Wednesday, March 28, 2012

TWD -- Pizza Rustica

Pizza Rustica,  the latest Tuesdays with Dorie experiement, was unlike any pizza I have ever made. If nothing else, I learned about this dish and discovered possibilities to vary the recipe provided in "Baking with Julia."

The dough was different than any pastry dough I have ever made. However, it went together well and I thought the food processor directions were right on. The dough became very smooth (like a babie's bottom) once it was kneaded a little after the processing was complete.

After chilling the dough, I set it out of the refrigerator about an hour before rolling. This made rolling very easy, and I used a pastry cloth and rolling pin cover as I do for pie dough.

 I learned a tip about this at the bakery where I volunteer. Instead of washing the cloth (which will make it limp after many washings), the bakery's cloths are not washed, but scraped free of flour and stored, folded in a plastic bag, in the refrigerator. This would inhibit cupboard moths from attacking.

I decided that the filling appeared rather bland, and because we had some fresh asparagus, I chopped about a cup's worth, blanched it for about two minutes, and added it to the mix. The addition proved worthwhile and led me to believe that a number of vegetable add-ins would be welcome.

After the pie was baked, I wondered if one had to wait until it was totally cool before eating it. I decided to cut it while not hot, but warm, and that worked wonderfully. Was it good? I thought the mixture of flavors, including the sugar in the dough, were wonderful. My husband, however, thought the dish would have been improved by eliminating the sugar. He also much prefers traditioanl pizza, although I contend that comparing it to what we normally think of pizza is like comparing apples to oranges. This would be a great brunch dish.

Monday, March 19, 2012

TWD - Irish soda bread is child's play

After making rugalach two weeks ago, Irish soda bread was a walk in the park. In fact, the recipe looked so easy, that I decided to have three of my grandchildren make it. Since schools so longer offer Home Ec, it has been my goal as a grandmother to spend some time with my grandkids both cooking (namely baking) and sewing.

We started the Irish soda bread experiment with my showing the three kids (6-year-old twin girls, and their 7-year-old brother) where Ireland is located in relation to the rest of Europe, namely England, Scotland and Wales. There were pretty amazed it was so far away from where they live (Ohio). And since they had just experienced St. Patrick's Day, they were somewhat familiar with Ireland and things Irish.

From there, we measured out the flour, using a scale, and the twins scooped in flour until we got to 1 pound, 4 ounces. Using the 5 ounce per cup suggestion in "Baking with Julia," I reasoned that we should reach 20 ounces of flour to make the bread.

The twins then took turns adding the soda, salt and buttermilk. Two out of three of the kids liked raisins, so we decided to knead in raisins in half of the dough, leave the other half plain, then merge the two halves together.

 That seemed to work well and that way everyone was happy. One of the kids slashed the top, and the bread went into the oven for the 50-mintue bake.

We thought the bread looked much like the picture in the book, and all three liked the taste. It couldn't have been easier!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

TWD -- Rugelach

I began my first experiment with baking rugelach for my Tuesdays with Dorie session searching for lekvar. I needed a time-saving step since I was out of town clear up until the deadline for preparing the recipe. Fortunately, I was in Pittsburgh visiting my son's family, home of many of eastern European descent. I asked my daughter-in-law's aunts if they had heard of lekvar. Sure enough, they had, and corrected my pronunciation. The "v" is pronounced like a "w," they told me, then ticked off the many recipes in which it can be used. They told me I would find it in a tube, but instead, my son found it in a jar at Giant Eagle Marketplace.

I also had the great good fortune to have purchased a bag of ground pecans from a Mennonite grocery near Shiloh, OH. This product is sold for making cinnamon rolls (who makes them better than the Amish and Mennonites, right?) I substituted this for the chopped nuts and it worked wonderfully. Because the nuts are ground so fine, it is one less chunky thing to impede the rolling of the dough process.

All went well during the dough preparation. And, rolling out the pastry was pretty easy using my rolling pin cover and pastry cloth. I next applied the layers of goodies atop the dough (I used apples, dates and Craisins for my fruits) and began to roll. I'll admit; that was somewhat of a challenge. There was a lot of filling to get around, and in the rolling process, some of the fruit came squirting out. Oh well. My pastry cloth was a mess!

On Monday, I was due at the bakery where I volunteer, so I thought, "What better audience to judge the rugelach?" So, I got up early, applied the egg wash, sliced them and rolled them in the cinnamon, nut, sugar mixture. Again, the Mennonite ground nuts were perfect for this task. After baking this trial batch, I noticed that some of the cookies unwound during the baking/cooling process. Despite that, I put them on a plate and drove north to the bakery, hoping the taste testers wouldn't mind some unwinding.

The cookies were a huge hit!! Everyone loved them. I was asked to experiment and come up with a way to make a dough that would be less expensive and this might be a product we could make to sell. If anyone has ideas on that front, I would be really glad to hear them. The dough was expensive to make for four  to five dozen cookies. To solve the unwinding problem, I cut my next three batches smaller (my daughter's suggestion) and placed toothpicks in each one. This didn't take too long, and the toothpicks did help hold the cookies together. The only thing I changed in the recipe was to cut back on the sugar/nut/cinnamon mixture used at the end.  I used only 2/3 cup each of nuts and sugar, and I had some left over. Were these cookies worth the time and effort? I'd vote yes!!