Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Tasty Tuesday--"Back in the Day Bakery"

Yes, I am indeed alive and well. I have about 2.5 minutes to sit down and blog! I am almost out the door for a few days with my family on Tybee Island! This will be my first trip to Tybee and I am so excited!

To make up for lost time, this Tasty Tuesday post will include 2 recipes from my new favorite cookbook, Back in the Day Bakery.

Oooh, I just had an idea. Maybe I can swing by the actual Back in the day Bakery on my way back from Tybee since its right in Savannah! Yes, yes that will happen. Here are the two recipes I've made from the cookbook so far, and both were so good.

1.  Lovely Lemon Loaf
you will need a crazy amount of lemons for this---like around 15-20. I'm not usually even a fan of lemon cake, but this just looked too good to pass up. And it is amazing--so moist and tart and sweet at the same time.
For the Loaves
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
3/4 cup buttermilk, at room temp
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temp
2 cups granulated sugar
5 large eggs
1/3 cup grated lemon juice (from 6-8 lemons)
1 cup fresh lemon juice

For the Lemon Soaking Syrup
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup fresh lemon juice

For the Glaze
2 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
lemon zest for sprinkling (optional)

1. Position rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 350. Butter and flour 2 9x5 in. loaf pans.
2. Sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt; set aside. In a large measuring cup, mix together buttermilk and vanilla.
3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy (5-7 minutes). Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add the flour mixture alternating the buttermilk mixture in three additions, beginning and ending with flour. Stir in the lemon juice and zest.
4. Divide batter evenly between the prepared loaf pans and smooth the tops with a spatula. Tap the loaf pans firmly on the countertop to remove air bubbles. Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour. Cool the loaves in the pans for about 10 minutes before unmolding.
5. Meanwhile, to make the lemon soaking syrup: Combine the sugar and lemon juice in a small saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring often. Once the sugar dissolves, continue cooking the syrup until it turns a deep golden yellow, about 5 minutes.
6. When the loaves are cool enough to handle, transfer them to a cookie sheet lined with parchment. Poke holes in the cakes with a skewer and pour lemon soaking syrup generously over each cake. Let stand for at least 10 minutes.
7.  To make the glaze: In a small bowl, whisk the confectioners' sugar and lemon juice until smooth and  creamy. Pour the glaze over the tops of the loaves and allow the glaze to drip down the sides. Sprinkle with lemon zest. 
Cakes will keep at room temp for 4 days wrapped in plastic wrap.

2.  Chocolate Chip Cookies
I made these when my family was visiting a few weeks ago and they lasted half a day--all 24 huge cookies were gone. I've made a lot of chocolate chip cookie recipes, and this one beats them all.
2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/4 teaspoons fine sea salt
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temp
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs, at room temp
2 cups semisweet chocolate chunks
Fleur de sel for sprinkling (or just coarse sea salt)

1. Position rack in lower third of oven and preheat to 350. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
2. Sift together the flour, baking soda, and sea salt; set aside.
3. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter, vanilla, and both sugars on medium sped until light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes.
4. Add the eggs and mix for no more than 1 minute; the eggs will not be fully incorporated. Turn the speed down to low and add the dry ingredients in thirds, beating until just combined, 1 to 2 minutes. With the mixer running, sprinkle in the chocolate chunks, beating until just combined, abut 1 minute.
5. Use a large ice-cream scoop of a 1/4-cup measuring cup to form the cookies and pace on the prepared cookie sheet, leaving 2 inches between the cookies. Lightly tap each cookie with the palm of your hand and sprinkle with the coarse sea salt. (To me, this is what makes these cookies so good!)
6. Bake the cookies, one sheet at a time, for 15 to 18 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time for even doneness. The cookies should be golden brown around the edges but till light in the centers. Let the cookies cool on a wire rack. Store them in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

I have so much to tell you guys about what's been going on around here over the last few weeks, including a big teaching announcement, but it will have to wait until after my Tybee trip! 

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Summer-Style Shrimp & Grits and Happy 4th!

Happy 4th of July, everyone!

Here is the recipe I promised for the lightened shrimp and grits. This is the meal we watched at the Charleston Cooks demonstration class. This is actually 3 recipes in one: Shrimp and Grits, Shrimp Stock, and Creamy Stone Ground Grits. You probably want to get started on the shrimp stock and grits first (finish the grits up to step 4, then just before serving complete step 5).

Shrimp and Grits
Serves 6

2-3 bacon slices, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 onion, chopped
2 teaspoons blackening seasoning
1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined (reserve shells for shrimp stock recipe)
1 ear corn, shucked and kernels cut off cob
6-8 okra, sliced into rounds
8-12 grape tomatoes, halved
1 recipe shrimp stock (see below)
2 tablespoons butter

1.  Place bacon in a large saute pan and cook over medium heat until light golden brown. Add the garlic and onion to the pan and saute until onion is translucent.
2. Add the blackening seasoning to the pan and saute in the bacon fat until aromatic. Next add the shrimp (in one layer if possible) and allow them to sit in the pan untouched for one minute. Do no stir.
3. Add the corn, okra, and tomatoes to the pan and stir to incorporate. Add enough shrimp stock to cover shrimp about halfway.
4. Bring the stock to a boil, and reduce sauce slightly. Turn off heat and fold in the butter to finish.

*The okra is still crispy in the recipe. If you prefer your okra cooked longer, add it with the blackening seasoning.

Shrimp Stock
Makes about 2 quarts stock

2 tablespoons butter
shells from 1-2 pounds shrimp
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 clove garlic
1 celery stalk, chopped
1-2 carrots, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
2 sprigs of parsley
3 bay leaves
2 sprigs of thyme
1 star anise
3 whole cloves
5 whole coriander seeds
7 black peppercorns
1/2 cup white wine
about 1-2 quarts water (just enough to cover)

1. Place butter in a medium stock pot over medium-high heat. When melted, add shrimp shells, and cook until the shells are pink and just starting to turn golden brown.
2. Add tomato paste through peppercorns to the pot and continue to cook for about 2-3 minutes.
3. Add the white wine to the pot (mixture will boil up vigorously), and cook until wine is reduced to almost a syrupy consistency.
4. Add enough water to the pot to barely cover the shells, and bring water to a simmer.
5. Simmer for 30-45 minutes, and strain through a fine strainer. Throw away shells and vegetables, reserve stock (do this over the sink!)

Creamy Stone Ground Grits
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup stone ground grits
4 cups water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup cheddar cheese, grated
Hot sauce, to taste

1.  Melt butter in a sauce pan over medium heat.
2. Add the grits and stir until the grits are light brown and toasted.
3. Add the water and bring to a simmer. Simmer, stirring or whisking often, until grits are thick, about 20-25 minutes.
4. Reduce heat to low and add the cream. Cook, stirring or whisking often, until grits are thick again, about 10-15 more minutes.
5. Remove the grits from the heat. Add the cheese and hot sauce. Stir to combine. Season with salt and more hot sauce to taste.

I hope you all have a fun and safe 4th of July today! We decided not to brave the crowds at the beach, and are having a low-key day at the pool instead.

My fingers and toes are ready to celebrate!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Beat the Heat!

Tasty Tuesday is postponed until tomorrow, but I promise the recipe I'm sharing with you will not disappoint: Summer-Style Shrimp and Grits. Go ahead and make sure you have fresh corn, okra, and cherry tomatoes on hand for this yummy recipe!

Instead, here are some of the ways my family beat the staggering Charleston heat this weekend. Andy's parents and brother, Matt, were in town visiting during the HOTTEST weekend in Charleston, yet. Matt has been in Rome, Italy for the last 2 years studying to become a Catholic priest, and we haven't seen him at all in those 2 years. Needless to say, it was a great reunion and was so good to see him!

Here are some of our tips to beat the heat...

Take a cooking class at Charleston Cooks!
Summer-Style Shrimp & Grits

Bourbon Pecan Pie

Go antiquing and purchase a lovely new hutch for your dining room

Pick out paint colors for the house
Dining Room color is the one on the top: Restoration Hardware "Stone"
Sea Salt: Living Room and all "open areas"
Oyster Bay: Kitchen

Drink lots of these
Perfect Margraitas: 1 can frozen limeade, 12 oz. tequila, 24 oz. diet sprite, 1 beer

Eat lots of these

Chocolate Face!

Run through a sprinkler

Drink some Sambuca straight from Italy. 

Take some guitar lessons

Go see a movie

Or just snuggle on the couch with a sweet pup

That's how we beat the heat this weekend. I hope you all have a wonderful 4th of July and, hopefully, an extended holiday weekend!

Remember, come back tomorrow for the recipe for the shrimp and grits!