Perfect French Toast

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I have to be honest, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top, this French toast could easily pass as dessert. This is our favorite recipe out there for French toast, although we rarely make it because it’s not a very healthy way to start the day! However, when we do make it, it is so worth it!

This French toast is slightly crisp on the outside, but almost like custard inside. This recipe calls for egg yolks instead of whole eggs in the soaking liquid, which makes it extra creamy, and calls for whole milk. It has a lot of vanilla in it (a whole tablespoon per batch) and cinnamon, plus some melted butter. Yes, this stuff is good! We use challah bread for our French toast, and our favorite kind is from Whole Foods, but you can use any sort of sturdy-ish bread. Serve this someday as a special breakfast treat (maybe with some fresh fruit on top) and we guarantee you will love it!

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French Toast

Recipe from Cook’s Illustrated Cookbook

Serves 4

Ingredients:

8 large slices sturdy white bread or challah

1 1/2 cups whole milk, warm

3 large egg yolks

3 tablespoons packed light brown sugar

2 tablespoons unsalted butter plus 2 tablespoons melted

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions:

Adjust the oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 300 degrees. Place bread on wire rack set in a rimmed baking sheet. Bake the bread until almost dry throughout, about 16 minutes (flip slices halfway through). Remove the bread from the rack and let cool for 5 minutes.

Whisk milk, egg yolks, sugar, 2 tablespoons melted butter, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl until well blended. Transfer to a 13 by 9-inch baking pan.

Soak bread in the milk mixture until saturated but not falling apart, about 15-20 seconds per side. Pick the bread up with a spatula, allow excess milk mixture to drip off, and place on a large plate. Repeat with remaining slices.

Melt 1/2 tablespoon butter in a 12-inch skillet over medium-low heat. Using a slotted spatula, transfer 2 slices of soaked bread to the skillet and cook until golden brown, about 3 to 4 minutes. Flip and continue to cook until the second side is golden brown, another 3 to 4 minutes.  Repeat with remaining bread, adding 1/2 tablespoon of butter to the skillet for each batch. Enjoy!

Coconut Shrimp Tacos with Mango Pineapple Salsa and Sriracha Cream Sauce

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Summer is almost over, and I have really mixed feelings about it this year. I’m actually a bit excited, because it’s senior year! However, I am also dreading writing tons of supplement essays and narrowing down the list of 30 colleges that I currently have (seriously, applying to that many schools would cost so much money and not to mention it would be impossible to make a decision!). I have 5 public universities on the list (on both coasts, by the way), a few tiny liberal arts schools, also on both coasts, city schools, middle-of-nowhere schools, midwestern schools, Catholic schools, private schools, extremely selective schools (ahem, Princeton- you know I love you!), and less selective schools. Also, I don’t really know what I want to study. I have two college guides sitting by my bed, and I am hoping by the process of osmosis Mr. Fiske’s wisdom will enlighten me.  I am extremely jealous of people who have their college list finalized. Normally I (Celine) am not indecisive at all, but not this summer!

Thankfully, there have been a few decisions that have not been hard to make at all, like making these tacos! As soon as Leah and I brainstormed this recipe, we knew we had to make it. It turned out to be a very good decision. These tacos have a tropical flavor thanks to the coconut and the mango and pineapple. They have just the right amount of spice from the sriracha and jalapeno, but the sweet fruit helps balance it out. We made homemade taco shells, which were pretty good, although they are not required.

Our mom especially loved these tacos, but they were a hit with nearly everyone in our family. They are fairly simple to make and are healthy. We hope you will try these out sometime soon!

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Coconut Shrimp Tacos with Mango Pineapple Salsa and Sriracha Cream Sauce

Recipe is a We Like Two Cook original recipe

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

For the salsa:

1 medium mango

1 pineapple

3/4 cup quartered cherry tomatos

1 tablespoons chopped cilantro (if you’re a cilantro fanatic, you can add more, but we didn’t want to overpower the fruit flavors)

1 jalapeno pepper, chopped

Heaping 1/4 cup red onion, diced,

Juice of 1 lime

Salt, to taste

For the shrimp:

3/4 cup sweetened shredded coconut

1 cup panko breadcrumbs

1/4 teaspoon salt

Pinch of cayenne pepper

1 egg

1 tablespoon milk

1 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined

Taco shells, for serving (12 shells)

For the sriracha cream sauce:

1/2 cup sour cream (low fat is fine)

3/4 teaspoon sriracha

Pinch salt

Directions

For the salsa:

Dice the mango and pineapple. Combine with the rest of the ingredients in a bowl. Season with salt to taste and refrigerate until serving.

For the shrimp:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with nonstick spray. In a bowl combine the eggs and milk.  Put about 1/2 inch of flour into a pie plate. In a medium bowl, combine the coconut, panko, and cayenne pepper. Dip the shrimp into the flour, then the egg mixture, and then the coconut mixture. Put the shrimp on the prepared baking sheet and repeat with the rest of the shrimp.

Bake for about 8-10 minutes, or until the shrimp is pink and cooked though and the coconut is lightly browned.

For assembly:

While the shrimp bakes, combine the sriracha and sour cream. Season with a bit of salt.

In the bottom of each taco shell, spread a bit of the cream sauce. Add a couple shrimp and a spoonful of the salsa. Serve immediately. Enjoy!

Peach Crumble Ice Cream

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Are there any fruits that you just don’t like? For me (Leah) it would be honeydew, cantaloupe, and figs. We made a really promising looking fig cake the other day, and both of us decided we did not like them. They tasted sort of earthy, although not a nice kind of earthy. Sort of like a vegetable but sweet. That’s not something that you want in your dessert at all (although to give figs the benefit of the doubt, maybe the ones we got weren’t that good!). However, I am a big fan of almost any other type of fruit- strawberries, oranges, raspberries, cherries, blackberries, and peaches. When they’re ripe, I think peaches might be my favorite. They are one of the best things about summer (relatively speaking, of course).

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Another great thing about summer is, of course, ice cream. While I don’t really like fruit crisps/crumbles (I do like cobblers), I really loved this ice cream. In fact, it might just be my favorite ice cream that we have made. Well, the dulce de leche and cannoli ice creams were fabulous as well, so it would be very hard to choose! What makes this ice cream so perfect? Well, it starts out with a smooth, rich, tart, and super-peachy ice cream base. On it’s own, it is already the best peach ice cream that I have ever eaten. Then, you stir in pieces of crispy streusel. The combination is unbeatable. Before peach season is over, give this ice cream a try- it might just be the best ice cream you will eat all summer!

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Peach Crumble Ice Cream

Recipe adapted from The Baker Chick, originally from The Perfect Scoop

Makes 1 quart of ice cream

Ingredients

For the ice cream:

4 large peaches

1/2 cup water

3/4 cup sugar

4 ounces cream cheese

1 cup heavy cream

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

A few drops of freshly squeezed lemon juice

For the crumble:
1/4 cup brown sugar
3/8 cup flour
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
Pinch of salt
3 tablespoons cold butter cut into small pieces

Directions

For the crumble:

Combine the dry ingredients and whisk together. Add the butter and use a pastry cutter, fork, or your hands to mix in the butter until the mixture is crumbly. Line a baking sheet with parchment and pour on the crumble- press it together a bit to make a large “cookie.”
Bake at 375 degrees until golden brown, about 10-15 minutes. Let the crumble cool and then break it apart into small pieces.
For the ice cream:
Peel the peaches and cut into chunks over a medium saucepan, making sure to catch all the juice in the pan. Cook over medium heat with the water, stirring occasionally, until the peaches are soft and cooked through, about 10 minutes or so.
Remove from the heat, stir in the sugar, then cool to room temperature.
Puree the cooked peaches and liquid with an immersion blender, blender, or food processor; add the cream cheese, heavy cream, vanilla, and lemon juice. Blend until smooth but with some small peach chunks remaining (if you prefer your ice cream completely smooth, puree until as smooth as possible and then strain it).
Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator overnight (or at least 4 hours), then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. After churning, layer the ice cream with the crumble and freeze until completely firm. Serve and enjoy!

Lemon Poppy Seed Pound Cake

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Let me start off by saying that there is nothing that I love in the dessert world more than a warm chocolate chip cookie. But chocolate as a whole? I just don’t love it the way some people do. It’s good, of course, and I would never pass up a chocolate dessert, but I have never, ever gone crazy over it. I know, I’m sorry. P.S. Celine disagrees.

Lemon, however, is a different story. I love everything from lemonade to the lemon loaf cake at Starbucks to lemon meringue pie to lemon-flavored cookies, cupcakes, and muffins. It’s my favorite! Which is why, when I’m in a cake-baking mood, I usually crave lemon. That’s how this pound cake came to be. We were having some people over, and since we love baking for others, we decided to make a cake. Lemon poppy seed is always a fun flavor that most people like, so we decided that it needed to happen. To up the lemon flavor, and because iced cakes are way more fun, we added a sweet-and-tart lemon glaze. If you were wondering how it turned out, I can tell you this: I could not stop taking “just another sliver” of this cake. It was seriously amazing- tender, lemony, and moist. If you are a lemon-lover like me, you NEED to try this recipe. And even if you aren’t a lemon-lover, you still need to try it!

Lemon Poppy Seed Pound Cake

Makes 1 medium-sized loaf cake

Recipe slightly adapted from Annie’s Eats, originally from Williams Sonoma

Ingredients

For the cake:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 tsp. salt

12 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened to room temperature

1 cup sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon poppy seeds

2 eggs, room temperature

1/2 cup sour cream, room temperature

For the glaze:

1 cup powdered sugar

1-2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Pinch of salt

Directions

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Grease a loaf pan with butter and dust with flour. Shake well to remove excess flour.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter, sugar, vanilla, lemon zest, lemon juice, and poppy seeds together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each one. Add half of the flour mixture and mix on low until just incorporated. Mix in the sour cream. Add the remaining flour mixture, again beating on low until just combined.Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.

Bake for about 70 minutes, or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. If your cake starts to look too brown before it is done, cover loosely with foil. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let the cake cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the pa, then invert the cake onto the rack and remove the pan. Let the cake cool on one of its sides. Cool completely.

Meanwhile, whisk together the powdered sugar, lemon juice, and salt to make a glaze. Start with a tablespoon of lemon juice and add more as needed. You want a thick but still pourable glaze. Once the cake is fully cool, pour the glaze over it. Let it set, then serve. Enjoy!

Potato-topped Pizza with Provolone, Spicy Tomato Sauce, Bacon, and Caramelized Onions

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Around the end of school last year, we went to a local restaurant that happens to be our favorite, or at least our favorite place outside the city. I (Celine) ordered a pizza topped with spicy tomato sauce, clams, bacon, caramelized onions, crispy fingerling potatoes, Parmesan cheese, and sharp provolone. It was amazing! Clams on pizza sounds really weird, but I was pleasantly surprised by how not-weird it was! Potatoes are also a not a typical pizza topping, although a little more mainstream than clams. Anyway, I have been planning on recreating this pizza for ages and finally got around to it recently. We decided that we could not put clams on our pizza, because 1) we have no experience cooking with or purchasing clams, and we didn’t want to risk spending a lot of money for them to be on a pizza (and potentially ruin them in the process) and 2) while our brothers, or the oldest two, are adventurous eaters, clams on pizza is a different genre of pizza topping than what they are used to!

We started with our favorite pizza crust (recipe coming hopefully soon!), and made a spicy tomato sauce. For the potato component, we thinly sliced russet potatoes with a mandoline, drained them, and baked them for about 15 minutes to soften them a bit (although depending on how thin your slices are, you could probably get away with not cooking them at all). We caramelized some onions, cooked up some bacon and put it on a pizza with provolone and a bit of mozzarella for creaminess. This pizza was just as good as the one from the local restaurant, and it didn’t cost $15 for a single serving! Honestly, though, this is probably one of the best pizzas that we’ve made. It’s smoky, salty, cheesy, spicy, and slightly sweet from the caramelized onions. We can’t wait to make it again!

By the way, we are planning on (in the next few weeks/months) making and posting more of our own recipes, rather than sharing slight adaptations of other recipes found online or in cookbooks. Even though there are a lot of great recipes out there, we hope to improve our blog and challenge ourselves by making our own recipes (either fully conjured up by us or inspired by something we tried in a restaurant, as is the case here). We were happy how this pizza turned out, and we hope to have such successes in the future! Easier said than done, right? But we are up to the challenge! This might mean a few less posts per month, but hopefully they will be more original to us and therefore more meaningful.

P.S. Sorry for the pictures in today’s post- the lighting is a little rough. We were racing the light to photograph it because we knew there was no way it would last till the next day! Trust us, this pizza looks (and tastes) amazing.

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Potato Pizza with a lot of stuff on it
Inspired by a local restaurant, but executed completely by us

Makes 3 medium-sized pizzas (but you can easily scale down the ingredients and freeze any leftover sauce)

Ingredients

For the sauce:

1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained

4 medium-small cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2-1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (taste as you go along, and add more as needed until you reach your desired level of spiciness)

Pinch of dried oregano

Pinch of dried basil

Pinch of sugar

1/2 teaspoon dried parsley

Salt and pepper to taste

For the caramelized onions:

1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced

1 tablespoon olive oil

Pinch of sugar

2 tablespoons white wine

Salt and pepper

For the pizza:

1 1/2 pounds pizza dough (or 1 lb. for 2 pizzas)

6-8 slices bacon, cut/crumbled into small pieces (depends on how thick/thin your slices are)

Provolone cheese (6-8 slices, or more as needed)

Mozzarella cheese (cut about 1/2 pound into chunks)

1 large russet potato, peeled

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F with the pizza stone on the middle rack.

For the sauce:

Combine the olive oil, garlic, and red pepper flakes in a medium saucepan. Heat until the garlic is sizzling. Pour in the diced tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened. Add salt and pepper to taste. Using a blender or immersion blender, puree the sauce until a few chunks remain. Taste the sauce and add more red pepper if necessary. Set aside.

For the caramelized onions:

Heat the oil in a medium saucepan. Add the onions, sugar, salt, and pepper. Cook over medium-low, stirring every couple of minutes. Cook until golden brown, about 20-25 minutes. Towards the end, de-glaze the pan with the wine and scrape up brown bits. Remove from heat and set aside.

For the potatoes:

Using a mandoline or a very sharp knife, slice the potatoes very thinly. Soak in a bowl of warm water for 10 minutes, then drain and pat dry. Line a medium pan with foil and coat with nonstick spray. Arrange the potato slices in a single layer and sprinkle with a small amount of salt and pepper. Bake for about 15 minutes or until the potatoes begin to soften and the edges brown lightly.

For the pizza:

Place a square piece of parchment paper on a cutting board. Grease your hands with olive oil. Divide the dough by three and stretch out/press one of the pieces into a 12-inch round on the paper. Spread with some of the sauce and top with about 4-6 provolone quarters. Sprinkle with onions, bacon, and pieces of mozzarella. Add half of the potato slices. Top with more provolone. Brush the crust with olive oil.

Transfer to the pizza stone and bake until golden brown and bubbly, about 10-15 minutes. Carefully remove. Repeat with the second pizza, slice, and enjoy!

Cannoli Ice Cream

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Hello everyone! I know we just posted a frozen dessert on Wednesday, but this ice cream had to be posted. You will understand why if you make it!

Cannoli are our favorite Italian pastry, without a doubt, and one of our favorite desserts. Isgro Pastries in Philadelphia is our favorite place to buy them. Their cannoli are exactly the way they should be- a crispy, fresh shell with a creamy ricotta filling and a nice dusting of powdered sugar. They are amazing! Since we love the flavors of cannoli so much, when we saw cannoli ice cream, we knew that at some time we would have to try it.

The base of this ice cream has ricotta and a little cream cheese in it (probably to help keep it creamy since all ricotta, even full-fat, is slightly grainy), and at the end of churning pistachios and chocolate are added. We tried to make homemade cannoli shell pieces to stir in, but they failed due to our lack of experience deep-frying anything (in simpler words, we burned nearly all of them!). But it did not matter! This ice cream is perfect in pretty much every way: it’s creamy, it tastes great, and it’s the type of ice cream that doesn’t require egg yolks/cooking, which is a huge plus. It is quite rich, so a little goes a long way. Enjoy!

Cannoli Ice Cream

Recipe from Cooking Classy

Serves 6-8

Ingredients

1 cup heavy cream

3/4 cup whole milk

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

2 tablespoons light corn syrup

15 ounces whole milk ricotta

4 ounces full-fat cream cheese, cut into small pieces

Seeds of 1 small vanilla bean (we used 1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla extract and it was fine)

1/2 cup cannoli shell pieces, if desired (we skipped this, as mentioned in the post)

1/2 cup chopped semisweet or dark chocolate

1/2 cup unsalted pistachios, chopped

Directions

In a bowl combine heavy cream, milk, sugar and corn syrup and blend with an immersion blender on low speed for about 1 minute. Add the ricotta, cream cheese and vanilla and blend until well pureed and smooth. Chill until completely cold (we usually chill our ice cream bases overnight). Freeze in an ice cream maker according to the instructions that came with the machine. Add in cannoli shell pieces, if using, chocolate, and pistachios during the last minute or two of freezing. Transfer to airtight container and freeze for a couple hours. The ice cream is best served slightly soft, so let it sit out for 10 minutes or so before scooping. Enjoy!

 

Watermelon Lime Granita

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I don’t know about you, but where we live it has not been a hot and sunny summer! We’ve had quite a few humid and rainy days, scattered in with some nice weather, but it’s been 90 degrees only a couple days in the past month or two. So honestly, there has not been so much of a need for refreshing desserts like this granita, although that has not stopped us from making it!

Watermelon is one of our favorite fruits, and it really shines here. There’s a nice tart edge thanks to the lime juice as well. But the best part of this dessert is that it’s extremely easy. You can multiply the batch to feed a lot of people (it’s not like when you are making homemade ice cream and can only make a little bit at once) and all you really need in terms of special equipment is a freezer and a food processor/blender/immersion blender. We hope you get a chance to try this granita before the summer is over (15 days for us, so sad…), because it is really delicious!

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Watermelon Lime Granita

Recipe adapted from Cooking Light

Serves 6-8

Ingredients

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup water

6 cups cubed seedless watermelon

1/2 cup fresh lime juice

DIrections

Add sugar and 1/2 cup water to a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and let it simmer for about 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Place sugar mixture in a small bowl and let for about cool 10 minutes. Chill in the fridge for about 30 minutes, or in the freezer for 15 minutes.

Blend together sugar mixture, watermelon, and juice (in a food processor, blender, or immersion blender) and process until smooth. Pour watermelon mixture into an 11 x 7-inch baking dish. Cover and freeze 3 hours. Stir well. Cover and freeze at least 2 more hours or overnight. Remove mixture from freezer and let stand at room temperature for 10 minutes. Scrape the entire mixture with a fork until fluffy. If you like, serve with lime wedges. Enjoy!

French Baguettes

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I’m not sure if I mentioned this before, but I (Leah) really enjoyed chemistry at school, so much that I took AP Chem. Well, Celine also took the class, but I quote directly from her, “after the happy honeymoon period of the first couple classes ended, I was done for the whole year.” Well, she didn’t do too badly, but she didn’t enjoy it either. While the AP class wasn’t quite as “fun” as the standard chemistry class we took sophomore year, it was an interesting course. The first few sentences probably just disgusted all of the chemistry-haters out there- I know lots of them! Anyway, my favorite part was labs. Titration creates such a nice shade of pink; the goal is to make the basic solution only the faintest pink color, but hot pink is a much more fun result! Also, turning flames various colors with chemicals is always cool.  Our lab table always had a good time, and we would compete to see who could do the day’s experiment better. Shannon and Lisa, if you are reading this, you know who the real winners are!

I think part of the reason that I enjoyed chemistry was that it helped me appreciate baking even more. The science behind baking has always interested me, which is part of the reason I love recipes from America’s Test Kitchen– they explain them (including this recipe). I just think it’s so cool that you can mix flour, water, yeast, and salt together and create something that is not only edible, but that tastes fantastic!

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Honestly, this is probably the best bread that we have ever made. The baguette has a crackly crust, chewy but not too hard, and a soft and airy interior. If you have some basic pantry staples, you can make this bread, and we highly recommend that you do! Our favorite way to eat it is cutting it into slices while still hot and serving with butter.

Have you ever had the rolls with olive oil at the East-coast pizza restaurant Bertucci’s? They are, in my opinion, the best part of the meal. This baguette reminded me of those rolls but a million times better. Please, please make it, even if you only want to do it to have bragging rights that you have made homemade baguette!

While this baguette is not challenging in any way, it does take 24 hours from starter to warm loaf. There is a lot of time involved, but it is worth it! If you don’t have a stand mixer, you are in luck because this bread is made completely by hand. It’s a really nice dough to work with, and although we need to work on our shaping and get a better knife to slash the dough, we were really pleased with how beautiful these loaves were. By the way, Annie of Annie’s Eats recommends starting your dough between 8 am and 12 pm. While this bread is delicious, who wants to get up in the middle of the night to work on it? We started ours at around 10:30 and the timing was perfect.

French Baguettes

Makes two medium baguettes

Recipe from Annie’s Eats, originally from Baking Illustrated

Ingredients:

For the sponge:

1/8 tsp. instant/rapid-rise yeast

¾ cup warm water (105-110˚ F)

6 oz. (1 cup plus 3 tbsp.) lower protein all-purpose flour, such as Gold Medal or Pillsbury (Two things: 1. our kitchen scale broke, so we measured by volume, and 2. we didn’t use the lower protein flour. Guess what? The bread was amazing anyway. That said, if you have a scale and lower protein flour, use them!)

For the dough:

½ tsp. instant yeast

½ cup water (75˚ F), divided, plus 2 tsp. additional water if needed

10 oz. (2 cups) lower protein all-purpose flour, such as Gold Medal or Pillsbury

1 tsp. salt

For the glaze:

1 egg white

1 tbsp. water

Directions:

For the sponge:

In a medium bowl, stir together the yeast, warm water, and flour in a medium bowl until a smooth, thick mixture forms. Scrape down the side of the bowl with a spatula and cover with plastic wrap. Using a paring knife, cut a couple of small holes in the top of the plastic wrap. Let the mixture stand at room temperature.  After 4-5 hours, check on the sponge- it should be almost doubled in size and be covered with tiny bubbles. Continue to let it sit at room temperature until the surface shows a slight collapse in the center, another 2-3 hours. This only happened slightly for us, but our bread was great anyway.

For the dough:

Add the yeast and 6 tablespoons of the water to the sponge.  Stir it vigorously until the water and yeast are mixed in. Add the flour and continue to stir until a loose, shaggy ball of dough forms. Turn the dough out onto a very lightly floured work surface and knead, adding a few drops of water as needed, until the dry bits are absorbed into the dough and it is homogenous, about 2 minutes. Pull the dough into an 8 x 6-inch rectangle on the surface.  Using your fingers, make indentations into the dough. Drizzle the dough with 1 tablespoon of the water.  Fold the edges of the dough toward the center and pinch it to seal in the water.  Knead briefly, about 30 seconds- the dough will still feel wet and slippery. Firmly throw the dough against the work surface several times, which will help the dough absorb the water. Continue to knead and crash the dough alternately until it is soft and tender; the surface should be almost powdery smooth. This will take about 7 minutes.

Repeat this process: stretch the dough again into an 8 x 6-inch rectangle and indent it with your fingers. Sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon of water and the salt.  Fold and seal the edges, and knead and crash alternately, about 7 minutes, until the dough feels smooth and powdery.  If the dough still feels a bit tough, knead in the additional 2 teaspoons of water.

Now, perform the windowpane test by stretching a small piece of dough out thin. The dough should not tear and you should be able to see light through it. If it does tear, knead it for another minute or two and test again. Form the dough into a ball and transfer it to a large bowl that has been lightly greased. Cover with plastic wrap. Let the dough sit for 30 minutes. Remove the dough and knead gently to deflate it for about 10 seconds. Place the dough back in the bowl, cover again with plastic wrap, and let the dough rise until doubled, about 90 minutes.

Gently punch down the dough, and place onto a very lightly floured work surface. Divide the dough into two pieces, about 12 ounces each. Keep one piece covered and drag the other piece of the dough to the edge of the work surface, forming the dough into a rough cylinder shape, about 6½ inches long.  Repeat with the other piece of dough. Drape the dough pieces with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel and let rest 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, cover a large inverted baking sheet with parchment paper. Now it’s time to shape the dough. Work with one piece of dough at a time and cover the other. Using your hand, make a trench-like indentation along the length of the dough. Press the thumb of one hand along the indentation while pulling the upper edge of the dough down over the hand to enclose the thumb.  Repeat this process along the length of the dough and pinch the seam to seal closed. Roll and stretch the cylinder of dough until it measures about 15 inches long by 2½ inches wide. Place the shaped loaf seam-side down on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the other piece of dough and place about 6 inches from the other on the baking sheet. Don’t put them too close to each other or they will hit each other once they rise and bake. Cover with a clean, dry kitchen towel and then cover the whole sheet loosely with plastic wrap Refrigerate until the dough has risen a bit, about 12-16 hours (don’t let it rise longer).

To bake:

Place one oven rack in the middle of the oven and put a baking stone on the rack. We haven’t tried this, but if you don’t have a baking stone, preheat another large baking sheet. Place another oven rack in the lower middle of your oven and place a small empty metal baking pan on it. Preheat the oven to 500˚ F. Remove the baking sheet with the baguettes on it from the fridge and let it stand covered at room temperature for 45 minutes. Remove the plastic wrap and towel and let sit for another 15 minutes. Meanwhile, bring 1 cup of water to simmer in a small saucepan. For the glaze, beat the egg white and water (not the simmering water!) together.

With a single-edge razor blade or very sharp knife, make five ¼-inch deep diagonal slashes on each baguette. Brush with the glaze and then mist with water in a spray bottle. Open the oven and line up the edge of the baking sheet with the baking stone. Quickly slide the parchment paper with the baguettes onto the hot baking stone. Pour the simmering water into the metal baking pan (hot steam will come out, so be careful). Bake, rotating the baking stone after 10 minutes if they are browning unevenly, until the surface is a deep golden and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center reads 205-210˚ F, about 5 minutes longer. Transfer to a wire rack and cool 30 minutes before slicing. ENjoy!

Everything Burgers

everythingburger

Nope, these burgers have nothing to do with everything bagels. They are simply topped with, well, everything. Let’s make a list: you start with a homemade bun and then you top the bun with quick garlic aioli, lettuce, sliced avocado, a burger patty, cheese (any kind you like), homemade pickles that take about five minutes of work, caramelized onions, and tomato jam. They are a mouthful (literally and figuratively!). I mean, the only toppings these burgers are missing are bacon and a fried egg, which would borderline on ridiculous, so we’ll stick with these the way they are!

The tomato jam has chorizo in it, so of course it has to be good. The aioli has lemon juice, zest, and garlic and provides a nice tangy but creamy base for the burger, the caramelized onions are made with red onions and cook for about 45 minutes until they are almost jam, and the dill pickles are so simple that you will never go back to store-bought! This recipe comes from the Tartine Bread Cookbook, which our aunt gave to us. Their recipe calls for homemade brioche buns, which require a good bit of planning ahead. We just made Annie’s Eats burger buns, which are fabulous too!  Still, we have to give Tartine’s recipe a try sometime.

So…if you are looking for what may be the best burger out there (well, best non-vegetarian burger, because these are pretty far from vegetarian!), then you may have found your answer here. You can make the toppings and buns in advance, and then just grill and assemble at the last minute to make them manageable. You won’t be disappointed!

Everything Burgers

Recipe from Tartine Bread Cookbook

Serves 6 (although you may have some leftover toppings)

Ingredients

For the caramelized onions:

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 red onions, cut into 1/4 inch slices

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon sherry vinegar

For the cherry-tomato jam:

6 ounces dry-cured Spanish chorizo, chopped into small pieces

1 shallot, chopped finely

1 pound cherry tomatoes

1 teaspoon fresh marjoram

1 teaspoon fresh thyme

1/2 cup dried currents, soaked for about 5 minutes in warm water, drained, and chopped roughly

2 teaspoons sherry vinegar

1/2 teaspoon packed brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

For the quick aioli:

1 cup mayonnaise

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 clove garlic, finely minced

Zest and juice of 1 lemon

For the pickles:

1 English cucumber, cut into 1/8 inch slices (you can use a mandoline)

2 teaspoons salt

3 tablespoons fresh chopped dill

1 cup rice wine vinegar

1/2 cup water

For the burgers and serving:

2 1/2 pounds ground beef (80/20)

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked pepper

8 ounces Comte cheese, sliced (or any cheese you want)

Unsalted butter, softened

6 burger buns

2 avocados, peeled, pitted, and sliced

2 heads Little Gem or iceberg lettuce

Directions

For the caramelized onions:

Melt the butter in a pan over medium heat. Add the onions and salt and cook, stirring every minute or two, until they are soft and translucent, 10-15 minutes. Continue cooking without stirring until the bottom of the pan starts to turn brown, about 5 minutes. Stir the onions well and scrape up the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Continue this process for 10-15 more minutes. Add the vinegar and stir. Cook for one more minute. Transfer the caramelized onions to a bowl and set aside to cool.

For the tomato jam:

Put the chorizo in the skillet you used to cook the onions over high heat. Cook the chorizo until it releases fat, about 5 minutes. Add the shallots and cook until it softens, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add the cherry tomatoes (whole) and cook until the tomatoes burst and let out liquid, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat to medium and add the marjoram, thyme, and currants. Cook, stirring very frequently, until the jam is thick and the liquid is mostly evaporated. This will take about 15 minutes. Stir in the vinegar, brown sugar, and salt a few minutes before it is done. Set it aside in a bowl.

For the aioli:

Stir together the mayonnaise, olive oil, garlic, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Store in the refrigerator until serving.

For the pickles:

In a bowl, stir together the vinegar, water, salt, and dill. Add the cucumbers and make sure they are covered with liquid. Set aside until it is time to serve them. Note: you don’t want to make these too far in advance because their pickling liquid is very strong. They don’t need to sit in there long because they absorb the flavor quickly.

To make the burgers:

Preheat your grill on medium-high heat. Divide the meat by 6, and shape into patties that are about 1/2-1 inch larger than your buns, as they shrink a bit. Make a small indentation in the center (this helps prevent them from becoming meatball-shaped). Salt and pepper the patties. Place on the grill and cook for about 3-4 minutes on each side, or until they are done to your liking. A couple of minutes before they are done, top with cheese. Allow the cheese to melt, then transfer to a plate and let rest for a minute or two.

Cut the buns in half and toast them, either under the broiler or on the grill. Top your burgers as desired and serve. Enjoy!

Grilled Corn Guacamole

grilledcornguacamole

As we have mentioned before, guacamole is definitely one of our favorite foods to make at home. It’s WAY better than most kinds that you can buy at the store. While we will never get tired of plain old guacamole, it’s also fun to try a new version. We love corn when it’s in season, so the idea of guacamole with grilled corn in it sounded like something we would definitely be into from the first time we heard about it. It did not disappoint. The corn added a sweetness to the guacamole and a slight smokiness, not to mention the great texture is added. We will definitely be making this again before summer is over, and you should too!

P.S. Sorry for the short post today. I’m currently writing this past midnight because I realized that I forgot to schedule a post for an awesome burger recipe that required lots of typing (which we will share soon!). So, I decided to post about this guacamole since it is quick and easy. Time really runs away from you when you are busy during the summer!

Grilled Corn Guacamole

Recipe from Smells Like Home

Serves about 6

Ingredients:

4 ears corn, silk removed with the husks remaining

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons canola oil

3 ripe avocados, peeled, pitted and diced

1 jalapeno or serrano chile, finely diced

½ small red onion, finely diced (about ¼ cup)

1 lime, juiced

¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped

Directions:

Preheat your grill to medium-high heat (if you have a gas grill, it might not need much preheating time. If that’s the case, heat it right before the corn is done soaking). Fill a 13×9-inch baking dish halfway full with water and stir in 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Immerse the corn ears in the water and add more water to cover the corn (it’s ok if they float a bit). Let the corn soak for 10 minutes.

Shake the water off the corn and grill the corn for 15 to 20 minutes, turning every 5 minutes until the husks begin to char and the corn is slightly tender. Remove the corn and carefully remove the husks and bottom piece (be careful, because the corn will be hot.)

Brush the corn with the canola oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and return it to the grill. Cook, turning occasionally, for about 10 minutes, until the corn begins to char in places. Remove the corn from the grill and stand the corn upright in a shallow bowl. With a sharp knife, slice downwards on the sides of the corn to remove the kernels from the ear, allowing the corn to drop into the bowl.

Smash the avocado lightly in a large bowl. Add the peppers, onions, lime juice, cilantro, and corn. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with tortilla chips. Enjoy!