Sriracha Garlic Challah


My family has a new holiday tradition: Hipster Easter.

It didn’t involve satiric chocolate bunnies, over-sized glasses with pastel frames or “alternative” Easter carols (those exist, right?).

Hipster Easter did include the idea that “forks are too mainstream” (trust me, I wish I was kidding) and 2 loaves of religious irony.

My immediate family is not very religious. We loosely observe Christmas and Easter, but I prefer trees and chocolate to holy scripture. So when my godmother asked me to bake bread to bring to Easter Supper, I emailed my friend asking for the only bread recipe I knew I could successfully execute: Challah.

I realize this is a Jewish bread, I realize that it’s Passover and Jewish people are not eating leavening agents and I’m bringing it on Easter Sunday. I’m aware of all of this. Some people have faith in a higher power, I have faith in the healing power of delicious food.

Challah in all its moist, crusty, cakey goodness is the epitome of bomb (dot) com.
Challah braided with Sriracha and garlic powder…..

Oh. My. God.
It’s a miracle.

On second hand, maybe I’m more religious than I thought.

Challah
This recipe was generously provided by the Emory University Chapter of Challah For Hunger. It’s their base recipe to which they add a variety of toppings including pesto, cinnamon sugar, nutella! and my personal favorite: chocolate chips.

Yield:

Ingredients
6-8 cups flour
2 and 1/2 cups lukewarm water
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup oil
1 tablespoon instant yeast
1/2 tablespoon salt

-Mix the sugar, oil, salt, and water in a large bowl until everything’s dissolved.

-Add 3 cups flour and mix.  You will not necessarily be able to get rid of all the clumps of flour yet; that’s okay.

-In a separate, small bowl, combine 1 tablespoon INSTANT yeast with one cup of flour.  After the yeast has been thoroughly mixed into the cup of flour, add the mixture to the dough to make a total of 4c flour.

-Continue adding flour (I switched from a whisk to a wooden spoon here). As your mixture becomes more solid, at around 5.5 cups, add the flour more and more gradually.  Add flour until you reach the point when, if you press the dough gently with clean fingers, no dough sticks to your hands. It should be around 6.5 to 7 cups when this happens.

-Let the dough rest for 10 minutes.  Take a break! Then knead (using the heel of your hand, not your fingers) for 3 minutes. You may have to add some flour while kneading, but be conservative.

-Divide dough in half (or quarters, depending on how large of a loaf you want).

-Divide each chunk into three pieces. Stretch/Pull/Roll each strand out until about the size of a ruler. Make sure the “strands” are roughly the same size.

-Create a small indentation down the middle of each strand. This is where the filling will be placed.

               

-For Sriracha garlic: add a thin (like the width of a piece of yarn, it gets spicy quickly) line of Sriracha down the middle of each strand and then sprinkle generously with garlic powder. After you’ve placed the filling, pull from underneath the dough and pinch to seal the filling inside the strand.

       

-Braid the strand. Once braided, roll the braid underneath itself to make a small circle. Place on the baking pan and let loaves rise for one hour.

-For decoration and identification, add garlic powder and some salt to the top of the loaf, and a tiny dollop of sriracha. Brush the top of the loaf with egg wash if you’d like a shiny crust, however, it’s not necessary.

-Bake at 350 until golden brown. 30-35 minutes for smaller loaves, 35-40 for large ones. It will sound hollow and look lovely golden brown on the top.

OM NOM NOM

Yes, this is a little bit labor intensive, but it’s not difficult. Challah is a delicious way to spend an afternoon getting your hands messy. Additionally, it makes supercalifragalisticly awesome french toast the next day.

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Five Minute Fancy Fix: Raspberry Coulis


Did you know that Coulis is french for “runny jam”?

There are several culinary thing-a-ma-jigs I’ve encountered that sound like, OMgosh, so impressive, but…(bursting the bubble) they aren’t. This sauce took less than 5 minutes (including the dishes!) and is essentially what happens when raspberries grow in a meadow with unicorns and rainbows and somebody brilliant wanted to make them into a sauce.

True story: When the Greek Gods were sittin’ pretty, drinking “ambrosia”, they were really dousing the fires of their immortal bellies with this stuff. It’s that good.

Also……I know that I have been suspiciously absent from the wonderful foodtopia that is GBB. It doesn’t mean I haven’t been working on things to share! Trust me, there is about to be a contentsplosian that will blow your mind.

                             

Raspberry Coulis
adapted from the Cookbook Shelf Staple: Joy of Cooking

Yield:  about 6 cups of Coulis

Ingredients
-2 12 oz bags of frozen raspberries
-Juice of one large lemon
-1/4 cup sugar

-Let the raspberries thaw, no worries if they are still a little bit frozen.

-Combine all of the ingredients in a blender. Blend until everything is past the point of just “combined”. If you dip a spoon in and try it, it should feel almost fluffy

-Pour the contents of the blender through a fine mesh sieve to remove all the seeds.

Full disclosure: I totally licked the plate mere seconds after this photo was taken

This stuff is delicious on Greek yogurt in the morning (look at you, so healthy!) or cake and ice cream at night. Also….spread it on turkey sandwiches (I’m fully aware it sounds weird).

Voila! (That’s french for easy-peasy)

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Wish I Was Drunk Wednesday: Life is Hard


This was supposed to be a baking blog with the occasional cocktail. I’m unsure if the current reversal is due to the fact I feel compelled to post every Wednesday because I love alliteration or lately, I’ve enjoyed ingesting my calories alcoholically (I have no idea if that’s a real word).

I have no fun cocktail with a super cute name. I have real world issues this week including midterms, papers, midterms, papers, job applications and preparing to leave town for a week (gearing up for Spring Break is hard, guys) so……..

Consider the ball officially dropped.

If you are super desperate for some sort of inebriation, might I recommend a beer? They are nice, cold, and mellow. Perfect for drinking on those days where it is important to make mature life decisions (ie. studying for midterms, writing papers and filling out job applications, printing out boarding passes before the line at the airport, etc.).

Though now I think about it, “Mature Life Decision Monday” has a much better ring to it…..

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Wish I was Drunk Wednesday: (Ghetto) Desert Shrub


Full disclosure: I’ve got a really nice daytime buzz going on right now. I invited a friend over and we played mixologist.

My junior year of high school, I was in a Chemistry lab group with three people. One girl weighed everything, took notes, generally made sure that we were on track. I’m pretty sure she ended up with like a 99%. She’s at Brown…slacker. The token dude set things on fire. I have no idea where he ended up. I poured things.

I got really good at pouring, without spilling, mL specific. I have mad skills with a beaker, a pipette and a graduated cylinder. I’m legen(most overused HIMYM joke)dary at reading the meniscus. If my life were a book, some 9th grade English teacher would be pointing out the foreshadowing to my new love of mixology. I pour things, without spilling to the 1.5 oz specific.*

As pretentious as the term “mixology” is, I really like being able to imbibe my current lab projects. Not having to turn in a report for a grade? Icing on the cake. Olive in the martini glass? Little umbrella in the daquiri? Ehhh…….I’ll work on it.

Also, this drink is f#@king delicious. Just go make it. It’s bright, zingy, strong, and did I mention it’s delicious???

*the amount in a standard shot of alcohol (fyi) #foodtrivia

Desert Shrub
as seen on the cocktail menu at Sage at the Aria Hotel
-It’s Ghetto cause I’m poor and bought cheap sparkling wine and borrowed (aka stole) ingredients from my neighbors. (like $7/bottle at Ralphs/Safeway/Kroger/Your Major Grocery Store here)

Fresh Sage (about 4-5 leaves per drink)
Sugar
1 Shot Tequila
1:1 Proseco/Champagne/Sparkling Wine: Grapefruit Juice (we used about 1/4 cup or like 3 shots of each)
Shaker

-Muddle the Sage, Sugar and a splash of the bubbly at the bottom of your cocktail shaker

-Add the tequila, bubbly and juice

-Shake vigorously

-Strain (we ended up doing this twice) and Serve.

so tasty….and hazy….

Happy Wednesday!

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Wish I was Drunk Wednesdays: Southern Throwback


I miss the South. I love California with all my heart, it is without a doubt where I am supposed to be, but….sometimes I just want to shoot whiskey, eat grits, listen to the Zac Brown Band and say y’all. Preferably all in the space of an hour; a sort of abbreviated southern smorgasbord.

So when I heard the ABC was premiering a show about Texas that looked and smelled like Desperate Housewives, I got out some liquor and said “Howdy Y’all” to GCB. Instead of shooting the whiskey, my best friend and I decided to be classy, with cocktails.

Sidenote: If you are a girl, rocking the cute and adorable thing but want to add some badass-ery to your life, make your new well drink whiskey and ginger ale. It’s delicious and unexpected (aka not rum and diet).

I’m not going to claim to have invented this drink. I feel like when it comes to food, there is little that hasn’t been attempted over the years. At the same time, I’ve never seen this cocktail on a menu.

I made a simple syrup with flavors from my baking background that I thought would pair well with whiskey; lemon, honey, molasses (it balances out the whiskey), rosemary. Then I tried not to make it too sweet (although if you need to get your so-rawr-ity girl on, just add more simple syrup. From one Panhellenic sister to another, it’s tasty and it’s whiskey, so you’re welcome).

So here’s the cocktail I invented to get you over the hump (Get it? It’s Wednesday! Haha!).

The Southern Throwback

Molasses Simple Syrup

-Combine 1/3 cup molasses, 2/3 cup honey, the juice of one lemon (don’t worry if some seeds get into the pot), 1 teaspoon of rosemary and 1 cup water in a pot over med high heat. Bring it to a boil for five minutes. Strain into a heat-safe container, let it cool at room temperature.

The Drink

-Into a cocktail shaker over ice (or just stirred in the glass if you’re ghetto like me) mix the juice of 1/2 a lemon, 1 shot whiskey, 1 shot simple syrup and 1/2 cup sparkling water.

I served it in a highball class with 3-5 ice cubes per glass.

Garnish with a slice of lemon and sprig of rosemary if you’re feeling classy. Gulp it down if you’re not.

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Cranberry, Coriander & Ginger Scones


I like to lose myself in baking.

It’s an amazing feeling to take a bunch of powders and liquids and mix them together to make something cakey, crumbly and perfect. It’s somewhere between therapy and some sort of creation high.

I bake when I’m happy and have several hours to kill. I bake when I’m stressed, angry, volatile and feel like screaming. I bake when people are born, when people get sick, when they pass. It’s the place I go to when I’m unsure of what else to do. And it is a wonderful place to be.

When my little sister was 7 years old, she had a sophisticated palate. After years of chicken tenders and Kraft Mac n’ Cheese, she suddenly announced at the dinner table that her “bitters had come in”. She now loved to eat strong cheeses (smoked Gouda, anyone?), vegetables, spicy food. It was impressive. And daunting. I loved chicken tenders too much to evolve.

I spent years of my life stuffing candy corn into my face. I used to L-O-V-E sweet to the power of sweet squared. But….(and I hate to admit I’m growing up) 21 years into my maturity, my bitters finally came in. Lately, I like things seasoned. I don’t mean sprinkled with Cajun salt (although that sh#t is delicious). I want deserts a little spicy, surprisingly savory, like chocolate with chili and cinnamon.

My favorite spice so far? Coriander. It’s magical. Especially when it’s mixed with Ginger, Vanilla Beans and a little bit of White Pepper (I know this sounds crazy, but try it!!).

Insert Scones, aka the Most Perfect of Breakfast Pastries. The perfect thing to house my need for a “spice cabinet in a desert” syndrome. And yes, that’s a real disease. I WebMD‘d it.

These scones are healthy(ish), light, a bit savory, and really delicious with homemade butter (see the theme here?).

Cranberry, Ginger and Coriander Scones
adapted from Bon Appetit by Kim Boyce of Bakeshop for Ristretto Roasters
Portland, OR

Ingredients
2 cups all-purpose flour plus more for surface
1 1/2 cups quinoa flour
3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup coarsely chopped dried cranberries
1 cup coarsely chopped crystallized ginger
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream
3/4 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon white pepper
2 teaspoons ground ginger
dash cinnamon
2 vanilla beans or 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract (optional, but pairs well to “mask” the nuttiness of the quinoa flour)
2 tablespoons coriander

Additional info:
Quinoa flour can be found at some supermarkets and at natural foods stores aka Whole Foods.

-Arrange racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat to 350°. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk both flours, 3/4 cup sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Add cranberries and crystallized ginger and toss to coat.  Add spices.

-Combine 1 cup cream, buttermilk, and zest in a medium bowl. Pour cream mixture into dry ingredients; stir until partially combined.

-Scrape mixture onto a lightly floured surface. Knead with lightly floured hands until dough forms, 4–6 turns (dough will be slightly sticky). Form into a 10×5 1/2×1-inch rectangle. Cut lengthwise in half. Cut each half into 8 squares. Cut each square in half diagonally for 32 small triangles.

(I made 16 scones, but they spread out a bit. I thought they were too big. Everything’s cuter in miniature.)

-Transfer to prepared baking sheets, spacing apart. Brush tops of scones with 2 Tbsp. cream; sprinkle with 1 Tbsp. sugar

-Bake scones, rotating sheets halfway through, until tops are golden brown and give just slightly in the center when pressed, 30–35 minutes. Let cool on sheet on a wire rack.

Do ahead: Can be made 8 hours ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.

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Butter from Scratch


Making Butter.

It’s not a hard thing to do. It’s not a souffle, a foam, or a gastrique. Pilgrims, Julia Child and Norma Lyon (I’m assuming) have done it. 3rd graders churn it on their annual field trip to the “farm”. Or at least, I did. It was part of an introduce the “Anglenos to bovine creatures” experiment. They attempt to repeat this every year at the L.A. County Fair.

Recently, my mom made butter from scratch. She went to a cooking class with her friend and brought back two logs of sweet butter. I started drooling. Then she went and got bread. Glorious bread from Il Fornaio. Perfect bread, crusty on the outside, chewy on the inside. Absolutely delicious plain, just as a slice of bread. But then we added the sweet butter.

BOOM.

Taste-gasm.

Religious Experience.

I have been fortunate enough to eat great food. Food that makes you shut up and savor. Food that transports you somewhere awesome. I definitely haven’t eaten it all yet. I have a list of great restaurants to try and wonderful countries to visit that is a mile long. That said, I have yet to find a taste experience that beats wonderful bread with fresh butter.
It’s both simple and revolutionary, comforting and magical. It’s perfection in a bite. It’s breakfast, lunch, a snack, dinner. It’s dessert.

Homemade Butter
(adapted from Chef Martin Gilligan)
Yield: 6 ounces butter, 1 cup buttermilk

Ingredients
1 pint heavy cream
1/2 cup ice cold water with crushed ice cubes
optional flavorings (ie. salt, herbs, spices, preserves, etc)

Un-Standard Equipment
Food Processor
Cheesecloth

-Put the cream in the bowl of a food processor. Process the cream until the butter begins to separate from the buttermilk and the butterfat granules are about half the size of a pea. This will take a couple minutes, it has to get past the “whipped cream” stage.

-With the machine running, pour in the iced water; the butter will immediately form a large mass. Quickly turn off the machine. Pour the entire contents into a cheesecloth-lined strainer set over a bowl and let drain for several minutes. (Buttermilk’s ready!)

-Grab the ends of the cheesecloth together and squeeze, pushing downward to extract as much additional buttermilk as possible; then unwrap the butter solids from the cheesecloth.

-Rinse the butter under cool running water, carefully kneading and folding the mass onto itself until the water runs clear. This is super important so your butter won’t have buttermilk run-off.

-Place the butter in a dry bowl and sprinkle with salt (see #5) (optional, I understand if you’re trying to watch the sodium intake). Using a firm spatula, repeatedly smear the butter against the side of the bowl to incorporate the salt and air. Pour off any additional liquid.

-Transfer the butter onto a piece of wax paper or plastic wrap and form it into a smooth-sided block or log. Refridge overnight before you use it.

Your (homemade!!) butter will keep for three weeks in the fridge or three months in the freezer.

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