School Treats

Its Saturday, or maybe Sunday, and you just remembered you need to send in 30 treats to your sweetest birthday child's class on Monday morning. Make these.

YOU WILL NEED

2 bags of pretzel rods
2 or 3 colors of Wilton Melts
Wilton Pretzel Bags
Sprinkle Mix made by me! try the shop or email me.
Ribbon

Start by melting your first color. Lay out enough parchment paper for your pretzels to rest on. Dip each pretzel rod about halfway and lay to rest on the parchment. While they cool, melt your next color. Dip again and allow to cool if you're going for a third color or dip in sprinkles and then allow to cool. Once the chocolate is completely set up you can put them into their individual bags and tie with ribbon. Done! 


Weekend Food... french toast

French toast is a staple at our house for special occasions or just every now and again. Make it and you'll see why.

Mix the up the above ingredients and dunk each slice of bread right before you put it on a hot griddle or in a hot pan, no need to soak. Add a splash of olive oil to the mix or spray the griddle or pan with coconut oil before so they don't stick. once they are brown they are ready for the butter and sugar station!

Set up the following on the counter:

  • 1 stick of melted butter
  • plenty of powdered sugar
  • cinnamon to sprinkle

The goal is to make a proper paste of butter and powdered sugar on each piece then sprinkle with cinnamon. No syrup required. You won't need to eat again all weekend! 

Party Drinks... Almond horchata & Tamarind Agua Fresca

A new taco place opened up near us and we have become addicted to their agua fresco menu. This almond horchata is my best attempt to keep a gallon of this stuff on hand at all times for the duration of summer. This one is all almond no rice but you could use 50/50 too! They haven't done a tamarind variety yet, but its one of my favorites so here they are. This is the closest to the original version from Spain as we can get in the states. They traditionally use Chufa (Tiger Nut). Olé! 

ALMOND HORCHATA

1 pound raw almonds
1/4 - 1/2 cup raw sugar
1 tsp. vanilla or 1/2 vanilla pod
2 cinnamon sticks
pinch of salt
1 lemon quartered
2.5 liters of water

Blanch the raw almonds by plunging them into boiling water, turning off the heat, and letting them sit for 3 - 5 minutes. Strain them and allow to cool a bit. The skins will now come off easily - Zoe's job! Put the blanched and peeled almonds into a food processor or blender and let them go until they are as fine as you can possibly get them. Next, add the ground almonds, cinnamon sticks, pinch of salt, and lemon to a large bowl and cover with 1 liter of water. Let stand at room temperature for at least 3 hours or in the fridge overnight. After the soak, blend the mixture in a blender until it is as liquified as can be. Next, strain the liquid through a fine mesh sieve once, maybe twice. Then, lay four layers of cheesecloth into the sieve and strain again. This will remove all of the grittiness of the almonds. Add the remaining 1.5 liters of water and stir in the vanilla and the sugar, start with 1/4 cup of sugar to taste, then add more if you think it needs it. The almond milk makes it pretty sweet all on its own. Serve chilled and over ice, the colder the better in my book. Or, make palettes!
 

TAMARIND AGUA FRESCA

1 box or 1 pound of whole tamarind pods (I found them at whole foods)
1/4 - 1/2 cup raw sugar
2 liters of water

Crack open the tamarind pods and toss the outer shell. Add the shelled tamarind, seeds and all, into a big pot and add the 2 liters of water. Lower the heat and simmer for 30 - 45 minutes until the tamarind is completely soft. Strain the liquid and the pods through a fine mesh sieve pressing as much pulp as possible through. You want all the water and as much of the pulp as you can get. Transfer to a large pitcher and add 1/4 cup of sugar, more if you need it. I used sweet tamarind, therefore needing less sugar. There are more tart varieties of tamarind which might require more sugar. Serve chilled and over ice. Or, like above, make more paletas from yet another paletas book!


Sunday Bread... rustic italian

It has become routine for me to make bread at the start of every week. I love not buying it! I have been sticking to the same recipe since the result works so well for us. We use it for everything from pb+j's and BLT's to toast. Its a rustic Italian style bread with a crusty exterior and a soft chewy interior that holds up and doesn't fall apart. Steam is used in the oven to develop the crust. It's just an all around perfect bread! So for now I'm sticking to this one, maybe I'll branch out as the season changes.

This one starts out with a sponge. A sponge is just a shortcut to a starter. It can be made a day ahead and you use it all at once, starting fresh each recipe. A starter is more work, like having a newborn baby in the house who requires regular feedings and just the right environment to survive and mature. In the future I'm sure I'll be the crazy bread lady who takes her sourdough starter on vacation because it can't be left alone. Too much for me at the moment so I'm good with the sponge. 

SPONGE

¾ C water
1¾ C unbleached AP flour
¼ tsp active dry yeast

Mix together, cover and allow to sit at room temp 6 to 8 hours or up to overnight. Refrigerate if you need to leave it longer.

RUSTIC ITALIAN BREAD

1½ C room temp water
4 C unbleached bread flour
Sponge from day before
2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp organic sugar

Combine the ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Mix for 1 minute then, allow the dough to rest for 5 minutes. Repeat this three times or until the dough has formed a smooth ball and has pulled away from the sides of the bowl. It should still be a bit sticky. 

Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl. Cover and allow to rest in a warm spot for 2 to 3 hours. It will rise but may not quite double.

Flour your hands and a work surface. Transfer the dough to the floured surface and divide in half. Shape each ball by tucking the edges underneath as the top is pulled into a taut surface.

Place the loaves onto a parchment lined sheet with 3 or 4 inches in between. Cover them loosely and allow to rest again at room temp for 2 to 3 hours.

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees and position a rack in the center. Place a shallow pan of water in the bottom of the oven to create steam.

Sprinkle the tops of the loaves with flour and make a few slashes with a very sharp knife. Place the sheet pan in the oven and bake for 30 minutes or until the tops are dark brown. They are done when you hear a hallow sound when you thump the top and bottom of the bread.

Allow to cool on a wire rack for at least an hour. Store them right on the counter or in paper bags. Only use plastic if you need to freeze them.

Get ready for some crazy good bread.


Gilded Garden Inspiration

Winter is on its way. How about a few golden details for some winter wonderland inspiration. There is just something so cozy about a winter gathering or wedding. The details don't need to scream holidays, they just need to sparkle a bit.