 Tbs butter
  • 1 pkg refrigerator biscuits
  • chives
  • 1/2 cup smoked cheddar cheese (grated)
  • 1 pkg Hollandaise sauce  (I use Knorrs and don’t even try to make my own…true confessions)

Directions

  1. Prepare biscuits according to directions on packaging. Set aside to use for base of benedict when done.
  2. While biscuits are in the oven, begin working on your onions. Over low to medium heat melt your butter in a small saute pan. Once done melting, add your onions and stir to cover in butter. Put heat on low to allow them to soften and caramelize to your liking. When done, remove from pan and set aside.
  3. Prepare your Hollandaise sauce according to package. Keep an eye on it because it can burn easily if you’re not careful. (I would prepare it before the eggs so it can be babied with all your attention and then sit on the stove to stay warm as you’re doing your eggs).
  4. For your scrambled eggs, combine your milk/water and eggs and salt and pepper as desired (I even added a little cumin which complemented the bacon and smoked cheddar really well). Using the same pan, add your egg mixture. I would keep in on lower heat so you can control how fast the eggs cook. As they begin to scramble and firm up, you can begin adding your bacon, onions and cheese to the eggs. Before removing from the heat, mix in your chives for flavor or use them as a garnish for color.
  5. Assemble your bennie by splitting your biscuits and spooning the eggs over top. Pour that yummy Hollandaise over the whole thing and dig in!

20130804_120832