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On Love and Garlic Knots

November 5, 2017 Leave your thoughts Print this page

Every autumn as the leaves start to change, a sudden itch to bake pops into my mental periphery. I find myself daydreaming in class about French pastries and cinnamon, fantasizing about the ways I could reinvent chocolate chip cookies or braid a loaf of challah. As my friends can tell you, this is the season where the communal Tupperware container makes frequent appearances, gracing its audience with piles of brownies and cake slices. To me at least, fall and baking go hand-in-hand, and no autumnal meal would be complete without a sweet or bread-y sidekick.

As I stand in my kitchen stirring a caramel sauce or kneading dough, my mind turns reflective. In these repetitive motions, I think. A lot. And every fall, for some reason, I think about love.

Maybe it was because fall was the season when I first literally fell from someone. It was seventh grade, when I had the poofiest hair and biggest chutzpah you’d ever seen. I had a huge crush on this kid in a few of my classes, and one day, I decided to call him up and ask him to hang out. (Spoiler: he said yes, but to this day, it was truly one of the most awkward nights of my life.)

Honestly? Mistake. What was I thinking?! I was twelve and already a loud, ballsy feminist. The world of teenage boys was certainly not ready for adolescent Abby, who was ready for a mature man while still wearing peace sign scarves from Justice. Even though I commend my younger self for being so confident, I do wish I had waited. Because my very sensitive little heart got very disheartened when things didn’t go as planned.

After that, my love life was basically nonexistent until senior year, when I tried to give “romance” another try. I let myself be vulnerable and was honest with my emotions — which was kinda badass, I guess. But I got really, really badly hurt. It was the wrong time, and I picked the wrong person.

I got to college thinking things would be different. Boys would be more mature! Someone out there would be looking for an independent, quirky, strong-willed woman like myself! And I laugh. I’m sure people are out there, they gotta be. But so far, I have been disappointed. Young people are so into hookup culture, and I, as a closeted 40-something, am not. College students can be so wishy-washy and last-minute about things and people and plans. And even though it’s 2017 — where women should be able to ask out men (or other women!) without it being weird — initiating and being forward has never gone well for the potato. Ugh.

Part of it is patience. I’ve just gotta let go and let love find me. And sure, I can be all yoga-y about it and say, “I am a complete individual on my own, I do not need anyone to complete me. What you seek is surely seeking you, don’t be attached to ideas or people. Let the universe take you where it shall.” But you know what? That’s not really how I feel most of the time.

How do I feel? I feel frustrated. I feel frustrated that I still scare people away because I have opinions and personality and spunk. I feel frustrated that people still don’t respect my time. I feel frustrated how seemingly little people can seem to care. I feel frustrated that all of that — the inconsistency, the blasé spontaneity, the forgetfulness — is somehow okay. I feel frustrated that this is the same trope I’ve been experiencing since the first time I ever asked someone out seven years ago.

And you know what? It’s okay for your feelings about life and love to not be tied up in a perfect little box with a ribbon on top. It’s okay to be angry and frustrated and salty with the way societal norms are. It’s okay to want love and want to be loved and cry about it not being there in the way you want. It’s okay to have emotions, even “negative” ones.

So I guess that’s why I turn to carbohydrates. Because quite frankly, carbohydrates never fail to satisfy the romantic love I crave.

Apologies for the rant. I am truly an optimistic, upbeat person 90-95% of the time. But I think it’s important to share that 5-10% of pessimism, saltiness and frustration, because our multifaceted nature only makes us more endearingly human.

Anyway, to me, there is nothing more tender than biting into a fresh cookie, biscuit or roll. That doughiness, that warmth, that butteriness just melts all of the frustration away. One cannot possibly be sad whilst eating a homemade baked good: that is a scientific fact.

So, when I was feeling sad and nervous and anxious and disheartened last week, I made garlic knots. Because garlic can cure anything, I’m convinced.

I had such a fun time making these for my friends. My favorite part was tying them, because look at how cute they are! And each one is a little different. I find it simply adorable.

These are certainly a labor of love, but that’s my favorite part about baking. The more care you put into it, the more love you taste when you bite into that finished product. And having hot, crispy, chewy garlic knots last weekend was worth every second I put into making them.

Some notes! Please use bread flour. Bread flour means chewy, crispy garlic knots. Just get your butt over to Whole Foods and do it. And use lots of garlic. I actually adapted my recipe from the first time I made it to include more garlic. You wouldn’t want to make out with a vampire, anyway. (Sorry, I was never into Edward Cullen.)

Bony African feet! (Bon appétit in meme slang.)

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Garlic Knots

Ingredients

Prep Time 2 hr 30 min
Cooking Time 20 min
Total Time 3 hr
Yield 16 garlic knots

FOR THE KNOTS:

1/2 tbsp sugar

2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast

1 1/2 cups warm water (~110 degrees)

2 tbsp EVOO

2 1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp garlic powder

4 cups of bread flour

FOR THE GARLIC DRIZZLE:

8 cloves of garlic, crushed

1 stick of salted butter (1/2 cup)

1/2 cup parsley, finely chopped

Directions

In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the sugar, yeast and warm water. Make sure the water isn’t too hot, or else the yeast will die! Stir together with a spoon and let sit until the yeast are nice and bubbly, about 10 minutes.

Add the olive oil, salt, garlic powder, and 1 cup of the bread flour. Stir together with a spoon or the dough hook attachment on your stand mixer. Keep adding flour, 1 cup at a time, until the dough is thick. Knead with your hands on a well-floured work space or with the dough hook in the stand mixer until smooth and not sticky, about ten minutes. If the dough still clings to your fingers or palms after kneading, add more flour, 2 tbsp or so at a time, until it stops sticking. If the dough seems dry and crumbly, add more water, 1 tbsp at a time, until it becomes smoother.

Lightly oil a clean bowl with some olive oil and put the dough inside. Cover with a tea towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 90 minutes – 2 hours.

Once doubled, put the dough on a well-floured work space. Cut in half, then cut in half again. Cut each piece into four quarters, trying to keep each piece the same size. If you have a kitchen scale, use it! Simply weigh the whole dough ball and divide by 16 to determine your individual roll mass. If not, no worries, just eyeball it the best you can.

Place the dough balls on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, cover with a tea towel, and let rise for 30 minutes.

When the 30 minutes are up, take a dough ball and, on a well-floured work space, roll it into a rope about 7-8 inches long. Tie it just as you would a knot. If you have excess dough after tying the knot, tuck it under the formed roll. Repeat with remaining dough balls.

Place back on baking sheet, cover with a tea towel, and let rise for another 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

In a small saucepan, melt the butter. Add the garlic and parsley, stir, and let cook for a minute. Remove from the heat, cover with a lid, and let steep while the rolls rise.

Once the rolls have finished their final rise, lightly brush them with half of the garlic/parsley butter. Let bake until golden brown on the outside, about 18-20 minutes.

Brush with the remaining half of the garlic/parsley butter upon exiting the oven. Let cool for a few minutes, then serve immediately.


We’ll see when love will find me. But until then, I have garlic knots and some incredibly kickass friends to keep me company.


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Garlic Knots

November 4, 2017 Print this page

Feeling knotty? Then make these simply scrumptious garlic knots! You’ll never need to go to your local shady pizzeria again.

Adapted from this recipe

Ingredients

Prep Time 2 hr 30 min
Cooking Time 20 min
Total Time 3 hr
Yield 16 garlic knots

FOR THE KNOTS:

1/2 tbsp sugar

2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast

1 1/2 cups warm water (~110 degrees)

2 tbsp EVOO

2 1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp garlic powder

4 cups of bread flour

FOR THE GARLIC DRIZZLE:

8 cloves of garlic, crushed

1 stick of salted butter (1/2 cup)

1/2 cup parsley, finely chopped

Directions

In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the sugar, yeast and warm water. Make sure the water isn’t too hot, or else the yeast will die! Stir together with a spoon and let sit until the yeast are nice and bubbly, about 10 minutes.

Add the olive oil, salt, garlic powder, and 1 cup of the bread flour. Stir together with a spoon or the dough hook attachment on your stand mixer. Keep adding flour, 1 cup at a time, until the dough is thick. Knead with your hands on a well-floured work space or with the dough hook in the stand mixer until smooth and not sticky, about ten minutes. If the dough still clings to your fingers or palms after kneading, add more flour, 2 tbsp or so at a time, until it stops sticking. If the dough seems dry and crumbly, add more water, 1 tbsp at a time, until it becomes smoother.

Lightly oil a clean bowl with some olive oil and put the dough inside. Cover with a tea towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 90 minutes – 2 hours.

Once doubled, put the dough on a well-floured work space. Cut in half, then cut in half again. Cut each piece into four quarters, trying to keep each piece the same size. If you have a kitchen scale, use it! Simply weigh the whole dough ball and divide by 16 to determine your individual roll mass. If not, no worries, just eyeball it the best you can.

Place the dough balls on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, cover with a tea towel, and let rise for 30 minutes.

When the 30 minutes are up, take a dough ball and, on a well-floured work space, roll it into a rope about 7-8 inches long. Tie it just as you would a knot. If you have excess dough after tying the knot, tuck it under the formed roll. Repeat with remaining dough balls.

Place back on baking sheet, cover with a tea towel, and let rise for another 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

In a small saucepan, melt the butter. Add the garlic and parsley, stir, and let cook for a minute. Remove from the heat, cover with a lid, and let steep while the rolls rise.

Once the rolls have finished their final rise, lightly brush them with half of the garlic/parsley butter. Let bake until golden brown on the outside, about 18-20 minutes.

Brush with the remaining half of the garlic/parsley butter upon exiting the oven. Let cool for a few minutes, then serve immediately.


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Chewy Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

October 23, 2017 Leave your thoughts Print this page

Hello again, friends! I’ve been cooking up a storm, so I’m back again for another post. I hope you’re ready for some fat, decadent cookies.

In other news, it’s October, but still feels like summer. What gives, New York? (Or more like, what gives, climate change?) I’ve got a pile of sweaters in my closet just waiting to be worn, but the weather refuses to budge away from tank top temperatures. UGH.

While this complaint is justifiable — it shouldn’t be 75 degrees in the second half of October — part of the problem is that I’m an incredibly impatient person. I always have been: patience is an Achilles heel of mine. As I child, I couldn’t last for more than 45 minutes in a museum or aquarium. I’d work myself up into a tizzy if I didn’t know what I was doing each day. Lines and long car rides were the death of me (and my poor parents).

Patience is something I’ve been coming back to again and again recently. Because lately, I’ve been especially antsy about getting things to happen.

Everything I do is fast. I walk fast. I talk fast. I jump into friendships fast. I make decisions fast. I get tests done fast. I practice yoga fast. My brain is constantly going at lightning speed, quickly bouncing from one thing to the next. It doesn’t help that I live in New York City, one of the most fast-paced environments in the world. Simply stepping out my door makes me want to move and think even faster.

Slowing down is honestly so challenging for me. I wish I was some chill, laid-back girl-next-door who could just be spontaneous with life. But alas, I’m not she, nor will I ever be she.

And you know what? That’s okay. Being an energetic planner means that I’m great at initiating, whether that be in conversations or lunch dates. It means I give a shit about getting shit done. Authenticity is my jam, and I will never stray from who I am just because I’m not “chill” enough.

That being said, we all have things we could and should work on, and one of mine is definitely patience. I need to be more patient with people: friendships take time, and everyone has flaws and approaches things differently. I need to be more patient with life: love will find me when the time is right, when the person is right. And I need to be more patient with myself: lessons cannot be learned overnight, and something like anxiety takes a lifetime to conquer.

But one place where I can definitely exercise patience? The kitchen!

I personally see cooking as a laboratory for things I need to work out in my life. (Perhaps this is why I always hide in the kitchen when I get stressed out?) So this week, I worked out some impatience by baking some cookies that needed to chill in the fridge for a few hours before baking. (See the theme?)

No matter how you prepare them, cookies are delicious. But allowing some doughs to chill in the fridge before baking can do wonders for texture. Have you ever bitten into a thick, sensuous, chewy cookie? Part of that is likely flour content, but part of it too is that fridge time. When doughs are cooled in this fashion, the fat (butter) melts more slowly in the oven, thus preventing the cookies from becoming flat and crunchy.

And who would want a flat, crunchy cookie when you could have a sumptuous mouthful of peanut butter and chocolate?

These are pretty straightforward. My only recommendations? Use salted peanut butter. Crunchy, creamy, whatever, doesn’t matter. But please use salted. And DO NOT flatten the cookies before baking them in the oven. Drop ’em on the baking sheet and let them be. You want to maintain that magical thickness.

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Chewy Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients

Prep Time 15 min
Cooking Time 15 min
Total Time 3 hr
Yield ~30 cookies

2 sticks of unsalted butter (1 cup), softened

1 1/4 cups of brown sugar

2 eggs, at room temperature

1 cup of salted peanut butter (crunchy or smooth, up to you)

1 tbsp vanilla extract

2 3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp salt (if you aren’t into salt, use unsalted peanut butter and keep salt at this amount)

1 tsp baking soda

2 cups of dark chocolate chips or chunks

Directions

In the bowl of a stand mixer (or in a bowl with an electric beater), cream the butter and sugar. Scrape down the bowl. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until incorporated. Scrape down the bowl again. Add the peanut butter and beat until smooth. Add the vanilla and give a quick beat just to incorporate.

Add the flour, 1 cup at a time. Scrape down the bowl between each addition. During the final addition, add the salt and baking soda. The cookie dough should be quite thick: if you’re using a stand mixer, the dough should stick and hold its shape around the hook attachment. If still feeling a bit too wet, add up to 1/4 cup more flour.

If you’re good to go, fold in the chocolate chips with a spatula. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let chill in the fridge for 1-3 hours.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with plastic wrap.

With an ice cream scoop or two large spoon, shape the cookies. Do not flatten them in any manner. Space them evenly on the baking sheet. Bake until the edges begin to turn golden brown and the middle springs back with a gentle touch, about 12-14 minutes.

Let cool slightly, then transfer to a cooling rack. Serve warm, or keep in an airtight container for 3-4 days.


Here’s to zen, my friends. Maybe one day I too can be a chilled-out cookie.


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Chewy Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

October 21, 2017 Print this page

The thickest, most decadent peanut butter cookie you will eat. Best served fresh out of the oven.

Ingredients

Prep Time 15 min
Cooking Time 15 min
Total Time 3 hr
Yield ~30 cookies

2 sticks of unsalted butter (1 cup), softened

1 1/4 cups of brown sugar

2 eggs, at room temperature

1 cup of salted peanut butter (crunchy or smooth, up to you)

1 tbsp vanilla extract

2 3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp salt (if you aren’t into salt, use unsalted peanut butter and keep salt at this amount)

1 tsp baking soda

2 cups of dark chocolate chips or chunks

Directions

In the bowl of a stand mixer (or in a bowl with an electric beater), cream the butter and sugar. Scrape down the bowl. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until incorporated. Scrape down the bowl again. Add the peanut butter and beat until smooth. Add the vanilla and give a quick beat just to incorporate.

Add the flour, 1 cup at a time. Scrape down the bowl between each addition. During the final addition, add the salt and baking soda. The cookie dough should be quite thick: if you’re using a stand mixer, the dough should stick and hold its shape around the hook attachment. If still feeling a bit too wet, add up to 1/4 cup more flour.

If you’re good to go, fold in the chocolate chips with a spatula. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let chill in the fridge for 1-3 hours.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with plastic wrap.

With an ice cream scoop or two large spoon, shape the cookies. Do not flatten them in any manner. Space them evenly on the baking sheet. Bake until the edges begin to turn golden brown and the middle springs back with a gentle touch, about 12-14 minutes.

Let cool slightly, then transfer to a cooling rack. Serve warm, or keep in an airtight container for 3-4 days.


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The Best Damn Chocolate Cake (vegan)

March 16, 2017 Leave your thoughts Print this page

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Hello. My name is Abby. And I like chocolate. Wait, correction. I love chocolate. Hang on, final correction. I AM FREAKING OBSESSED WITH CHOCOLATE AND WILL MARRY IT IF GIVEN THE OPPORTUNITY. There we go!

Chocolate has gotten me through a lot in my life, and for that, I am eternally grateful.

We’ve been eating a version of this cake in my family for years. The original recipe is from “Great Good Desserts Naturally” by Fran Costigan, a book that’s been sitting on our cookbook shelf for as long as I can remember.

The best part of this cake is that everyone can eat it. No, really, everyone. Which is why I decided to make it for the birthday of my dear friend Sophie.

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Guys, I’d like to introduce you to Sophie, a true soul sister of mine. We met through yoga last year and, after getting dinner together one night, became instant best friends. We share so much and I feel so grateful to have her in my life.

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Now, Sophie is a vegan…who also can’t eat gluten. Oh, I can see the reactions on your faces now. “What could she possibly eat? Grass? Air? Dirt?”

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Contrary to what may be depicted in this incredibly amusing meme, gluten-free vegans can actually eat quite a lot. Rice. Beans. Quinoa. All veggies and fruits. Potatoes and sweet potatoes. Nuts. Avocados. Dark chocolate. There’s plenty if you explore your options!

But when it comes to dessert, baking without dairy, eggs or flour can be a bit tricky. I’ve made plenty of vegan or gluten-free treats in my time, but rarely have I succeeded at simultaneously accomplishing both. But when Sophie’s 18th birthday came around on February 22nd, I knew I had to find a way to make a delicious dessert that fit the bill.

And this cake did the trick!

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By substituting wheat flour with gluten-free baking mix or gluten-free oat flour, you can make this delectable vegan chocolate cake for your Celiac or gluten-intolerant friends. And guess what? It still tastes incredible: moist, fudgy and so chocolaty you might go into cacao-induced shock.

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While the cake itself is beyond yummy, I think my favorite part of this dessert is the frosting. It’s like eating the lovechild of chocolate pudding and ganache. AMAZING.

And did the vegan enjoy her birthday cake? I think she did!

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The Best Damn Chocolate Cake (vegan)

Do you have vegan friends? Do any of them have a birthday coming up? No need to fear, this vegan chocolate cake is here! Moist, unbelievably chocolaty and quite easy to prepare, this beauty is sure to impress your herbivorous and omnivorous friends alike. Feel free to double the recipe and increase the number of layers!

Adapted from Fran Costigan’s “The Chocolate Cake to Live For” 

Ingredients

Prep Time 1 hr 30 min
Cooking Time 30 min
Total Time 2 hr
Yield ~12 servings

FOR THE FROSTING:

1 1/2 cups of cocoa powder (please use the best stuff you can get your hands on!)

3/4 cup of sugar

1/2 teaspoon of sea salt

1 cup of boiling water

1 cup of maple syrup

2 tablespoons of vanilla extract

1/4 cup + 3 tablespoons of cornstarch or arrowroot, dissolved in 1/2 cup of water

FOR THE CAKE:

1 cup of whole wheat pastry flour + 1 cup of all-purpose flour, or sub gluten-free all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons of baking powder

2 teaspoons of baking soda

1 teaspoon of salt

1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon

3/4 cup of cocoa powder

1/2 cup of sugar

1/2 cup of vegetable oil

1 cup of maple syrup

1 cup of unsweetened vanilla soy milk or almond milk

1 cup of water

2 teaspoons of vinegar

1 tablespoon of vanilla extract

Splash of almond extract

Directions

FOR THE FROSTING:

In a high-speed blender, blend the cocoa powder, sugar and salt until well-combined. With the blender running on medium-low speed, pour in the boiling water. Stop the blender and scrape down the sides, then add the maple syrup and vanilla. Blend to incorporate.

Meanwhile, whisk together the cornstarch or arrowroot with the water until dissolved. Set aside.

Pour the chocolate sauce into a small saucepan. Heat over medium until the mixture comes to a boil. Once bubbling, slowly pour in the cornstarch/arrowroot, whisking constantly to prevent clumps from forming. Continue boiling for another 30 seconds, then remove from the heat. Keep whisking until thickened. Pour into a heat-proof container or boil and let cool in the fridge for at least two hours.

FOR THE CAKE:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two 9-inch circular pans with parchment paper and grease well. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together all of the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cocoa powder and sugar). Add the wet ingredients (vegetable oil, maple syrup, milk, water, vinegar and extracts). Whisk to combine.

Evenly distribute the batter between the two circular pans. Tap gently to spread the batter out.

Bake in the preheated oven until a toothpick comes out just barely clean, about 25 minutes. Be mindful: it could be closer to 20 if your oven runs hot, or closer to 30 if your oven runs cool.

Once the cakes come out of the oven, let them cool in their pans for half an hour, then transfer to cooling racks and let come to room temperature before frosting.

TO ASSEMBLE:

Take a piece of wax paper and lay it on top of a cutting board. Gently place one of the cakes on top of it. Using an inverted spatula, take a generous dollop of frosting and spread it all around the cake. Once sufficiently frosted, place the other cake directly on top of the first one. Use the rest of the frosting to cover the cake completely in chocolaty goodness. Eat what you don’t use.

Put the cake in the fridge for an hour before slicing and serving.


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Here’s to another year of tasty treats for my favorite vegan! <3


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