Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Hungarian Shortbread: BWJ

I was quite bummed that I missed making the Lemon Loaf Cake two weeks ago, but I was up for the Hungarian Shortbread this week, (having a little help from Mom).

I don't make shortbread around here very often.  The Apricot Almond Shortbread Squares I make are quite scrumptious, but I know they're not particularly good for the waistline, not that I have very much trouble in that department, but with hubby it's a different story.  So I try to keep shortbread making to a minimum.

The recipe for the Hungarian Shortbread that we made for Baking With Julia this week can be found on page 327 of the book. The book is definitely accurate when it says nothing gets much simpler than making these Hungarian Shortbread bars.  I think it is brilliant that the dough is stuck in the freezer for 30 minutes and then grated on the largest holes of a box grater to get the top and bottom layers for the shortbread.  No fussing w/ sticky dough here,  ...... although you do have to get the dough out of the mixer bowl, divide it into two equal parts and get it wrapped up in plastic to put into the freezer.

I decided to cut the recipe in half since I wasn't going anywhere that required bringing a dessert and I really didn't want to freeze a whole 9X12 pan of shortbread.  I made my shortbread in a 9X9 pan, and when it was done hubby and I took half and the other half of the shortbread went home with my mom and dad.
My mom is a little shy and didn't want her picture taken, but I did get a little bit of her hands in the picture grating the dough for me on my OXO box grater, while I readied the pan.  My piece of parchment was a bit crooked and didn't fit perfectly, but it worked out OK for our purposes.  My mom grated the first ball of dough from the freezer, we spread the dough out into the pan, and pressed it down gently into the corners and all around.  I baked the first layer of the shortbread at 350° for 10 minutes. (This was a slight deviation from the recipe.  In the book you are to bake both layers of the shortbread at the same time)  Out of the oven it came, and next, I spread about 3/4 cup of Blueberry-Peach Jam over top of our first shortbread layer.
I really wanted to make the rhubarb jam described in the recipe, but when I checked at Whole Foods they didn't have any fresh rhubarb and didn't have any idea when they might get some.  I'll have to save that for another time.  After spreading the jam around over the partially baked bottom layer, mom and I spread around the rest of the grated dough over top of the jam and gently patted this down just like the first layer.  Then into the oven it went for the final baking.  I believe it stayed in the oven for the full 30 minutes this second time and it was perfectly browned when it came out.
Mmmmm, it smelled good and we were pleased w/ our work!  Dad, Mom and I all had to sample a piece right away just to make sure it was good enough for hubby to eat when he got home from work.  (It was cooled first in the pan for ~ 45 minutes and then in the fridge for ~ 15 minutes.)

It was deeeee-licious!!!  How could it not be though, with all that butter in it  :) It was firm all the way thru, but I wouldn't say it was crunchy, just nice and firm.  I did dust it w/ confectioners sugar, but I didn't dump as much on as they indicated in the book.  I thought the shortbread was sweet enough without too much extra added sugar.

Later that same afternoon I sat down to relax and enjoy just one more piece with a nice, hot cup of my favorite apple-banana tea.
Moms and Dads are so wonderful to have around.  I'm so grateful that my parents could visit, help me to make this recipe and they also brought us lots of food and helped w/ some of the housework that I've not been able to do.  Thank you so much!!!!!!

The hosts for this weeks recipe were Lynette of 1 Small Kitchen and Cher of The Not So Exciting Adventures of a Dabbler ,so if you're interested in making this recipe you will find it this week at either one of these blogs.  I encourage you to visit them, to see how their Hungarian Shortbread turned out in any case.  Thank you so much for hosting this week Lynette and Cher!

Also, you can go here, to check out other Hungarian Shorbread posts.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Pizza Rustica: BWJ

When I saw the recipes chosen for April by the Baking with Julia (formerly Tuesdays with Dorie) group, I was thrilled at first at the word 'Pizza', but after looking at the recipe, I wasn't so excited about this one.  So, since I'm determined to try the majority of the recipes from the book, Baking with Julia, I decided not to skip this one, but modify it to make it at least tempting.

The recipe for the Pizza Rustica is on page 430 of the Baking with Julia book, or you can also find the recipe at the blogs of Emily of Capital Region Dining or Raelynn of The Place They Call Home today.  Emily and Raelynn have volunteered (Thank you!!) to be hosts for this weeks pick, and they will post they're experience w/ this recipe along w/ pics and the recipe itself.  I'm sure the posts this week will be interesting to read, since I think alot of people will have put their own twist on this recipe.

I had just received my copy of the current issue of Cooking Light magazine and was perusing its pages, when I surprisingly enough found a recipe for Pizza Rustica on page 162.  The recipe for the filling in the Baking with Julia book seemed like it would be kinda bland, so I was curious to see what all Cooking Light's recipe called for.  I noticed they used part-skim ricotta, lotsa veggies and 2 large eggs plus 1 white, so these are the components that I borrowed to use in my own modified filling recipe.

First of all, I had to make up the dough though.  Several people who had already made the dough said it was a little too sweet and the 1/3 cup sugar called for in the dough recipe did seem like quite alot, so I knew I was going to reduce the sugar some.

However...as I was standing there taking a mental inventory of all I had thrown in my mixing bowl ... flour (check), salt (check), baking powder (check) I completely forgot about the sugar.  OOPS :)  These things happen.  So by the time I realized I had forgotten the sugar, my dough was wrapped up and ready for the fridge.

Not knowing what else to do,  I sprinkled ~ 2 tsp of sugar on my pastry mat, unwrapped the dough, rolled it in the sugar until it all stuck, then kneaded the sugar into the dough.  Problem solved (sort of).

I have an old, very small food processor, so my dough was made using my trusty Pampered Chef pastry blender.  If they still make it like this, I highly recommend their pastry blender.  It is very sturdy and there are no wobbly, flimsy metal parts to it.

Here is the mostly complete cast of characters that went into the filling of my Pizza Rustica,
1/4 lb of thinly sliced deli ham, shredded (couldn't leave the meat out or hubby would be very sad)
1 half of a roasted red pepper (lower left hand corner)
3 diced green onions
1 small zucchini, diced
1 large clove of garlic, minced
~3 oz of baby spinach
~ 2 tsp minced fresh parsley
1 tsp dried oregano
2 oz of crumbled feta cheese
~3/4 cup of finely grated Parmesan cheese
12 oz of part-skim ricotta (I drained this for about 2 hours and got ~ 1 Tbsp of liquid out of it)
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 large egg white
1/4 tsp of fresh ground pepper
a pinch of kosher salt (since I didn't use the saltier prosciutto called for in the book)

Here are all my pretty veggies in my mixing bowl before I added the other filling ingredients,
Looks spring-ey doesn't it?

I sauteed my spinach and zucchini in a skillet in some EVOO, just til the spinach wilted and the zucchini softened a bit.  I then put these into a small colander so that some of the liquid might drain off.  Then I threw my diced green onion and minced garlic into the skillet to briefly saute them in the remaining oil.  All the veggies then went together into the above mixing bowl.  It was fun throwing the filling together.  It was easy to stir and once together it just got dumped into my pie plate already lined w/ the bottom crust.  

I rolled my dough between wax paper this time, because I've seen alot of others do it that way.  With this dough though, I should've sprinkled the dough w/ a touch of flour first, because the wax paper stuck pretty bad to the dough.
(No, that's not a bug stuck between the paper and my dough.  It's a stray piece of minced parsley that was stuck to my finger or something and got in there by accident :)  )

I had been wanting a pastry wheel for awhile now, so this was my excuse to go get one.  In the afternoon, before I started my pie, I dashed off to a Williams Sonoma store near my house, and picked my up a shiny new fluted pastry wheel and it's from Italy!

Here's my pie ready for the oven,
I almost dumped it going into the oven.  I baked the pie on a round baking sheet, just because it's easier to take in and out of the oven, but as you probably have experienced too, the stupid pie plate slides around on the pan like it were an ice skating rink or something. 

I almost forgot.  I added one last ingredient to perfect my pie.  Before I placed my lattice strips of dough on top, I had hubby spread on a thin layer of shredded mozzarella cheese.  My thinking is that it would melt and sort of create a barrier for excess juices coming up out of the pie.

Oooh,  it smelled wonderful while baking!  I was very nervous about how it would taste, since I don't usually modify recipes so heavily.  It turned out to be quite a delicious pie!  We let ours cool exactly 15 minutes, before cutting into it, which I think was perfect, because any longer cooling and it would've been lukewarm.  Even hubby said it was 'really good', which I usually don't get from him when I've made something that I've put both spinach and zucchini into.
Yum! Nicely browned mozzarella cheese.

Please go check out what some of the others in the group did for this episode of Baking with Julia here, and maybe you'll get some more ideas for how you'd like to create your own Pizza Rustica pie!

Stay tuned for Lemon Loaf cake in two weeks time.