Wednesday, June 30, 2010


Gyros, Taziki sauce and pitas- these are a few of of favorite things. Sadly, Augusta is very much lacking in the Greek Restaurant Realm. I did just find out about one restaurant- Dino's Chicago Express with two locations in Evans and Martinez, and there is a Greek Festival in October, but for now, I'm filling our gyro needs on my own.

I wanted to make the soft pita bread often found at Greek Restaurants, not the pockety kind. The closest thing I could tell to make was Naan, a yeasted and grilled flatbread bread usually found at Indian restaurants. The flavor was wonderful, but the Naan ended up about twice as thick as I wanted it to be. Maybe I should have rolled it even thinner to account for the rising on the griddle. If anyone knows a solution, or has a recipe for gyro pitas, I'd love to hear from you.

In any case, the Naan was delicious and would make a great accompaniment to many, many meals. I ate one and a half straight up plain even before we sat down to our meal.

Naan Recipe, found on

Allow about 3 hours for the finished product, but only about 30 minutes hands on time.

1 (.25 oz) packet of active dry yeast (i used instant yeast)
1 cup warm water
1/4 cup white sugar
3 T milk
1 egg, beaten
2 t salt
4 1/2 cups bread flour
2 t minced garlic (optional)
1/4 cup butter, melted

If using active dry yeast, soak the yeast in the water for 10 minutes, until bubbly. If using instant yeast, don't wait the 10 minutes after adding the water, just plow ahead. Combine the yeast-water with the sugar, milk, egg, salt and enough flour to make a soft dough. Knead for 6-8 minutes on a floured surface, until smooth, adding flour as needed.

Place the dough in an oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a damp cloth and allow to rise for about an hour, until the dough has doubled in volume.

Punch down the dough and knead in the garlic, if using. Pull off pieces about the size of golf balls, roll into balls, and place on a tray to rise, covered, for about 30 minutes.

Preheat the grill to high. I used our pancake griddle.

Roll out a piece of dough into a thin circle. Lightly oil the grill. Grill 2-3 minutes, and brush the uncooked side before turning over and cooking an additional few minutes. Brush the cooked side with butter too because it is tasty stuff.

Continue the process with all your dough balls!

Our meal consisted of chicken cooked with oregano, thinly sliced red onions, tomatoes, bag cabbage mix and taziki sauce. And it was awesome.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Chocolate. Pudding.

Let's get one thing out in the open before we start: I love, nay, ADORE chocolate pudding.

Chocolate pudding and I have a bit of a history, and I feel close enough to you to share it with you. It's kind of extensive.

I was home schooled in 4th and 5th grade. It was a great time- our curriculum was The Prairie Primer, based on the Laura Ingalls Wilder Little House on the Prairie series. Projects included: making molasses candy hardened on snow, blowing up a hogs' bladder and playing soccer with it and making "hasty pudding" with cornmeal.

Anyway, I remember that most days for lunch, I'd find a box of instant pudding in the cabinet, add milk, and eat the ENTIRE THING for lunch. This was the start of what I consider to be a chubby phase. Who knows who kept buying the pudding to feed my addiction (Mom!)

Instant pudding make occasional appearances in my life through middle school and high school, until college, when I discovered Cook n Serv pudding. I thought "What have I been doing with this instant pudding stuff? It can't touch cook n serv." My obsession with Cook n Serv Chocolate Pudding almost matched the obsession with Rice Pudding, just ask my roommates.

I was in a poetry class at the time, and I even wrote a poem about pudding. It ended up being inadvertently sensual (which my professor loved), and if you don't mind indulging me, here it is:

Childish, I know, but I truly believed in Instant.

Immediate gratification was my mantra.

How foolish I felt, after years of haughtily wondering

Why anyone would spend the time or wait

When I finally found for myself what some already knew:

Agitated chocolate, glutinous with living,

Palpable fragrance escaping every pore

With every bubble burst it thickens sweetly

And deepens in the swampy layer beneath.

Oh so smooth into perfect containers!

Picked for shallow depth that makes the skin silky.

Hot and luxurious, coating its escape with

Sugar and fat molecules like cocoa butter on the body

Rake the bottom and harvest every speck

Forming dark trenches and furrows of residue

Let it flow so gentle and tender like

The warm wet mouth of a lover.

All this brings me to say, HOW have I not made chocolate pudding from scratch before? It's so easy and sooo delicious and incredibly satisfying...and dangerous- because when I made the recipe, I ate it all. Then I made it again two days later. And ate it all. Flash back to elementary school? I hope not.

coats the back of a spoon

This recipe was found on Smitten Kitchen, and as she says, is incredibly easy and doesn't require things like egg yolks or special equipment.

1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup sugar
1/8 t salt
3 cups whole milk (i did a combo of 2 percent milk and cream...did anyone else not know that cream has 44 grams of fat per cup? This is opposed to 8 grams in whole milk. Yikes.)
6 oz semi-sweet or dark chocolate, chopped. (or chips.) (Feeling decedent, I used the last of my expensive Valrhona chocolate.)
1 t vanilla extract

Combine the cornstarch, sugar and salt in a saucepan (or a double boiler). Whisk in the milk, making sure to get all the dry ingredients. Place the pot over low heat and stir often until the mixture starts to thicken and coats the back of a spoon. Stir in the chocolate, and keep stirring for a few minutes more, until it is completely melted and incorporated. Now you have pudding!

Remove the pudding from heat and stir in the vanilla. Strain through a fine mesh strainer to remove any lumps that may be lurking in your pudding. This is optional, but probably a good idea if you skip the double boiler and cook it straight on the stove. Pour the pudding into dishes. When cool, cover and put into the fridge. Or eat it hot, whatever you like.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Oatmeal Bread

I'd been itching to make an oatmeal bread, as it is one of my favorite favorites. My last fall in Blacksburg, VA, I'd go to the farmer's market every week and buy the Oatmeal Bread from the bread vendors there. I lived on that bread, with Brummel and Brown spread and blueberry jam, until it was gone 2 days later. Not the healthiest diet, but a nice tradition nonetheless.

You can use a preferment, or just a piece of "old dough" to make this bread, but it's not necessary. The best part about the recipe is that you make what is basically a massive bowl of oatmeal to start out with. Well, my bowl of oatmeal is massive when baking for the restaurant. Yours might not be so big.

I found the recipe on the blog Farmgirl Fare. I'll include the recipe here, but you'll want to check out the Farmgirl blog because there's detailed dough shaping instructions, and in the comment section there's lots of good extra info about this recipe. I'd like to try making it here at home in smaller batches, because at the restaurant I have problems with the tops of my loaves splitting during the final rise, and I've tried both round free loaves and log shaped loaves in loaf pans. The loaves still taste awesome though.

This recipe make three pound and a half loaves, plus 10 oz of dough to save for your next batch. You can freeze this extra dough until you need it. You don't have to remove the extra dough, and you don't have to use this same kind of dough as your preferment. Heck, you don't even have to use a preferment, but it makes it better if you do.

4 cups hot water or milk
2 1/2 cups (11 oz) rolled oats (not instant)
1/2 cup (2 oz) oat bran
1/2 cup (3 1/2 oz) packed golden brown sugar
1/2 cup (1/2 stick, 2 oz) butter
1 T instant yeast
6 to 7 cups bread flour (about 2 pounds)
1 T salt
10 oz "old dough"

Stir together the oats, oat bran, brown sugar, butter and hot water. Let sit together for about 30 minutes, letting the mixture cool and enzymes develop.

Combine the yeast with 2 cups of flour and stir into the oat mixture. Stir and add flour one cup at a time until its dough-like enough to be kneaded on a well floured surface or in your mixer with the dough hook. Knead by hand for about 8 minutes or knead by hook for about 5. Cover the dough and let it rest for 20 minutes.

Knead in the salt and the old dough until they are completely combined; about 5 minutes.

Put the dough in a large bowl that have been sprayed with oil and dusted with flour. Dust the dough with flour, too. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a damp tea towel.

Let rise for an hour and a half at 70 or 75 degrees. If the room temperature is much coolor or warmer, the rise time will be slower or faster. When the dough is ready, you should be about to poke your finger deep into it and the indentation won't spring back.

Once the dough has risen, remove the 10 oz for the next batch, if desired. Put it in a ziplock bag and plop it in the fridge or freezer.

Now it's time to shape your loaves. I usually make round loaves. Here is a great description of how to shape a round loaf, with pictures.

Farmgirl makes log loaves and bakes in a loaf pan, and her post has good instructions on that. Here also is a site with pictures.

Once your loaves are shaped, brush the tops with water and sprinkle with oats. Or, as I did, put some oats on a plate and dip the top of your loaf in them. Very pretty.

Let the bread rise an hour more. You'll want the bread to be close to it's final size because this loaf doesn't have very much "oven spring," or it doesn't rise very much once in the oven. Again, try the finger indentation test.

Bake the loaves for 35 minutes at 375, or until golden brown and hollow sounding when the bottom is tapped. Remove from the pans and cool on a rack so the bottoms don't get soggy while cooling. Wait at least 40 minutes before slicing.

These loaves freeze well! They taste amazing toasted with butter and blueberry jam!!

Here's a shot of some of the bread goodies at the market.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

White Chocolate Cake with Chai Frosting

This is my second attempt at a Chai-flavored Cake.

I used Rose Levy Beranbaum's recipe for White Chocolate Whisper Cake from The Cake Bible for the layers. I knew I wanted to used chai latte mix for the frosting, and I was inspired by this blog to add french vanilla instant pudding mix too. It changed the texture a bit- made thicker and it seemed to cling to itself. This was plus, as so many frostings just want to creep down the sides of your cake.

Rose is pretty much a scientist when it comes to cakes- all her recipes are very exact and must be followed exactly or they won't work. The Cake Bible is a great resource, but alas there are no pictures. I find it hard to work from a book with absolutely no pictures. Is this bad?

Grease and flour (or line with parchment paper) 2 9-in cake pans. As you can see, my cake has three layers. This is because I tripled the recipe and made two cakes with three layers each.

Preheat to 350.


6 oz white chocolate
3/4 t salt
1 T plus 1 1/2 t baking powder
1 cup plus 3 T sugar
3 cups cake flour, sifted
1 1/2 t vanilla
1 c milk, divided
4 1/2 large egg whites
9 T unsalted butter, softened

Melt the white chocolate (in either the microwave or in a double boiler- careful not to burn) and set aside.

Whisk together 1/4 cup milk, egg whites and vanilla. In your mixer bowl, sift together the sugar, cake flur, baking powder and salt. Mix on low for 30 seconds.

Add the butter and the remaining 3/4 cup milk. Mix on low until all the ingredients are moistened. Then, mix on medium for a minute and a half to develop the batter's structure.

Gradually add the egg mixture in 3 batches, beating for 20 seconds after each addition and scraping down the bowl.

Add the melted chocolate and beat to incorporate.

Divide the batter into your two pans and smooth the surface. Bake for 25-35 minutes or until a cake tested inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean. Cool on racks in pans for 10 minutes before inverting cakes onto the racks to cool completely. If the tops are overly rounded, you might want to let them cool right side up so that the bottom isn't put under stress, which may cause splitting.


1 lb unsalted butter
Most of a small package of instant french vanilla pudding
1/2-1 cup chai latte mix (start with less and adjust along with the powdered sugar for taste and consistency)
2-4 cups powdered sugar

Cream the butter. Slowly add the pudding mix, then the chai and finally the powdered sugar. Adjust as your taste requires.

Next time, I think I will infuse the chai flavors into a plain white or vanilla cake by soaking tea bags in the milk, and then use white chocolate frosting. I think in general I prefer spicy cakes with light, creamy frostings playing a supporting role, rather than this cake, where the frosting took center stage.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Mint Oreo Ice Cream

I'm back! I'm so sorry I left you for so long. It's been the most hectic month. I saw some of you this past weekend and the general consensus is that you're sick of seeing the planter every time you check out the Fox Fix.

If I may offer some excuses- we packed up our house and shoved everything in our new one and spent a long weekend at Spencer and Liz's wedding and I had the worst case of poison ivy EVER. (I have no idea where I could've gotten the poison ivy, which is pretty scary. I feel like it could get me again at any time. My left eye and forehead swelled up so bad I looked like one of the aliens in the movie Avatar. Thus, in addition to everything else, I was also on steroids this month. Lemme tell you, I was a real joy to be around.)

We're now living surrounded by boxes. Our new place is about half the size of the old one, especially if you consider that we had a basement before where shoved everything we didn't want around. So slowly, slowly we're moving things around and unpacking. It's like trying to solve a rubiks cube, this place is so packed with stuff.

I'll share one before picture with you, just so you're duly impressed when the after pictures come in who knows how many weeks or months. Our mattress is on our couches in the middle room and is an oasis where we hang out, sleep and have meals.

What's that you say? This is a food blog? Oh, right. I'm supposed to share a recipe with you.

I actually have about 15 different posts that have been building up over this month, because I haven't stopped making things (only stopped showing up here), so I'm going to make an effort to post every day this week to try to catch up. So stay tuned!

If I may be so bold...this recipe may actually be worth the wait. It's Mint Oreo Ice Cream, based on a recipe from David Lebovitz's The Perfect Scoop. Made with fresh mint, it is perfectly creamy and utter bliss. It's pretty much convinced me that I will always make custard style ice cream. It's definitely worth the extra effort.

And speaking of worth-it things, if you have any interest at all in making ice cream, you need to buy The Perfect Scoop. It's chock-full of fantastic tips and explanations and recipes, from ice creams to sorbet to gelato to sauces and beyond. Lebovitz's blog is excellent and full of recipes, too.

1 cup whole milk
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups heavy cream
pinch of salt
2 cups lightly packed fresh mint leaves
5 large egg yolks

Warm the milk, sugar, 1 cup of cream and salt in a small saucepan. Stir in the mint leaves, cover the pot, and remove it from heat. Let it sit at room temperature for an hour to infuse the mint flavor into the milk mixture.

Strain the milk into a medium saucepan; discard the leaves. Depending on your mint, your milk might be a lovely shade of green. Mine was just barely tinted. Take a sip- mint milk! Pour the other cup of cream into a large bowl and set the strainer on top. If you want to speed the cooling process that will need to happen later, you can put this bowl of cream into a larger bowl of ice.

Re-warm the mint-milk. In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolk. Slowly pour the mint milk into the yolks, whisking all the time. This stabilizes them so they don't curdle immediately when heated in the pot. Pour the yolk-mint-milk back into the pot.

Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Here is where I screwed up- I forgot I wasn't making pastry cream or something, and I boiled the milk. And it it curdled. So don't boil the milk- it needs to reach a temperature of about 175, but much higher and the eggs will curdle.

However, if you like me scramble your eggs, don't lose hope. Do what I did and put the warm liquid in a blender and run til smooth. Then you're back on track.

Pour the custard through the strainer into the cream bowl and stir until cool over the ice bath.

Then chill until absolutely cool in the refrigerator. If you try to churn too-warm custard, the final product's texture will be off. So be patient! And when it's cool, just freeze according to your ice cream maker's instructions. OR this icecream does perfectly well if you just put it in your freezer and stir it every half hour or so, more often at the end. So if you're planning to be at home for the night, this is a perfectly viable option.

I added chopped oreos to my mint ice cream, which was very tasty. You could also try chocolate or brownie bits. However, the mint flavor is so fresh and creamy and unlike store bought (nasty green overpowering mint extract) icecream, that you could definitely enjoy it with no add-ins.

I'm very impatient for an excuse to make this bliss again. Come visit and we'll make ice cream!