Neighbors

Next door is very close to our door. Next door finally has some love. Next door got some curb appeal, which doesn’t take much in our little ‘hood. Next door radically upgraded the backyard, the property we have a view of. The backyard has a maintained small-child play area, a red paver patio between house and play area, a patch of moss-dandelion-buttercup-free green grass lawn, and a stretch of vegetable beds, the area of which matches my own.

12 years of bamboo growth screening the yard someone finally cares about.
12 years of bamboo growth screening the yard someone finally cares about.

Next door has chickens, which we welcomed, ourselves being aficionado of all things Gallus. And, next door has a rooster-not welcomed by the surrounding neighbors, the town officials, nor us when awakened pre-alarm clock. Next door are relatively new to the neighborhood and may have chickens because we have chickens, perhaps not checking city guidelines for backyard poultry. Next door does not speak English as a primary language. We’ve chatted a few times. We’ve talked chickens and gardens a bit. We’ve waved and smiled a lot. I, despite many fizzled attempts otherwise, am primarily, well, only, an English-speaking person. I do, however, speak cookie.

2 flours, 3 sugars, an egg, and other sundries.
2 flours, 3 sugars, an egg, and other sundries.

Today I am going to stop by and find out if they are aware of the Rooster Restrictions. I will bring cookies. I hope they like them. A few are just oatmeal, but the rest contain chocolate-covered raisins I found in the baking drawer. I tested one pre-treadmill. It was really good.

Yum.
Yum.

Here’s how I made them today.

Oatmeal Cookies Makes 14 3-inchish cookies

Ingredients

1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1/4 cup white unbleached flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1 1/2 cups rolled oats

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature

1/4 cup coconut palm sugar

1-2 tablespoons dark brown sugar added to the coconut palm sugar to make 1/3 cup total

1/3 cup evaporated cane juice sugar

1 egg1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup raisins (or chocolate covered raisins)

Directions

Preheat oven to 350F

In a small bowl, whisk together the flours, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, and oats.

In a mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugars. Beat until it looks like a smooth paste.

Add the egg and vanilla. Mix until combined. Scrape down the mixer paddle or beaters, the sides and bottom of the bowl.

On very low-speed, add the flour mixture. Beat on low-speed just until it looks mixed in. Scrape the bowl again, turning the dough over to find any unmixed flour.

Still on very low, add the raisins and mix only until they and the flour are completely mixed in.

Use a spoon or 1-ounce cookie scoop to place mounds of dough onto a parchment-lined baking sheet pan. (You should be able to fit 12 cookies, spaced evenly, on a standard size baking sheet.) Flatten the mounds a bit with your fingers held flat or use the bottom of a measuring cup.

Note: at this point, you can put the pan of uncooked cookies into the freezer, freeze then put in a Ziploc bag. They can be pulled from the freezer and baked at a later time.

Place the pan of cookies into the pre-heated oven.Set the timer for 10 minutes.Check the cookies and continue baking a few more minutes if they look really raw.It is better to under bake cookies than over bake.

Let cool for a minute or two, then slide the cookies onto a cooling rack. Repeat the scooping, flattening, and baking until all dough used.

Tuesdays With Dorie: (Not-So) Tropical Napoleons

Each month brings two recipes to make from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking With Julia. Group members choose recipes, which are then narrowed down and made official by the moderators. As a participant, I should make at least one of each month’s entries. May’s first recipe was for phyllo dough wrapped, pesto-d scallops. I was under the impression that we were to make phyllo, so I decided to abstain. Come LeaveYourLink day, everyone had used ready-made phyllo. That would have been so easy!

May’s 2nd recipe called for a coconut flake meringue wafer, layered with rum-infused whipped cream, and slices of tropical fruits. I was SO not doing that! But wait, 2 recipes in a month! I need to make 1! With only slight pangs of guilt, I was still going to skip this recipe until realizing that tomorrow’s Wednesdays With Kids has us separating eggs and beating egg whites. I decided today, on LeaveYourLink Day, some fresh meringue-making in my arsenal would help with my class. I began to rummage for ingredients.

Eggs are easy right now, the chickens are all laying, and Scotti is even broody. Sugar & salt-check. Sesame seeds-suprisingly-check. Sweetened flaked coconut? Nope. We are not overly fond of coconut here. Coconut milk in curries or whipped for allergen-free desserts, and some uses for coconut oil are as far as we go. On to Google for coconut flake substitutions. Between some helpful Paleo sites and an Alice Medrich meringue recipe from Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts, I settled on replacing the coconut with finely chopped nuts. The only nuts I could find in my freezer were cashews. A few food processor pulses later and voilà! I give you my mise en place:

Collected
Collected

The wafers are meant to be thin, so the author instructs to cut a template from a plastic lid. My template is between 3 1/2- and 4-inches in diameter.

I chose to use my 7-speed hand-held mixer since I was only working with 3 egg whites, though using the Kitchen Aid would have been easier to photograph. As an aside, when the chickens are laying, I only use their eggs in my cooking and baking. We have a variety of breeds, providing different color, and different size eggs. Most of the chickens give us extra-large eggs, requiring I juggle sizes and numbers of eggs to get as close as I can to the egg requirement of any recipe.

Separating
Separating

The fresh, room temperature whites whipped up nicely.

Foamy
Foamy
Ready for sugar
Ready for sugar
Post sugar
Post sugar

I added the sugar after soft peaks begin to form, gradually poured in while the mixer runs. The final peaks were “shiny and firm”, the goal stated in the recipe.

At this point, a loyal recipe follower would fold in half of the coconut flakes, saving the rest to be sprinkled on each wafer before baking. I folded in my finely chopped cashew.

Cutting into the middle
Cutting into the middle
Bringing spatula around and turning over
Bringing spatula around and turning over

The meringue had a beautiful consistency. I’ve never been overly fond of eating meringue cookies-no substance and far too sweet-but folding this “batter” was a thrill.

To form the wafers, I placed the plastic template onto a buttered/floured baking sheet. Greasing the pan is necessary to remove the wafers after baking.

A generous tablespoon of batter
A generous tablespoon of batter
spread thin with an offset metal spatula
spread thin with an offset metal spatula
repeated
repeated
sprinkled with more cashew & sesame seeds then baked.
sprinkled with more cashew & sesame seeds then baked.

 

I baked until the wafers began to color. I have no experience with meringue outside of using it to top a pie. Determining doneness was a bit tricky. One wafer was thicker in places so it came off the baking sheet in pieces.

After whipping some heavy cream, finishing the dessert went as follows:

Cream to hold dessert to plate
Cream to hold dessert to plate
Wafer 1
Wafer 1
covered with cream and fruit
covered with cream and fruit
followed by wafer 2
followed by wafer 2
on top of which was more cream and fruit and wafer 3.
on top of which was more cream and fruit and wafer 3.

I used the fruit I had: sliced fresh strawberries and some frozen blue & blackberries. I only used vanilla in the whipped cream, not rum, and sweetened it only slightly. Though skeptical, this dessert was delicious. I think almonds would have provided a deeper flavor, and I am sure for those who love coconut, this dessert, properly made, would be amazing.

Not easy to eat but tasty!
Not easy to eat but tasty!
1 more view
1 more view

Tropical Napoleons • Baking With Julia • Contributing Baker: Charlotte Akoto • pages 393-394

Chicken Math

Answer the following:

Scotti

1. The small urban farm has some chickens. Scotti and Bernadette lay dark brown eggs daily. Robbi, Dizzy, and Beatrice lay every other day. Robbi’s eggs are creamy tan, Dizzy’s are almost white, and Beatrice lays beautiful greenish blue eggs. How many eggs are in the farmer’s refrigerator?

Beauty

2. If the farmer has 2 eggs for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, how long will it take for her to become tired of eating eggs?

3. If pasta uses 4 eggs, waffles use 3 eggs, and egg salad for one uses 2, how much weight will the farmer gain?

4. If  the farmer found a recipe calling for 9 eggs, how often would she need to make it to keep ahead of the backyard abundance?

Yum!

(answer key: 1. A lot 2. Not very long 3. Badonkadonk 4. As often as folks would come share  it with her)

Cracked Chocolate Earth
(Flourless Chocolate Cake)

1 pound bittersweet chocolate, chopped into small pieces
1 stick unsalted butter
9 large eggs, separated
3/4 cup granulated sugar, plus 1 tablespoon
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

Directions
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Butter a 9-inch springform pan.
Put the chocolate and butter into a heatproof bowl, set over, but not touching, about 1 inch of simmering water until melted.
In a mixing bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the sugar until light yellow in color. Whisk a little of the chocolate mixture into the egg yolk mixture to temper the eggs – this will keep the eggs from scrambling from the heat of the chocolate; then whisk in the rest of the chocolate mixture.
Beat the egg whites in a separate bowl until stiff peaks form and fold into the chocolate mixture. Pour into the prepared pan and bake until the cake is set, the top starts to crack, and a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out with moist crumbs clinging to it, 20 to 25 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes, then unmold.
Dust the cake with confectioners’ sugar and serve at room temperature.
Adapted from Tyler Florence and the Food Network