Thursday, January 27, 2011

Rosemary Focaccia

Prep Time: 30-35 minutes (mostly hands-off time)
Rise Time: 2 hours (shape after 1 hour)
Bake Time: 23-25 minutes

Grade: A-

Make Again: Yes

Recipe Source: Baking Illustrated
Recipe Source: Cook's Illustrated (May 1997)

I just noticed when looking for the link to the recipe on CI's website that they have a new recipe that they published this past summer. I will have to try that one later.  This was good, but I'm not sure I'm compelled to make again soon, so it will be interesting to try the other one.

I used no oil on top, but the oil from pan added enough richness. This was an easy recipe, but you do need to boil a potato which adds to the complexity a touch.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Soft Pretzels

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Rise Time: 2+ hours
Assemble Time: 15-20 minutes
Bake Time: 12-16 minutes

Grade: A

Make Again: Yes

Recipe Source: Baking Illustrated

These are not the most attractive pretzels. I never get the salt to stick, and I am not great at shaping them, but they are delicious.

I made these years ago when I first got Baking Illustrated, but it has been at least 3 years. I forgot how good they are.

These are pretty easy to make. The only trouble is rolling them out and boiling them, but even that isn't too hard. My dough didn't rise well (it is cold) and the dough a little tight, so I had trouble rolling some pieces out to 20" like I was supposed to. I just left the hardest pieces to roll in shorter logs, and they still came out great. Next time I may just make them that way instead of rolling to keep the recipe even simpler.

I did burn the bottoms though, so I will have to watch that next time also. 

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Quick and Hearty Chicken Noodle Soup

Stock Prep Time: 23 minutes
Stock Cook Time: 50-55 minutes
Soup Prep Time: 8 minutes (I prepped some with the stock)
Soup Cook Time: 20-25 minutes

Grade: A

Make Again: Yes

Recipe Source: America's Test Kitchen TV Show (Season 10) (Recipe at link)
Recipe Source: Best of America's Test Kitchen 2010
Recipe Source: Cook's Illustrated (January 2009)

Note: This is on the TV show website, so click link above and print, if you would like the recipe. It will probably be available through this year only.

I rarely make homemade chicken noodle soup, because dealing with chicken parts grosses me out. This recipe is pretty simple though, and most of the stock flavor comes from using ground chicken. That is nice and easy. You do have to cut two chicken breasts (on the bone) in half and simmer them in the stock for 30 minutes which also provides some of the flavor (and the meat for the soup.) Cutting the breasts was the hardest part for me. (I'll skip the details on why, because I don't want this to be an unappetizing read!)

The recipe ends up taking about 2 hours from start to finish, but there is really only 35-40 minutes of hands on time, so it is not a lot of work.

The soup was really, really good. The man in my life, who just really doesn't care that much about food (much to my dismay) said after his first bite "Wow, this is good." To elicit that response means it really was good. The broth was very flavorful and potatoes and carrots were perfectly cooked, along with the chicken. I used a frozen thicker Egg Noodle. Mrs Reames (I think.) It was my first time with them, and I think I would use them again, because they are more substantial. I didn't have parsley, so I added some peas at the last moment for a bit of green. I would definitely do that again. I also cut the chicken instead of tearing it, because I hate tearing the chicken.

Next time I make this, I might try doing the stock the day before and letting everything cool down first, so that removing the fat is easier (and you can get more of it.)

I'm not going to make this an A+ recipe yet, but it may get upgraded if after my second attempt I still like it as much.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Chocolate Truffle Tart

Crust Prep Time: 9 minutes
Crust Chill Time: 1 hour 
Crust Assemble Time: 10 minutes
Crust Chill Time: 30 minutes
Crust Bake Time: 30 minutes
Chill Time: 2+ hours

Grade: A

Make Again: Yes
Recipe Source: Cook's Illustrated (December 2006)
Recipe Source: Best of 2007

This is quite delicious, but pretty rich. It takes a while to put together, but it really is not difficult. I struggle with rolling out dough, but did ok with this one. I made a half recipe and used 8" tart pan. I used the extra scraps to make a mini tart, seen above.

I would definitely make again, but will serve with ice cream next time to cut the richness, I think.