Monday, May 28, 2012

Radish App

I'm glad you all wanted to come to our restaurant Raphanus!!  Today's the day that I get to share my radish appetizer with you, and boy am I excited.  Why am I so excited?  Well, I actually fell for the root vegetable I had for so long considered verboten.  Roasted with vanilla, I'll happily eat a whole bunch!

I utilized radishes in all their glory with this appetizer; slicing some, cutting others into wedges, even transforming the leaves into a pesto!  Hints of citrus and vanilla are found in the dish, and they really elevated the flavors.  You'll see them in Evelyne and Faith's creations as well.  Without further ado...
Vanilla Roasted Radishes over Crispy Polenta Rounds w/Radish Leaf Pesto & Crispy Radish!

A composed plate, celebrating the radish

While it may seem like a complicated dish, you could also view it as getting four recipes for the price of one ;)  Each of these components could stand on their own-- the pesto tossed with some pasta, crispy radish chips as a snack, vanilla roasted radishes next to any main dish and crispy polenta rounds with your favorite topper.  Possibilities abound!

Crispy Polenta Rounds
adapted from Orangette

3c water
1c almond milk (or more water)
1c polenta
1t kosher salt
2T butter
1/2c finely grated parmesan

Bring water and almond milk to a simmer over medium heat.  Whisk in polenta, reduce heat and cook on low, whisking frequently.  Cook for 30min-1hr, until polenta is thick but still fluid.  Add salt, butter and parmesan and whisk well to combine.  Spread out, 1" thick, into two 9x9 pans.  Cool, then refrigerate until firm.

When ready to assemble appetizer, cut wedges out of polenta (I used a round cookie cutter).  Heat a cast iron skillet (or your favorite nonstick one) over medium heat.  Cook each of the polenta wedges a few minutes on each side, until they start to brown and get a little crispy.

To serve, top polenta rounds with vanilla roasted radishes and serve alongside radish leaf pesto and crispy radish chips, see below.

Vanilla Roasted Radishes

1 bunch radishes
1/2T extra virgin olive oil
1/2T butter, melted
1/4t sugar
1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped out
sea salt, to taste

Preheat oven to 400deg.

Remove radishes from stems, saving the leaves for the pesto.  Cut them into wedges; for larger radishes I cut them into sixths, but smaller ones I kept in quarters.  Toss them with olive oil, melted butter, sugar, seeds from the vanilla bean and a sprinkle of salt.  Spread out onto a cookie sheet and bake for 20-30min, until they are beginning to caramelize around the edges.  Remove and set aside until ready to top the crispy polenta.

Radish Leaf Pesto

1c packed radish leaves (from 2 bunches)
zest of 1 small lemon
1-2 garlic cloves
.75oz almonds
~1/4c finely grated parmesan
pinch of red pepper flakes
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
extra virgin olive oil

Wash the radish leaves and then add them to the bowl of a food processor or blender.  Add the rest of the ingredients except olive oil and pulse to combine.  With the motor running, drizzle in enough olive oil to reach your desired consistency.  I left mine a little chunky and served it along side my crispy polenta topped with vanilla roasted radishes.

Radish Chips
adapted from Simple Comfort Food

1 bunch of radishes
1/4t garlic powder
1/2t smoked paprika
generous pinch of salt
pinch of pepper
1T extra virgin olive oil

Preheat the oven to 350deg.

Remove radishes from their stems, keeping the leaves for the pesto.  Slice radishes as thin as you can get them, 1/4" or less.  Add them to a bowl, cover with saran wrap and microwave for 40sec.  Drain and then add spices (garlic powder through pepper).  Starting by adding ~1/2T olive oil, then toss well to coat.  Add more olive oil if you need to, you just don't want them too wet.

Spread radish slices in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (a pizza stone also works).  Bake for 15min, then lower the oven to 225deg.  Flip the radish slices over and bake another 20min or more, until they are dried out and crisp.  Remove from the oven and serve alongside roasted radish-topped polenta and radish leaf pesto.

Don't forget to check out dinner and dessert over at Cheap Ethnic Eatz and An Edible Mosaic!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Poppyseed Bread

Over the years, I've been doing my best to learn some of the foods I grew up eating with the Polish side of my family; things like potato pierogies, babka, nut bread and our christmas barszcz.  One of the recipes that has evaded me was Poppyseed Bread (or roll).

By now you've probably figured out that it didn't evade me this year ;)  With some translation help from Magda, I made a poppyseed bread that would've made anyone fail their drug test!  Actually, I have no idea if it would or not, but we all kept going back for more so I can only imagine.

Poppyseed Bread
from my Babka recipe & Moje Wypieki
Yield:  2-3 loaves

For the bread:
1c milk
1/2c butter
1/2c sugar plus scant 1T, divided
1t salt
2 pkg yeast
1/2c warm water
4-6c AP flour
1t grated or dried lemon peel
2 eggs, beaten

For the filling:
500g poppyseeds
250g sugar (or a little less)
100g raisins
50g chopped walnuts
1T honey
almond extract, a few drops
cinnamon, as much as you like (I'm always generous)
1T butter, softened
6 egg whites  (save the yolks for an egg wash)

Combine butter, milk, 1/2c sugar and salt in a small pot and turn on heat on low.  Once the butter has melted and sugar has dissolved, remove from heat and let cool to lukewarm.

Once the butter/milk mixture has cooled, add warm water to a small bowl and sprinkle with yeast and scant tablespoon of sugar.  Let stand 5-10min, until bubbly.

In the bowl of a stand mixture, add cooled butter/milk mixture and eggs, then using the whisk attachment mix until well combined.  Add 2c flour and lemon peel and mix well.  Change to the dough hook and with the machine running, add flour until the dough begins to pull away from the bowl.  Remove dough and place on a floured surface.  Continue to knead and add flour until the dough is smooth and no longer sticky.  Place in a bowl sprayed with nonstick spray, cover with a towel, and let rise in a warm place until doubled.

While the dough is rising, prepare the filling.  Bring 500ml water to a boil, and then pour over poppyseeds in a medium bowl.  Set aside to cool.  The original recipe said to grind the poppyseeds twice, but I didn't have much luck with a coffee grinder or blender, so I just proceeded with the recipe and it turned out fine.  If you want to try grinding, best of luck!  Add sugar (I started with 150g), raisins, walnuts, honey, almond extract, cinnamon and butter and mix well.  In a clean bowl, whip egg whites until they form soft peaks.  Gently fold egg whites into the poppyseed mixture and taste.  Add more sugar, if necessary (I ended up using adding a bit more).

Preheat oven to 350deg.

Once the dough has doubled in size, punch down.  Cut the dough into 3 pieces (when I did two they came out way too large!) and cover them with a towel.  One at a time, roll out each piece of dough into a rectangle.  Spread out 1/3 of the poppyseed filing, leaving 1" on the edges.  Starting from the long side of the dough, roll up tightly.  Transfer to a cookie sheet (I baked mine on a pizza stone) and brush with the an egg wash made from several yolks mixed with a drop or two of water.

Bake in preheated oven for 30-45min (the time will depend on the size of the loaf), until the bread is golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped.  Let cool on a rack before cutting.

Looking at these pictures again, my mouth is watering!  While we usually make this for Easter, I'm thinking there's no reason not to enjoy it any time of year :)

Have you every tried a poppyseed roll?  Or ever tried grinding poppyseeds--any advice??

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Red Velvet Macarons

Hope I didn't keep you waiting too long for the second batch of macarons that Elina and I made... trust me though, they're worth it!  Chocolate-y shells filled with a delectable cinnamon cream cheese buttercream.

They're so photogenic, I'll let them speak for themselves :)  Be sure to check out my first macaron post for more tips and lessons I learned!!

Red Velvet Macarons
adapted from Tartelette and An Edible Mosaic
Yield:  20-25

I only used about half the buttercream.  Whether that means I under-filled my macarons, I'm not sure, but I think it was a actually a good amount that prevented them from being overly sweet.  The extra frosting was perfect on these!

For the macaron shells:
110g aged egg whites, RT*
dash salt
25g evaporated cane juice (or granulated sugar)
100g sifted almond flour
200g powdered sugar
1- 1 1/2T cocoa powder
red food coloring (I used the gel kind)

For the Cinnamon Cream Cheese Buttercream:
4T butter, RT
4oz Nufatchel, RT
1/2t vanilla extract
8oz powdered sugar
3/4t cinnamon

In a medium bowl, sift together powdered sugar and cocoa powder.  Add sifted almond flour and whisk together.

Using a stand or handheld mixer, whip egg whites and salt on medium-low until foamy.  Add the evaporated cane juice and continue beating, on medium high until you have flossy, medium-stiff peaks.  If you pick up the beater, the egg whites shouldn't drip off.

Add almond flour/powdered sugar mix to the egg whites.  Add food coloring to a rubber spatula and then get ready for the macronage!  Macronage, or the combining of egg whites with the almond flour/sugar mixture, actually deflates the egg whites so you don't have to be too careful with the folding.   Fold, vigorously at first, then a bit slower to evaluate the batter consistency.  The whole process shouldn't take more than 50 strokes (I didn't count).

What should perfectly-mixed batter looked like?  I've seen it described several ways, but the easiest way for me to test was to put a small amount on a plate; it should form a smooth dome when ready, if it forms a peak it is under-mixed and requires a few more folds.  You want to avoid over-mixed batter, which will be a bit runny and have the consistency of pancake batter.  Alternatively, you can use your spatula to lift and drop the batter onto itself; if the ribbon gradually disappears into the batter within 30sec, it's ready to go.

Spoon the batter into a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2" tip or a plastic ziploc bag.  Line cookie sheets with parchment paper and pipe batter into 1" circles, leaving ~1" in between each macaron shell.  I found a great template to use for piping the shells from Kevin and Amanda that I slide under the parchment paper to get the appropriate size.  Don't forget to remove the paper template before baking!  Tap the baking sheet (firmly!) on the counter several times to dislodge any air bubbles that might cause cracks when they're baking.

Let the macaron shells sit at RT for 30-60min, during which time the shell should become dry to the touch.

Preheat your oven to 300deg.  (I did this about the 30min mark, and by the time it was preheated it was about 60min after piping the macarons)

Bake macarons in preheated oven for 15-20min, or until the parchment peels away cleanly from the macaron.  If you see wet batter below the shell, it's not done yet.  Once the macaron shells have baked, let them cool completely on the pan.

The shells can be made a few days ahead and stored in a ziploc bag until you fill them.

To prepare the buttercream, whisk together powdered sugar and cinnamon.  Cream together butter and nufatchel until light and fluffy.  Add vanilla extract and blend until combined, then add the sugar mixture and beat until smooth.

To assemble the macarons (should be done at least 24hrs before you need them!), match up similarly sized macarons.  Pipe or spoon filling onto the bottom of one macaron, then place another on top of the filling (I actually used a spatula).  I didn't measure the filling, I just didn't want to overfill them so the buttercream oozed out the sides when I transported them.

Store assembled macarons in a parchment-lined airtight container and store in the fridge for at least 24hrs (up to a week or so).  Let the macarons come to room temperature before serving (an hour or so should do).

These pictures are making me drool again...  I'm itching to make another batch already!!  I know some people that won't complain either ;)  With a lemon curd filling, would you like to see lavender or ginger shells?
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