• Daring Bakers: Danish Braid

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    Ingredients
    For the dough (Detrempe)

    • 1 ounce fresh yeast or 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
    • 1/2 cup whole milk
    • 1/3 cup sugar
    • Zest of 1 orange, finely grated
    • 3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
    • 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    • 1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped
    • 2 large eggs, chilled
    • 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
    • 3-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1 teaspoon salt

    For the butter block (Beurrage)

    • 1/2 pound (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter
    • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour

    DOUGH

    1. Combine yeast and milk in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on low speed. Slowly add sugar, orange zest, cardamom, vanilla extract, vanilla seeds, eggs, and orange juice. Mix well. Change to the dough hook and add the salt with the flour, 1 cup at a time, increasing speed to medium as the flour is incorporated. Knead the dough for about 5 minutes, or until smooth. You may need to add a little more flour if it is sticky. Transfer dough to a lightly floured baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
    2. Without a standing mixer: Combine yeast and milk in a bowl with a hand mixer on low speed or a whisk. Add sugar, orange zest, cardamom, vanilla extract, vanilla seeds, eggs, and orange juice and mix well. Sift flour and salt on your working surface and make a fountain. Make sure that the “walls” of your fountain are thick and even. Pour the liquid in the middle of the fountain. With your fingertips, mix the liquid and the flour starting from the middle of the fountain, slowly working towards the edges. When the ingredients have been incorporated start kneading the dough with the heel of your hands until it becomes smooth and easy to work with, around 5 to 7 minutes. You might need to add more flour if the dough is sticky.

    BUTTER BLOCK

    1. Combine butter and flour in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and beat on medium speed for 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and the paddle and then beat for 1 minute more, or until smooth and lump free. Set aside at room temperature.
    2. After the detrempe has chilled 30 minutes, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough into a rectangle approximately 18 x 13 inches and ¼ inch thick. The dough may be sticky, so keep dusting it lightly with flour. Spread the butter evenly over the center and right thirds of the dough. Fold the left edge of the detrempe to the right, covering half of the butter. Fold the right third of the rectangle over the center third. The first turn has now been completed. Mark the dough by poking it with your finger to keep track of your turns, or use a sticky and keep a tally. Place the dough on a baking sheet, wrap it in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
    3. Place the dough lengthwise on a floured work surface. The open ends should be to your right and left. Roll the dough into another approximately 13 x 18 inch, ¼-inch-thick rectangle. Again, fold the left third of the rectangle over the center third and the right third over the center third. No additional butter will be added as it is already in the dough. The second turn has now been completed. Refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes.
    4. Roll out, turn, and refrigerate the dough two more times, for a total of four single turns. Make sure you are keeping track of your turns. Refrigerate the dough after the final turn for at least 5 hours or overnight. The Danish dough is now ready to be used. If you will not be using the dough within 24 hours, freeze it. To do this, roll the dough out to about 1 inch in thickness, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and freeze. Defrost the dough slowly in the refrigerator for easiest handling. Danish dough will keep in the freezer for up to 1 month.

    APPLE FILLING

    Ingredients

    • 4 Fuji or other apples, peeled, cored, and cut into ¼-inch pieces
    • 1/2 cup sugar
    • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
    • 1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped
    • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
    • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter

    Directions:

    1. Toss all ingredients except butter in a large bowl. Melt the butter in a sauté pan over medium heat until slightly nutty in color, about 6 – 8 minutes. Then add the apple mixture and sauté until apples are softened and caramelized, 10 to 15 minutes. If you’ve chosen Fujis, the apples will be caramelized, but have still retained their shape. Pour the cooked apples onto a baking sheet to cool completely before forming the braid. (If making ahead, cool to room temperature, seal, and refrigerate.) They will cool faster when spread in a thin layer over the surface of the sheet. After they have cooled, the filling can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Left over filling can be used as an ice cream topping, for muffins, cheesecake, or other pastries.

    DANISH BRAID
    Makes enough for 2 large braids

    Ingredients

    • 1 recipe Danish Dough (see below)
    • 2 cups apple filling, jam, or preserves (see below)
    • For the egg wash: 1 large egg, plus 1 large egg yolk
    1. Line a baking sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper. On a lightly floured surface, roll the Danish Dough into a 15 x 20-inch rectangle, ¼ inch thick. If the dough seems elastic and shrinks back when rolled, let it rest for a few minutes, then roll again. Place the dough on the baking sheet.
    2. Along one long side of the pastry make parallel, 5-inch-long cuts with a knife or rolling pastry wheel, each about 1 inch apart. Repeat on the opposite side, making sure to line up the cuts with those you’ve already made.
    3. Spoon the filling you’ve chosen to fill your braid down the center of the rectangle. Starting with the top and bottom “flaps”, fold the top flap down over the filling to cover. Next, fold the bottom “flap” up to cover filling. This helps keep the braid neat and helps to hold in the filling. Now begin folding the cut side strips of dough over the filling, alternating first left, then right, left, right, until finished. Trim any excess dough and tuck in the ends.

    Egg Wash

    1. Whisk together the whole egg and yolk in a bowl and with a pastry brush, lightly coat the braid.

    Proofing and Baking

    1. Spray cooking oil (Pam…) onto a piece of plastic wrap, and place over the braid. Proof at room temperature or, if possible, in a controlled 90 degree F environment for about 2 hours, or until doubled in volume and light to the touch.
    2. Near the end of proofing, preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Position a rack in the center of the oven.
    3. Bake for 10 minutes, then rotate the pan so that the side of the braid previously in the back of the oven is now in the front. Lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees F, and bake about 15-20 minutes more, or until golden brown. Cool and serve the braid either still warm from the oven or at room temperature. The cooled braid can be wrapped airtight and stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days, or freeze for 1 month.
  • Creamy Pomodoro

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    This pasta dish is so easy, so tasty, and kid friendly. You can feed it to your family or to guests…I promise everyone will be impressed. It definitely tastes like something from a fine Italian restaurant.

    Ingredients:

    • 2 TBSP olive oil
    • 2 (28-ounce) can whole Italian tomatoes
    • 3- 4 garlic cloves, minced
    • Salt and pepper, to taste
    • Sugar, to taste
    • Crushed red pepper, to taste (I put in 1/4 tsp.)
    • 1/2 cup cream
    • 16 large basil leaves, chiffonade
    • 1 lb. hot pasta

    Directions:

    1. In a medium skillet over medium high heat, heat olive oil, then add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes; then add the whole tomatoes. While tomatoes cook, use a potato masher to continually break down the tomatoes. Add salt, pepper, and sugar to taste (amounts will all depend on the quality of your canned tomatoes and how sweet you like your sauce). Add crushed red pepper if using. Continue to use the potato masher to break down the tomatoes, and simmer for as long as possible. Mine simmered for about 45 minutes, taste and adjust seasoning. The end result is a thick delicious sauce. Add cream then stir in basil (reserve some for garnish) and serve over pasta.

    Creamy Pomodoro:

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  • Buttery Cinnabun Cake

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    This picture doesn’t do this cake justice. I found this recipe at Picky Palate’s site, and to say everyone enjoyed this cake would be an understatement! It was delicious, and would be perfect for a dessert or brunch. It’s super easy to make, and it’s just delicious. If you like coffee cake, you’ll love this, so give it a try.

    Cake Ingredients:

    • 3 c. flour
    • ¼ tsp. salt
    • 1 c. sugar
    • 4 teaspoons baking powder
    • 1 ½ c. milk
    • 2 eggs
    • 2 tsp. vanilla
    • 1 Stick real butter, melted

    Brown Sugar Topping:

    • 2 sticks real butter, softened (I just used 1 stick, and it was plenty buttery)
    • 1 c. brown sugar
    • 2 TBSP flour
    • 1 TBSP cinnamon
    • 2/3 c. nuts, optional

    Glaze:

    • 2 c. powdered sugar
    • 5 TBSP milk
    • 1 tsp. vanilla

    Directions:

    1. Preheat oven to 375.
    2. In an electric or stand mixer mix the flour, salt, sugar, baking powder, milk, eggs and vanilla. Once combined well, slowly stir in melted butter. Pour batter into a greased 9 x 13 inch baking pan.
    3. In a large bowl, mix the 2 sticks of softened butter, brown sugar, flour, cinnamon and nuts until well combined. Drop evenly over cake batter by the tablespoonfuls and use a knife to marble/swirl through the cake.
    4. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until toothpick comes out nearly clean from center.
    5. Place powdered sugar, milk and vanilla in a large bowl. Whisk until smooth. Drizzle over warm cake. Serve warm or at room temperature.

    Buttery Cinnabun Cake:

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  • Crock Pot Apricot Chicken

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    I found a recipe over at A Year of CrockPotting, and since I needed a crock pot meal for tonight I thought I’d give it a try. I added more of the minced onion, soy sauce, and ginger than the original recipe called for, because when I tasted the sauce with the original amounts, I felt the sauce needed more of a punch…and boy am I glad I did, because it was delicious!  Both kiddos actually ate all of their dinner and our oldest had seconds!  I’d serve this dish to company…that’s saying something…especially coming from the crock pot!  It’s a keeper!
    Ingredients:

    • 1 lb. chicken breasts, cut into chunks
    • 11 oz. jar of apricot preserves
    • 2 tsp. dried minced onion
    • 1 TBSP dijon mustard
    • 2TBSP soy sauce
    • 1 tsp. ground ginger
    • 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes (may use less, more, or omit)
    • Cooking spray

    Directions:

    1. Spray the crock pot with cooking spray; then add the chicken.
    2. Combine the preserves through the crushed red pepper in a bowl, and mix to incorporate. Pour sauce over chicken.
    3. Cover and cook on HIGH for 2 hours.

    Crock Pot Apricot Chicken:

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  • Turkey Bruschetta Sandwiches

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    Tired of the same old turkey sandwich? Here’s one way to liven it up! This recipe makes enough to top 2 sandwiches. You can use this bruschetta for just about anything…it’s delicious! Instead of turkey you can use grilled chicken, or leave off the turkey and you’ll have a wonderful bruschetta caprese sandwich.

    Ingredients:

    • 1/2 c. grape tomatoes, chopped
    • 2 TBSP basil, chiffonade
    • 1 garlic clove, minced
    • salt and pepper to taste
    • 1 tsp. olive oil
    • 2 tsp. balsamic vinegar
    • 2 ciabatta rolls
    • Turkey slices
    • Fresh mozzarella, sliced (optional)

    Directions:

    1. Combine tomatoes through balsamic vinegar in a bowl. Set aside.
    2. Toast the rolls; then add the cheese (if using), then the turkey, and top with the bruschetta. Enjoy!

    Turkey Bruschetta Sandwiches:

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  • Crock Pot Chicken with Creamy Black Beans

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    It’s Thursday, which means it is time for another crock pot recipe. I came across this recipe that only had the chicken, beans, salsa, corn, and cream cheese. I added the spices, which I think added quite a bit of flavor. It was pretty good. Our oldest really liked it (minus the corn), but our youngest wouldn’t touch it (I don’t think she was too hungry because after eating watermelon, she didn’t ask for anything else.)
    Ingredients:

    • Cooking spray
    • 1 lb. chicken breasts, but into bite size pieces
    • 1 15 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
    • 1 16 oz. jar of salsa (I used the Taco Bell mild salsa, because that’s what the kids picked out)
    • 1 15 oz. can corn, drained
    • 2 tsp. cumin
    • 2 tsp. oregano
    • 1 tsp. chili powder
    • 1 8 oz. package of cream cheese
    • Steamed rice

    Directions:

    1. Spray your crock pot with cooking spray. Add chicken through chili powder, stir to combine.
    2. Cook on HIGH for 2 1/2 hours.
    3. Remove lid and add cream cheese; then recover and let cream cheese heat through, about 15 minutes.
    4. Serve over rice.

    Chicken with Creamy Black Beans:

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  • Strawbery Shortcake Biscuits

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    I love strawberry shortcake. We created these sweet biscuits, and they are delicious with fresh strawberries and whipped cream. Not surprisingly our children inhaled this dessert!

    Strawberries:

    • 3 pints strawberries, hulled and cut in half
    • 2 TBSP granulated sugar
    • Whipped Cream for serving

    Directions:

    1. Sprinkle strawberries with sugar and allow to sit at least 1 hour at room temperature and up to 6 hours refrigerated.

    Sweet Shortcake Biscuits:

    • 2 c. flour
    • 4 tsp. baking powder
    • 3/4 tsp. salt
    • 1/3 cup sugar
    • 1/2 cup shortening
    • 1/2 cup half-and-half, or substitute whole milk or heavy cream
    • 1/4 cup water
    • Sugar sprinkles (optional)

    Directions:

    1. Preheat oven to 450°F. Mix flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Cut shortening in with pastry blender or two knives. Mix half-and-half and water and stir quickly into flour mixture. The dough will not be combined at this point. You don’t want to over mix, because over mixing causes a tougher less flaky biscuit.
    2. Dump out on floured board and pat about 1 inch thick. Cut with 3-inch cutter and put on ungreased cookie sheet about 2 inches apart. If desired, top with sugar sprinkles. Bake until biscuits are browned, about 7 to 9 minutes.

    Assembly:

    1. Split warm biscuits open. Spoon about 1/2 c. berries on top of each biscuit bottom and mound about 1/4 c. whipped cream over the berries. Set biscuit tops on top of each mound.

    Strawberry Shortcake Biscuits:

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  • Buffalo Chicken Salad with Cilantro-Cotija Dressing

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    Buffalo wings are delicious, so why not make a salad around those familiar flavors? We created this Latin-inspired take on the traditional combination of buffalo wings and blue cheese dressing. The parsley and blue cheese of the traditional dressing are replaced with cilantro and cotija cheese, a crumbly cheese often used to top Mexican dishes, and it’s absolutely delicious. Everyone we’ve ever served this to has raved about it.

    Buffalo Chicken:

    • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
    • 1 12-oz bottle of buffalo wing sauce
    • 4 TBSP butter
    • 1/4 cup Louisiana-style hot sauce, such as Tabasco

    Directions:

    1. Combine chicken and buffalo wing sauce in a gallon-sized zip-top bag. Marinate for 1 hour.
    2. Melt butter in a small pot, whisk in hot sauce to combine. Grill chicken over medium-high heat until the internal temperature reaches 170°F. Brush the butter and hot sauce mixture over the chicken during cooking.

    Dressing:

    • 1 cup mayonnaise
    • 1/2 cup sour cream
    • 3/4 cup cilantro, chopped
    • 1 to 2 TBSP lemon juice
    • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
    • 6 dashes of Worcestershire sauce
    • Salt and pepper to taste
    • Crushed red pepper to taste
    • 6 oz cotija cheese

    Directions:

    1. Combine all of the ingredients in a blender. If necessary, water can be added to thin the dressing. Taste and adjust seasoning accordingly.

    Salad:

    • Grilled chicken, sliced
    • 1 head iceberg lettuce
    • 2 c. grape tomatoes, halved
    • 1 yellow or red bell pepper
    • 1 c. corn, roasted or grilled
    • 2 oz. cotija cheese, for garnish

    Directions:

    1. Mix together all of the ingredients, except for the cotija cheese, in a large bow. Toss with the dressing, plate and top with cotija cheese.

    Buffalo Chicken Salad with Cilantro-Cotija Dressing:

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  • Arroz Con Coco Blanco/Coconut Rice

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    This coconut rice recipe comes from Secrets of Columbian Cooking. It was delicious! I had no idea Columbian cuisine used coconut milk. We made an Asian flank steak to accompany the rice, and the combo was delicious. Any grilled meat or Asian inspired marinade or sauce would be great with this rice. Just delicious!

    Ingredients:

    • 1 1/2 tsp. olive oil
    • 1 c. rice
    • 1 1/2 tsp. sugar
    • 1 tsp. salt
    • 2 c. coconut milk (I used 1 can plus a little extra water)

    Directions:

    1. Heat oil in a medium pot over medium heat.
    2. Add the rice, sugar, and salt, and stir for 2 minutes.
    3. Add the coconut milk and bring to a boil.
    4. After about 7 minutes, or as soon as you see the rice on the surface and most of the liquid has evaporated, cover the pot; reduce to minimum heat and cook covered for 20 minutes.

    Coconut Rice:

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  • Nana’s Potato Salad

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    My mom makes really good potato salad. She doesn’t have a recipe…it’s all in her head and she uses the taste as she goes method. I’ve tried to approximate her recipe. My version is really good…not quite Nana’s but maybe with practice and some tips from Nana I’ll get it some day!

    This is a small batch version, and I served it with grilled burgers. When my mom makes potato salad, she makes enough for an army. This recipe serves 4 to 6.

    Ingredients:

    • 1 1/2 lb. potatoes, cooked, peeled, and cubed
    • 1/2 c. celery, chopped
    • 1/4 c. onion, minced
    • 3 hard boiled eggs, chopped
    • 1/2 tsp. salt
    • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
    • 1/4 c. mayo
    • Paprika for garnish

    Directions:

    1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl, mix and taste. Adjust seasoning (may want to add more salt or garlic powder or mayo).

    Nana’s Potato Salad:

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