Since its release in 2014, one recipe from Ottelenghi’s Plenty More has been receiving an awful lot of attention – cauliflower cake. It’s one of the first recipes I bookmarked as well, and it only took me about 18 months to get around to making it. Sadly, for me, that’s not too long.
I was so intrigued by this recipe, mostly because here in the U.S. anything with “cake” in it is expected to be sweet and is reserved to dessert or the occasional breakfast. This cake, however, adorned with beautiful purple onion rings, clearly this was a different story. This brave cake was not going the route of cowardly zucchini bread where the cook takes care to hide vegetable’s flavor beneath layers of sugar, spice, and butter. Continue reading
Last week one of my coworkers brought a giant bag of lemons to work and offered some to me. I graciously took some because I happened to be craving our favorite chicken wraps for dinner. We had the wraps, which we usually consume wrapped in a thin tortilla, for dinner that night when a wonderful thought occurred to me.
I was a few bites into my wrap when I turned to Mr. Eats and said, “What if I made these into nachos?”
I’m pretty sure he thought it was a terrible idea, even after I explained that they would be topped with the very same toppings we were eating at that exact moment. But, I didn’t let his lack of enthusiasm dissuade me at all. In this line of work, it’s a common occurrence for the people around you think you’re completely off your rocker when you try to explain your food visions to them. So I soldiered on.
So when the weekend rolled around and I made my nacho dreams come true.
As someone who enjoys baking, sometimes I tend to forget about the other half of the world. You know, that “savory” half. Baking isn’t all about cupcakes and muffins.
And honestly, sometimes there are only so many sweets you can take… I mean it’s rare but every once in a while I hit a wall where I feel like I am literally going to hurl if I see one. more. freaking. cookie. Like for real.
Enter: these crackers. Your saviors. They are here to give you a delightfully salty treat when one more cookie is the last thing you need. They are light and crisp and packed with cheesy flavor, thanks to the extra sharp cheddar.
You don’t have to use cheddar, but you will want to use a nice strong cheese to make sure your flavors stand out. Some browning on the bottom of your cracker will also help you in this department, as will a sprinkle of smoked paprika on top… if you feel so inclined.
- 8 Tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 1 cup grated extra sharp cheddar cheese*
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/8 teaspoon white pepper
- Pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
- 1 cup + 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
- In the bowl of a food processor, pulse butter until it is broken up. Add the cheese, salt, and spices and pulse until the mixture forms small curd-like pieces.
- Add flour and pulse until the dough forms into a loose dough with pea-sized clumps, about 1 minute.
- Turn dough out onto a clean work surface and knead it gently until a cohesive dough forms. Divide the dough in half and pat each half into a disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour, or until firm.
- Working 1 disk at a time, roll the dough out between sheets of parchment to 1/4-inch thick. Using a cookie or biscuit cutter, cut into round disks (I used a 1-inch cutter), placing the rounds onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Gather the scraps and re-roll and cut the remaining dough (I did this twice). Repeat with second disk of dough.
- Place baking sheet, lightly wrapped with plastic, in the refrigerator until you are ready to bake.
- When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350F degrees. If desired, sprinkle disks with sea salt and bake for 15 to 17 minutes until the bottoms start to brown.
- Once you remove them from the oven, sprinkle them with sweet or smoked paprika and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
* Dorie uses Gruyere in her book, she also recommends Comte or Emmenthal as well. Any semi-firm cheese should work here.
* This dough can either be rolled and cut, as in the directions, or chilled into a log and sliced into 1/4-inch disks. Whichever you prefer.
[ Recipe from Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan]
Back home we have this restaurant called Olga’s Kitchen. It’s nothing fancy, but it was located in our town’s main shopping mall, which means I spent a fair amount of time there in my youth.
The main draw of Olga’s Kitchen is their “Olga Bread.” Olga Bread is an extremely soft, pliable, slightly sweet, pocketless flatbread. They serve their gyros, shawarma, and even ham and cheese enveloped in this warm, fluffy stuff, but my favorite way to eat it was always just straight up.
While I was waxing nostalgic to one of my aunts about Olgas, she mentioned to me that she had a recipe for the famed bread and would be happy to share it with me. Skeptical as I am about pretty much all recipes, I knew she wouldn’t steer me wrong… and she didn’t. The result was pretty darn close to the real thing.
I used butter in place of the margarine called for in the recipe, since I don’t own margarine and reading a recipe before I make it is way too much work. The butter gave the bread a more buttery flavor, but I think using margarine would have extended their shelf life as these were a bit stiff by day two. That being said, a few minutes in a preheated oven made them good as new, but if you want to give the recipe a shot with margarine be my guest.
I used our Olga breads to hold our chicken wraps, and then it masqueraded as a naan-replacement to dip into a saucy dinner the next night.
I haven’t been there in years, but Olga’s Kitchen is still around (I looked it up) and is apparently only located in Ohio & Michigan, which means making this recipe is about as close as you are likely to get to the real thing.
- 1 cup milk
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter or margarine, melted (see notes)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 package active dry yeast
- 1/4 cup lukewarm water (105 - 115F degrees)
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 4 cups flour, divided
- Heat milk to a simmer, then remove from heat. Add honey and butter and pour into a large bowl to cool.
- In a small bowl stir sugar into warm water and add yeas packet. Set aside to bloom, about 5 minutes.
- Add 1 cup flour to milk mixture and stir well.
- Add egg and yeast mixture to flour mixture; stir to combine.
- Add additional 1 cup flour and stir to combine. Continue adding flour, 1/4 or 1/2 cup at a time, until sticky dough is formed, don't worry if you don't use all of the flour.
- Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead for 2 minutes until it forms a smooth and cohesive ball. The dough will still be quite loose and sticky, this is how you want it to be, DO NOT add more flour.
- Pour 1 tablespoon of neutral vegetable oil into a large bowl and place dough into bowl. Toss once to coat and cover bowl with plastic wrap. Place in a warm place until dough has doubled in size, about 1 hour.
- When ready to form dough, punch dough down and divide into 16 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a thin circle, about 8 inches in diameter. I found this was easiest to do by covering the top of the dough with plastic wrap while rolling, which prevented the sticky dough from attaching itself to my rolling pin. Then, I layered each round between plastic wrap to keep from sticking together.
- When ready to cook, heat a 10-inch dry skillet (or griddle pan) over medium-high heat.
- Drop dough onto pan and cook for about 20-.30 seconds per side. The first side will be well-browned and the second side will be more splotchy. Transfer to towel-lined plate to keep warm while cooking the rest.
- Store in an airtight container at room temperature. After the first day, bread is best served reheated in the oven or on a skillet to restore its soft, pliable texture. After the second day, any unused bread can be frozen in an freezer-safe bag and reheated for later use.
*I used butter in place of margarine which gave the bread a more buttery flavor, but I think using margarine would have extended their shelf life as these were a bit stiff by day two. This is easily remedied by reheating the olga bread to restore pliability.
*I made this by hand, using a spatula and a bowl, because I was too lazy to take out my mixer. You could definitely cut down on prep time by using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment or dough hook, if desired.
My favorite time of year is here – IT’S FALL IT’S FALL IT’S FALL! Although I don’t get to enjoy the smell of crisp fall mornings nor enjoy watching the leafs change colors, I do get a reprieve from triple digit temperatures. I don’t think we hit 100 at all this week and I’m feeling super pumped about it.
My plan this week, guys, was to get back into the swing of things. I had a plan to make all the things, photograph those things, and then tell you all about those things. I made it 2/3 of the way through that plan. I made all the things, I photographed those things, and then I promptly lost my camera’s SD card, and therefore all the pictures of the things I had made, and then I cried a thousand tears of sadness. (Not really, but I was medium annoyed).
I had put the card in my pocket for safe-keeping and apparently was unaware that there was a black hole in my pocket that was hungry for SD cards. I retraced my steps over and over and over again looking for my poor little card but alas there was no card to be found.
Fear not, I have ordered a new SD card for the camera which, with any luck, should arrive in time for this weekend and for new cooking adventures. Which MEANS, there is a chance I can get back on the blog-wagon by next week.
*Fingers-crossed**Knock on wood**Whatever-else-you-do-to-create-good-luck*
So, instead of all the pumpkin things I made last weekend, you get this. Which is a potato salad that I made for a BBQ at my father in law’s house. I snapped a quick picture on my iPhone before we left the house so I decided I would share it with you because something is better than nothing, right? 🙂
- 2 pounds redskin potatoes, diced into 1/2-inch cubes
- Chicken stock (or vegetable stock, or water); enough to cover the potatoes by at least 1 inch
- 1 Tablespoon of salt
- 1 large shallot, finely minced
- 3 stalks celery, finely diced
- 4 slices bacon, finely diced
- 3 Tablespoons (ish) fresh-snipped chives, reserve some for decoration
- 1/3 cup mayonnaise
- 1 to 2 Tablespoon sour cream
- 1 to 2 teaspoons yellow or stone ground mustard
- 1/2 to 1 teaspoon smoked paprika*
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- Salt & Pepper, to taste
Prepare the potatoes:
- Dice potatoes and put into a large pot. Cover with water or stock by 1-inch and add tablespoon of salt.
- Bring pot of potatoes to a boil over high heat and cook until potatoes are slightly tender but still firm. (You should be able to easily pierce them with a fork but you don't want them to fall apart when you do so).
- Strain potatoes and set aside to cool slightly. Taste one piece of potato so that you know how much salt you will need to add to the dressing.
Make the dressing:
- In a large bowl mix mayo, sour cream, mustard, paprika, garlic powder, and a generous helping of salt and pepper. A dash of hot sauce or chipotle is good here too, if you're into that sort of thing. It's not against the rules to try a taste of the dressing before you toss the potatoes in to make sure that the flavor is balanced. Keep in mind you want it to taste a bit "strong" plain since the potatoes will absorb and mute the flavor a bit.
- Throw the potatoes into the bowl with the dressing and toss to combine. Add the shallot, celery, bacon, and chives and continue tossing to combine. If necessary, add another tablespoon or two of mayo or sour cream.*
- Once your salad is tossed to your liking, place in the fridge uncovered until chilled (to avoid that pesky condensation). Once chilled, cover tightly with plastic wrap until ready to serve. Potato can be made (and is usually better made) one day ahead.
- Sprinkle with extra chives and paprika just before serving to make it look pretty.
*I like my potato salad to have a bit more "kick" so I tend to be a little heavy-handed with my spices. If you're afraid of smoked paprika, start with the smaller 1 teaspoon amount. If not, go for the larger amount.
*I tend to like my potato salad to be very lightly-dressed, others prefer theirs to be loaded with mayo. If you prefer the latter, feel free to add more mayo and/or sour cream to your dressing, you'll get no judgment from me!