Monday, June 27, 2011

It's Greek to Me!

Ever since I have been a Daring Baker, I wanted to make baklava...never did I think that would mean making my own filo dough.  However, that was what we were called to do this month...and it was SO worth it!  Erica of Erica’s Edibles was our host for the Daring Baker’s June challenge.

Erica challenged us to be truly DARING by making homemade phyllo dough and then to use that homemade dough to make Baklava.  Rolling out the filo was quite the experience.  It was actually fairly easy...but very time consuming.  I used my regular rolling pin and lots of flour on top of my coffee table.  It took about an hour to roll out 20 sheets.  The next day, it only took me about 5 seconds to realize why my thumbs were sore and why I had bruises on my knees...rolling out the dough while kneeling on the floor!  HA! 

I decided to do a pretty traditional baklava and used almonds, pistachios, and walnuts for my filling.  The syrup was REALLY sweet, a bit too sweet for me.  However, all my co-workers thought it was just right...I still think I might decrease the sugar in the syrup next time.  Not quite all of it was absorbed, but it wasn't as drenched as I thought.  There was some sitting on top of the baklava, but when I pulled the pieces out, they were perfect and didn't have a lake of syrup sitting underneath.  I took the results to work the next day. 

One of my co-workers, whose mother also makes baklava, told me that it was very good and tasted authentic!  YES!!!  On the other hand, my program director...after getting frustrated with paperwork stuff was told to "just go get a piece of baklava."  His response when told that I brought it...."Hmmm, yeah, she looks Greek."  WHAT!?!??!  You never know the response you'll get from people!  In the end, it's all Greek to me.  Thanks to Erica for the AWESOME challenge!  I thoroughly enjoyed it!

Dough Ingredients:

1 1/3 cups (320 ml) (185 gm/6½ oz) unbleached all purpose (plain) flour
1/8 teaspoon (2/3 ml) (¾ gm) salt
1/2 cup less 1 tablespoon (105 ml) water, plus more if needed
2 tablespoons (30 ml) vegetable oil, plus additional for coating the dough
1/2 teaspoon (2½ ml) rice vinegar

In the bowl of your stand mixer combine flour and salt and mix with paddle attachment.  Combine water, oil and vinegar in a small bowl.  Add to dry ingredients and mix on low speed until you get a soft dough, if it appears dry add a little more water.  Change to the dough hook and let knead approximately 10 minutes. You will end up with beautiful smooth dough. If you are kneading by hand, knead approx. 20 minutes.

Remove the dough from mixer and continue to knead for 2 more minutes. Pick up the dough and throw it down hard on the counter a few times during the kneading process. Shape the dough into a ball and lightly cover with oil.  Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and let rest 30-90 minutes, longer is best ( I let mine rest 2 hours and it was perfect)

Rolling your Phyllo:  ** Remove all rings and jewelry so it does not snag the dough**
Use whatever means you have to get the dough as thin as you can. Use your rolling pin or a wooden dowel. You may also use a pasta machine if you have one.  Unwrap your dough and cut off a chunk slightly larger then a golf ball. While you are rolling be sure to keep the other dough covered so it doesn’t dry out.  Be sure to flour your hands, rolling pin and counter. As you roll you will need to keep adding, don’t worry, you can’t over-flour.  Roll out the dough a bit to flatten it out. Roll quickly, rotating the dough as you go and repeat until it is as thin as you can it. Don’t worry if you get rips in the dough, as long as you have one perfect one for the top you will never notice.

When you get it as thin as you can with the rolling pin, carefully pick it up with well floured hands and stretch it on the backs of your hands as you would a pizza dough, just helps make it that much thinner. I didn't do this, as my dough was pretty dry and would have broken.  Roll out your dough until it is transparent. NOTE: you will not get it as thin as the frozen phyllo dough you purchase at the store, it is made by machine. Set aside on a well-floured surface. Repeat the process until your dough is used up. Between each sheet again flower well. You will not need to cover your dough with a wet cloth, as you do with boxed dough, it is moist enough that it will not try out.
Baklava Recipe: Adapted from Alton Brown, The Food Network
30 servings


For the syrup:
1 1/4 cups (300 ml) honey
1 1/4 cups (300ml) water
1 1/4 cups (300 ml) (280 gm/10 oz) sugar
1 cinnamon stick
1 (2-inch/50 mm) piece fresh citrus peel (lemon or orange work best) - I used orange extract

When you put your baklava in the oven start making your syrup. When you combine the two, one of them needs to be hot, I find it better when the baklava is hot and the syrup has cooled

Combine all ingredients in a medium pot over medium high heat. Stir occasionally until sugar has dissolved.   Boil for 10 minutes, stir occasionally. Once boiled for 10 minutes remove from heat and strain cinnamon stick and lemon, allow to cool as baklava cooks. 

Ingredients for the Filling:

2 teaspoons (10 ml) (8 gm) ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/2 cup (180 ml) (170 gm/6 oz) almonds
3/4 cup (180 ml) (155 gm/5½ oz) walnuts
1 cup (180 ml) (140 gm/5 oz) raw or roasted pistachios
2/3 cup (160 ml) (150 gm/ 5 1/3 oz) sugar
phyllo dough (see recipe above)
1 cup (2 sticks) (240 ml) (225g/8 oz) melted butter (I used about 3/4 cup)

Preheat oven to moderate 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4. 

Combine nuts, sugar and spices in a food processor and pulse on high until finely chopped. If you do not have a food processor chop with a sharp knife as fine as you can.

Brush bottom of pan with butter and place first phyllo sheet.  Brush the first phyllo sheet with butter and repeat approximately 5 times ending with butter. (Most recipes say more, but homemade phyllo is thicker so it's not needed).  Sprinkle 1/3 of the nut mixture on top.  Continue layering phyllo and buttering repeating 4 times.  Sprinkle 1/3 of the nut mixture on top.  Continue layering phyllo and buttering repeating 4 times.  Sprinkle 1/3 of the nut mixture on top.  Continue layering and buttering phyllo 5 more times. On the top layer, make sure you have a piece of phyllo with no holes if possible, just looks better. Once you have applied the top layer tuck in all the edges to give a nice appearance.

With a Sharp knife cut your baklava in desired shapes and number of pieces. If you can't cut all the ways through don’t worry you will cut again later. A 9x9 pan cuts nicely into 30 pieces. Then brush with a generous layer of butter making sure to cover every area and edge.  Bake for approximately 30 minutes; remove from oven and cut again this time all the way through. Continue baking for another 30 minutes. (Oven temperatures will vary, you are looking for the top to be a golden brown, take close watch yours may need more or less time in the oven)

When baklava is cooked remove from oven and pour the cooled (will still be warmish) syrup evenly over the top, taking care to cover all surfaces when pouring.

It looks like it is a lot but over night the syrup will soak into the baklava creating a beautifully sweet and wonderfully textured baklava!

Allow to cool to room temperature. Once cooled cover and store at room temperature. Allow the baklava to sit overnight to absorb the syrup. Serve at room temperature.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Egg Sammy

I know that I've said it many times before, but I must say it again...I love eggs!  Yes, sometimes I feel like making eggs is a cop out when it comes to cooking.  However, you can change things up and make something new and fresh depending on what you pair the lowly egg with.  Last month, I really wanted eggs but had some avacado that I wanted to use as well. 

What else? about a Southwest egg sammich!?  So, I toasted a bagel thin, scrambled some egg white and build my sandwich. was SO good!  It was just what the doctor ordered.  ;-)

Egg Sandwich
Your choice of bread (bagel, English muffin, biscuit, etc.)
Scrambled egg/egg white (or cooked in your favorite manner, fried or poached would be good, too)
Laughing Cow cheese

Toast bread.  Meanwhile, cook the egg to your desired doneness.  Spread cheese on your bread.  Place the egg on the bread.  Top with tomato and then avacado.  ENJOY!!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Happy...What Makes me So?

What makes you happy?  That is what we are talking about this week on Eat. Live. Be. 

What makes you happy?!  Wow!  Well, I can tell you one thing for sure...spending time with my family!  When I am with them, I am so relaxed.  I am myself.  Some people who don't really know me would be surprised! Unfortunately, with my work schedule, I don't get to spend that much time with them (was sad I had to miss the family reunion for my mom's side this year).  The one thing that I make a priority is Thanksgiving...every year, I have requested vacation at that time. 

It is when my family (dad's side) gets together.  Really important for me.  Time with friends also makes me happy!  This past weekend, I went to Memphis to see Beauty and the Beast with S. 

We love going to musicals - there are more to come!  Last week, I went bowling and then to yogurt with friends. Yes, I had to work the next day...and yes, I didn't get as much sleep as I wanted...but it was fun, needed, and made me happy!  Going to church is another thing that makes me happy and is VITAL in my life.  I don't get to go as often as I'd like due to working (yes, children DO get sick and need hospital care on Sunday!) but when I can, I go.  Being taught from God's Word and fellowship with other Christians is really important for my attitude and relationship with Christ.  The more I get to go, the more joy-filled I am.  This helps me in times when I am NOT happy as well.  Remember what I've been given, Who I am living for, and what He has called me to do - glorify Him with all I have with joy.  It is easier to be happy when I remember this.!  I love it, really.  I bake fairly often and take it to share with my co-workers.  I love sharing my cooking with others. 

It makes me happy to see them enjoy it.  It makes me happy to bring home an empty container. What makes YOU happy?  See if baking these cookies will help!  I made them last month for one of our calls.  Unfortunately, I ran out of hazelnuts, so some didn't get coated in the toasted nuts. 

Surprisingly, it really did make a difference.  Though both versions were good, the coated ones were better!  But really, what Nutella based cookies wouldn't be good!?  Try them, they'll at least make your taste buds happy!

Hazelnut Crinkle Cookies from Southern Living Incredible Cookies
1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts
13 ounces chocolate-hazelnut spread (Nutella)
1/4 cup shortening
1 1/3 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup milk
2 cups finely chopped hazelnuts (yes, you really need all these!)
powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350.  Toast nuts for 5-10 minutes and cool.  Raise oven temp to 375. Cream Nutella (or other hazelnut spread) and shortening.  Add sugar, mixing well.  Add eggs and vanilla and beat until blended.  Combine the dry ingredients together.  mix into the Nutella mixture alternating with milk (dry - milk - dry - milk - dry).  Stir in 1/2 cup hazelnuts.  Scoop the dough into 1 inch balls.  Roll in chopped hazelnuts and then in powdered sugar. Place on a baking sheet or stone.  Place stone in oven and bake for 8-10 minutes or until set.  Allow to cool for 2 minutes then remove to cooling rack to finish cooling.  Enjoy!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Soreness Can Be Good

My legs hurt!  Instead of just doing my typical elliptical and stair stepper work out on Saturday, I decided to throw a little twist on things and actually run a mile on the track.  I used to run four miles about three times a week, but randomly one day my knee started KILLING me...seriously, I was just getting something out of the fridge and it just started hurting.  No pop, no twinge, no nothing...just hurt. 

Ever since then I haven't been able to run consistently because my knee would start "talking" to me.  I really enjoyed running (and actually had a pretty good pace, though I wouldn't have been able to keep it up!) and miss doing it.  Saturday was really nice but today I am realizing how different running is from ellipticating!  My legs hurt (not my knee!), my back hurts, even my arms a little bit!  But it is good!  Hopefully, I'll be able to run again soon...maybe more this week.  So, what does this have to do with food? 

Nothing really, but it does have to do with Eat. Live. Be.  This week we are talking about what healthy tip we have come upon recently.  Saturday made me realize how important changing things up is!  I do a good job at being consistent in exercise, but I'm TOO consistent.  I do the same thing basically, just rotating my times and programs used.  If you really want your body to continue to respond or just to challenge yourself, you've got to change things up every once in a while....make it difficult on yourself!  I was definitely breathing hard at the end of that mile.  You'll never know what you can do unless you change things up!  I even changed things up last month when I made TWO chocolate based cookies. 

As I said in my last post, I'm not the biggest chocolate fan...but these cookies! OH...DIVINE (notice the correct spelling, Daddy!).  I will warn you that these cookies are a bit messy to make as you have to wrap them around a chocolate covered caramel (Rolo is what I used) BUT it is SOOOO worth it.  I honestly thing that having the caramel be chocolate covered makes a big difference.  It adds a third texture to the mix.  If you like turtle chocolates, you'll love these cookies!  Please make them and enjoy!!!

Caramel Filled Chocolate Cookies from Southern Living Incredible Cookies
1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 1/4 cups AP flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup cocoa
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 tablespoon sugar
1 package chocolate covered chewy caramels

Bean butter until creamy then add sugars.  Beat well.  Add eggs and vanilla.  Stir in all dry ingredients (flour, soda, cocoa).  Chill for 2 hours or more.  Preheat oven to 375.  When ready, unwrap the caramels (you should need about 48) then combine pecans and tablespoon of sugar.  Pull off a piece of dough (about tablespoon sized).  Working quickly, wrap dough around the unwrapped caramel.  Dip the top of the dough into pecan mixture and place ball, pecan side up on a baking sheet or stone.  Place stone in oven and bake for 8 minutes.  Cool for 1 minute on sheet and then remove to cooling rack to completely cool.  **Be sure to place the remaining dough back in the fridge while these are cooking.  Enjoy!!!

Sarah Caron -
•Cate O’Malley -
•Chris Arpante -
•Patsy -
Joanne -
Tri-Fit Mom -
•Allison -
Jen -
•Leslie -
•Rivki Locker -
•Jennifer Schulz -
•Sarah Rogers -
Denise and Lenny -

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Much More Pleasant

Starting July 1st, all medical residents have new work hour rules.  A big side of me is concerned that this could lead to more mistakes because of unfamiliarity with the patients and a decrease is experience.  Interns (first years) can no longer take overnight call and are limited to 16 hours of work at a time.  While I do think that this will make exhaustion less likely, I also think that it takes away many learning opportunities.                           
Overnight call is where you learn the most, where you are forced to make decisions and become confident in what you are doing.  In the NICU, overnight is actually when more deliveries occur. Will we end up with interns who haven't had the change to do delivery intubations and put umbilical lines in? Maybe, I don't know!  However, I after coming off a call month and starting a ward-like month (a busy one at that - heme/onc!) but without overnight call, I have come to a conclusion.  I am a MUCH more pleasant person when I do not have call.  So, although, there are downsides to the new duty hours there are positives!  I think you will see more pleasant and happy least I hope.

What makes you more pleasant?  Sleep?  Family?  Exercise?  Friends?  Movies?  Cool weather?  Hot weather?  Maybe these cookies?!  They are full of chocolate!  I think many people would say that chocolate makes them more pleasant!  I would not normally be a fan of chocolate; however, I've come to a conclusion.  I do like chocolate cookies/brownies.  However, I prefer cakes and ice creams without chocolate.  Go figure.  This cookie is the first of two chocolate based cookies that I made.  It was very good...but the other is devine!  Be sure and check back soon for it.  Can you HANDLE two chocolate cookies in a row?  Maybe having those two recipes will make YOU much more pleasant!  ;-)

Brownie Cookies from Southern Living Incredible Cookies
1/2 cup butter
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate (I used the equivalent of cocoa powder - it's on the can)
3 cups semisweet chocolate morsels, divided
1 1/2 cups AP flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups chopped pecans, toasted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Melt butter, unsweetened chocolate (or cocoa) and 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips in a double boiler (or just in a pot!) then cool.

  Beat eggs, sugar, and vanilla in a mixer.  Add dry ingredients, mixing well.  Add the chocolate mixture that has now cooled and beat well.  Stir in the remaining chocolate chips and pecans.  Drop by 1-2 tablespoonfuls onto baking stone or sheet.  Bake for 10 minutes.  Cool on stones for 2-3 minutes and remove to cooling rack to cool.  Enjoy!

Monday, June 06, 2011

Five months

Over the past five months, I have been posting faithfully every Monday (except for last week!).  This has been in conjunction with other bloggers to try and do something different this year. 

With Eat. Live. Be. we set goals for ourselves.  Some people wanted to lose weight.  Others wanted to work out more.  Others wanted to give up certain foods/drinks.  What did I want to do?  Well, I wanted to cook a real meal at least twice a month.  How did I do?   I'd say I succeeded.  I didn't necessarily pull out all the stops, but I made meals other than simply roasted veggies thrown into some eggs.  Could I do better?  Sure!  What do I need to change for the upcoming month?  Well, maybe I should try and have friends over more?  I don't do it that often.  Maybe make some little cold salads (not my typical green salad) for lunches?  We'll see!  Still going to try and cook twice a month.  I've still got lots of recipes to try!

One yummy meal I made a couple of months ago was this simple sauteed flounder topped with sauteed mushrooms and onions. 

Along side I had cous cous (yes, from the box!) with roasted broccoli.  Simple but definitely required cooking!  After I ate the fish, I used the leftover broccoli, mushrooms, and onions to make a veggie couscous for lunches that week. 

Great two for one cooking session!

Sarah Caron -
•Cate O’Malley -
•Chris Arpante -
•Patsy -
Joanne -
Tri-Fit Mom -
•Allison -
Jen -
•Leslie -
•Rivki Locker -
•Jennifer Schulz -
•Sarah Rogers -
Denise and Lenny -