Make Something New Every Day

This blog is inspired by all those who love to cook, whether experienced or not, and who continue to experiment with new ideas & ingredients, and best of all, share their passion with others.

The first entries are recipes prepared by the students of Lionel Wilson College Preparatory Academy in Oakland, CA. Fifteen students with varying cooking experience participated in my weekly workshop (via Tutorpedia), and successfully prepared various meals, snacks, and baked goods as part of an after-school program.

Along with the recipes from that class, I will continue to add new seasonal items, spanning every genre of the culinary world, as well as a helpful list of links to recipes, instructional videos, and places to shop and volunteer in your area.

Feel free to ask me questions and share your recipes and ideas as well. I look forward to cooking with you.

December 6, 2013

No Knead to Panic. Easy Buttery Dinner Rolls.

I've tried various recipes and techniques for yeast-based dinner rolls, and so far these are my top seed. The dough mixes up in minutes and requires no hand kneading after its time in the mixer. The only real "work" is dividing the dough into balls and dropping them into buttered muffin tins, and as I proved on the eve of Thanksgiving, this task goes quickly and is way more fun when shared with a friend. 

Store the prepared tins in the fridge overnight, then bake the rolls fresh just in time for dinner. As the dough rises whip up some compound butters. Fresh chive butter makes these already addictive rolls irresistible. 

Make the Dough
1 Packet Yeast (1/4oz, 2 1/4t)
1/3C Sugar
1/2C Warm Milk (heated to 110-115')

6 1/2C AP Flour
2t Fine Sea Salt
1.5 Sticks Unsalted Butter, softened (plus 1 stick melted for brushing)
1 Egg, lightly beaten
1 1/4C Milk, room temp 

Start the Yeast
Warm 1/2C milk in a liquid measuring cup. Gently stir in the sugar and yeast, and let it sit for 5 minutes until foamy. 

Mix the Dough
Add the yeast starter to a mixing bowl fitted with a hook attachment. Stir in the softened butter, half the flour, and half the remaining milk. Start slow, then mix until incorporated. Mix in the egg. Then add the rest of the flour and milk. Start slow, then mix for a few minutes until the dough comes together and pulls away from the bowl. It will be sticky. 
The dough before the 2nd batch of flour and milk are added.
Let it Rise! 
Dump the dough into a large oiled bowl, cover loosely with plastic, and let rise in a warm place (not hot) for about 2 hours until the dough has doubled in bulk.
The dough before rising.

Prep the Pans, Shape the Dough
Brush two 12-cup cupcake tins with melted butter. On a clean work surface (a floured wooden cutting board or clean counter top) dump out the doubled dough, and gently punch it down and give it a few light kneads to get the air out. Using a knife or bench scraper, cut the dough in half. Then divide each half into 12 equal pieces (24 total). Take each 12th, divide it into 3, then shape each 3rd into a ball. You can be crazy and weigh the dough, but eyeballing it works ok. If some balls are bigger than others, just make sure that the overall volume of each muffin cup is about equal. Drop 3 balls into each buttered muffin tin. Repeat this process with the other half of the dough. Cover each tin with plastic wrap and store in the fridge for 8 hours or overnight.
Shaped, covered, and ready for a nap in the fridge.
To Bake
Remove pans from fridge and leave at room temperature for one hour before baking. Preheat oven to 375'. Brush the tops of the rolls with melted butter and sprinkle with kosher salt or fancy-pants salt flakes. Bake for about 20-25 minutes until deep golden brown. Turn the pans after about 15 minutes to ensure even baking. Remove the pans and brush the rolls (again!) with more butter. Pop them out onto cooling racks and let cool 10 minutes before serving. 

Store remaining cooled rolls in a ziploc bag or airtight container for up to 1 week. Rolls can also be frozen and reheated in foil at 300' until warm.

Chive Butter
Cream 1C (2 sticks, 1/2#) unsalted butter until soft.
Stir in 2-3T finely minced chives.
Season with a little kosher salt to taste.
Transfer to a small serving bowl or ramekin. Cover with plastic and refrigerate, or serve immediately. Store extra butter covered in the fridge for up to 3 weeks. Note: Compound butters that contain fresh herbs or vegetables can spoil faster than regular butter. If you don't need the extra butter for a while, wrap it tightly in parchment, then plastic wrap, then a Ziploc freezer bag. Thaw in the fridge or at room temperature before serving. Do not refreeze, or eventually it will turn gross. 

June 14, 2013

Best. Cookies. Ever.

or just really good cookies that someone brought a lot of to work. people like lots of free cookies. I like to bake cookies. here we go.

this is a very basic "chocolate chip" cookie recipe. you can add about 3C of assorted goodies to the basic dough. a mix of dried fruits, chocolate and nuts is a typical "cowboy" cookie. oats soak up a bit more of the moisture, so you'll get a denser cookie with oats.
you wanna eat a cowboy? giddyup. 

1C unsalted butter
3/4C each, white and light brown sugar
2 XL eggs
1t vanilla
2 1/3C unbleached white flour
1t salt
1t baking soda

and in this case...
3C total of semisweet chocolate chips, dried cherries, shredded coconut, and toasted pepitas. When dry toasting the pepitas on the stove, I add about 1/2t of kosher salt. Let them cool before stirring them into the dough.

Butter works best when cool room temperature. Better to cream it a bit longer when cool than let it get greasy. Once beaten until fluffy, add the white sugar...beat...then the brown...beat some more. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat in one egg until combined and the dough is fluffy. Beat in the 2nd egg until the dough is as combined as its gonna get. Stir in the vanilla, then stir in the flour mixture. If using a stand mixer, pulse the switch between "off" and the lowest setting to "pulse" in the flour. If you just let 'er rip, your flour will fly out of the bowl and all over you and your counter.

Barely stir in the flour. Then add your goodies and stir a bit more. Turn off the mixer, scrape the dough off the paddle, and use a spatula or wooden spoon to give the dough a final stir to incorporate the ingredients.

At this point you can chill the dough, or scoop & chill the dough, or just scoop and bake the cookies, then systematically eat them until you want to die a happy, chocolatey death. Using a golf ball-sized ice cream scoop will yield evenly-sized cookies. Scoop and level the dough to fit 12 cookies to a standard baking sheet.

Line baking sheets with parchment paper for even baking and easy clean-up. Bake at 350' for anywhere from 10-14 minutes, depending on your oven. Slide baked cookies' parchment onto cooling racks, and store cooled cookies in airtight containers for up to a week.


April 10, 2013

Under 300 Calories. Less than $2. Delicious. Nutritious. Real Fast Food.

It's hot. You're busy as ever with work, friends, family, the gym...

You want to eat something substantial, yet light. Delicious, yet healthy. Oh, and p.s., you're too busy to cook, and you have no money. 

Never fear! Behold the first of several of my favorite meals that address all of these issues.

Organic Girl Super Greens with Warm Roasted Potatoes and 
Kicky Pickled Ginger Vinaigrette 

1.25 oz greens (10 calories!)
1 medium yukon gold potato (about 110 calories)
2T vinaigrette (about 150 calories)

I am just crazy about this mix. Contrary to the serving suggestion, I find that when topped with something hearty like a potato, I can get about 4-5 servings from a 5oz package. 

For years I have agonized over the limpness of traditional "spring mix" greens. 

When the weather turns warm, I'm all about creating quick, satisfying salads topped with anything from potatoes to steak, and this uber nutritious mix of baby red chard, baby tat soi, baby spinach, baby green swiss chard, & baby arugula stands up to whatever I throw on it. Get the big container, make a big batch of dressing, and you'll find yourself eating and loving your veggies every day.

The Potatoes
I like any thin-skinned variety, and prefer fingerlings, as they are pretty small, roast quickly, and have an irresistible creamy texture. 

Rub potatoes with a little bit of olive oil, sprinkle with salt & pepper, and roast at 375' until tender (when pierced with a knife they offer some resistance), about 20-25 minutes. Larger potatoes like yukon golds can take longer to roast. If you have a microwave you can nuke them for 1-2 minutes to give them a running start, but be sure to finish them off in the oven to bring out their flavor. 

While the potatoes are roasting make a quick vinaigrette. I don't seem to tire of this basic recipe. Make about a 1/2 pint so you have it ready to go. Take half of it to work with you.

Ginger (peel & thinly slice about 5 slices; soak in about 1/3C of Seasoned Rice Vinegar for about 20 minutes)
Shallot (finely mince about 2 teaspoons)
Citrus (I like a couple tablespoons of freshly squeezed OJ)
Olive or Grapeseed Oil (the latter is just as healthy as the former, has a more delicate flavor, and doesn't congeal as much when refrigerated)
Salt & Pepper

Mince the pickled ginger, and combine with the vinegar, OJ, and shallot in a 1/2 pint jar. Sprinkle with a bit of salt & freshly ground pepper, and add about 1/4C of oil. Seal the jar with a lid and shake the hell out of it. Open it up, taste it, and adjust the seasoning. You may want to add 1t of honey or a bit of Tapatio (yes, Tapatio) to round it out. 

Assemble Your Salad
Top greens with sliced potatoes, or leave whole if they're smaller. Drizzle with some dressing, and enjoy! Take extra potatoes, greens & dressing to work for a perfectly satisfying lunch that won't weight you down.

(Nutritional Facts for a Yukon Gold Potato)