Saturday, March 28, 2009

Frontega Turkey Sandwich

My craving for Panera's Frontega Chicken Sandwich convinced me to make my first homemade focaccia bread. Well, yesterday, I decided to make a "Frontega Turkey Sandwich" by grilling two slices of the homemade focaccia with a few slices of turkey, cheddar cheese (Kraft deluxe), Hellman's Mayonnaise, and sliced, pickled jalapeño peppers. It was so good I had to make it again the next day. I think it was better than the sandwich at Panera! YUM!!

I threw the sandwich on my flat grill and smashed it with a heavy bowl.

As a side, I fried some tortilla chips and sprinkled kosher salt on top. I also made nacho cheese sauce that I found here. I usually make my cheese sauce with a roux (equal parts flour and butter) as a base, but this time I made it with cornstarch. Both versions taste awesome; however, the cornstarch version is easier and doesn't require butter.

*sigh* My days of eating whatever I want are ending soon. On April 1st, I will be eating a lot healthier, so there will already be changes on this blog. In the meantime, I am enjoying the different, less-healthy foods that exist out there. I hope you enjoy them as well!

Let's Consummate Chocolate Chip Cookies

I promised my students that I would make cookies for them last week, but I never got around to doing it. For days, I have been pondering over what I should make for them. I wanted to try a new recipe; instead, I resorted back to my favorite chocolate chip recipe. I found this recipe off of Smitten Kitchen. I ran out of bread flour yesterday when I made the focaccia bread, so I used AP flour all the way. I also added cornstarch because I didn't have cake flour (1 3/4 cup AP flour + 1/4 cup cornstarch = 1 cup cake flour). Unfortunately, I messed up on the recipe because I forgot to subtract 2 Tbsp of flour. I was nervous about this, so I was forced to try out two cookies to see if they tasted okay.

They were fabulous and looked better than I've ever seen them, and I've made these cookies about four times already. The dough is to be refrigerated for 24 to 36 hours, so I plan to bake the rest tomorrow evening and give them to my students Monday morning.

Below is the modified, more "practical" version of the recipe on Smitten Kitchen. Her recipe calls for Valhrona fèves and arranging the chocolate disks in a certain way. If you would like the more "ostentatious" version, go there. If you would like a simpler version, I suggest using the recipe below (all changes, additions, or comments are in italics):

Leite’s Consummate Chocolate Chip Cookies: The Simpler Version
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen and David Leite via The New York Times

Takes: 45 minutes (for 1 6-cookie batch), plus at least 24 hours’ chilling
Makes: 1 1/2 - 3 dozen cookies (yield amount depends on the size).

2 cups minus 2 tablespoons (8 1/2 ounces) cake flour (OR 1 1/2 cups AP flour + 1/2 cornstarch - 2 TBSP)
1 2/3 cups (8 1/2 ounces) bread flour (I used AP flour this time around)
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt (I used Kosher salt)
2 1/2 sticks (1 1/4 cups) unsalted butter (softened; I place cold butter near or on top of my hot oven for a few minutes. You could also try this method.)
1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) light brown sugar
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (8 ounces) granulated sugar
2 large eggs (room temperature; I let my cold eggs sit in hot water for a few minutes)
2 teaspoons natural vanilla extract
a bag (preferably two bags, but I didn't have another one) of Ghiradelli or Nestlè chocolate chips
Sea salt (I never add this on top of my cookies; it is salty enough inside)

1. Sift flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Set aside.

2. Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars together until very light, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla. Reduce speed to low, add dry ingredients and mix until just combined, 5 to 10 seconds. Drop chocolate pieces in. Press plastic wrap against dough and refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours. [Dough may be used in batches, and can be refrigerated for up to 72 hours.]

3. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat. Set aside.

4. Scoop mounds of dough with a cookie or ice cream scooper onto baking sheet, depending on the size of cookie you desire. These cookies should be fairly big in size. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt (OPTIONAL) and bake until golden brown but still soft, 18 to 20 minutes (10-12 mins in my oven). Transfer sheet to a wire rack for 10 minutes. Repeat with remaining dough, or reserve dough, refrigerated, for baking remaining batches the next day. Eat warm, with a big napkin (YEP!).


Friday, March 27, 2009

Two-Hour Focaccia Bread

UPDATE: For an updated post about this fabulous bread with much better photos, go here.

I was at Panera Bread ostensibly studying when I started craving the Frontega Chicken Sandwich, which is made with focaccia bread. In order to avoid spending money there, I decided to make my own focaccia bread at home. Before leaving, I started looking for recipes online and found a recipe from a blog called Joyful Abode that only required 2 hours of my time. The other recipes required that the dough be placed in the refrigerator overnight, and I wanted the bread tonight to accompany my spaghetti and meatballs.

Since I wanted a chewier texture, I kneaded the dough in the stand mixer (my mom gave me one for Christmas! Thanks, mom!) even though the recipe doesn't require it. Unfortunately, my oven overheats so I cooked the bread a little too long (fewer than 20 minutes when the recipe calls for 30 mins). Nevertheless, it tasted great! It was soft on the top and had a nice crunchy texture on the bottom.

I definitely plan to use this recipe again after I try the more labor-intensive ones. Next time, I will stand by the oven after 10 minutes of baking.

Two-Hour Focaccia

1 1/2 cups of warm (110 degrees Fahrenheit) water
4 tsp active dry yeast
3 1/2 cups AP flour
1 1/4 tsp salt (I use kosher)
3 Tbsp olive oil (you will need about 2-3 more tablespoons later, too)

Dissolve yeast in the warm water. I place the yeast water in the stand mixer. After a few minutes, I place the other ingredients on top, or you can do it separately and then bring them together. Place all-purpose flour, salt, and olive oil on top of the yeast-water in the mixer. Beat it on high for about a 1 to 1.5 minutes. The dough will be sticky. Dip your fingers in olive oil to handle the dough easily. Drizzle your jelly roll pan with some olive oil and brush it all around. Use a cookie sheet with sides or a half-sheet cake pan. Scoop the dough into the pan and pat it around until lightly. Do not expect to fill the pan completely at this point; it will rise and expand. Cover it with PAN-SPRAYED cling wrap (so that the cling wrap won't stick to the dough), and let it rise for an hour. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

Pizza seasoning: In a small bowl, mix the following together: Parmesan cheese, onion powder, garlic salt, oregano, and basil (or you could use Italian seasoning to replace the oregano and basil). Once your dough has risen, use your fingers to make little holes all over it and poke the dough. Then drizzle it with olive oil and top with your pizza seasoning and rosemary flakes. Stick it in the preheated 375 degree oven for 35-40 minutes.

Cherry Cream Cheese Danish


My first homemade danish. YUM! Here is the braid during the proofing atage (a common bread-making procedure that is done after shaping the dough where one allows it to rise before baking it.)

I made the danish pastry dough from scratch as well as the cream cheese filling. It took two days to make from start to finish with breaks in between, of course.

Another picture of the braid proofing...

It had buttery, flaky layers of dough! There are approximately 729 layers of dough in this danish. Crazy!