Sweet Souffle, Savory Souffle


Okay, first things first. I know that “souffle” should actually be “soufflé”, but I can’t be bothered to type out “é” every single time I write souffle, so it will be souffle all the way down. Feel free to pronounce it “sooh-ffull” instead of “sew-flay” if you like.

Souffle is a kind of fluffy puffy egg custard dish. Fluffy and puffy, kind of like how you would become if you ate too many souffles. Many recipes I researched began with the caveat “souffles are known for how difficult they are to make, but actually, they’re easy!” That’s true to some extent. I failed in souffle making twice before I finally got it down. Once it was down, it’s fairly easy. As with all tricky dishes, there are a few key details that you should pay attention to, but as long as those details are taken care of, everything else is fairly forgiving.

Also, if this is your first time making souffles, I recommend that you try the chocolate recipe first. It is simpler, uses less ingredients, and will save you extra frustration if you need to try the recipe multiple times.

Before you begin, you WILL need an electric mixer (hand held is fine), and a few straight-walled ramekins. The recipes are made for 6 oz ramekins.

Case I: Chocolate Souffle

Thanks to practice, I no longer have trouble

Thanks to practice, I no longer have trouble “getting it up” when I need to.

Adapted from “The Joy of Cooking” cookbook
Cook & Prep Time: 30 minutes
Serves 3
Ingredients:

2 fresh eggs
3 oz semi/bitter-sweet chocolate
3 tbs butter + more for buttering ramekins
1 tbsp rum, coffee, or water
2 tbs sugar + 2 tbs sugar*
1/4 tsp cream of tartar

*If you have castor sugar (ultrafine) or powdered sugar, use that instead. Granulated sugar will also work. More details below on the practical differences.

Cooking

Begin by separating the yolk from the whites of the eggs. Keep each in their own separate container. You will need both but at different times. Heat a medium to large-sized pan or pot of water to just below simmer. You want the water to be hot, but not simmering. Preheat your oven to 375F (190C).

Try doing this with a human period, huh? Chickens are clearly superior in this aspect.

Try doing this with a human period, huh? Chickens are clearly superior in this aspect.

Combine the three tablespoons of butter, rum, and chocolate in a small bowl. Hold the bowl over the hot water and whisk until everything is silky and combined. Try not to let the bowl touch the water. Once everything is melted and combined, set the chocolate aside to cool for ten minutes.

COVER YOUR EYES CHILDREN! THIS ISN'T WHAT FOOD SHOULD LOOK LIKE!

COVER YOUR EYES CHILDREN! THIS ISN’T WHAT FOOD SHOULD LOOK LIKE!

Bring your bowl of egg whites over the hot water for a minute or two, swirling the contents so as to not cook the whites. You want to sort of bring the whites to room temperature-ish before beating it. When the chocolate has been cooling for 5 minutes, start beating your egg whites. Beat it on medium until it is foamy. Add the cream of tartar. Beat until soft peaks, and then slowly drizzle in your sugar. The less fine your sugar, the slower you should drizzle it. If you have granulated sugar, you want to add the two tablespoons over the course of an entire minute so as not to kill the foam. You are basically making a meringue, which forms the foamy structure of the souffle.

Like light, puffy, sweet clouds, with a small chance of salmonella.

Like light, puffy, sweet clouds, with a small chance of salmonella.

Continue to beat your meringue on medium until it has formed stiff (but not dry) peaks. Use a rubber spatula to move 1/3 of this meringue mixture into the container with melted chocolate and stir to combine. Dump the chocolate/meringue mixture back into the bulk of the meringue and fold everything together, being gentle so as not to kill all the air bubbles that were beaten into the egg whites. Brush the insides of the ramekins thoroughly with softened butter and dust the insides with sugar (again, castor sugar is preferred, but granulated is fine). Fill each ramekin to the brim with the chocolate mixture and swipe off any excess with a straight-edged utensil. Run your thumb along the inside rim of the souffle to carve out a shallow valley around the edge; this will allow your souffle to rise straight up (credit to Gordon Ramsay for this method). Bake for 10 minutes.

It's brown mesa, Black Mesa's edible and less dangerous cousin.

It’s brown mesa, Black Mesa’s edible and less dangerous cousin.

Top with chocolate shavings and/or whipped cream if available. Serve immediately. Souffles do not keep and will deflate very quickly after cooking, so plan accordingly.

Case II: Spinach, Shrimp, and Gruyere Souffle

They call me puff daddy.

They call me puff daddy.

Prep & Cook time: 45 min
Serves 2

Ingredients:

2 fresh eggs
1.5 tbs all-purpose flour
1.5 tbs butter, plus more for brushing
3/4 cups milk
1/2 tsp white pepper
1/2 tsp nutmeg
salt
3-4 medium-sized shrimp
1 cup raw spinach, packed
4 tbs gruyere cheese, grated*
2 tbsp cooking oil
3 tablespoons bread crumbs

*Yeah yeah it’s “gruyère” I know.

Cooking

The process begins a lot like the sweet souffle: separate your egg whites and yolks and reserve both. Place your butter into a small pot over medium-low heat. Melt the butter, taking care not to let it brown. Add your flour.

This is like, food porn as in the food version of porn that features your grandma. Just a friendly reminder that not all porn is created equal.

This is like, food porn as in the food version of porn that features your grandma. Just a friendly reminder that not all porn is created equal.

Generally speaking, most savory souffles follow a very simple guideline: cheese and egg yolks are stirred into a bechamel sauce which is in turn combined with a meringue along with whatever solid food objects, which is then baked in a similar fashion as a sweet souffle.

Cook the flour and butter for a while, being careful not to let it brown. If anything starts to turn brown or yellow, turn the heat down and remove the mixture from heat temporarily to cool it down. After a few minutes, slowly whisk in the milk. Let cook for 3-4 more minutes until the mixture thickens. Add nutmeg and white pepper, set aside to cool for about ten minutes.

If we use the Louis C.K. analogy of the Cinnabon being the

If we use the Louis C.K. analogy of the Cinnabon being the “fat faggot treat“, this would be the hot cum.

Heat another saute pan on high heat. Add your cooking oil. When the oil begins to smoke, saute your spinach until cooked, about a minute. Remove from heat and set aside to cool. Add your shrimp (chopped into tiny pieces beforehand) and saute until just cooked, about 30 seconds. Remove from heat. Pre-heat your oven to 350F (176C).

When the spinach is sufficiently cooled to handle, squeeze the juice out of it and chop into small pieces. Set aside. Now, take out your gruyere and either grate or finely chop 4 tablespoons. Add both the cheese and the egg yolks to the bechamel while stirring rapidly. The stirring will help ensure your egg yolk does not cook upon touching the bechamel. Stir until the cheese is melted.

Do you see that fucking pricetag? Ugh. Real imported gruyere. I spent like 5 minutes just standing in front of the cheese section thinking about it before buying the smallest block I could find. Traumatized for life.

Do you see that fucking pricetag? Ugh. Real imported gruyere. I spent like 5 minutes just standing in front of the cheese section thinking about it before buying the smallest block I could find. Traumatized for life.

Now start beating the egg whites for the meringue. This time, add nothing except a pinch of salt once the meringue has reached soft peaks. Beat until stiff. Add 1/4 of this mixture to the bechamel. Mix to incorporate. Then, dump the bechamel back into the meringue along with the spinach and shrimp. Fold to incorporate. Brush the inside of two ramekins with softened butter and dust with bread crumbs.

You can also use grated parmesan. I don't have parmesan.

You can also use grated parmesan. I don’t have parmesan.

Pour the batter in, swipe the excess off the top with a flat utensil, and make a valley around the rim with your thumb as per the sweet souffle. Bake for about 18 minutes, until souffle has risen and is golden brown on the top. Top with shaved cheese and serve immediately.

Eat too many of these and you might souffle off your mortal coil.

Eat too many of these and you might souffle off your mortal coil.

Conclusion
Before I started this project, I remember thinking “who in the world would ever make a savory souffle? Well, in reality the savory souffle is just as good (if not better!) than the sweet souffle. It is warm, rich, creamy, and the light texture completely masks how heavy the dish actually is until you realize that you are suddenly full from having eaten such a small dish. A master stroke dish that is perfect as the first course of a three course meal.

Fun with Eggs


…Specifically, eggs of the chicken. Most people will agree that chicken periods are considerably more palatable than human periods. Furthermore, they are cheaper. Requests for human egg donors in the classified section of newspapers often offer thousands of dollars for a single egg.

This blog entry isn’t as much about egg dishes as it is about what you can do with eggs. The first dish is a broccoli and tomato salad with home made mayonnaise. The second dish is a cherry clafoutis. Both dishes use eggs in a supporting role, but the eggs are critical enough that the dishes will not work without them.

If you hate eggs, this is not the blog for you. And shame on you for hating on eggs.

Module 1: Tomato and Broccoli Salad

Hullaballoo

What came first, the chicken or the egg? The chicken, of course. Eggs can’t come.

Prep Time: ~30 minutes
Serves 4-6

Ingredients

1 lb broccoli
1 lb tomatoes
1/3 cup grated parmesan
1 tbsp salt

Mayonnaise

1 egg yolk
1/2 cup dijon mustard
2/3 cup oil*
1/2 tbsp salt**
1/4 tbsp pepper (white pepper if you want consistent coloring)
1 1/2 tbsp wine vinegar or lemon juice

*Typically you will want to use a neutral tasting oil. I used half olive oil and half vegetable (sunflower) oil. Pure olive oil will have too strong a flavor for making mayonnaise.

**I tend to under-salt my dressings and my food in general. You may wish to up this to a full tablespoon for the final salad.

Cooking

Bring about two quarts (2 liters) of water to a boil in a pot with 1 tablespoon of salt. Meanwhile, cut your broccoli into bite-sized pieces.

I bet you can’t spot the egg in this picture.

Blanch the broccoli (which means to cook something briefly in boiling water) for about a minute, keeping the heat on high. When you first put the broccoli into the water, it may cause the water to stop boiling. The water should come back to a rolling boil before the minute is up. This will quickly cook the broccoli until it is slightly tender, but the broccoli should still retain some of its crispiness.

Just kidding, there weren’t any eggs in the previous picture.

Lift your broccoli out of the water and let it cool in a colander. Do not dump the hot water yet. As the broccoli cool, you can start on your mayonnaise. Mayonnaise is quite easy to make, but also easy to screw up if you do not pay attention. Crack open an egg and separate the yolk and the white. Discard the white. Deposit the egg yolk in a medium sized bowl. Add the mustard. Mustard is a good emulsifier, which means it will help bind the oil to the egg yolk.

Salmonella? Never heard of her. Is she hot?

Whisk the mustard and the egg yolk together while holding the bowl over the hot water. You will want to bring the two to room temperature without overcooking the eggs, so check the bottom of your bowl every now and then to make sure that it is not too hot. Oftentimes mayonnaise recipes will tell you to use “room temperature eggs”, and this is the best and safest way to bring eggs to room temperature. Simply leaving egg outside for a few hours will “age” the egg significantly and it will be considerably less fresh than if you used the method described here.

Once the yolk and mustard mixture is well whisked and at room temperature, you are ready to make mayonnaise. Have your oil ready at hand and add ONLY a few drops to the yolk. The key to mayonnaise is to start adding oil very slowly. If you add oil too quickly, the mayonnaise will never form and you will have to restart.

The mayonnaise starts out yellow and becomes paler over time. As a Chinese living in the United States, that’s the story of my life right there.

Whisk the few drops of oil into the yolk until it is smooth and uniform. Add a bit more oil this time, and whisk the oil in. Continue to add oil, increasing the increments each time, and whisk the oil completely into the mayonnaise before continuing on.

Whisk until all the oil has been incorporated. Now you can season the mayonnaise. Add salt and pepper, and vinegar or lemon juice for acidity.

The primordial ooze of French cuisine

The time for salad assembly is now. Cut your tomatoes into bite-sized pieces. Throw in parmesan and toss your vegetables together with the mayonnaise (add as much as you need). Serve right away, or refrigerate and serve chilled.

Vegetables just aren’t the same without a ton of fat drenched all over it.

Module 2: Cherry Clafoutis

A custard had sex with a flan once upon a time. The flan got pregnant and gave birth to the clafoutis.

Adapted from Julia Child’s recipe
Prep time: ~1 hour
Serves 3-4
Makes 1 8-inch cast-iron pan

2 cups ripe cherries*
5/6 cup milk (or part milk, part cream)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tbsp vanilla eggstract
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 egg + 1 egg yolk
butter, for buttering pan
1 tbsp powdered sugar

You will also need: a vessel which is both stove-top and oven-safe, such as a cast iron pan.

*The traditional dessert can be made with either apricots or cherries (pitted or not). I used unpitted bing cherries, which allegedly gives a more intense flavor. You can either pit the cherries, or use pitted canned cherries. Drain the canned cherries of syrup before use.

Cooking

A clafoutis is like a mix between a flan and a custard. It can be eaten either as a dessert or for breakfast. It is fast and easy to make. First, pre-heat your oven to 350F (175C) sift your flour into a bowl. Add eggs to the flour and mix together into a thick, yellowy batter.

Chopsticks, so named because they are excellent tools for chopping objects. If you disagree, it means your kungfu is weak.

Add sugar, mix thoroughly again, then add the milk slowly while mixing to avoid lumps. Add salt and finally vanilla extract. You should end up with a very thin batter.

If you stir 13 times counter-clockwise using your feet while doing a handstand underneath a ladder with a black cat as witness, a unicorn will appear and grant you one wish.

Prepare your cherries however you want them to end up in the clafoutis. Butter your pan. Turn the heat to medium on the stove top and place your pan on the stove. Pour a thin layer of batter into the pan, just enough to cover the bottom. Heat the bottom just enough for the layer to thicken slightly, then pull the pan from the heat. Place all of your cherries into the pan in a single layer and pour the rest of the batter into the pan.

This clafoutis just got clafruity.

Stick the clafoutis into the oven and bake for about 45 minutes. Check in at about 40 minutes. Once the edges are puffed and brown, and a knife stuck into the center comes out clean, the clafoutis is ready. Dust with powdered sugar and serve at room temperature.

Don’t forget to warn people about the cherry pits when you serve this to them, unless you secretly hate them.

Conclusion

Aren’t eggs useful? And not even in the impregnation/reproduction way either. Even when they are not the centerpiece, they serve as critical instruments that bind many dishes and sauces together. I like eggs, and so should you. Eggs are there to serve. They exist for your nourishment. Instead of beating your children or your wife, consider beating your eggs instead. You will discover that the results are much more desirable.

Caramel Quesadillas


Pull a dessert out of your ass, why doncha?

Don’t mind if I do. June is apparently a dessert month or something, since I’m doing a lot of these, and I don’t even have a pregnant wife or anything like that. At any rate, this time it is a dessert of my own concoction. The premise is simple: a sweet version of the quesadilla. I ran the idea past a friend of mine who is a pastry chef, and he said it sounded pretty good.

The idea is to mirror the savory quesadilla in its entirety. Toasted, crispy tortillas, gooey caramel in place of cheese, and roasted hazelnuts to complete the filling. On the side is a fruit version of pico de gallo, using fruits to reproduce the texture of your standard tomato and onion pico.

Ingredients

If it doesn’t have queso, is it still quesadilla?

Prep Time: ~1 hour
Serves 4-6

Tortilla:

4 medium-sized flour tortillas (about 6 inches diameter)
1/2 cup sugar + 1 tbsp for sprinkling
1/4 cup cream
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
3 oz hazelnuts toasted or roasted (about three dozen nuts or so?)

Pico de Gallo

1 medium sized Granny Smith apple*
2-3 dozen red seedless grapes**
1 tbsp fresh mint
2 tbsp honey
juice of 1/2 lime or 3 tbsp grapefruit juice***
1 kiwi (optional)
salt****
pepper****

*Or 1 1/2 small granny smith apples. Try to find apples that are as crisp and tart as possible.
**Red seedless grapes are the best because of their combination of sweetness and crispness. Their skin texture is tender and a good imitation of a tomato’s skin texture. You can also use plums, but make sure that they are very sweet and firm enough to be diced.
***I used lime juice, but grapefruit juice could add an interesting hint of bitterness
****You only need a tiny pinch of both, less than 1/4 of a teaspoon

Assembly

Pico de gallo becomes tastier over the passage of time as the flavors marinate together. Therefore, it is made first. Wash and assemble all the fruits. Dice the granny smith apple into roughly 1/4 inch (~3/4 cm) cubes.

Who is this Granny Smith, that people hated her so much they named the sourest fucking apple in existence after her wrinkled ass?

Follow it up by dicing your grapes into quarters. The work might seem tedious, but it is necessary to make sure the grape pieces are as close to the apple pieces in size as possible. Put both fruits into the same container.

What did Granny Smith do, pour acid on her grandchildren as a form of punishment?

If you have a kiwifruit, dice that as well and dump it into the container. Pick out a tablespoon or so’s worth of mint and slice it into fine strips. Put everything into one container, add salt, pepper, honey, and juice. Toss everything together and refrigerate for the moment.

I guess if you have grapples you can just use those instead of grapes and apples.

Now it is time to make the caramel. Measure out your sugar and place it in a heavy bottomed pan (not a non-stick one! you will ruin your nonstick pan). A lot of caramel recipes tell you to add water, but that isn’t really necessary. Simply keep an eye out on your caramel as it melts. You can stir it around, but not too much as that will form lumps.

I’ve found a way to turn white into brown! But Michael Jackson is unfortunately dead.

In a separate pot, bring your cream to the boiling point. Add vanilla extract and salt to the cream. Let the sugar melt until it is a deep amber but not brown color. Take the caramelized sugar off the heat. Stir it around to prevent it from solidifying, then pour the boiling cream into the sugar while constantly stirring. Ideally no lumps will form and you get your caramel sauce. However, if lumps do form, you will have to put the sauce back on low heat and stir until the lumps go away. At the end of the process you should have this:

Never lick melted sugar until it is completely cool, unless you wish to intimately discover how cooked human tongue tastes like.

At this time you are almost ready to move onto the tortillas themselves. Bring out your hazelnuts. If they are not already toasted yet, toast them (a small toaster oven is the easiest and most efficient. You can also do it in the conventional oven, or over the stove. Make sure you do not burn the hazelnuts if you use the stove).

Pre-heat your oven to 400F and set it to broil. Prepare a sheet pan by covering it with parchment paper. Place two rounds of tortillas onto the pan. Take a knife and stab a bunch of pinpricks into each tortilla. This will prevent air pockets from expanding and ruining the shape of your tortillas as you toast them. Butter each tortilla on one side only and sprinkle sugar all over the buttered side.

These two tortillas are the most Mexican part of this dish that you will see, so savor the moment.

Broil each tortilla for approximately 5 minutes or so. I say approximately because the tortillas can go from completely white to thoroughly burnt within the span of thirty seconds, so you should start checking them at around 3 minutes. As soon as some parts of the tortillas start becoming dark brown, remove them from the oven.

When they are reasonably cooled, turn them over and spread the caramel sauce on the untoasted sides of both tortillas. Sprinkle one of the rounds with your crushed hazelnuts. Place one tortilla over the other to form the quesadilla.

If you didn’t turn your tongue into a slab of well-done meat by tasting the caramel while it was hot, you’ll probably enjoy what is about to come a lot more.

Serve the quesadillas while they are fresh alongside the pico de gallo.

The Result

This one is dedicated to all the vegetarians out there. So you can all get diabetes faster MUAHAHAHA

It’s pretty good. The first time I made this dessert I used plums instead of grapes, but I find that grapes are superior due to their tenderer skin and their sweeter flavor. Both parts of the dessert can be eaten separately or together.  The tortilla is a bit chewy, so the dessert is not for those with bad teeth. Where is the sour cream you ask? Well, you can use whipped cream or ice cream to replace sour cream for this dessert. I did not do it because I never liked sour cream anyways.

Conclusion

What is with all these desserts? I have no idea. They just keep popping into my mind so I make them. I think this one turned out rather well, but I don’t exactly have a large number of people to back me up on that, so you’re just going to have to make this one yourself. Tell me how it turns out, and if you have suggestions for improvement, tell me about it as well.

Brioche Dessert Applications


Brioche is fantastic on its own, but it is also a great “utility bread” for making all kinds of other dishes, both savory and sweet. Fortunately (or unfortunately) for you, I have a tremendous sweet tooth, so after having made brioche my mind immediately went to all of the dessert applications that such a rich bread could have.

This blog will showcase two desserts that can be made with brioche. Both are fruit related and relatively simple to make. If you only wish to make these desserts and not the bread, feel free to buy the bread from a store. You can also substitute any rich, egg-heavy bread for brioche if you wish.

Sortie I: Brioche Pear Tart

Boobies.

A pair of pared pears does not a healthy dessert make. Appearances can be deceiving. In fact, health is not a peartinent factor in the prepearation of either of these desserts. Pearmit yourself these simple indulgences, or pearish after living a flavorless life.

Prep time: ~25 minutes
Adapted from Jacque Pépin’s “Fast Food, My Way,” episode 220.
Serves 4

2 large pears*
4 slices of brioche
~3 tbsp of butter
~4 tbsp of sugar
4 tbsp honey
salt
1/2 cup whipped cream

*This is if you are using muffin tins to make single-serve tarts. Use 1/2 pear per person. Try to find pears with the width slightly wider than your muffin tins themselves. You can also make a large tart with an oven-safe, non-stick pan. You will need 4 large pears or 5-6 medium-sized ones. If you do not have pears, apples and peaches can also work.

Cooking

This is a quick and dirty dessert. First, take your pears out. Peel and core them. If you are making single-serve tarts, the best way is to cut them in half through the cross section. Core the pear and trim the top half so it is as spherical as the bottom half. That way, you can layer a single piece of fruit onto each “crust” made from brioche. If you are making a large tart, dice the pear into 1-inch slices. I know in my photos I diced my pears, but in retrospect that is not the best way to prepare the pears for single-serve tarts.

lots of boobies

LOL WUT?

Place the pears into a non-stick pan (oven safe pan if you are making a large tart. The pan will hold the tart as it bakes in the oven). Add honey, 2 tablespoons of sugar, and a tablespoon of butter. Cook over medium heat, covered, for about 3-10 minutes depending on how ripe and soft your pears are. The crispier your pears, the longer you will need to cook them until they are tender.

Once the pears are tender (or almost tender), uncover and cook the pears down until they are golden and caramelized.

Best boobies you've never seen.

King Midas could do this instantly but you’re gonna need a few minutes on the stove.

As the pears cook, slice your brioche if it isn’t sliced yet. If you are making single serve tarts, cut circular shapes out of the brioche the size of the muffin tin tops. These circles will be the “crust” on which the fruit ultimately rests on. Otherwise, you will want to cut the brioche in such a way that you can lay pieces of it over your pan of fruit to form the crust.

Boobalicious boobies

Be careful not to stab yourself with the knife. Blood is not a required ingredient in this dessert.

Pre-heat your oven to 400F (~200C). Butter your brioche on one side and sprinkle some sugar over them. Spoon the pears into the muffin tin (or keep them in the pan) and place the brioche circles on top of the pears, with the buttered side facing UP. Bake for about 10 minutes, or until the bread is toasted and caramelized on top.

Tantalizing boobies.

A fairly easy dessert, right? Even if it’s not as easy as your last night’s dessert of six sugar packets poached from the nearest coffee shop.

Remove the muffin tin (or your pan) from the oven when the bread on top is crisp and a bit brown all over. Wait a few minutes for the tin to cool, then place a plate or pan over the tin and flip it over to unmold. If you kept your pears in halves, it should be easy to remove the slices from the tins.

Serve lukewarm, topped with whipped cream.

Boobtastic boobies.

Fattening? Not unless you feed it to other people. MUHAHAHAHA.

 

Sortie II: Summer Pudding (Proper)

I know I’ve made summer pudding before, but this time I will show you the “proper” summer pudding, which uses berries instead of tropical fruits. It is as easy to make as the other one.

Ingredients

Delectable boobies.

You can use all kinds of berries, except for dingleberries. I would not recommend dingleberries.

Prep time: ~6-12 hours (mostly waiting)

~1 pound of assorted summer berries*
1/4 cup baking/castor’s sugar (not powdered sugar, but finer than granulated sugar)
1/4 cup berry jam/jelly**
Slices of brioche (3 per single-serve pudding)

You will also need: either some circular molds or spare mugs in which to keep the berries; some weights to sit on top of the puddings as they marinate; plastic wrap.

*The traditional mix is of red/black currants, raspberries, black berries, and strawberries. Depending on where you live, some of these berries may not be available for purchase. Use what you have. You can also use other berries, such as the blueberries that I have here.
**The flavor of jam depends on which berries you are missing. Where I live I am unable to acquire currants, so I used red currant jelly. Try to use a jam of a single flavor and avoid “mixed berry” jams. You want the jam to make up for the flavor of the berry you do not have, so it should be a concentration of a single berry flavor.

Assembly

Wash your berry mixture and set it aside. Slice your strawberries so that they are of similar size as the smaller berries.

Why were we talking about boobs again

It’s a pudding, but it’s British, so it’s not really a pudding, but it’s called a pudding, and so forth.

Over medium heat, measure out your sugar and jam. Cook until the jam has melted and add the berries. Cook for 3-5 minutes until the berries have released a bit of their juice, then take it off the heat. You do not want to fully cook the berries. The raspberries especially are prone to disintegration when cooked for too long. Let the berries cool.

Well, I mean, everyone likes boobs.

That is one expensive pan of fruit. For the same amount of money you can probably feed an Ethiopian family of four for a week.

Cut your brioche into circles that will fit loosely into the mugs. You do not want the brioche to fit too snugly because that would make removal difficult. You can also try fitting the inside of the mugs with a layer of plastic foil so that you can remove the pudding more easily, although that presents its own challenges.

Once your fruit has cooled, separate the fruit from the juice in the pan. Dip both sides of each brioche circle into the juice. You do not need it to soak thoroughly, simply to get the surface of each bread circle wet. Place one layer of bread, one layer of fruit (around 1 inch or 2 cm deep), another layer of bread, fruit, then a final layer of bread, making sure to soak each layer of bread. Cover the final layer of bread with a little juice. Cover the bread with plastic wrap, then place a weight (a can of soda or a bottle filled with water will do nicely) on top of the pudding. Let the pudding sit for at least six hours in the refrigerator.

After completing your puddings, you should still have some juice and fruit left over. Save these for now. They will be useful when it is time to plate.

Right? Boobs?

Bury the berries beneath the brioche bread.

After six hours (or however long you’ve managed to wait) has passed, you can plate and serve. If you layered your mug with plastic wrap, simply pull the pudding out gently and plop it upside down onto the plate. If not, place a plate over the mug, flip the mug over, and tap on the mug until the pudding drops down. Sometimes the top slice of brioche is still stuck in the mug. If this is the case, take a spoon and gently edge the brioche slice out by its edges. It should still remain intact. Top the pudding with more fruit and juice. Serve either as is, or with whipped cream or ice cream.

Titillating.

The fugitive berry made a run for it, but was shot in the back.

Conclusion

Thus ends this tale of two desserts. One warm, one cold. One French, the other British. Both ended up being devoured by ravenous gnashing teeth, to re-emerge as identically brown, very un-food like pastes which were flushed into the capable, well-maintained sewers of the city of Seattle. But that is another tale, which will most likely never be told. It is a reminder that although every meal begins differently, they all end in the same way.

Thank you for joining me on this journey. Until next time, make sure to eat enough fiber to stave off constipation. That shit is never fun. Like, literally.

Brioche


When I first started researching recipes on brioche on the internet, it became immediately apparent that there are not many bakers any more who have the cojones (or ovarios) to make this bread by hand.

What is so special about this bread that it makes eunuchs of all these bakers? Well, most people who have tried to make this bread talked about how difficult it is to knead butter into the dough. The butter seeps out of the dough and makes an oily mess all over the work surface. This, apparently, doesn’t happen with bread machines. But just when all hope was lost, I came across this youtube video:

Brioche by hand. The emasculation of bakers everywhere averted by an Asian man with the voice, mannerisms, and body shape of Julia Child.

This video is great because unlike many other bakers on the internet, he is willing to actually show his kneading process in detail and for a fair length of time, which is absolutely crucial for a video designed to teach people how to make and develop their bread dough properly.

So without further ado, this blog is about how to make brioche by hand, using the recipe adapted from the youtube video above.

Ingredients

Brioche, for when you must have rich, buttery bread. Side effects include obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and a slight increase in overall unattractiveness to the opposite sex. Batteries not included, utensils sold separately.

Prep & Wait time: ~12 hours (mostly waiting)

3 cups all-purpose flour[1]
2 tbsp milk
2 tsp salt
4 tbsp sugar
2 1/2 tbsp yeast
1 cup (2 sticks) butter[2]
5 eggs, + 1 more for eggwash

Tools that you will need: A rolling pin or rolling pin-like object, a dough scraper, or otherwise small rectangular sheet of plastic/metal that can scrape sticky dough off a work surface, some parchment paper.

[1] Bread flour might work, but haven’t tried it. Brioche is so rich it’s practically half cake so all-purpose flour should be fine. You will also need a tablespoon or two more for dusting your work surface.
[2] Non-negotiable. You can kick and scream about it being unhealthy, but if you’ve ever bought cake or brioche or whatever from a bakery they’re pretty much using as much if not more butter.

Baking

The most important thing to get right when making good bread is to get the dough right. And to get dough right while working by hand, you must practice making bread many times. But do not worry! Even if your dough does not come out perfect, you can still bake it, and the end product will still be tasty.

Dough or dough not, there is no try. Well you’re WRONG, Yoda. You have to keep trying until you can dough it right.

Begin with a large bowl and a smaller container. Crack all five eggs into the smaller container and measure out two tablespoons of milk into it. You do not need to beat the eggs. In the larger bowl, measure out all your dry ingredients: flour, yeast, salt, and sugar. Keep your butter in the refrigerator for now. Use a spatula to mix together the dry ingredients until homogenous.

Dump your eggs and milk into the dry ingredients. Mix with your spatula until you get a sort of shaggy looking mass.

OK great! You’ve made it this far! Ramping up the difficulty in 3… 2… 1…

Lightly flour your work surface and dump your dough onto the surface. Knead the dough for a while (check out the youtube video if you need some assistance on how to knead. You are essentially pushing the dough out a little bit with the heel of your hand, folding the dough back in on itself, and rotating the dough to repeat the process). The dough should be fairly easy to work with right now. It might stick to your hands a bit. Refrain from adding any more flour, just go with the flow and keep kneading until the dough is somewhat smooth and elastic, about 5-6 minutes. Bring out your butter now.

Why have bread and butter when you can just have bread, with an ass-ton of butter already mixed in.

Roll out, with a rolling pin or your hands, your dough until it is an oval roughly 5 inches by 8 inches, or ~13 cm x 20 cm. Unwrap your cold butter and beat it to flatten and soften it with a rolling pin or some other blunt object.

What happened to your butter? It…. it fell.

Place the pieces of butter on top of your flat dough. Fold the dough in half around the butter, encasing the butter completely around the dough, and start kneading. Push the dough out (about half an inch to an inch or so at first, so as not to tear the dough), fold the dough back on itself, rotate, fold again, push dough out, and so on. Now is the time to bring out your dough scraper. It is [i]extremely[/i] useful at this point in time, so if you do not have a dough scraper, look for a flat piece of plastic or metal that you can use as a substitute.

As you are kneading, bits of butter will inevitably seep out of your dough, start melting, get sticky, etc. Do not worry about it. Keep kneading, occasionally bringing bits of butter back into your dough as you go along. As time goes on, the butter will melt more and more, and goop up around your work surface. That’s fine, keep kneading. Now is the time to use the scraper to scrap the goopy butter back into your dough as you knead.

After about 5-10 minutes, the butter will have been completely incorporated into your dough. You should have a very sticky, un-dough-like mass. Well done! You are exactly where you should be! Now continue to knead to the best of your ability, scraping often to gather the muck that has stuck to your work surface. Do not use any flour, do not add water or oil. Simply keep kneading and scraping. After 10-15 minutes, the dough will start becoming more coherent, and no longer stick to your work surface or your hands as much (but it will always be a bit sticky).

The dough will also become increasingly elastic, so you can pull it out about 3-5 inches before having to fold it back on itself. When you get to this point, the dough is pretty much done. The test that many bakers like to use for the dough is to stretch a bit of it out. If you can stretch a bit of dough out so that part if it looks translucent (partially lets light in from the other side) and not tear the dough, your dough is done. Fold it in on itself and shape the dough into a nice soft ball.

He’s got big balls, and she’s got big balls, but we’ve got the biggest balls of them all.

Lightly oil a large pot and deposit your ball of dough into the pot. Refrigerate overnight, or for at least eight hours. The most difficult part of making brioche is done!

Eight hours later, remove the dough from the refrigerator. Fold the dough on itself a couple of times, then divide it equally into at least three pieces. You will notice that the cold dough is considerably less sticky and easier to work with,

Don’t dread the kneading. Have a sip of mead, get relaxed instead, tread lightly but don’t stop making bread until you’re dead.

Fold the pieces in on themselves a bit- this increases the surface tension and improves the quality of the crust. Then, shape your pieces into balls. This will allow you to create large ball-shaped loaves of brioche bread, which can be consumed either as-is or be used as parts of other recipes (future blog nudge nudge wink wink? maybe).

Shape each piece of dough into a ball and place them, evenly spaced, onto a piece of parchment paper. Leave them in a warm place for 2-3 hours to rise.

So you see, the dough has doubled in size. And you can double in size too, from eating this bread.

Now you are almost ready to bake. Pre-heat the oven to 350F (175C) Beat an egg in a small bowl, and brush the egg wash over each ball. If you do not have a brush, just use a paper towel. Crumple it up into a rod-like shape and use one end to soak up the egg wash. Brush the loaves once, wait for the layer to dry, then brush them a second time. Cut a cross shape on the top of the loaf. You should make your cross shape larger than I made mine, since mine did not prevent the loaf from splitting elsewhere due to expansion during the baking process.

You should also space the loaves further apart than I did to avoid making Siamese brioche twins.

Bake the loaves for about 30 minutes, depending on your oven, rotating the pan once during the baking process. Start checking in as early as 20 minutes to make sure you do not burn the egg wash.

I love the smell of brioche at 1 AM in the morning. It smells like… victory.

Wait at least five minutes to cool before consuming.

The Result

I heard that bread always lands butter side down, so I dropped a slice of brioche. It couldn’t decide which side had more butter so it just spun around in mid-air.

You can probably see that I need to work on getting a better oven and probably finding a more attractive way to shape my loaves. But I was very satisfied with the way the brioche turned out. First, the smell of fresh baked bread, of eggs and butter, permeated the entire house. Second, the crust had a gentle crunch to it, while the inside was fluffy and soft, somewhere between a bread and a cake. Brioche is great eaten as is (or as part of a sandwich), but it can also be used as a component in various other dishes both sweet and savory.

Conclusion

Bread, despite being a staple food, is surprisingly time consuming and complicated to make. Good bread is tricky. It requires thorough understanding of how the ingredients work in relation to each other. It requires repeated failures to build up experience on how to handle and knead dough.

But god damn is it satisfying to make. Every time you make bread you learn something new, and you unravel more of the secrets of bread making. And even if it does not come out absolutely perfect, it still tastes pretty damned good. If you enjoy learning new things with ample rewards during the learning process, bread making is for you.

Oh, and fuck bread machines.

Strawberry Shortcake


What is a Shortcake? A miserable little pile of secrets. Did you know that as famous as strawberry shortcake is, most people actually don’t know what a shortcake is? I certainly had no fucking clue until recently. Many “shortcake” recipes call for using yellow cake, pound cake, or angel food cake. But none of these are actually authentic shortcake. We’ve all been living in a world of lies.

As it turns out, a shortcake is a kind of crumbly, biscuit-like object that tastes like a cross between a buttermilk biscuit and a cornbread muffin. It tastes nothing like a cake. You might even say that the cake is a lie. The shortcake tastes even less like a cake than banana bread, and banana bread, well, it calls itself a bread! Jesus fucking Christ on a stick.

But enough of this rant. You might be thinking that every food blogger and their mother has probably done a strawberry shortcake blog. What do I have left to offer you? Merely a small, humble twist to the classic strawberry shortcake. Involving bananas and honey. Read on!

Ingredients

Were you looking for an ingredient spread? Please fill out form 56-b and my lawyers will be in contact with you within 3-7 business days.

Total Time: ~35 minutes
Yields 5-6 shortcakes; recipe can be multiplied as needed.

Macerated strawberries:
3/4 lb fresh strawberries, cleaned and thinly sliced
3-9 tbsp white granulated sugar, depending on berry sweetness

Whipped cream:
1 cup whipping cream
2 tbsp white granulated sugar*
3-4 drops vanilla extract

Shortcake:
1 + 3/8 cups all-purpose flour
3 tbsp honey**
1/2 medium banana, mashed***
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup whipping cream

You will also need: 1 muffin mold

*Do not attempt to use honey in whipped cream. The flavor of honey will completely overpower anything else you put into the cream.
**You can also use sugar if you do not have honey here. The honey merely adds an extra something in flavor.
***1/2 medium banana per 1.25 cups of flour, do NOT add any more than this unless you want some kind of bastardized banana bread.

Construction

Begin with the fruit. Get rid of the green leaves on the berries and lop off the tops if need be. Thinly slice the berries. If you have some particularly large berries, you should cut them in half across the width before slicing. Taste the berries for sweetness, then add anywhere from 3 to 9 tablespoons of sugar depending on how sweet your berries are. Toss the berries and refrigerate for now.

Have you noticed your girlfriend never asks you if you think she looks fat while holding a strawberry shortcake, or maybe a large pot roast?

Obtain two containers. In one container, mash half a banana with a spoon until it is a pulpy mess. It may be helpful to first cut up the banana into smaller pieces.

Alternatively, feed banana to a baby, then shake baby violently until the banana is vomited back up, ready for use. Be prepared to run from the law.

In the second container, measure out flour and add all the wet and dry shortcake ingredients together. Add the mashed bananas and then mix just enough to combine. Do not over-mix! The less you mix, the better your shortcake will turn out.

A land of milk and honey isn't actually ideal since there's no way to get your dietary fiber. You'll be constipated all the time.

Pre-heat your oven to 350F (175C). Butter your muffin mold and divide the dough evenly between 5-6 molds. The dough will be sticky, but do not worry too much if your batter is not beautifully even.

Is it dough or is it batter? I dough not know either, but it doesn't really batter.

Bake for about 25-30 minutes or until a knife inserted into the cake comes out clean. Most shortcake recipes give a baking time of 18-20 minutes, but the added moisture in the banana lengthens the baking time.

They look a bit like pufferfish that smell nice and won't kill you with a neurotoxin when you eat them.

Leave your finished cakes to rest for at least five minutes. Meanwhile. you can whisk your cream. I highly recommend using an electric mixer (which is ironic, since I whisked mine by hand. Whip the cream until it is nice and thick before adding sugar and vanilla extract.

Just beat it, beat it, beat it, beat it. No one wants to be defeated by a bowl of whipped cream.

When you are ready to serve, cut each shortcake in half. Place the bottom part on a plate. Heap a generous mound of macerated strawberries on top, then a dollop of whipped cream. Top with the second part of the shortcake. Do not be afraid to let it all overflow! The shortcake is not meant to be eaten as a neat sandwich.

Alternate serving method: take a clean transparent glass and wipe down the insides for moisture. Cut your shortcake into bite-sized pieces. Place one layer of shortcake on the bottom of the glass. Then a layer of cream, a layer of strawberries, another layer of shortcake, another layer of cream, and top off with a final layer of strawberries. Garnish with a mint sprig and serve.

The Result

Sucking a baby's cranial fluid through a straw.

I dub it the "strawberry-banana shortmuffin-biscuit conglomeration". Rolls right off the tongue.

4.5 / 5 I won’t lie. I personally still think yellow cake or pound cake or some type of cake fits the dessert better than shortcake. The texture of shortcake just clashes with strawberries and cream. But if you want strawberry shortcake, REAL strawberry shortcake, that’s what this is (plus an extra hint of honey/banana aroma from the shortcake).

Conclusion

Anyhow. This is the end of yet another blog entry, and this one took far, far less time to assemble than the three-day monstrosity that was the previous entry. Strawberry shortcake is a very fast dessert that you can whip up very quickly. If you are very, very lazy, you can even directly substitute store-bought buttermilk biscuits for the shortcake. Top with cool whip and sliced strawberries for a two-minute dessert. Until the next entry, cheers!

Summer Pudding II, Part B: Summer Pudding


Previously on Food in Mind: a bold trap was laid for billions of dry yeast cells in hibernation, a feast of flour and honey. They took the bait: eating, shitting, and reproducing in a cesspool orgy of activity. Suddenly they were swept up in a massive goop of flour and water, only to be tossed into a fiery oven where every single yeast cell suffered the terrible, terrible fate of being cooked alive mere hours after being awoken from their slumber.

Oh yeah, some challah bread was made too. Do not fret! Those yeast cells did not die in vain. We will honor their sacrifice by using the bread (laden with their tiny cooked bodies) to make a refreshing summer dessert known in the British isles as Summer Berry Pudding.

This pudding is traditionally made with raspberries, strawberries, and red and black currants. Unfortunately, red and black currants are not readily available where I live, and raspberries and strawberries are not yet on sale. This blog is devoted to a variation on summer pudding, preserving the essence of the idea while using seasonal fruits that are on sale.

Again, please read through the entire recipe to make sure that you have all the ingredients and equipment necessary to create the pudding. Some Macguyver action may be required on your part in order to make the pudding happen.

NOTE: the pictures for this blog are taken from two separate iterations of the dessert. I used the same process but with different vessels.

Ingredients

According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, the British invented puddings to compensate for the fact that their bad teeth could not handle real food.

Total time: 30 minutes prep + 5-12 hours of waiting

1 loaf slightly staled white bread (brioche/challah is a good choice)
1 cup diced fresh mangoes
1 cup diced fresh pineapples
1 cup diced fresh supremed* navel oranges**
1/4 cup castor’s or baker’s sugar***
1/4 cup water****

*To “supreme” a citrus fruit is a method of cutting out certain sections of the fruit. More detailed instructions will be included below.
**These fruits are what I used because I felt they pair well together. Feel free to substitute whatever you have on hand. Ripe peaches can stand in for mangoes, or you may wish to use an assortment of melons instead. If any of the fruits turn out to be not quite ripe, macerate them in a tablespoon or two of sugar beforehand. Also I will include fruit suggestions for making a budget pudding below. Substitute and swap fruits as you see fit.
***This is also known as superfine sugar. Its fineness is between that of granulated sugar and superfine x10 sugar (aka powdered sugar). It is a bit more pricey than granulated sugar, so feel free to use granulated sugar if you do not feel inclined to do some extra shopping.
****An “adult” version of this pudding is possible if you replace the water with some type of spirit, such as a brandy or a white wine. Yet another alternative is to skip the water and sugar altogether, and reduce some type of canned fruit juice (I personally tried guava nectar in one of the puddings for an added “tropical” kick) down to about 1/3 of a cup).

Budget/lazy alternative for fruits:

Canned peaches
Canned pineapple (preferably diced)
Canned mandarin oranges

I recommend buying “pure” forms of these canned fruits as opposed to a medley such as a fruit salad. Furthermore, it is better to buy canned fruits as preserved in juices rather than syrup if at all possible. Certain fruits such as mandarin oranges may only be found preserved in syrup. If that is the case, choose to purchase fruit that is preserved in the lightest syrup possible. Separate the juices from the fruit before proceeding, but keep both the juice and the fruit.

Assembly

There is very little cooking involved for this recipe but a fair amount of preparation. First you will want to peel and dice your fruits. I do not have any photographs of how to peel and dice pineapples and mangoes. I assume you know how to dissemble these fruits. In any case, here is a quick run-down:

For mangoes, you may find it useful to not peel the fruit at all, but cut slabs of flesh from the fruit (two large slabs from each side of the mango and two thin strips from the narrow sides of the pit). Then, using your knife, slice horizontally and vertically through these slabs (being careful not to cut through the skin!) to cube the mango to the desired size, much like how you would for an avocado. Finally, use a spoon to scrape the cubes of mango into a bowl.

For pineapples, there is a fast way and a slower way to peel the fruit. Both ways begin with using a knife to cut off both the top and bottom ends of the fruit, giving you to flat ends to rest the fruit on. Then, cut away the skin from top to bottom using your knife whilst following the contour of the fruit. For the fast way, cut deep enough to peel away both the skin and the “eyes” on the sides of the fruit. For the slow way, cut only deep enough to get rid of the skin, but keep the eyes. Then, use your knife to make “v” shape cuts to get rid of the eyes two or three at a time, following the spiral pattern that the eyes make. You will end up with a peeled pineapple with a spiral groove pattern all around the fruit.

Checkpoint! Your ADD timer has been reset by this picture.

Finally, supreme your oranges. To “supreme” a citrus fruit is to cut out all the juicy sections of the fruit, leaving the rind and the membranes behind. Simply take a citrus fruit and cut off both the top and the bottom, making sure to cut deeply enough to reveal a cross section of the fruit itself. Then, resting the fruit on the cutting board, cut away the rind while following the contour of the fruit. Again, you should cut deep enough to reveal the flesh of the fruit itself. The last step is to take the skinned fruit in your hand and make v-shaped cuts in between the membranes to dislodge only the juicy sections of the fruit. You may wish to cut these sections into halves or thirds so they conform to the sizes of the other diced fruits.

This is a picture of sucrose crystals melting in dihydrogen monoxide.

Now we are ready to cook! Measure out and dump both sugar and water/wine into a pot or pan large enough to hold all of your fruits. Cook over medium heat until the sugar has dissolved. Add all of the fruit, and cook for about 3-5 minutes just to warm the fruit a bit. Do not overcook your fruits! You want to preserve the fresh fruit flavors.

If you are using canned fruits: pour all of the juices from the cans into a pot/pan large enough to accommodate all of your fruits and reduce through boiling to approximately half a cup. Taste the juice. If it is too tart, add one or two tablespoons of additional sugar. Then place all of the fruit into this mix, cook for 3-5 minutes, and proceed as normal.

A great opportunity to trade your scurvy for diabetes

…And that concludes the cooking portion for this blog! Separate the fruit from the juices. Set both aside. Now comes the tricky part.

You will need to find and prepare a vessel for your pudding. This vessel should be deep enough to hold the fruit and the shell of bread that will encapsulate your fruit. You will also need some kind of lid or flat object that will cover the entirety of the pudding, yet fit snugly inside the vessel in a way that you can place a weight on top of the lid to press down on your finished pudding. My solution was to measure and cut out a cardboard shape that fits the size required, then cover this cardboard shape with aluminum foil.

Cover the inside of your pudding vessel with plastic wrap. This will make turning the pudding onto a plate easy. Slice your loaf of bread into approximately 1/2 inch thick slices. Cut the crusts off, leaving only the white centers. Dip the bread pieces into the fruit juice for a few seconds to soak, then strategically layer them inside your vessel to create a bowl shape. Place most of your fruit (leaving half a cup or so) into the shell to fill it.

What to do with the crusts? Well, you can eat them, or possibly dry and toast them to make semi-sweet bread crumbs for coating fried dessert items.

Fully cover the fruit with your final layer of bread. You should still have about half a cup of fruit left, and possibly a bit of juice left. Set these aside for now. Cover the pudding with your lid contraption, then place some kind of weight on top of the entire pudding, such as canned food, a gallon of milk, or jars filled with water. Place the entire contraption into the refrigerator to chill for at least 5-6 hours (overnight preferred).

boobies

An aluminum eclipse to blot out the pudding. Merlin would be impressed with my wizardry.

When you are reading to serve the pudding, take it out of the refrigerator. Remove the lid to uncover the pudding. Place a plate face-down on top of your pudding vessel and flip your pudding over on top of the plate. The plastic wrap should make removing the pudding from the vessel easy. Peel off the plastic pudding, and top the pudding with the rest of your fruit/juice. The reserve juice is also great for shoring up any bits of bread that are not yet fully drenched.

Serve cold, possibly with whipped cream, a scoop of vanilla ice cream, or a glass of wine.

The Result

I know this looks like Pac-Man lying on his side vomiting fruit, but it does taste good. HAVE FAITH.

4.7 / 5 It has been an epic saga, a strange tale of the marriage of bread to fresh fruit. Usually fruit is eaten with bread in the form of preserves; we most often imagine these foods as breakfast or snack items, not desserts. Even then, the sharp tartness of the fruit is often dulled by the application of some type of dairy or creme product so that it does not taste so harsh against the mildness of the bread. But when the bread itself is drenched in fruit juice, it is transformed into something tart and juicy itself, becoming a fitting partner for the refreshing flavor of fresh fruit.

Conclusion

It is now 5 AM and I’m finally almost done writing up the second part of the Summer Pudding blogs! I must admit that I am personally not a big fan of soggy foods. The very reason why I attempted this dessert at all was because I was intrigued by the idea of how bread drenched in fruit juice (of all things) could possibly taste good, and I have a bit of a fetish for trying foods that do not seem appealing at first sight. I am glad I tried summer pudding. This dessert is definitely a keeper in any cook’s repertoire, being flexible enough to accommodate a variety of fruits. If the prospect of baking your own bread to make the pudding is too daunting, you should at least try to make the pudding with store-bought bread. You’ll be glad you did (probably).

Summer Pudding II, Part A: Challah Bread


Author’s Note: Summer Pudding I hasn’t been written yet. Don’t bother looking for it. Summer Pudding II starts below 🙂
Hello ladies and gentlemen! After slaving away the past three days, I am proud to present to you a twist on the classic British summer dessert, the Summer Berry Pudding. Unfortunately, the whole unabridged process involves baking a loaf of bread then assembling the dessert. Because of this length, I am splitting the entire dessert into two blogs. This is part one, on how to make Challah bread. The blog following this one will detail pudding assembly.

Many of you non-British gentle readers may be wondering, what is summer pudding? Well, it is kind of like a fruit pie, except instead of a baked flaky crust you have a soft, juice-drenched bread shell, and instead of a bubbly stewed fruit center you have an assortment of fruit that has been only lightly cooked to bring out its juices. A light, refreshing dessert.

Many of you readers may also be wondering, “my god, three fucking days for a dessert?!?” The thing is I actually made this dessert twice over the period of time with a few overlapping ingredients. I used my own fresh-baked challah bread and an assortment of tropical fruits as opposed to the traditional berry mixture. If you really wanted to make this dessert the way I did it should only take you parts of two days, and if you are lazy you can create this dessert using pre-bought bread (I recommend challah or brioche) with about only 30 minutes’ worth of work.

So without further adieu, how to bake challah bread. To be fully honest, it is a lot of work (to do it the proper way), so unless you absolutely love cooking I recommend you seek shortcuts as I recommend them. Finally, please read through the entire recipe before you begin in the event there is something required that you do not have on hand.

Ingredients

Scarlett Johansen and Jessica Alba together, in bed.

Silly Westerners, eating bread when cooking rice is so much easier.

Prep Time ~5-10 hours

Adapted from Here

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour + 1/2 cup reserved for sprinkling
1/4 cup honey OR white granulated sugar
2 eggs + 1 egg for eggwash
1/4 cup vegetable oil
7/8 cups warm water*
1 tsp yeast
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar**

*Water should be warm but not hot, between 110-118F (43-47C) to allow yeast to flourish.
**Only if not using a poolish

Baking

There are two ways to start the bread: either by proofing (fast) or by using a poolish (slow). I used the poolish method, but either is fine.

For proofing: in a plastic container, measure out 7/8 cups of warm water. Add 1 tablespoon of sugar and 1 teaspoon of yeast. Lightly cover with a lid and wait for 5-10 minutes until there is a beige foam floating above the water. If this foam is not there, dump out the water and start over: either the water is too hot and killed the yeast, or your yeast has expired. Only proceed once you have seen the foam.

For poolish: 5-7 hours (or the night before) baking, place 1/2 cup of warm water, 1/2 cups of flour, and 1/2 teaspoons of yeast into a plastic container, mix and cover lightly. Leave in a warm place until bubbles are seen and a slightly fermented aroma rises.

Nipples

Resist the urge to rub this all over your nipples, you'll need this poolish later.

Regardless of which method you use to activate the yeast, step two is to join the yeast/water mixture with all of the listed ingredients that have not been added yet. You may need a larger bowl for this step. Mix everything (remember to use only two eggs, the last egg is for egg wash) until you have a coherent mass.

Challah is a Jewish bread and all but it goes damn well with bacon.

Dump this coherent mass onto a lightly floured works surface. Knead your dough until you have a smooth coherent mass, about 8-15 minutes (People usually say 8-10 minutes, but I’ve never been able to do it in 8). The dough might be a bit sticky due to the honey. Continuously flour your hands if the dough becomes too sticky, but try not to add too much flour since that will negatively impact the resulting bread.

Your mother's wild younger years.

Dough. Rhymes with tough, cough, though, through, and trough. Isn't the English language so wonderfully intuitive?

Lightly oil the surface of a large pot. Place the dough into the pot and roll around to cover. Put a lid on the pot and let sit in a warm place (an oven that has been turned on for a while at 150F then turned off is a good place) to rise for 45 minutes.

After one hour, take the dough out. Gently press some of the air out of the dough, then return it to the oven for another 45 minutes of rising.

Looks like that dough really let itself go. As if it's American and McDonald's just opened next door.

Now take the pot out of the oven. You will need a relatively large work surface to work the bread into shape. Lightly flour your work surface. Take the dough out and divide it into six even pieces.

Tw- tw- tw- TWINS?!?

Try to make sure the pieces are exactly even, or one of the pieces might think you favor the other more and hate you forever when it grows up.

Roll each piece out to about 18-20 inches. Do not over-flour at this point, as it will make the rolling difficult. Braid the strands together to form your loaf. I would give instructions on how to do it, but it is rather difficult to describe. Instead, it is much better to look up how to do it in a Youtube video, such as this one:

Here are some additional photos of my own braiding in progress:

Once braided, transfer your loaf onto a lightly floured baking sheet. Let it sit for 30 minutes to rise for the third and last time.

Pre-heat your oven to 375F (190C). Beat an egg. Using either a brush or a paper towel, brush your loaf with the beaten egg two times. Bake the loaf for about 30-35 minutes (but start checking at 25 minutes) depending on your oven.

The Result

The Mona Lisa, naked.

Challahkazam! Super effective against ghost-types.

 4.5 / 5  If you’ve never tasted fresh-baked bread warm from the oven, you are missing out on one of the great food pleasures in life. To be honest, the only reason why I recommend using 3.5 cups of flour to shape the loaf is because you will need that much bread to make the pudding in the next blog. Otherwise, I recommend shaving down to 3 cup flour loaves or less. This is because with large loaves there is a delicate balance between cooking the bread through fully and not over-baking the eggwash exterior. As you can tell, the exterior of my bread is already near the limit of what is acceptable without tasting burnt.

Conclusion

This is the end of part one of a two-part blog series on how to make summer pudding. If you are not interested in summer pudding this loaf is perfectly good for consumption as is. Optionally, if you only wish to make Challah without making the pudding, you can opt to sprinkle sesame seeds or poppy seeds onto the bread prior to baking, and incorporate raisins into the dough (soaked for an hour in warm water or brandy).

Please stay tuned for part two.

Mac N’ Cheese


Good old macaroni and cheese. From my personal experience, it was a staple elementary school cafeteria dish, usually served as a mess of congealed macaronis stewing in a puddle of melted processed cheese. When I moved on to middle and high school, I tried to recaptured that nostalgia with 25 cent packs of Easy Mac, which somehow managed to taste even crappier with its faux cheddar tang (that tasted nothing like cheddar) and unnatural orange coloring. The venerable mac n’ cheese is one of the most iconic and yet most bastardized of American comfort foods.

Here is a basic recipe for real macaroni and cheese. Nothing fancy, nothing difficult. From this recipe endless modifications can be made, to spawn as many variations of baked pasta as you would like (but not lasagna, which is something different). If, like me, it has been a while since you have had macaroni and cheese, this is a good dish to try.

Ingredients

Such lucious breasts you missed out on.

What? Real cheese? Preposterous. But the dish is called "macaroni and cheese", not "macaroni and processed cheese product (now with real milk!)".

Cooking time: ~1 hour

8 oz dried macaroni*
4 tbsp butter
4 tbsp flour
milk**
bread crumbs***
2 cups cheddar****
salt
pepper
nutmeg

You will also need: A pan, a pot for pasta, and an oven-safe vessel which will be the ultimate resting ground for your finished dish.

*Many varieties of pasta can be used, really. I’ve even seen linguini cut into small pieces to make this.
**You need at least 1 1/2 cups, so make sure your milk carton/bag/jug isn’t almost empty.
***You can buy them or make your own. Method for making own bread crumbs is shown below.
****Fancier recipes call for a mixture of cheddar and gruyere, and possibly some goat cheese. I decided to forgo gruyere since it is quite expensive in the US.

Cooking

First, let’s start with the breadcrumbs. If you have store-bought breadcrumbs you can skip this part. Some weeks ago when I first conceptualized this blog I intended to make baguettes ahead of time to make breadcrumbs, but that didn’t happen for various reasons.

All you need is a baking sheet, aluminum foil if you need it, and a few slices of bread. White bread is preferred so you can make white breadcrumbs, which are useful mainly due to their ability to turn various shades of golden and brown to indicate doneness (or burnt-ness). I only had store-bought wheat bread, which makes it much more difficult to tell doneness, but whatever. Place a single layer of bread slices onto your sheet and toast in the oven at 250F (120C) for about 45 minutes to 1 hour until bread is completely crisp and dry. You may need to turn the bread a few times through the process.

Oh look! The same photo from the cheesecake entry! Just kidding it's wheat breadcrumbs. Or is it?

Once the bread is toasted, toss either into a food processor or a zip-loc bag and crush until into tiny bits (but not powder, which is too fine). If you are going the zip-loc route I highly advise actually using a zip-loc type bag, which are quite sturdy. I’ve tried doing the crushing in various other ghetto plastic bag, including the bread bag that the original loaf came in, but all of those bags tend to tear rather easily. So don’t do that.

To the finished breadcrumbs you can add a variety of herbs and spices which are purely optional. I added some black pepper, basil, parsley, and garlic powder. Onto the main dish.

Prep work comes first. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil for the macaroni. Meanwhile, shred either with a grater or a knife about 1 1/2 cups of cheddar cheese.

Picture of shredded cheese for the uninitiated, and people from Kazakhstan.

Melt your butter in a sauce pan over medium heat. Sprinkle all of your flour over the melted butter and mix around for a few minutes. Try not to let the concoction brown. If it is starting to turn brown, turn down the heat and move on to the next step, which is…

"I'M MELTIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIINGGGGGG!!!!! AHHHHH!!!" "SO AM IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII!!!!!!!!!" Was what the butter squares said to each other.

…adding milk to your roux. Some recipes recommend adding room-temperature milk to avoid lumps or some shit like that, but cold milk is just fine if you add it slowly while whisking until each bit of milk you pour into the pan is absorbed by the roux. You’ll end up with a nice thick shiny sauce.

AKA Bechamel sauce, which was invented by the French so they had something white to surrender with at all times, even when cooking.

Now is a good time to season your sauce. Add salt, pepper, and nutmeg to taste, but keep in mind that cheddar also has salt content. At this point your water is probably near or at boiling. Pre-heat your oven to 350F (176C, or probably 180 on your oven dial).

Add macaroni to your boiling salted water. Cook for 5-6 minutes or until they are just short of al-dente. Turn the heat off for your milk sauce. Add all but 1/2 cup of cheese to your sauce and stir incorporate. Save this 1/2 cup of your cheddar for later.

Sorry, I just can't help but make fun of France whenever it comes up. They're kind of like Canada in that way. Except when you make fun of Canada fewer people get offended.

Drain your cooked macaroni and fold it into your sauce. It probably looks like a lot of sauce at first (about 1:1 volume ratio between sauce and pasta), but it’s perfectly fine. Deposit all of this sauce/macaroni amalgamation into your oven-safe vessel. Sprinkle your remaining cheddar cheese on top and top off with a layer of breadcrumbs. Stick this into the oven for 30 minutes.

This would look a lot less brown if the breadcrumbs were white and not wheat. In other words, it's not burnt.

After 30 minutes have elapsed remove your pan from the oven. Let rest for at least 5 minutes before serving.

The Result

If you were French, you could eat the top part and surrender with the bottom part. LAWL.

4.6 / 5 These ratings are just getting more and more arbitrary. It tastes good. Crispy topping, gooey cheese, pasta with creamy sauce. If you’re not someone who likes cooking you might take a look at this and think, “who could even bother to make this souped up version of mac n’ cheese? It’s ridiculous”. But in reality once you’ve made mac n’ cheese this way, you’ll realize that this is how mac n’ cheese is meant to be. It’s not souped up at all, and anything less is just some bullshit that is only fit to be fed to young children in shitty American elementary school cafeterias.

Conclusion

Have you ever felt that feeling where you’re writing a rather long piece, and somewhere in the middle you realize that you’re slowly running out of steam? Your writing turns to crap and you lose the inspiration to keep churning out interesting sentences. That’s what happened with this conclusion.

Anyways I apologize for not writing these blogs as often as I’d like. Oftentimes ideas come up but I didn’t have ingredients, or sometimes I try to alter a recipe to use cheaper, different ingredients only to have the result come up sub-par. I do usually have at least 3-4 ideas floating around at all times, so each blog is a combination of luck with ingredients, time constraints, and my own limited skill. Happy cooking.

Cheesecake II


Hello gentle readers, it’s been a while. This hiatus wasn’t intentional. Blogs and dishes were planned… beautiful plans. But the stars of the universe fell out of alignment and re-arranged themselves into the “FUCK YOU” constellation. I got sick. I injured my wrists. Life sucked.

Twinkle, twinkle, little star.

The only hope laid in a single block of cream cheese left in the refrigerator. It was time for the return of the cheese cake. This time I know how to make it right. And as always, there is a twist to the theme: a fusion dessert between a cheese cake and an apple crisp. Cinnamon crust, creamy vanilla cheese cake filling, spiced apple topping. It’s time to kick ass and chew bubble gum, and I’m health conscious so I chose to chew sugar-free Trident gum instead.
Ingredients

No spread this time, so you're just going to have to reverse engineer the ingredients from this photo instead. Good luck.

Total Time: 3-8 hours (depending on how you’re counting)

Crust:

20 squares of graham crackers, crushed
6 tbsp rolled oats*
2 tbsp sugar
4 tbsp butter/margarine, melted
3/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tbsp flour
1 tsp cinnamon

*Do not used instant oats. Rolled oats may also be known as old-fashioned oats.

Filling:

One 8 oz block cream cheese, room temperature*
8 tbsp sour cream, room temperature
6 tbsp white granulated sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg + 1 egg yolk, with yolks and whites separated, room temperature**
2 tbsp cream or half-and-half***
1 tsp vanilla extract

*Allow 3-4 hours at least to bring these ingredients to room temperature.
**This isn’t essential, but I’m told by TL poster fire_brand that it results in a lighter filling.
***This also isn’t essential, but makes beating eggs easier.

Topping:

2 medium crisp apples, such as Fuji or Granny Smith
Juice of 1/2 lemon or 1/2 orange
3 tbsp brown sugar*
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 tbsp flour
6 tbsp of water, as needed**
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg

*This is for Fuji apples. You may need 4-5 tablespoons of sugar for a tart apple such as Granny Smith.
**More or less, depending on desired thickness of sauce.

You will also need: A (preferably two) muffin tin mold, at least two somewhat large bowls, a small pot, among other things.

Cooking

We begin with the filling. Take your pieces of graham crackers and stick them into a sturdy bag, such as that of the Zip-loc variety. Then either using your fingers or some other implement, crush the graham crackers into tiny bits. You can also beat them into submission with a rolling pin if you are feeling particularly violent.

If you have a bomb shelter, simply place the crackers in a small pile in the center of the bomb shelter, toss a grenade into the bomb shelter, and close the door. Let the grenade do the work.

In a separate container, melt the butter. You can do this in a microwave by microwaving at 5 second intervals and swishing the melted butter around until everything is melted. Add your tiny graham cracker bits and all the other ingredients.

This flour looks like cocaine cut with feta cheese. But it's flour. Really.

Mix thoroughly. Preheat your oven to 300F (150C). Butter your muffin tin and spoon about 3 tablespoons of this mixture into each mold. Using a spoon or a small butter bowl (what I used), press the mixture into a hollow bowl shape against the sides of the mold.

Possibly the most annoying step in making mini-cheesecakes. A lot less annoying with practice, but still annoying.

Bake these crusts by themselves for 7 minutes. Meanwhile, onto the filling! You can use a mixer or do the filling by hand. Making the filling by hand is obviously more difficult but not impossible, especially if the ingredients are softened at room temperature. Measure out 8 tablespoons or 1/2 cup of sour cream into a bowl. Mix this by itself for a bit so that you coat your bowl with sour cream, which will prevent cream cheese from sticking to the sides of your bowl. Dump your block of sour cream into the midst of sour cream, and mash everything together.

White-on-white dairy product action. What luck, to not be born lactose intolerant!

Somewhere along the line, when sour cream and cream cheese have intertwined themselves into a near congruous mass, add sugar. The sugar will lighten and somewhat fluff up this mixture. While you are doing the mixing, especially by hand, your blind-baked crusts may be ready. Remove them from the oven. If at this time your filling mixture is already done, do not pour it into the molds right away! Let the molds sit for at least 5 minutes to cool down, or it will instantly cook the part of the filling that touches it, and you will receive the game-over screen have a disaster-flavored cheese cake, which doesn’t taste very good.

I know I listed "cream" on the ingredient list, but your mother just happened by, and I noticed she was lactating... two for two, yeah?

Now prepare (or add to your cream cheese/sour cream mixture) your beaten, separated egg yolks and egg white. You can add a bit of half-and-half or cream to the egg parts at this time to make it easier to beat. Add the eggs, salt, and vanilla extract to your filling. Mix everything until smooth.

I was kidding about the above image caption. The flavor of this cheesecake would be totally ruined if I added sour milk. MUHAHAHA

While you are doing all this, you will want to reduce the oven temperature to 250F (120C) and prepare a pan filled partially with water as a water bath. Filling your muffin molds to the brim with cheese cake filling. Bake for about 25 minutes.

Okay, I was kidding about the above comment also. I'm sure your mother is a very nice woman. And if she smacked you while you were young, well, you deserved it.

After 25 minutes, check your cheese cake. It should still appear soft, but solid. At this time turn off your oven heat and leave the door open for about a minute. Then, close the door and leave the cheesecakes in the oven for another hour. This will let the cheesecakes finish cooking to perfection.

Meanwhile, you can start on your spiced apple topping! First juice your lemon/orange into a container. This is so you can dunk your apple pieces into the juice as soon as they are chopped to prevent oxidation (browning). Peel and core your apples.

Have you seen how Sakai peels his apples on Iron Chef? He uses his chef knife, does it 3x faster than I do it with the small knife which is what most people use, it's fucking ridiculous.

Chop them into bite-sized pieces (preferably 1/2 inch, or even smaller than what I have chopped here). Dump them into the citrus juice and toss them around. Add all the spices, flour, salt, and sugar. Mix together. Chill for at least half an hour to marinate.

When people call other people the apple of their eye, I wonder if they think of all the terrible things we do to apples that involve sharp objects or intolerable heat levels.

Take your apples out of the refrigerator. Cook your apples over medium heat until the sauce starts to thicken, then add as much water as needed to thin out the sauce and partially cover most of the apple pieces. Once the liquid comes to a boil, bring the heat down to low. Put a lid over your apples and simmer them for 8 minutes or so. The steam will cook through your apples. Add water as necessary.

Let me just say here that apple sauce tastes like shit. Apples have nice texture as well as nice flavor. It's like bacon in that way. Would you puree bacon into bacon sauce? Of course not, you lose the crispy texture. Don't fucking puree your apples and make it into mush.

Once the apples are cooked to your desired texture remove them from the heat and set aside. At this point in time your cheesecakes may have finished cooking. Deposit them into the refrigerator to chill for at least an hour. If, like me, you have only a single muffin tin, you may move onto making your second batch of cheese cakes. Otherwise, top your chilled cheesecakes with your spice apples and enjoy.

The Result

Cheese, or cake? Cheese, or cake? For millenia have men struggled to answer this question. But now, you can have both at the same time.

4.9 / 5  Cheesecakes are one of those things that take a long time to make, but the procedure is rather easy and fool-proof to producing a great tasting product. It is also flexible enough to allow for easy experimentation. In this case, apple crisp cheese cake. Apples are one of the cheapest fruits in the United States, next to bananas, navel oranges, and occasionally grapefruit. To work them into a cheesecake is a natural step in the logic of a budget cook. If you have most of these ingredients in your house, consider investing in a bit of cream cheese and sour cream to make this dessert. You won’t regret it.

Conclusion

…Thus man and cake were united, first at the lips, then through the esophagus, and then into a bath of hydrochloric acid, then…. the tale doesn’t end happily every after and becomes a bit disgusting. Well, at least the beginning of the tale is deliciously sweet. And what more can you ask for? We’re born with taste buds on the tongue and not around the rectum for a reason. The end. Happy cooking!