Popovers {TWD-BWJ}

Oh, beautiful, delicious, airy, fluffy popovers! Where have you been all my life?!?

Not only had I never made a popover, until this recipe came up for Tuesdays with Dorie, I had never even tried one before. I can’t believe I have lived for 40-some years and never had the joy of tearing into one of these beauties before dinner this evening! I can promise you, it won’t be 40 more years before I make them again. It probably won’t be 4 days.

I must have been planning on making these at some point, because I have a popover pan. I think I got it with points from my bank the same time I got Baking with Julia. So it’s only fitting that I used the pan for the first time with Marion Cunningham’s recipe from BWJ.

I preheated the oven to 400°F, as that’s what several recipes I saw using popover pans called for. Based on some of the comments on the P&Q for this recipe, I buttered the pans really well with melted butter. (As a side note, my Chicago Metallic popover pans are nonstick, and I’ve found their nonstick pans to work really well with a minimum of greasing.) I filled the cups about 1/3 full and baked them for exactly 35 minutes.

They looked absolutely perfect when they came out of the oven. Dinner was on the table, so the popovers went right from the pans to a basket and onto the table.

I tore into one and was surprised and delighted by how open and airy the center was. They weren’t doughy or custardy in the middle, just a little less done than the crispy exteriors. I slathered the insides with butter and drizzled on some honey. They were absolutely delicious! Soft and crisp at the same time. Puffy, buttery, dripping with honey. I could have made a meal of them.

I’m glad I tried this recipe. And I’m glad to have a popover pan, wherever it came from. I only wish I had two pans so I could make a dozen of these at a time.

Our hosts this week are Paula of Vintage Kitchen Notes and Amy of Bake with Amy. Cruise on over to their blogs for the recipe and to see what they thought of these yummy popovers.

Basil Honey Frozen Yogurt {Recipe} {Ice Cream Week}

It’s day two of Ice Cream Week, and today I’m featuring an original recipe for frozen yogurt. About this time of year, I’m always trying to come up with ideas to use fresh basil. With the hot weather we’ve been having, my basil plants are growing like gangbusters, and I like to use it in different ways (one can only eat and freeze so much pesto).

So I decided to try adding it to frozen yogurt. I used a combination of sweet and cinnamon basil, but you can use whatever kind you have. I might try it with a bit of Thai basil next time.

The flavors of honey and basil complement each other beautifully. This is sure to be a frequent repeat around here.

Basil Honey Frozen Yogurt

Ingredients

  • About 2 cups fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 cups plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

Directions

  1. Wash the basil leaves, then blot dry with a kitchen towel or paper towels.
  2. Chop basil leaves (a rough chop is fine) and place in small saucepan with honey and granulated sugar. Heat until sugar melts and the mixture just begins to boil, then remove from heat, cover, and let steep for 20 minutes.
  3. Mix yogurt, vanilla, and lemon juice in medium bowl. Strain honey mixture through fine mesh strainer into bowl with yogurt. Mix well.
  4. Chill yogurt mixture for several hours or overnight, then churn in ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. Eat soft or freeze for a few hours to harden.

Makes about 1 quart

On tap for tomorrow: Frozen Wine Slushy

And be sure to check out:

Honey Peanut Wafers {ModBak}

As I scanned through the Cookies, Bars, & Biscotti section of The Modern Baker, these cookies caught my eye. I mean, who wouldn’t love cookies made with honey-roasted peanuts? The only ingredient I didn’t already have in the cupboard was the peanuts, so I picked up a can the next time I was at the store. I knew if I could keep everyone away from the peanuts, I could make these cookies anytime I got a taste for them.

So the other day when I saw that Abby had made these and really liked them, I decided the time was right. I had just ordered a pizza, and the recipe looked easy enough to make while I waited for the pizza guy to get here.

Other than the honey-roasted peanuts, these cookies contain flour, baking soda, sugar, honey, egg, and butter. I began by mixing the flour and baking soda in a bowl, then whisking together the sugar, honey, and egg in another bowl. I mixed in the butter, then the flour, and finally the peanuts.

I dropped the dough onto cookie sheets lined with Silpat, then flattened the dough with wet fingers. I’m not sure I flattened them quite enough, or perhaps I used too much dough for each cookie, but my cookies weren’t as thin and crispy as Abby’s or the ones pictured in the book. They were fairly crisp, though, especially after they cooled completely.

These cookies were really delicious. At first, I thought they were just OK, but after they sat overnight, they were amazing.

It’s great to have a cookie that you can mix up and bake in the time it takes to get a pizza delivered. And when it’s a cookie that’s this delicious, it  might just be dangerous, too.

Since I am blogging nearly every recipe in The Modern Baker, I am not publishing the recipes. If you like what you see in this and other posts, I would encourage you to buy the book. I guarantee you won’t regret it. If you’d like to test drive a few of Nick’s recipes before committing yourself, he has a number of them, including the Honey Peanut Wafers, on his blog.

Twenty-minute Honey-glazed Duck Breasts {FFwD}

OK, so I’m a week late with this French Fridays with Dorie post. It’s a good thing, too, since I haven’t made this week’s Spiced Squash, Fennel, and Pear Soup yet. But there’s always tomorrow. Hope springs eternal in the Divine kitchen.

This was a very simple recipe and was easy to throw together on a weeknight. Some of the other FFwD members had a difficult time finding duck breasts, and some of them paid quite a bit for them (up to $20/lb) once they located them. Fortunately, I have a local farm that was processing ducks this week, so for $4/lb and a bit of butchering, I had duck legs for confit, offal, the neck and carcass for stock, and two beautiful breasts for this recipe.

I scored the breasts to allow the fat to render as they cooked.

After preheating the oven to 250°F and heating a dutch oven on the stovetop, I put the breasts, skin side down, in the pan. I cooked them for 8 minutes, then turned them over and cooked an additional 2 minutes.

I realized when I turned them over that I should have cooked them slightly less time than the recipe called for, as the duck breasts were on the small side.

I wrapped the duck breasts in foil and put them in the oven while I made the sauce, which consisted of duck fat, balsamic vinegar, honey, and lime juice. I cooked the sauce for a minute or two, then put the breasts in the pan and heated them on each side for about 30 seconds.

I sliced the breasts on a cutting board, then drizzled some of the sauce on top.

The duck breasts were slightly overcooked for my liking, but were still juicy, tender, and delicious. I tried a piece before plating, and ended up eating both duck breasts (with the help of A, who had already had dinner) directly from the cutting board. The meat was savory and not at all greasy, and the sauce was sweet, tangy, and slightly sour.

I could eat these duck breasts any night of the week. And since this is such a simple recipe, I’m sure I’ll be making them again soon.

Chunky Beets & Icy Red Onions {FFwD}

The first French Fridays with Dorie recipe for July is a simple, delicious salad consisting of roasted beets, icy onions, and a homemade honey Dijon vinaigrette.

I began by roasting the beets in the oven with a bit of water. While the beets were roasting, I prepared the onions by slicing them thinly, rinsing them in cold water, and refrigerating them in a bowl of ice water. Rinsing the onions removes the bitterness; and the ice water makes them nice and crisp.

Once the beets were tender, I let them cool, then peeled them and cut them into small chunks. Meanwhile, I made the vinaigrette, which consisted of Dijon mustard, honey, Sherry vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper. I tossed the beets and dressing together in a bowl, then refrigerated them until dinner time.

I finished the dish by adding chopped fresh parsley and thyme to the beets, then topping them with drained icy onions.

I served the beets for dinner with next week’s salmon and tomatoes en papilotte. The beets were fresh and flavorful, and the onions were crispy, spicy, and not at all bitter.

My daughter, who talked me into sacrificing one of the beets to make pickled red beet eggs, said she liked the beet salad almost as much as the pickled beets. High praise, indeed.

Sticky Buns — Artisan Breads Every Day

After meeting Peter Reinhart at the Western Reserve School of Cooking and sampling a host of his baked goods, including two kinds of sticky buns, I couldn’t wait for an excuse to do some baking. The Fourth of July holiday weekend — with family visiting from out of town — gave me just such an excuse.

Although I tested recipes for Peter’s most recent book,  Artisan Breads Every Day, and of course picked up the book as soon as it came out, before the class I still hadn’t baked anything from it. I decided to remedy that by making two kinds of sticky buns for breakfast on Saturday. I made one recipe of sticky buns, and baked half of them with Susan’s (Peter’s wife) formerly secret caramel pecan slurry and the other half with honey almond slurry.

As with many of the recipes in Peter’s new book, the sweet dough came together quickly with very little mixing. It is kept at least overnight or up to a few days in the refrigerator, where it ferments and develops its structure. I also mixed up the slurries, so that on baking day all I had to do was throw it all together.

On Saturday morning I got the dough out of the fridge, cut it into two pieces, and let it rest for about 20 minutes while I prepared the cinnamon-sugar mixture and melted some butter. I rolled each half of the dough out to a 12- x 15-inch rectangle, brushed it with butter, and sprinkled it generously with cinnamon sugar. Then I rolled the dough up from the long side and sliced it into rolls.

I had to soften the slurries in the microwave for a few seconds, as they firmed up to the point of being impossible to spread. Then I slathered the slurries in 9-inch round baking pans and added the buns.

I let the sticky buns rise for about two hours, until they had risen to fill the pans, then prepared the oven for baking.

At first, I forgot to set the pans on a sheet pan to catch any overflow, but I remembered before the slurry boiled over into the oven. The buns took longer to bake than the recipe suggested. In class, Peter stressed the importance of checking to slurry to make sure it has caramelized before taking the rolls out of the oven.

As you can see from the picture, I had pretty good caramelization, with the exception of the very center of the buns made with Susan’s slurry (on the right).

When I pulled the pan out of the oven, it was like I had turned on a bug light for everyone in the house. Within a few minutes, when I was ready to cut them, everyone in my and my sister’s families was standing in my kitchen with anticipation. And once I began serving? Well, no one left the kitchen until both pans of sticky buns were completely gone.

Forgiving my lack of modesty, my sticky buns were every bit as good as the ones we sampled in class. And even though I grew up in Lancaster County, PA, eating traditional sticky buns much like Susan’s recipe, I have to say that I preferred the subtle sweetness of the honey almond buns. But it was such a close call that I think I have to make both of them again just to be sure.

Oh, and there’s one more version in the book I haven’t made yet — creamy caramel. I feel it is my duty to give it a try, too.