Pogácsa — Hungarian Cheese Bites

Thanks to Delicious Days, we now have a new and wonderfully crispy cheesy appetizer!

The great thing about this recipe is that you receive a maximum of crisp flakiness with a minimum of tedious puff pastry techniques. They almost triple in height while in the oven, and seem to breathe!

These are perfect for those people who pay close attention to how they eat something. Of course, you can eat them all at once, which is only half the fun. Better yet,  nibble away one thin layer after another layer of the flaky pastry, starting from the bottom up to the top, to finally be rewarded with the cheesy, crusty top layer.

Ingredients (~ 36 nibbles):

175 g chèvre

125 g cold butter

125 g bread flour (type 550)

3/4 tsp fine sea salt

1 egg (M or L), lightly beaten

20 g freshly grated cheese (mix of Gruyere and Grana Padano or other sharp, dry cheese)

Directions:

Start the night before: Line a large metal sieve with either a clean cheesecloth or a paper towel and fill with the Chèvre. Leave covered to drain in a cold spot, preferably in the fridge.

On the next day: Cut cold butter into cubes and put into a bowl together with 125 g of the drained Chèvre, flour and sea salt. Quickly knead together by hand or with a handheld mixer (use the dough hooks), just make sure not to overwork the dough, small visible spots of Chèvre and butter are fine.

Dust your work surface and a rolling pin with some flour and carefully roll it out to a rectangle, about 1 cm (0,4 inch) thick, then fold the dough like a letter into thirds (when making puff pastry this procedure is called “one turn”). Rotate and repeat the step, then wrap the dough into plastic foil and freeze for 20 to 30 minutes. Throughout the whole process it is important to work quickly, but in case the dough gets too warm and too hard to work with, just wrap it into foil and freeze for a couple of minutes. If you are having trouble keeping the edges of your dough straight, use a large ruler: push it against the sides from time to time, this helps to keep a nice rectangular shape.

Remove the dough from your freezer and repeat step no.3. Put into the freezer for another 20 to 30 minutes. In case you are completely new to making puff pastry and turning the dough, this video is a great starting point (although the dough isn’t folded into thirds).

 Preheat the oven to 200°C (~390°F) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Remove the dough from the freezer again, dust surface and rolling pin one last time and roll into a neat square (~ 18 x 18 cm/ ~ 7 x 7 inch), trimming the edges with a sharp knife if necessary. Then cut into small squares ( 3 x 3 cm/ 1,2 x 1,2 inch) using the large ruler (for measuring and pressing down the dough, while cutting) and knife or pizza cutter.
Place them on the lined baking sheet not too close to each other, then brush with the beaten egg. Top with a mix of freshly grated Gruyere and Grana Padano, then bake on middle level for about 15 minutes or until puffed and nicely golden brown (don’t get nervous, if the butter looks like it is leaking during the first minutes, that’s normal).
Place on a cooling rack – or eat right away… Best eaten the day they were made.

 

 

 


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Sweet Potato Marshmallow Biscuits

Aggggh! Thanks to Deb at Smitten Kitchen, now I have to rearrange my Thanksgiving menu, one day before the big holiday. She posted this recipe yesterday and I just saw it tonight. It has my name all over it, as I am possibly the world’s biggest sweet potato fan. My DH loves biscuits, so yes, instead of baking our sweet potatoes tomorrow, we shall bake them tonight and have f.r.e.s.h. bread tomorrow!

Deb is very clever, adding the eyeballs to the biscuits with their milky-marshmallow mouths:)

Recipe makes 12 to 14 2-inch biscuits

Ingredients

1 pound sweet potatoes (red skinned are my favorite)
1/3 cup (79 ml) buttermilk
2 cups (250 grams) all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon (15 grams) baking powder
3 tablespoons (38 grams) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground (2 grams) cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon (2 grams) table salt
5 tablespoons (71 grams) unsalted butter, cold
1 cup miniature marshmallows (optional)

Directions

The day before or a couple hours in advance: Preheat oven to 400°F. Place sweet potato on a tray and roast until soft, about 40 to 45 minutes. Let cool completely in skin (the fridge can speed this up) then peel. Either run potato flesh through a potato ricer or mash it until very smooth. You’re looking for 3/4 cup (191 grams) sweet potato puree.

You’ll probably have turned your oven off by now, so preheat it again to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Whisk 3/4 cup reserved sweet potato puree with buttermilk until smoothly combined. Keep nearby.

In the bottom of a large, wide-ish bowl, whisk flours, baking powder, sugar, spices and salt together. If you have a pastry blender, add the butter (if you have a sturdy pastry blender, no need to chop it first) and use the blender to cut the butter into the flour mixture until the biggest pieces are the size of small peas. If you don’t have a pastry blender, cut the butter into small pieces with a knife and work the butter into the flour mixture with your fingertips until the mixture resembles a coarse meal.

For both methods, continue by adding the sweet potato mixture and stir and break it up until the mixture is in big, soft chunks. Get your hands in the bowl and gently knead the dough into an even mass, using as few motions as possible (and thus, warming the dough as little as possible.).

With marshmallows: Roll or pat dough out on a floured counter to a 1/2-inch thickness and divide evenly in half. Sprinkle marshmallows loosely over half of dough. Place the second half on top of marshmallow and use rolling pin to gently press the sides together, keeping the final dough thickness at a full inch.

Without marshmallows: Roll or pat dough out on a floured counter to a 1-inch thickness.

Both methods: Dip a 2-inch biscuit cutter in flour then form biscuits by cutting straight down and not twisting — this will help give your biscuits the maximum rise. Bake biscuits on prepared sheet for 13 to 15 minutes, until puffed and slightly golden on top. Cool on rack and enjoy as soon as possible.

Do ahead: Biscuits are best on the first day that they’re baked. To make them ahead of time, arrange cut biscuits on a tray to freeze them. Once frozen, transfer them to a freezer bag until needed. Bake at same temperature straight from freezer; biscuits will take about 2 minutes longer to bake.

Don’t be looking for the goat cheese in this recipe, it’s just so nice, I had to share it with you!

 

Jam Tart (Crostata di Marmellata)

As frequent readers of this blog know, my family hails from Germany and Switzerland, and we love-love-love traditional alpine heritage foods…in particular, I (blush) desserts. So it’s natural that I’d be attracted to this tart, with its nummy buttery-sweet crust and jammy fruit filling, so akin to Linzertorte. Fabulous. So if you happen to have any yummy-plummy jam hanging around and are hankering for a sweet foil for your lightly sweetened chevre, bake up this tart and plop a dollop of the cheese on top and dig in.

I am including two pictures for this recipe, as some of you may prefer to poach plums and glaze them with plum jam, to lessen the sweetness of the filling. For those who don’t mind pure jam, jump to the bottom for the crostata pictured with jam and lattice crust top.

Start out with the recipe for the tart base:

Pasta Frolla (Sweet Pastry Dough)

This version of pasta frolla is rich and buttery, enhanced with a little lemon and orange zest. It has a crumbly shortbread texture when baked. Be sure to chill the dough thoroughly — for at least 1 hour — after making it (overnight is fine). Remove it from the refrigerator about 45 minutes before rolling it out so that the butter softens and the dough becomes pliable. Use a lightly floured surface to roll out the dough and do not overwork it. Too much flour and handling will yield a tough dough.

Makes enough dough for one 9-inch or 11-inch lattice-top crostata

Ingredients

3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for the work surface

1 cup confectioner’s sugar

1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt or table salt

Finely grated zest of 1 lemon

Finely grated zest of 1 small orange

1 cup (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

1 large egg

2 large egg yolks

Put the flour, sugar, salt, and lemon and orange zests in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Pulse briefly to combine the ingredients. Distribute the butter around the bowl and pulse until the mixture is crumbly. Add the egg and egg yolks and process until the dough just begins to come together.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and gather it together. Knead it briefly and shape it into a disk. Wrap tightly in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or until well chilled (overnight is fine). Remove the dough from the refrigerator and let it sit for 30 to 45 minutes, or until it is just pliable enough to roll, but not too soft to work with.

Cook’s Note: If you make a 9-inch crostata, you will have some leftover dough, which you can rewrap and freeze for future use, or roll out, cut into shapes and make cookies. Bake them at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes, or until lightly browned.

Now for the tart itself:

Crostata Di Marmellata (Jam Crostata)

I like the contrast of deep plum preserves against the golden lattice of the baked crostata, but just about any type of good-quality preserves will make a lovely tart, so use your favorite. This recipe is adapted from The Glorious Soups and Stews of Italy (Chronicle Books, 2006).

Makes one 9-inch lattice-top crostata

1 batch pasta frolla, ready to roll out

1 1/2 cups plum, blackberry or other fruit preserves

Confectioner’s sugar for dusting

Sweetened Chevre, whipped cream or vanilla ice cream for serving (optional)

Cut the dough disk into 2 portions, one slightly larger than the other. Rewrap the smaller portion and refrigerate. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the larger portion into an 11-inch round about 1/8 inch thick or slightly thicker. Carefully wrap the dough around the rolling pin and drape it over a 9-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. Gently press the dough into the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Use the rolling pin or the flat of your hand to press around the perimeter of the pan to cut off any excess dough. Put the lined tart pan in the refrigerator to chill for 30 minutes.

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Remove the tart pan from the refrigerator. Spoon the jam into the shell and smooth it with a spatula. Roll out the remaining dough portion into a 10-inch round about 1/8 inch thick or slightly thicker, and use a fluted pastry wheel to cut it into 3/4-inch-wide strips. Carefully place the strips over the filled tart in a lattice pattern, gently pressing the ends of the strips into the sides of the tart shell. Use the flat of your hand to gently cut off any excess dough.

Bake the crostata for about 40 minutes, or until the crust is golden. Remove from the oven and set it on a wire rack to cool to room temperature. Remove the rim of the tart pan and transfer the crostata to a decorative serving platter. Dust with confectioner’s sugar before serving. Serve with a dollop of sweetened fresh goat cheese, whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream, if you like.

This recipe in its entirety comes from NPR’s The Kitchen Window, one of my favorite sources:)

Fall Breakfast Cake

So I’m surfing around this morning, grazing on Laura Werlin’s blog, CheeseChickChat, Madame Fromage and the like, and I stumbled upon a blog I’d forgotten about, “It’s not you, it’s Brie.” From there, I got to Know Whey, and look what I found there:

Praline Squash Applesauce Breakfast Cake

YUM! Just what I needed to use up a bunch of surplus ingredients, and just perfect for a 5-day party coming up next weekend. My mom turns 80, and we kids are gathering to throw her a party. Breakfast noshes are always needed whenever the family gets together, and this one looks divine. No cheese in it, though. Sorry.

In Preparation:
Preheat oven to 350F
Spray a 9″ square pan (mine is the classic round tart pan with removable bottom) with cooking spray.
Ingredients
For the cake:
Wet ingredients:
2 eggs plus 2 additional egg whites
1/3 cup brown sugar (light or dark), packed
1/3 cup sugar
(Optional)1 Tablespoon Vermont maple Syrup, grade B
1/4 cup Thick Cinnamon Applesauce (or use finely chopped apples and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon)
1/2 cup cooked squash, scooped out of the skin
1/4 cup light cream (or milk)
Shortening:
2 ounces unsalted butter (1/2 stick), melted
Dry Ingredients:
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 and 1/4 cups flour
Nuts and Fruit:
1/4 cup pecans or walnuts, chopped
(Optional) 1/4 cup currants or golden raisins
For the topping:
2 ounces unsalted butter (1/2 stick), softened
1/3 cup brown sugar (light or dark), packed
1/3 cup pecans, chopped
5 Tablespoons flour
(Optional) 1 Tablespoon Toasted Hazelnut Flour
Process
  1. Make the Topping: In food processor bowl with blade attached, combine all topping ingredients and pulse until crumbly.  Remove this to a covered bowl while preparing the cake.
  2. Make the Cake: In the food processor, combine Wet Ingredients, pulsing to combine after each addition.
  3. Add the shortening, pulsing to combine well
  4. Add the Dry Ingedients, pulsing to just combine (do not overwork).
  5. With a spoon, Stir in the Nuts and Fruit.    Batter is now ready to use.
  6. Pour batter into the prepared pan.
  7. Bake for 10 minutes at 350F, then open oven door and sprinkle topping on the cake.  Resume baking and continue for another 15 to 20 minutes, until the cake is browned and slightly puffed.  Check for doneness in the center of the cake with a toothpick, which should come out clean.
  8. When done, remove cake to rack to cool for 15 minutes, then remove the outer pan, if using a removable-bottom pan.
Thanks to Sue of Know Whey for the recipe and pix. We are going to have a blast!

The Birchwood – a PERFECT Grilled Cheese Sandwich

The Wisconsin Cheese Marketing folks have got it going on, my friends. They are sharp, ahead of the curve, and sooooo good at tantalizing your tastebuds for cheese-centered dishes. I take my cheesemaker’s hat off to them. Kudos.

One of my favorite websites from them is The Grilled Cheese Academy, wherein they assault the reader with one delectable variant of the standard grilled cheese sandwich after another. And they are all to die for. I swear. The following entry felled me like a tree. It’s up for lunch tomorrow. Only because I already had dinner on the way when I found it tonight. Get on board, it’s bound to be a legend at your house.

Ingredients

No. of Servings: 4

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 7 tablespoons butter, at room temperature, divided
  • 1 yellow or Spanish onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 6-8 ounces mushrooms such as cremini, button, portabello or shiitake, sliced 1/8″ thick
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme, chopped
  • 8 slices whole-grain bread
  • 4 slices Wisconsin Cheddar cheese
  • 4 slices Wisconsin Aged Brick cheese or aged goat cheese
  • 4 large eggs

Cooking Directions

For caramelized onions: Heat large sauté pan over high heat; add olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter; heat. Add sliced onions and sugar. Cook without stirring for 2 minutes. Stir in pinch of salt and pepper. Cook, stirring at intervals, for another 5-8 minutes to brown onions. Add water and stir for 1 minute. Remove to a bowl and set aside.

Return pan to heat and add 1 tablespoon butter and melt; add mushrooms. Add pinch of salt and pepper and cook on medium-high heat for 3-5 minutes. Add chopped herbs and cook for 2 minutes. Remove to bowl.

Spread butter evenly on one side of the bread slices. Heat skillet or sauté pan over medium heat; place a bread slice, butter-side down, in skillet. Top with slice of Cheddar; add about 1 tablespoon each of mushrooms and onions, then top with slice of Aged Brick or aged goat cheese and another piece of bread, butter-side up. Grill for 2 minutes, then carefully flip over, cooking to a golden brown and melting the cheeses. Repeat with remaining ingredients (3 additional sandwiches). Place sandwiches on serving plates and return skillet to the heat. Add 1 tablespoon butter and fry eggs sunny side up over medium heat. Season with pinch of salt and pepper and fry until whites are just set. Place an egg on top of each sandwich and serve immediately.

Now normally I don’t like orange colored cheese. I feel strongly that cheese should resemble the milk from which it is made, not Orange Fanta or Nehi. But the seductiveness of the cheddar hooked me here. See if you don’t want to just reach out and grab this sandwich off the page.

Have mercy!

Thanks to the wizards of Wisconsin cheese marketing. Vermont, I love your cheese, but y’all should take a marketing lesson from Madison!

Crumbly Plum Tarte

Oh, good grief! Just what I need for plum season! And so many of my favorite characteristics for a dessert: crunch, chew, fruit (and it’s my favorite: damson plums!), crumbles, the perfect foil for whipped cream…need I go on?

 

 

 

 

 

Crust and crumbs
3/4 cup unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), chilled, cut into small pieces, plus more for pan
1/3 cup (1 3/4 ounces of 49 grams) hazelnuts
1 1/2 cups (188 grams) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup packed light or dark brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon table salt

Filling
1 pound ripe but firm plums (about 4 standard black ones or 12 smaller Italian plums; I used a mix of both)
1 tablespoon (8 grams) all-purpose flour
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (6 tablespoons) granulated sugar
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 large egg yolk
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Grated nutmeg, optional

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-inch springform pan; set aside. Spread hazelnuts on a baking sheet. Bake until fragrant, about 10 to 15 minutes, then let cool enough to remove the skins.* Place nuts in the bowl of a food processor, and pulse until medium fine, about 30 pulses.

Transfer nuts to the bowl of an electric mixer and add 1 1/2 cups flour, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, and 1/2 teaspoon salt; mix until just combined. Add butter, and mix on low speed until crumbs begin to stick together, about 2 to 3 minutes. Press 3 cups of crumb into the bottom of the prepared pan and about 1 1/2 inches up the sides of the pan to form crust; I like to use the bottom and side of a heavy measuring cup to help press the crumbs neatly down and up the side, forming a nice inner corner. Set remaining crumb mixture (about 1 1/2 cups) aside. Transfer crust to the oven; bake until it appears to be set, 15 to 20 minutes; go easy on this baking time as I found it was easy to overbake the outer corners of the tart base in the final baking. It’s going to slump a wee bit in the oven; feel free to press the sides back up the sides with the back of a metal spoon when it comes out of the oven to get them back in place. Set aside to cool.

Slice plums in half, and remove pits. Slice larger plums into eighths and smaller ones into quarters and arrange in cooled crust. In a medium bowl, whisk together 1 tablespoon flour and 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar. Whisk in egg, egg yolk, heavy cream, milk, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and a few gratings of fresh. Pour custard over fruit; sprinkle with reserved crumb mixture. Transfer tart to the oven; bake until custard has set and is slightly golden, 45 to 50 minutes. Let rest at least 25 minutes before cutting if serving warm. You can serve this warm or at room temperature but we much preferred it fully chilled.

On toasting and skinning hazelnuts: The trick to getting the skins off it to toast them quite well; keep an eye on them so they don’t burn, but let them get some color. That extra color will translate to deeper flavor and looser skins. Some people like to rub the nuts in a dishtowel to loosen the skins. Or, with dry hands, roll a few together between palms until the skins come off and the mess stays on the tray. In general, I almost never get all of the skins off but it doesn’t matter; as long as most of the skins are removed, you won’t have any nagging bitterness.

Once again, the recipe brilliance (and alluring photo) are thanks to Deb at Smitten Kitchen. I am really in her debt:)

 

And no, you didn’t miss the cheese ingredient. It isn’t in here. For once.

 

 

 

Whole Wheat Raspberry-Chevre Scones

Here I am again with a new scone recipe. Yes, I am taking the lazy way  out…Smitten Kitchen had me at “scone” this morning. But I smashed my finger badly in the door yesterday and just can’t type worth a darn, so this passes as a new blog entry this week, I’m afraid. And I will inclide Deb’s pic of the scones in place of my bruised and blood-blistered finger….darn, door hinges bite!!! Enjoy!

The trickiest thing about these is the dampness of the dough. Yet that same trickiness is they bake into something that seems impossibly moist for a scone, and especially a whole wheat one. Keep your counter and your hands well floured and you won’t have any trouble getting them from bowl to counter to oven to belly, which, after all, is the whole point.

1 cup (120 grams) whole wheat flour
1 cup (125 grams) all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder, preferably aluminum-free
1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon table salt
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
1 cup (136 grams or 4 3/4 ounces) fresh raspberries
3/4 cup (189 grams) chevre
1/3 cup (79 ml) heavy cream

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. In the bottom of a large, wide-ish bowl, whisk flours, baking powder, sugar and salt together.

With a pastry blender: Add the butter (no need to chop it first) and use the blender to both cut the butter into the flour mixture until the biggest pieces are the size of small peas. Toss in raspberries and use the blender again to break them into halves and quarter berry sized chunks.

Without a pastry blender: Cut the butter into small pieces with a knife and work the butter into the flour mixture with your fingertips until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. Roughly chop the raspberries on a cutting board and stir them into the butter-flour mixture.

Both methods: Add the chevre and heavy cream together and stir them in to form a dough with a flexible spatula.Using your hands, gently knead dough into an even mass, right in the bottom of the bowl. Don’t fret if the raspberries get muddled and smudge up the dough. This is a pretty thing.

With as few movements as possible, transfer the dough to a well-floured counter, flour the top of the dough and pat it into a 7-inch square about 1-inch tall. With a large knife, divide the dough into 9 even squares. Transfer the scones to prepared baking sheet with a spatula. Bake the scones for about 15 minutes, until lightly golden at the edges. Cool in pan for a minute, then transfer to a cooling rack. It’s best to cool them about halfway before eating them, so they can set a bit more.

Do ahead: Scones are always best the day they are baked. However, if you wish to get a lead on them, you can make them, arrange them on your parchment-lined sheet and freeze them raw for later baking.

If you’re prepping just one day in advance, cover the tray with plastic wrap and bake them the day you need them.

If you’re preparing them more than one day in advance, once the raw pillows are frozen, transfer them to a freezer bag or container. Bring them back to a parchment-lined sheet when you’re ready to bake them. No need to defrost the frozen, unbaked scones, just add 2 to 3 minutes to your baking time.

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen’s recipe for raspberry-ricotta scones.