Friday, January 31, 2014

Seeded Whole Grain Scones with Tahini

whole grain scones with tahini (yossy arefi) kitchen scenes (yossy arefi)

My dad used to buy chunks of halva (a dense sesame candy) from the middle eastern market in our neighborhood and I always turned my nose up at the sight of it. I wasn't a kid who shied away from strong flavors (hello, pickled garlic), but the flavor of halva was too much for my little palate to handle and I shied away from pretty much anything containing sesame seeds for a long time. Thankfully, I grew out of whatever bothered me about their flavor and now I am a huge sesame and tahini fan.

These hearty and wholesome tahini-enhanced scones contain a bit of sugar to balance all of the whole grain seediness and the slight bitter edge of the sesame paste, but it's not enough to make them truly sweet. I liked them best on the day they were baked slathered with butter and the tiniest drizzle of honey.

p.s. that cool cactus tea towel is by Amelie Mancini

Seeded Whole Grain Scones with Tahini
yield 12, 2-inch scones

The brand of tahini I used was quite liquid, if your tahini is closer to the texture of peanut or almond butter, add a couple of extra tablespoons of buttermilk. The dough should be soft but hold together after all of the liquid has been incorporated. It should also be said that these 100% whole grain scones are quite dense. If you prefer a lighter scone, substitute 1 cup of all purpose flour for either of the whole grain flours.

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup rye flour
4 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
6 tablespoons assorted seeds (sesame, chia, flax, pepitas, whatever you like)
2 tablespoons non-hydrogenated shortening
4 tablespoons butter, chilled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup tahini, room temperature

Preheat oven to 375º and line a sheet pan with parchment paper

Combine the flours, sugar, salt, baking powder, baking soda and 4 tablespoons of the seeds in a large bowl. Use your fingers or a pastry blender to cut the butter and shortening into the dry ingredients. Combine the buttermilk and tahini in a measuring cup and whisk well to combine. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients, then pour in the buttermilk mixture. Stir gently until just combined. If the mixture seems dry, add more buttermilk, 1 tablespoon at a time until the dough holds together. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and pat it out until it is about 1 1/2-inches thick then use a floured 2-inch biscuit cutter to cut as many rounds as possible and set them on the baking sheet. Gather the scraps, pat them together, and cut as many rounds as possible. Brush the tops of the scones with water or milk and sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons of seeds. Press gently to make sure the seeds adhere to the scones. Bake until golden brown 20-25 minutes. Serve warm and fresh with butter and honey.

whole grain scones with tahini (yossy arefi)
seeds (yossy arefi)

Monday, January 20, 2014

Tartine's Salted Chocolate Rye Cookies

tartine's salted chocolate rye cookies (yossy arefi)

If you've been reading this blog for a little while, I'm sure you've gathered that I am a huge fan of Tartine's cookbook collection. When the recipe for these cookies was released in anticipation the release of the third book in the Tartine series (Tartine No.3) I knew I had to make them, even though I was a bit holiday-cookied out. It is a simple recipe, with only a few ingredients that you may have in your house already (if you're like me and keep a stock of rye flour at the ready), but man, they are tasty. They are brownie like in texture, rich and salty with a bit of sour tang from the dark rye flour. I liked these cookies so much that broke my self-imposed cookbook moratorium to add Tartine No.3 to my collection and I can't wait to dive deeper into baking bread with the addition of heirloom and sprouted grains and porridges.

Tartine's Salted Chocolate Rye Cookies
yield, about 4 dozen cookies
from Tartine No.3
These cookies hit all of my baking sweet spots: whole grain flour, salt, and they are easy to put together. They have definitely earned a permanent spot in my holiday rotation of sweets.

1 pound bittersweet chocolate, chopped
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup dark rye flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
4 large eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 cups muscovado sugar (or dark brown sugar)
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
Maldon or other flaky salt for sprinkling

1. Place a saucepan filled with one inch of water over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Set a heatproof bowl over the simmering water, taking care that the bottom of the bowl is not touching the water, and melt the chocolate and butter together, stirring occasionally. Once melted, remove from the heat and let  the mixture cool slightly.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together the rye flour, baking powder, and salt. 
3. Place the eggs in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Whip on medium-high, adding the sugar a few tablespoons at a time, until all the sugar is incorporated. Turn the mixer to high and whip until the eggs have tripled in volume and  turned very light yellow and fluffy, about 6 minutes. 
4. Reduce the mixer to low and add the melted chocolate mixture followed by the vanilla. Mix to combine, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed, then add in the flour mixture and stir until just combined. The dough will be very soft. 
5. Refrigerate dough until it just firm to the touch, about 30 minutes. If cooled too long, the dough will be hard to scoop.
6. Preheat oven to 350º . Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats. Remove the dough from the fridge and scoop with a rounded tablespoon onto the baking sheets, shaping the balls of dough into rounds and spacing them 2 inches apart. Top each mound of dough with a few flakes of sea salt, pressing gently so it adheres.
7. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until the cookies have puffed up and have a smooth bottom and rounded top with a few small cracks. Remove the baking sheets from the oven and cool slightly then transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely. The cookies with keep up to 3 days in an airtight container.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Pavlova with Pink Grapefruit and Pomegranate

pavlova with pink grapefruit and pomegranate (yossy arefi) pavlova with pink grapefruit and pomegranate (yossy arefi) pavlova with pink grapefruit and pomegranate (yossy arefi)

Most folks might associate pavlova with a big pile of summer berries, but they are just as nice with a citrusy kick instead. For this wintery pavlova I topped crisp and chewy pillows of meringue with Tartine Bakery's perfect lemon cream which is a sweet, tart, and buttery-rich riff on lemon curd. The whole thing is adorned with juicy slices of pink grapefruit and tart pomegranate arils. Llight and refreshing to the max.

A few things

- I recently updated my portfolio site, I'd love if you all took a look: yossyarefi.com 
- If you love meyer lemons and grapefruit too, check out this killer bundt cake recipe.
- I made some meyer lemon eclairs for Food52 last week. Check them out here.
- Thanks for all of your kind words on my last post!

Pavlovas with Pink Grapefruit and Pomegranate
yield 6-8 individual or 1 large pavlova

In the photos above I made 6 6-inch "individual" pavlovas. This dessert is quite light and most people would probably be able to finish a pavlova that size, but for more modest dessert eaters try making 8 (or even 10) individual meringues. If you can't find meyer lemons for this recipe, go ahead and use regular lemons and if you can't find pink grapefruit, any sweet citrus fruit would be just great. I originally intended to make this with blood oranges, but couldn't find any. Also,  make sure to use room temperature egg whites and a very clean bowl and beaters.

Pavlova

4 large egg whites, room temperature
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup superfine sugar

Preheat oven to 220º and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat

1. Whip the egg whites and the cream of tartar on medium speed until the egg whites are quite foamy. Turn the mixer up to high and very slowly add the sugar, about 1 Tablespoon at a time. Whip the egg whites until they are stiff and glossy.
2. Divide the meringue into 6-8 even dollops at least 2 inches apart and with the back of a spoon gently shape them into circles with indentations in the center (to hold all of the yummy filling). Alternately, spread the whole amount of meringue into one large circle about 10-inches wide.
3. Bake the meringue until it is crisp on the outside and set, 60-80 minutes. Turn off the oven and prop the door open, then cool the pavlova completely in the oven completely.

Meyer Lemon Cream
adapted from Tartine Bakery's Lemon Cream

1/2 cup + 2 Tablespoons meyer lemon juice
3 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
3/4 cup sugar
pinch salt
1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup heavy cream

1.  Pour about 2 inches of water into a saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat
2. Combine the lemon juice, eggs, egg yolk, sugar, and salt in a stainless steel bowl that will rest securely over the water without coming into contact with the water. (Never let the egg yolks and sugar sit together for more than a moment without stirring; the sugar will cook the yolks and turn them granular.) Place the bowl over the saucepan and whisk until the mixture becomes very thick and registers 180° F on a thermometer, about 10 to 12 minutes.
3. Remove the bowl from over the water and let the mixture cool to 140° F, stirring from time to time to release the heat.
4. Meanwhile, cut butter into tablespoon-sized pieces. When the cream is cooled transfer it to a blender and with the blender running, add the butter 1 tablespoon at a time, blending after each addition until incorporated before adding the next piece. The cream will be pale yellow and opaque and quite thick.
Chill the lemon cream completely, then in a separate bowl, whisk the heavy cream. Fold the half of the whipped cream (reserve the other half for garnish if desired) into the lemon cream and chill until ready to fill the pavlova.

To Serve

Supremed segments of 2-3 pink grapefruit (depending on size) arils from one pomegranate.

Stir the lemon cream to loosen. Fill each pavlova with a few generous spoonfuls of cream then top with grapefruit segments and pomegranate arils. Garnish with reserved whipped cream if desired. Enjoy immediately.

pavlova with pink grapefruit and pomegranate (yossy arefi) Untitled