Author Archives: Andrea

Estate Sale Find #1: Vintage Cuisinart Food Processor

Cuisinart 1

Vintage. Thrifted. These are buzzwords on fashion and design blogs, and until recently, I wasn’t really feeling it. Vintage dresses, jewelry or furniture—they just didn’t feel like me. Two Saturdays ago, though, Sam and I found ourselves in a neighborhood estate sale, and that’s where I discovered a niche in the vintage scene I connect with: kitchen equipment.

Cuisinart 4

Cuisinart 5

One of the treasures we snatched up was an early model Cuisinart Food Processor.The first thing that grabbed our attention about the Cuisinart was the seven blades that came with it. (Did you catch that? Seven blades!) Nowadays the standard Cuisinart comes with three blades, though you can purchase additional blades for $40 apiece. With blades this costly, you might be wondering how much we paid. A mere $20.

I know what you’re thinking—did it work? Yep, it sure did. Figuring out how to turn the food processor on, though, proved a challenge: there was no on-off button. A quick Google search revealed that the earliest Cuisinarts are turned on by locking the lid into place. I plugged in the Cuisinart and slowly clicked the lid into place, all the while suppressing images of Cuisinart accidents due to user error.  Whirr! The food processor worked. And there had been no accident. Clicking the lid into place might not be the safest on-off method, but the makers would address this in later models.

Cuisinart 3

The Google search also shed some light on this particular model: it is definitely one of the earliest models (if not the first model) and was made in France by Robot-Coupe, a renowned kitchen appliance maker. Cuisinart eventually broke ties with Robot-Coupe and moved production to Asia. The quality of the French-made product is evident: after 30 years of use, it can still whip up a mean batch of roasted tomato salsa.

Cuisinart 6

As the gentleman holding the sale handed us his Cuisinart, he paused and said, “Now, I want to tell you a story about this Cuisinart.” Here’s how it goes: he grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, and his mother used to watch this cooking show on Public Television with this chef named Julia Child. Toward the end of the show, Julia Child started using this new machine called a food processor. They didn’t carry food processors in Cleveland yet (and there was no Amazon.com back then), so the gentleman’s mother special-ordered two—one for herself and one for her son. And this is the Cuisinart that found itself into our hands, a tool well-loved and its purchase inspired by Julia Child. As the gentleman gave us his heirloom, I felt like we were on Antique Roadshow and had just been told our treasure was worth $1 million.  But this wasn’t something we’d be selling; it was something we’d use in our kitchen, remembering its history. Not bad for a first vintage purchase.

Cuisinart 2

Oatmeal Sandwich Bread from “Good to the Grain”

Oatmeal Sandwich Bread

Between kneading the dough and letting it rise, making bread at home can be quite a production. But this recipe for Oatmeal Sandwich Bread from Good to the Grain, makes traditional bread baking about as simple as it gets: the ingredient list is not too complicated and the instructions are detailed, guiding you through each step. Once you pull this tall, stately loaf from your oven, you’ll discover you’ve made the perfect slicing bread, at home no less. Far better than any supermarket bread, this bread’s moist, soft texture lends itself well to sandwiches. The bread also toasts nicely and is delicious smeared with raspberry jam for breakfast or afternoon tea.

There is one slightly unusual ingredient: bread flour. Bread flour has more protein than regular all-purpose flour. This extra protein helps develop the gluten, which makes the bread rise—something crucial for breads made with whole-grains that might otherwise have trouble rising. I didn’t have bread flour on hand, but I bought just enough for this recipe in the bulk bin at the grocery store. You could try this with all-purpose flour, but the bread won’t be as light or rise as nicely.

That said, I’m disappointed this bread is not made with 100% whole grain. It certainly tastes good, but for something that I’m going to eat for breakfast and lunch, I prefer 100% whole grain. Last spring I made several loaves of 100% whole grain bread that used vital wheat gluten to give them lift. I’ll have to dig in the archives, retry those recipes and see if any of them stack up to this loaf in taste. In the meantime, don’t hesitate to try this bread; it’s delicious and quite easy to make.

Make the Oatmeal Sandwich Bread

From Good to the Grain (p 130)

Ingredients:
Butter for the bowl and the pan
1 package active dry yeast (2 ¼ teaspoons)
3 tablespoons unsulphured molasses (not blackstrap)
2 ½ cups whole-wheat flour
2 cups bread flour
1 cup rolled oats
2 ounces (½ stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 tablespoon kosher salt

  1. Lightly butter a large bowl and a bread loaf pan about 9 x 5 x 3 inches. The dough can also be formed into a boule (round loaf) and baked on a baking sheet.
  2. Add 2 cups warm water, yeast, and molasses to the bowl of a standing mixer. Stir, allowing the yeast to bloom for about 5 minutes, until it begins to bubble. (If it doesn’t, it may be inactive; throw it out and start over again with a new package.)
  3. Measure the flours, oats, and butter into the bowl with the yeast mixture and stir with a wooden spoon. Cover with a towel and let stand for 30 minutes.
  4. Attach the bowl and bread hook to the mixer, add the salt, and mix on medium speed for 6 minutes. [Alternatively, knead the dough by hand for 15 minutes, adding more flour as necessary.] The dough should slap around the sides without sticking to them. If the dough is sticking at any time during the mixing, add a tablespoon or two of bread flour until the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl. The dough should be soft and supple, slightly tacky, with a beautiful sheeting effect.
  5. For the first rise, scrape the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead it a few times. Put the dough into the buttered bowl, cover with a warm towel, and leave it to rise for about 1 hour, or until it is doubled in size.
  6. To shape the dough, scrape the dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Press down on the dough, working it toward a square shape while depressing all of the bubbles. Fold the dough down from the top to the middle, then up from the bottom to the middle, sealing the seam with your fingers. Pinch the sides together and roll the shaped dough back and forth, plumping it so that its’ even formed and about the size of your loaf pan. Place the dough in the pan with the seam side down and press it gently into the corners of the pan.
  7. For the second rise, cover the dough with a towel and let it rest in a warm place for about 1 hour, or until the dough rises to half again its size or puffs up barely or just over the edge of the pan. While the dough is rising, preheat the oven to 400°F.
  8. When the dough has finished its final rise, sprinkle the top of the loaf with oats or bran, if desired.
  9. Bake for about 40 minutes, rotating halfway through. The loaf is ready when the top crust is dark as molasses and the bottom crust is dark brown. To see if the bread is ready, give the top of the loaf a thump to see if it sounds hollow. If the hollow sound isn’t there and the bread isn’t quite dark enough, bake for another 5 minutes. Remove the loaf from the pan and cool on a baking rack, preferably for a few hours, so that the crumb doesn’t collapse when you cut into it and the flavor can develop.

Poppyseed Buckwheat Wafers from “Good to the Grain”

Poppy Seed Buckwheat Wafers


Until recently, buckwheat was for me A Food of Novels—Levin eats buckwheat porridge in Anna Karenina—and A Food Others Cook —buckwheat crepes are served in the French stall at the Farmer’s Market. Buckwheat belonged in another territory, and that territory was not my kitchen. It’s not that I was averse to buckwheat flour; I simply never had the occasion or desire to use it.

That was until last week, when I received a pre-birthday gift from Sam: Good to the Grain, by Kim Boyce. (Yes, this is the same Kim Boyce of Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookie fame.) In Good to the Grain, Boyce introduces home bakers to a gamut of whole-grain flours, ranging from the familiar (whole wheat, oat, corn) to the obscure (teff, amaranth, kamut). Though the flours are whole-grain, the recipes are not designed to be healthy—they are designed to taste good. Looking beyond the ubiquitous all-purpose flour unveils a palette of new flavors and textures to incorporate into your baking. And lucky for us, Kim Boyce experimented with these whole-grain flours and perfected dozens of recipes, including these Poppy Seed Buckwheat Wafers.

Buckwheat flour is dark in color, and as I mixed the dough with my hands, I had flashbacks to making mud pies as a kid. Even the texture of these cookies is sandy, but it’s a sandiness derived from sugar, as with sables or shortbread. Butter, eggs and heavy cream create a buttery, rich flavor that is perfectly balanced by the nutty, earthy buckwheat. After the dough is shaped into logs, it is rolled in poppy seeds and sugar. Slice and bake all the cookies at once, or slice off a few at a time for freshly baked cookies all week long.

Make the Poppy Seed Buckwheat Wafers

Recipe from Good to the Grain, by Kim Boyce (p 84)

Wet Mix:

¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream

2 egg yolks (reserve whites)

Dry Mix:

1½ cups buckwheat flour

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup sugar

1½ teaspoons kosher salt

6 ounces (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

Finish:

2 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons poppy seeds

Egg whites from egg yolks above

  1. Measure the cream and egg yolks into a small bowl—no need to whisk—and set aside.
  2. Sift the dry ingredients into a large bowl, pouring back into the bowl any bits of grain or other ingredients that may remain in the sifter. Add the softened butter to the dry ingredients. With your hands, squeeze the butter into the flour. After the butter is mostly blended in, add the cream and egg yolks. Continue squeezing the mixture until a crumbly dough forms. Scrape the dough onto a well-floured surface and, using the palm of your hand, smear the dough to fully incorporate all the ingredients.
  3. Divide the dough in half. Roll each piece of dough into a log that is 8 inches long and 1¾  inches wide, flouring the dough and work surface as needed. Chill the logs for 2 hours. If the dough is more lopsided than round, you can gently roll the dough again after 15 minutes or so.
  4. In a small bowl, stir together the sugar and poppy seeds and pour onto a plate. Brush one log very lightly with the egg whites. (I find it easiest to stand the log on one end as I brush it.) Roll the log in the poppy seed mixture until it is covered. Repeat this process with the remaining log and chill while the oven is heating up, or wrapped in plastic for up to 5 days.
  5. Place two racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment. Slice the logs into ?–inch wafers. Arrange the wafers on the baking sheets.
  6. Bake for 15 to 17 minutes, rotating the sheets halfway through. The wafers should be dark golden-brown, with a darker ring around the edge, and smell quite nutty. Cool the cookies on a rack and repeat with the remaining wafers.
  7. These wafers are best eaten the day that they’re made, but they’ll keep in an airtight container for up to 1 week.


Diggin’ My Digital Scale

Digital Scale

I haven’t had the chance to do much cooking this week, but I’d like to share with some thoughts about one of my favorite kitchen items:  my digital scale. A digital scale is not crucial kitchen item (my mom and I lived without one for years), but it takes the guesswork out of cooking and baking projects and rewards you with consistent results—and that’s something I dig.

Top Three Instances Where I’m Grateful for My Digital Scale:

1. Cooking with Ratios

I recently bought Michael Ruhlman’s book Ratio, which simplifies classic recipes into ratios of their most basic ingredients (e.g. “bread dough = 5 parts flour : 3 parts water (plus yeast and salt).” The ratios are designed to be used with weight measurements rather than volume measurements. This makes it easy to double, triple or cut in half recipes when measuring by weight rather than volume.  When I experimented with making oat flour crepes last week, I could easily cut the recipe by 3/4 to make a small batch, saving me from wasting ingredients if the recipe had been a flop. Now if I want to make oat flour crepes for a crowd, I can easily increase the recipe by 2 or 3 (or even 10) times.

2.  Baking

Another reason Ruhlman measures by weight rather than volume is to ensure consistent results. Ruhlman observes that a cup of flour can weigh between 4 and 6 ounces, depending on how the flour was scooped or the density of the flour (which can vary due to weather). The seemingly slight 2 oz. difference in one cup of flour is actually a noteworthy difference of 50%, which can result in drastically different finished products when several cups of flour are used.

This inconsistency of measuring by volume is the reason many bakers prefer to measure their ingredients by weight. More and more blogs and cookbooks measure ingredients by weight to ensure consistent, perfect results every time. When you measure your ingredients by weight you’ll know you are making the recipe as it was intended. Maybe you’ll discover the famed chocolate cake recipe you’ve used several times without success actually isn’t the problem; you were simply measuring too much flour by accident (a very common problem).

3.  Trying New Recipes

I also find the digital scale extremely useful when I try new recipes because I like to follow the directions as closely as I can. Following the directions closely gives me a good idea of how the recipe creator intended their recipe to taste, e.g. understanding (and appreciating) the intended ratio of 12 oz. of broccoli to 8 oz. of chicken in a stir fry. The next time I make a recipe I can adjust it to suite my tastes.

Why should I get a digital scale instead of an old-fashioned spring scale?

A digital scale has the advantage of converting ounces to grams at the switch of a button. With an increasingly globalized food scene and recipes from around the world available online, measuring ingredients in both metric and imperial units is helpful. Some digital scales even have the ability to measure liquid ingredients.

Digital scales are also superior to old-fashioned spring scales because of the “zero” or tare feature. The tare feature allows you to return the scale to zero after you add ingredients to your bowl. Thus, if you’re measuring white flour, wheat flour and yeast for a loaf of bread, you can measure the ingredients one  after the other into the same bowl by simply pressing the tare (zero) button between measurements; no need to add the weights in your head to know how much to add. It sounds like a fairly insignificant feature, but it will save you dirty dishes from measuring in one bowl and transferring to another—something anyone who washes dishes can appreciate.

Oat Flour Crepes with Rhubarb and Yogurt

rhubarb

A simple rhubarb sauce.

 

Oat Flour Crepes

Crepes made with 100% oat flour.

 

Yogurt and Rhubarb

Homemade yogurt to fill the crepes.

 

Oat Flour Crepes with Rhubarb and Yogurt

The grande finale: Oat Flour Crepes with Rhubarb and Yogurt.

 

These crepes were inspired by a book I bought last weekend, Ratio. Author and Chef Michael Ruhlman simplifies the mysteries of cooking and baking into basic ratios, such as “bread dough = 5 parts flour : 3 parts water (plus yeast and salt).” According to Ruhlman, ratios are the foundation of cooking and baking. Once you know them, you can cut loose from the rigidity of recipes and be free to master your own creations.

As I read through the book I was struck with the urge to try a new spin on crepes. Now mind you, I’ve never made crepes before. I haven’t even eat very many crepes in my lifetime. But images like this one and this one had me craving crepes. With the crepe ratio in hand and some extra oat flour in the cupboard, I set out to test the ratio. Well, it worked well. Extremely well. But don’t believe me. Grab the ratio and try for yourself.

Crepe = 1 part liquid : 1 part egg : 1/2 part flour

P.S. My other favorite way of eating these crepes is sprinkled with lemon juice and sugar—yum!

Ingredients

8 oz. (1 cup) milk
4 large eggs
4 oz. (scant 1 cup) oat flour
1/4 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup water
1 12-oz. package frozen rhubarb (about 1 1/2 cups)

butter, for cooking
yogurt, to serve
powdered sugar, optional

Make the Oat Flour Crepes with Rhubarb and Yogurt

Combine the milk, eggs, oat flour and salt in a medium bowl and whisk until well blended. Set aside to rest for at least 30 minutes or refrigerate for up to 1 day. (If you refrigerate the batter, bring it to room temperature before cooking.)

Meanwhile, combine the water and sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Add the rhubarb and cook until the rhubarb begins to break down and forms a sauce. Remove from heat.

Heat a pan over medium heat. When it is warm, swirl a teaspoon of butter in the bottom of the pan. Pour in enough batter to thinly coat the bottom of the pan. You may need to tilt the pan to spread the batter over the bottom of the pan. If the crepes aren’t as thin as you’d like, add a little milk to the batter to thin it. Cook the crepe until the top sets and begins to look dry. Then carefully flip the crepe and cook 15-30 seconds longer.

When you’ve cooked all the crepes, spread rhubarb and yogurt over the bottom third of the crepe and roll into a tube shape. Sprinkle with powdered sugar if desired.

Basic Crepe Recipe from Ratio, by Michael Ruhlman (p 82).

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