Tuesday, May 19, 2009


Posting has been slacking lately. I'm having trouble balancing homework, studying for the chemistry SAT 2's, preparing for finals, going to Lacroix each week, working at Rita's water ice a few days a week, and writing on my blog. The good news is that summer is just around the corner and in a few weeks I will have more than enough time to devote to posting. So what have I been up to?

In return for my friend's duck eggs, I cook him something. There is a Great Harvest Bread company near us, and we often walk to their store and try a sample slice of bread, usually the S'more bread. The bread is a white bread studded with chocolate chips and marshmallows and covered in a buttery, crumb crust. The bread is delicious, but really, the crust is the only good part. This bread is a good concept that can definitely be improved upon. Ideally, the bread would have a really high surface area to volume ratio, but for my next shipment of duck eggs, I decided I would switch it up a bit.

As opposed to the white bread that Great Harvest uses, I made a very rich brioche dough then rolled it out thin. I covered this with a layer of nutella, and then a layer of marshmallows. I rolled this up, then baked it most of the way before adding a graham cracker topping (cause that's really what s'mores are, graham crackers, chocolate, and mallows) and finishing the bread. The graham cracker topping idea needs improvement. It didn't adhere to the crust particularly well, and it just wasn't what I had envisioned. As a whole though, I absolutely loved this bread. It's rich and chocolaty, and sweet, and really overindulgent. I made one loaf for my friend and one for myself, and I devoured mine.
(This loaf sunk because I removed it from the pan before it could set)

I recently experimented with brownies. I love the combination of mint and chocolate, so I cooked the butter I would later use with mint for 12 hours at 140 degrees, before mixing it with the other ingredients. I can't say that I loved the end result. The chocolate was overpowering, and the mint was muted in the background. The slight mint flavor that I could taste wasn't even extremely pleasant, it was kind of weird to be honest. Overall however the brownies were delicious. I used a very high amount of chocolate and fat compared to flour, coupled with a very large amount of brown sugar, to make these brownies almost like eating fudge. These were thick, and rich, barely held together by the egg and almost oozing chocolate.

I've been eating quinoa for lunch everyday. I cook a big plain batch at the beginning of the week, then make an individual serving with mix-ins each day. So far I'm hooked on eating it with feta, red onion, and pesto. I'm excited to try quinoa with avocado, hard-boiled duck eggs, and wilted collards, which is my lunch for tomorrow.

Lastly, I'm very excited because my family has started to get shipments of fruits and vegetables from a few Lancaster farms, each week. I'm hoping to expand my culinary horizons by cooking with vegetables I've never used before. This continues into the fall.


limoncello said...

It's a pleasure to read your writing and follow your culinary adventures! I so agree about those produce boxes: it's great to have that inspiration to try new ingredients.
Re the quinoa: here's a simple salad I put together to enjoy with the spring bounty, if you're interested.

Quinoa Salad with Spring Vegetables

1/2 cup quinoa, washed thoroughly and cooked in 1 cup liquid
2 cups baby spinach, stemmed, washed thoroughly, and cut in 2" strips
6 stalks asparagus, steamed and cut in 1" pieces
1/3 cup cooked peas
1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted
2 Tablespoons chives, thinly sliced
Salt and pepper, to taste

2 Tb plain yogurt
4 tsp. olive oil
1 Tb lemon juice

1. Cook quinoa: Bring liquid to a boil and stir in quinoa. Reduce to simmer, cover, and cook 15 minutes until liquid is absorbed. Set aside.
2. While quinoa cools, make the dressing by whisking together all dressing ingredients.
3. Combine cooled quinoa, prepared vegetables, and dressing.
4. Taste, checking for seasonings: add salt, pepper, lemon juice as appropriate.

Cali said...

You probably know this already, but just in case you don't, the leaves on the rhubarb are poisonous. Don't eat them or let anyone else eat them!

Tino said...

Nick --

After you've shaped your "smores" loaves, taking a water bottle and mist the top of the loaf and then roll it in the crushed graham crackers. This is generally how you "seed" the top of a loaf. Do this right before doing the final proof. If you wait until after the loaf has proofed, you'll inevitably deflate it if you try and do it right before you stick it in the oven.

You'll have to be careful with the baking, too, as graham crackers have sugar in them and may get too brown (and burn) before the bread dough is actually baked all the way through. Try lowering your oven to 325-350 and only cooking to an internal temperature of 190-195 for best results.

Rachel said...

I too, am a foodie at 16 whose life is consumed with finals and the Chemistry SAT II's. The s'more bread looks wonderful- I have to say my favorite kind of bread that I am planning on attempting someday is this kind from When Pigs Fly Bakery- it's made with lemonade, dried cranberries and other yummy stuff.

Nick, I love your blog- Good luck on your Chem SAT!!

Not Just Apples said...

This is such a yummy post..!