Archive for January, 2008



I am not good at timing my cooking. I had grand plans for these potstickers to be part of an all day sporadic eating event during the NFL championship games. We’d eat potstickers in the first game, hot and sour soup at the beginning of the second game, and dessert sometime later. But my timing is so bad that I ended up sitting down with a plate full of potstickers right during halftime of the first game. Boring!

My plan got another wrench thrown in it after our first plate of potstickers, when we looked at each other and both said “we want more!” It’s always like that when I make potstickers – neither of us can ever get enough!

Another thing that’s great about potstickers is that they adapt to your schedule. You can make the filling and then forget about it until you’re ready, even if it isn’t until the next day. You can fill the potstickers and then forget about them for months! This time, I filled enough for our first serving, and then filled some more when we decided that we absolutely had to have more. I left the rest of the filling in the fridge overnight, formed more dumplings the next afternoon, and steamed them when we wanted to eat dinner. I was planning on freezing some for later, but it was clear early on that that wasn’t happening.


And you know what else? They’re actually healthy. Look at those ingredients – 3 cups minced cabbage, scallions, egg whites. Two tablespoons of oil in the whole thing, and to be honest, you won’t need that much with a good nonstick pan. I bet I only used a few teaspoons. So we can eat all we want!


Pork and Cabbage Dumplings – Wor Tip (from Cooks Illustrated)

We prefer to use gyoza wrappers. You can substitute wonton wrappers, but the cooking time in step 4 will be reduced from 10 minutes to 5 or 6 minutes and note that the yield will increase to 40 potstickers (see chart below Step 4 for more information). These dumplings, also known as potstickers, are best served hot from the skillet; we recommend that you serve the first batch immediately, then cook the second batch. To freeze, place filled, uncooked dumplings in the freezer in a single layer on a plate until frozen, then transfer to a storage bag. There’s no need to thaw frozen dumplings; just proceed with the recipe.

Makes 24 dumplings, 6 first course servings

3 cups minced napa cabbage leaves (about ½ medium head)
¾ teaspoon table salt
¾ pound ground pork
4 minced scallions (about 6 tablespoons)
2 egg whites, lightly beaten
4 teaspoons soy sauce
1½ teaspoons minced or grated fresh ginger
1 medium garlic clove, minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 1 teaspoon)
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

24 round gyoza wrappers (see note)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup water, plus extra for brushing
1. For the filling: Toss cabbage with the salt in colander set over a bowl and let stand until cabbage begins to wilt, about 20 minutes. Press the cabbage gently with rubber spatula to squeeze out any excess moisture, the transfer to a medium bowl. Add the remaining filling ingredients and mix thoroughly to combine. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until mixture is cold, at least 30 minutes or up to 24 hours.

2. For the dumplings: Working with 4 wrappers at a time (keep the remaining wrappers covered with plastic wrap), follow the photos below to fill, seal, and shape the dumplings using a generous 1 teaspoon of the chilled filling per dumpling. Transfer the dumplings to a baking sheet and repeat with the remaining wrappers and filling; you should have about 24 dumplings. (The dumplings can be wrapped tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 1 day, or frozen for up to 1 month. Once frozen, the dumplings can be transferred to a zipper-lock bag to save space in the freezer; do not thaw before cooking.)

3. Line a large plate with a double layer of paper towels; set aside. Brush 1 tablespoon of the oil over the bottom of a 12-inch nonstick skillet and arrange half of the dumplings in the skillet, with a flat side facing down (overlapping just slightly if necessary). Place the skillet over medium-high heat and cook the dumplings, without moving, until golden brown on the bottom, about 5 minutes.

4. Reduce the heat to low, add ½ cup of the water, and cover immediately. Continue to cook, covered, until most of the water is absorbed and the wrappers are slightly translucent, about 10 minutes. Uncover the skillet, increase the heat to medium-high, and continue to cook, without stirring, until the dumpling bottoms are well browned and crisp, 3 to 4 minutes more. Slide the dumplings onto the paper towel-lined plate, browned side facing down, and let drain briefly. Transfer the dumplings to a serving platter and serve with scallion dipping sauce (see related recipe). Let the skillet cool until just warm, then wipe it clean with a wad of paper towels and repeat step 3 with the remaining dumplings, oil, and water.

Choosing the Right Wrap
Tasters preferred the slightly chewy texture of gyoza-style wrappers to thinner wonton wrappers, but both styles produced terrific potstickers. Although we developed our recipe using round wrappers, square or rectangular wrappers can be used as well. Here’s how to adjust filling amount and steaming time. Because the smaller wrappers yield more dumplings, you’ll need to cook them in multiple batches.

Instructions for different size wrappers:
Round gyoza (3¾ inches diameter), fill with 1 rounded tablespoon, steam for 10 minutes
Round wonton (3¾ inches diameter), fill with 1 rounded tablespoon, steam for 6 minutes
Square wonton (3 3/8 inches square), fill with 2 rounded teaspoons, steam for 6 minutes
Rectangular wonton (3¼ inches by 2¾ inches), fill with 1 rounded teaspoon, steam for 5 minutes

Scallion Dipping Sauce

The sauce can be refrigerated overnight.

Makes ¾ cup

¼ cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons mirin
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon chili oil (optional)
½ teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 medium scallion , white and green parts, minced

Combine all ingredients in bowl and serve.

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Flan, crème caramel, whatever. Turns out, there’s only the teeniest of differences. I was struggling to think of a dessert that fit a precise set of requirements – compatibility with the red wine we’d be drinking that night, not chocolate, and most importantly, not requiring any trips to the store. I really thought I’d hit on the perfect idea with flan, and it had even been on my list of things I’m all too eager to cook for some time now. But I kept hitting a snag, in that most of the recipes on epicurious called for sweetened condensed milk, and I didn’t have any.

Finally, I hit upon one that I had all the ingredients for. And I noticed something – the only significant difference between this recipe and Cooks Illustrated’s recipe for crème caramel is the fat content of the dairy. The flan recipe uses almost twice as much whipping cream as milk, whereas the crème caramel recipe uses an equal amount of light cream and milk. This was perfect for me, because I had made the crème caramel before and found the custard to be a little too light for my tastes. Furthermore, I had heavy cream on hand.

Well, I sort of had heavy cream. What I actually had was not one, but two expired cartons of cream, neither of which was the ultra-pasteurized stuff that lasts forever. Eww. But I was determined to make this, and I decided that one of the cartons was passable. I didn’t tell Dave about the questionable dairy in the custard, as I don’t think he’d have been pleased.

Oh, this dessert turned out really well. Much better than the previous time I’d made the crème caramel, when I believe I had overcooked the caramel. This time I fussed over it determinedly, swirling and watching, and even getting a container of honey out so I could judge just when the caramel became the “honey-caramel color” that the recipe instructed. It was perfect. I did have a little adventure with divvying up the caramel among only 3 ramekins instead of the four I was supposed to use, then hurriedly trying to scoop quickly hardening caramel into the 4th ramekin.


After that, everything went pretty smoothly. This really isn’t a hard dessert to make, although the water bath is a bit of a pain. The blood-colored streaks on the ramekins are stains from the maroon towel I used to keep the ramekins stable in the water bath. Don’t they look so appetizing? Oh, and the stab wounds are from my tests to check if the custard was done cooking. Next time I need to be careful not to puncture the caramel. Between the bloody ramekins and the knife marks, I bet these just look so tempting, right? But this is actually an easy, fairly cheap, impressive recipe that can be made days in advance, and might therefore be perfect for a dinner party.


Classic Crème Caramel (from Cooks Illustrated)

CI note: Though you can make one large creme caramel, we find that custards baked in individual ramekins cook faster, are more evenly textured, and unmold more easily. You can vary the amount of sugar in the custard to suit your taste. Most tasters preferred the full two-thirds cup, but you can reduce that amount to as little as one-half cup to create a greater contrast between the custard and the sweetness of the caramel. Cook the caramel in a pan with a light-colored interior, since a dark surface makes it difficult to judge the color of the syrup. Caramel can leave a real mess in a pan, but it is easy to clean. Simply boil lots of water in the pan for 5 to 10 minutes to loosen the hardened caramel.

Crumblycookie changes: I used heavy cream instead of light cream, 2% milk instead of whole milk, ½ of a vanilla bean instead of extract, and vanilla sugar instead of regular sugar.

Serves 8

1 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup water
2 tablespoons corn syrup
¼ teaspoon lemon juice

1½ cups whole milk
1½ cups light cream
3 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
Pinch table salt

1. For the caramel: In a medium nonreactive saucepan and without stirring, bring sugar, water, corn syrup, and lemon juice to simmer over medium-high heat, wiping sides of pan with wet cloth to remove any sugar crystals that might cause syrup to turn grainy. Continue to cook until syrup turns from clear to golden, swirling pan gently to ensure even browning, about 8 minutes. Continue to cook, swirling pan gently and constantly, until large, slow bubbles on mixture’s surface turn honey-caramel in color, 4 to 5 minutes longer. Remove pan immediately from heat and, working quickly but carefully (the caramel is over 300 degrees and will burn you if it touches your skin), pour a portion of the caramel into each of 8 ungreased 6-ounce ovenproof ramekins. Allow caramel to cool and harden, about 15 minutes. (Can be covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 2 days; return to room temperature before adding custard.)

2. For the custard: Adjust oven rack to center position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Heat milk and cream, stirring occasionally, in medium saucepan over medium heat until steam appears and/or an instant-read thermometer held in the liquid registers 160 degrees, 6 to 8 minutes; remove from heat. Meanwhile, gently whisk eggs, yolks, and sugar in large bowl until just combined. Off heat, gently whisk warm milk mixture, salt, and vanilla into eggs until just combined but not at all foamy. Strain mixture through fine mesh sieve into large measuring cup or container with pouring spout; set aside.

3. Bring 2 quarts water to boil in kettle. Meanwhile, fold dish towel to fit bottom of large baking dish or roasting pan and position in pan. Divide reserved custard mixture among ramekins; place filled ramekins on towel in pan (making sure they do not touch) and set pan on oven rack. Fill pan with boiling water to reach halfway up ramekins; cover entire pan loosely with aluminum foil so steam can escape. Bake until a paring knife inserted halfway between center and edge of the custards comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Transfer custards to wire rack; cool to room temperature (Can be covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated up to 2 days.)

4. To unmold, slide a paring knife around entire mold perimeter, pressing knife against side of the dish. Hold serving plate over top of ramekin and invert; set plate on work surface and shake ramekin gently to release custard. Serve immediately.

For one large crème caramel: Follow recipe for Classic Crème Caramel, pouring caramel and custard into 1½-quart straight-sided soufflé dish rather than individual ramekins. Fill roasting pan with boiling water to reach halfway up sides of soufflé dish; increase baking time to 70 to 75 minutes or until an instant-read thermometer inserted in center of custard registers 175 degrees.

The Perfect Flan (from epicurious)

1¾ cups whipping cream
1 cup milk (do not use low-fat or nonfat)
Pinch of salt
½ vanilla bean, split lengthwise

1 cup sugar
1/3 cup water

3 large eggs
2 large yolks
7 tablespoons sugar

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Combine cream, milk and salt in heavy medium saucepan. Scrape seeds from vanilla bean into cream mixture; add bean. Bring to simmer over medium heat. Remove from heat and let steep 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine 1 cup sugar and 1/3 cup water in another heavy medium saucepan. Stir over low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat to high and cook without stirring until syrup turns deep amber, brushing down sides of pan with wet pastry brush and swirling pan occasionally, about 10 minutes. Quickly pour caramel into six ¾-cup ramekins or custard cups. Using oven mitts as aid, immediately tilt each ramekin to coat sides. Set ramekins into 13x9x2-inch baking pan.

Whisk eggs, egg yolks and 7 tablespoons sugar in medium bowl just until blended. Gradually and gently whisk cream mixture into egg mixture without creating lots of foam. Pour custard through small sieve into prepared ramekins, dividing evenly (mixture will fill ramekins). Pour enough hot water into baking pan to come halfway up sides of ramekins.

Bake until centers of flans are gently set, about 40 minutes. Transfer flans to rack and cool. Chill until cold, about 2 hours. Cover and chill overnight. (Can be made 2 days ahead.)

To serve, run small sharp knife around flan to loosen. Turn over onto plate. Shake gently to release flan. Carefully lift off ramekin allowing caramel syrup to run over flan. Repeat with remaining flans and serve.


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I saw so excited to see that this month’s Daring Baker challenge was lemon meringue pie! Not only do I love lemon, but the one lemon meringue pie I’ve made was several years ago and was only partially successful. It seemed to me like this had to potential to be a fairly difficult challenge – pie crust, lemon curd, meringue. But when Jen of The Canadian Baker revealed this recipe to us, she expressed some concern that it might not be challenging enough for everyone.

She needn’t have worried. As one person after another wrote in to the DB private blog that they had followed the recipe exactly and had lemon meringue soup to show for their efforts, I started to get worried. And it seemed that for every disaster, there was another DBer chiming in that they had followed the recipe exactly and had perfect results. It goes without saying that I was hoping to be in the latter group.

I was not. I, however, cannot claim that I followed the recipe exactly. Because I screwed up.


It was all going swimmingly until I baked the pie at the end. The crust was a bit thicker than I’m used to, and the filling overflowed the crust a bit after I added the meringue, but these are minor qualms. (Ah – I see now that the recipe is developed for a 10-inch pan, and I only have 9-inch pans. That explains it.) The problem arose when I opened the oven to bake the pie and realized that I needed to adjust the racks and add a sheet pan below to catch drips. As I fumbled around with these corrections, I cranked the oven thermometer up to make sure the heater stayed on.

About five minutes after I put the pie in, a smell reminiscent of marshmallows roasting on a campfire reminded me that I hadn’t turned the oven back down. At this point the meringue was a beautiful mix of almost black, tan, and white. Afraid of it turning entirely black, I took the pie out far earlier than the recipe instructed.

And like many DBers, my filling did not set. Is it because I baked the pie at 450 degrees for 5 minutes instead of 375 degrees for 20 minutes? I don’t know. The next day, however, the filling was nice and solid, although the meringue was insufficiently cooked.


I do know that this unsatisfactory pie did not satisfy the desire for lemon meringue pie that I had by now developed. I also knew that I wasn’t taking any chances with the same recipe. Instead, I tried a Cooks Illustrated recipe. Unsurprisingly, it went off without a hitch. Gotta love Cooks Illustrated.

Check to see how the rest of the Daring Bakers pie experiences went!


Lemon Meringue Pie (from Wanda Beaver’s Wanda’s Pie in the Sky)

Makes one 10-inch (25 cm) pie

For the Crust:
¾ cup (180 mL) cold butter; cut into ½-inch (1.2 cm) pieces
2 cups (475 mL) all-purpose flour
¼ cup (60 mL) granulated sugar
¼ tsp (1.2 mL) salt
⅓ cup (80 mL) ice water

For the Filling:
2 cups (475 mL) water
1 cup (240 mL) granulated sugar
½ cup (120 mL) cornstarch

5 egg yolks, beaten
¼ cup (60 mL) butter
¾ cup (180 mL) fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp (15 mL) lemon zest
1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla extract

For the Meringue:
5 egg whites, room temperature
½ tsp (2.5 mL) cream of tartar
¼ tsp (1.2 mL) salt
½ tsp (2.5 mL) vanilla extract
¾ cup (180 mL) granulated sugar

For the Crust: Make sure all ingredients are as cold as possible. Using a food processor or pastry cutter and a large bowl, combine the butter, flour, sugar and salt. Process or cut in until the mixture resembles coarse meal and begins to clump together. Sprinkle with water, let rest 30 seconds and then either process very briefly or cut in with about 15 strokes of the pastry cutter, just until the dough begins to stick together and come away from the sides of the bowl. Turn onto a lightly floured work surface and press together to form a disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for at least 20 minutes.

Allow the dough to warm slightly to room temperature if it is too hard to roll. On a lightly floured board (or countertop) roll the disk to a thickness of ⅛ inch (.3 cm). Cut a circle about 2 inches (5 cm) larger than the pie plate and transfer the pastry into the plate by folding it in half or by rolling it onto the rolling pin. Turn the pastry under, leaving an edge that hangs over the plate about ½ inch (1.2 cm). Flute decoratively. Chill for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350ºF (180ºC). Line the crust with foil and fill with metal pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Carefully remove the foil and continue baking for 10 to 15 minutes, until golden. Cool completely before filling.
For the Filling: Bring the water to a boil in a large, heavy saucepan. Remove from the heat and let rest 5 minutes. Whisk the sugar and cornstarch together. Add the mixture gradually to the hot water, whisking until completely incorporated.

Return to the heat and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly until the mixture comes to a boil. The mixture will be very thick. Add about 1 cup (240 mL) of the hot mixture to the beaten egg yolks, whisking until smooth. Whisking vigorously, add the warmed yolks to the pot and continue cooking, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil. Remove from the heat and stir in butter until incorporated. Add the lemon juice, zest and vanilla, stirring until combined. Pour into the prepared crust. Cover with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming on the surface, and cool to room temperature.

For the Meringue: Preheat the oven to 375ºF (190ºC). Using an electric mixer beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar, salt and vanilla extract until soft peaks form. Add the sugar gradually, beating until it forms stiff, glossy peaks. Pile onto the cooled pie, bringing the meringue all the way over to the edge of the crust to seal it completely. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden. Cool on a rack. Serve within 6 hours to avoid a soggy crust.

The Ultimate Lemon Meringue Pie (from Cooks Illustrated)

Makes one 9-inch pie

Graham Cracker-Coated Pie Shell
1¼ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon table salt
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter , chilled and cut into 1/4-inch pieces
4 tablespoons vegetable shortening , chilled
3-4 tablespoons cold water
½ cup graham cracker crumbs

Lemon Filling
1 cup granulated sugar
¼ cup cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon table salt
1½ cups cold water
6 large egg yolks
1 tablespoon lemon zest from 1 lemon
½ cup lemon juice from 2 to 3 lemons
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Meringue Topping
1 tablespoon cornstarch
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
½ cup granulated sugar
4 large egg whites
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1. For the pie shell: Mix flour, salt and sugar in food processor fitted with steel blade. Scatter butter pieces over flour mixture, tossing to coat butter with a little of the flour. Cut butter into flour with five 1 second pulses. Add shortening; continue cutting in until flour is pale yellow and resembles coarse cornmeal with butter bits no larger than a small pea, about four more 1-second pulses. Turn mixture into medium bowl.

2. Sprinkle 3 tablespoons cold water over mixture. Using rubber spatula, fold water into mixture; press down on dough mixture with broad side of spatula until dough sticks together. If dough will not come together, add up to 1 tablespoon more cold water. Shape dough into ball, then flatten into 4-inch-wide disk. Dust lightly with flour, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for 30 minutes before rolling.

3. Generously sprinkle work area with 2 tablespoons graham cracker crumbs. Place dough on work area. Scatter a few more crumbs over dough. Roll dough from center to edges, turning it into a 9-inch disk, rotating a quarter turn after each stroke and sprinkling additional crumbs underneath and on top as necessary to coat heavily. Flip dough over and continue to roll, but not rotate, to form a 13-inch disk slightly less than 1/8-inch thick.

4. Fold dough into quaarters; place dough point in center of 9-inch Pyrex pie pan. Unfold to cover pan completely, letting excess dough drape over pan lip. To fit dough to pan, lift edge of dough with one hand and press dougn in pan bottom with other hand; repeat process around circumferences of pan to ensure dough fits properly and is not stretched. Trim all around, ½-inch past lip of pan. Tuck ½ inch of overhanging dough under so folded edge is flush with lip of pan; press to seal. Press thumb and index finger about ½-inch apart against outside edge of dough, then use index finger or knuckle of other hand to poke a dent on inside edge of dough through opening created by the other fingers. Repeat to flute around perimeter of pie shell.

5. Refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes. Use fork to prick shell at ½-inch intervals; press a doubled 12-inch square of aluminum foil into pie shell; prick again and refrigerate at least 30 minutes.

6. Adjust oven rack to lowest position, heat oven to 400 degrees. Bake, checking occasionally for ballooning, until crust is firmly set, about 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees, remove foil, and continue to bake until crust is crisp and rich brown in color, about 10 minutes longer.

7. For the filling: Mix sugar, cornstarch, salt, and water in a large, nonreactive saucepan. Bring mixture to simmer over medium heat, whisking occasionally at beginning of the process and more frequently as mixture begins to thicken. When mixture starts to simmer and turn translucent, whisk in egg yolks, two at a time. Whisk in zest, then lemon juice, and finally butter. Bring mixture to a brisk simmer, whisking constantly. Remove from heat, place plastic wrap directly on surface of filling to keep hot and prevent skin from forming.

8. For the meringue: Mix cornstarch with 1/3 cup water in small saucepan; bring to simmer, whisking occasionally at beginning and more frequently as mixture thickens. When mixture starts to simmer and turn translucent, remove from heat. Let cool while beating egg whites.

9. Heat oven to 325 degrees. Mix cream of tartar and sugar together. Beat egg whites and vanilla until frothy. Beat in sugar mixture, 1 tablespoon at a time; until sugar is incorporated and mixture forms soft peaks. Add cornstarch mixture, 1 tablespoon at a time; continue to beat meringue to stiff peaks. Remove plastic from filling and return to very low heat during last minute or so of beating meringue (to ensure filling is hot).

10. Pour filling into pie shell. Using a rubber spatula, immediately distribute meringue evenly around edge then center of pie to keep it from sinking into filling. Make sure meringue attaches to pie crust to prevent shrinking. Use spoon to create peaks all over meringue. Bake pie until meringue is golden brown, about 20 minutes. Transfer to wire rack and cool to room temperature. Serve.


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As much as I love a good, fluffy pancake, sometimes it’s good to mix it up, you know? Especially when there’s somehow all these extra apples laying around. (Who didn’t eat their daily apple this week? I’m blaming Dave.) And I think most of us know where to look when we want to “mix it up” – epicurious.com is a cornucopia of recipes that have been fancied up somehow. So how about apple pancakes with cinnamon butter?

This isn’t the big, puffy German apple pancake that’s basically a Dutch pancake with apple topping. These are more like regular pancakes with apples in them, which is just what I was hoping for. Like any good epicurious reader, I didn’t follow the recipe exactly.

The apples are shredded, and although I’m often too lazy to carry my food processor around my kitchen (I can’t store it on the counter in my tiny kitchen), I hate shredding non-cheese things with my cheese grater because I always ends up with bloody knuckles.


While the batter set for 30 minutes, I put together the cinnamon butter. This sounded innocent enough, until I realized that I was basically making frosting. Gotta love cinnamon frosting on a Saturday morning!

The pancakes were really good, and a nice change from the normal routine. I ended up with quite a bit of extra cinnamon butter, which went wonderfully on the cinnamon muffins I baked the next morning.


Apple Pancakes with Cinnamon Butter (from epicurious.com)

Serves 4

I didn’t have and therefore skipped the orange and lemon peels. I substituted Empire apples for Granny Smith and low-fat milk for whole milk. Just working with what I had.

Cinnamon butter
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
½ cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon grated orange peel

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
2 medium Granny Smith apples (scant 1 pound), peeled, halved, cored

1 2/3 cups all purpose flour
2 tablespoons (packed) golden brown sugar
2½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
¾ cup whole milk
2 large eggs
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted, divided

For cinnamon butter:
Using electric mixer, beat all ingredients in small bowl until blended.

For pancakes:
Combine lemon juice and peel in bowl. Coarsely grate apples into bowl, tossing to coat with juice.

Whisk flour, brown sugar, baking powder, and salt in large bowl. Make well in center of dry ingredients. Whisk in milk, eggs, and 1/4 cup melted butter until smooth. Stir in apple mixture. Cover and let batter stand at room temperature at least 30 minutes and up to 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 250°F. Place baking sheet in oven. Heat heavy large nonstick griddle or skillet over medium-high heat 1 minute. Brush griddle with some of remaining 1/4 cup melted butter. For each pancake, drop 1 heaping tablespoon batter onto griddle, spacing pancakes apart. Cook until golden on bottom and bubbles start to form on surface, about 3 minutes. Turn pancakes over. Cook until golden on bottom, about 2 minutes longer. Transfer pancakes to baking sheet in oven to keep warm. Repeat with remaining batter, brushing griddle with butter before each batch of pancakes.

Arrange pancakes on plates. Top each with dollop of cinnamon butter and serve.


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For Dave’s birthday, my parents took us out to eat at a brewery. Everyone loved the beer they ordered (except for my 8-month pregnant sister, who had to settle for soda), but I think I was the only one who enjoyed their food. Oh, and I did enjoy my food. Rarely do I finish my entire meal at a restaurant, but my shrimp tacos were too good to waste.

The shrimp was battered and fried, served with the classic shredded cabbage and aioli. I’ve made fish tacos before using a similar method, a beer batter, and they were fantastic. But…today is Wednesday, and deep-frying on a weeknight just seems irresponsible. I don’t generally shy away from fat, and I’d rather eat less of great food, than larger quantities of “reduced-fat” versions, but this time, I was ready to compromise. And after smearing everything with mayonnaise, how low-fat is this anyway?

So, I skipped the batter on the fish, and instead pan-fried it in just a slick of oil. Really, so much of the charm of this meal comes from the cabbage, mayonnaise, lime, and cilantro (not usually one of my favorites, but it has its place) that I didn’t miss the deep-fried goodness at all. In fact, I’ve decided that I’ll never bother deep-frying fish for fish tacos again. This was easier, cleaner, healthier, and just as tasty!

Weeknight Fish Tacos (adapted from my brother’s recipe)
Serves 2

I used large tortillas, because that’s all I had on hand, so this is what the picture shows. However, small tortillas actually work better. Also, I didn’t have red onions, so I used green onions.

Other possible toppings include avocado, green chile, and hot sauce.

I have tried substituting plain yogurt for the sour cream to make this even healthier, and it turned out great.

2 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus 1 tablespoon for oiling pan
¼ cup minced cilantro
¼ teaspoon cumin
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ – 3/4 pound tilapia, or other white fish (halibut, cod, catfish, snapper)
4 ounces (¼ – ½ head) cabbage, finely shredded
½ small red onion, thinly sliced
6-8 small flour tortillas
White sauce (recipe follows)

White sauce:
1½ tablespoon minced cilantro
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon sour cream
1 tablespoon lime juice

1. Mix lime juice, 2 tablespoons olive oil, cilantro, and cumin in large, flat bowl or pie plate. Add fish and turn to coat. Let marinate 15-30 minutes.

2. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add marinated fish and cook, without moving, for 3 minutes. Using 2 spatulas, flip fish and cook on second side for 2 minutes, or until fish flakes with a fork. Remove fish from pan to plate, season with salt, and let set for 2-3 minutes. Cut into approximately bite-size pieces.

3. To build each taco, spread liberal amount of white sauce on tortilla, then add fish, cabbage, red onion, and whatever garnishes you desire. Serve.


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I know, I know, deviled eggs? Does anyone really need a recipe for deviled eggs, or a blog entry about them?

But, these have an extra ingredient that I assure you, makes a blog entry just for them worthwhile. (Plus, look how cute they are in pictures! They look like little boats from the side!)


That ingredient is tuna. That’s right, we’re talking about good ol’ canned tuna. I recently heard a few people say that they don’t eat canned tuna, and, what?! Not eat canned tuna?! I looove canned tuna!

The first time a really remember eating it was a few years ago, when a friend brought me some fancy canned tuna from Spain. I wasn’t sure what to do with it, but my friend encouraged me to just mix it up into tuna salad. (In retrospect, I should have just eaten it from the can.) I decided that an experiment was in order. Was expensive Spanish tuna worth the difference in price? So Dave and I did a side-by-side comparison of tuna salads made with the Spanish tuna and with StarKirst Solid White Albacore. (This is the brand recommended by Cooks Illustrated.)

In tuna salad, at least, the difference was minor. And since that test, I have become enamored with tuna salad sandwiches. It’s something that, for me, is best eaten at home, because I’ve gotten so picky about how it’s made. No celery or pickles, but enough minced red onion and parsley to make up for it.

There are a few tricks to getting the most from your tuna. First, drain the heck out of it. Then add salt, pepper, and lemon juice, and let that set while you prepare the other ingredients. This gives the tuna time to soak up those flavor-enhancers.

I made the filling for these deviled eggs very similar to how I make tuna salad, just leaving out minced red onion and of course adding the egg yolks. Best deviled eggs ever, I assure you!

One more thing – while I agree that a sprinkle of paprika adds some color to a deviled egg, I think a little minced something makes them just so cute. I used tomato in this case, but I think a purple olive like kalamata would look, and taste, great as well. (My husband does not agree that olives improve anything, hence the tomatoes in January.)

Deviled Eggs
Make 16 appetizers

1 6-ounce can tuna, preferably StarKist Solid White Albacore in Water
1/8 teaspoon salt
pinch ground black pepper
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons minced parsley
½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
8 hard-boiled eggs, peeled
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
¼ plum tomato, minced (optional)
4 kalamata olives, minced (optional)

1. Drain the tuna very well. Using a fork or your fingers, break up any large pieces. Add salt, pepper, parsley and mustard.

2. Cut each egg in half from pole to pole. Use a spoon to remove the yolk. Using a fork, mash the yolks well. Add to tuna mixture, then stir in mayonnaise.

3. Either spoon mixture into egg whites, or transfer mixture to a decorators bag or zip-top bag. If using a zip-top bag, cut out a corner. Squeeze mixture into egg whites. Garnish with tomatoes or olives, if desired.


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Like many people I know, I worked at a pizza joint as a teenager. One night, as another employee handed a pizza to a customer, I caught a whiff of an awful odor – like rotting fish, ruining a perfectly good pizza. This was my first firsthand experience with anchovies. Yuck.

It took Cooks Illustrated (of course) and their recipe for pasta e fagioli to convince to me give the little fishies another chance. In this soup, the anchovies are used much like garlic, first minced and then used to flavor the sauce. When I opened the can, I expected to be confronted with the rotted smell that I still remembered from ten years before. Instead, I smelled…nothing. Nothing rotted, nothing even the least bit fishy. I took a hesitant nibble of one.

Whoa!!! Careful eating anchovies straight from the can! It’s like eating a fillet of salt.


These days, I love anchovies. My husband, unfortunately, does not. One too many anchovy pizza deliveries as he worked his way through college, I suspect. I don’t know what those pizza places do to their anchovies to make them smell so horrid; my theory is incorrect storage. Also, to me, slabs of fish on tomato sauce and cheese seems inconsistent.

Not that I don’t like anchovies on pizza, mind you. But I like to skip the tomatoes and cheese and lay the little fishes on a pile of caramelized onions, dotted with nicoise olives and sprinkled with parsley. Ah, pissaladiere. This was one of my favorite dinners for myself before I married an anchovy-hater.

And now it’s my entry for Hay Hay It’s Donna Day, hosted this month by Joey of 80 breakfasts. I certainly encourage you to give anchovies a chance if you’ve always been convinced that they’re nothing but a foul pizza topping. They are far more than that – subtly meaty and a bit salty even after being rinsed. I admit, however, that this is probably not a good recipe for the anchovy un-initiated.

But for the rest of us, what a treat of contrasting flavors that play so well together!


Pissaladiere – Provencal Pizza (from Cooks Illustrated)

Instant yeast is almost always sold under a marketing name; look for “rapid rise,” “perfect rise,” or “quick rise.” If your food processor includes a plastic dough blade attachment, use it; its short blades and dull edges make kneading easier on the motor. If not, the regular metal blade works almost as well. For best flavor, use high-quality oil-packed anchovies; in a recent tasting, Ortiz were our favorite. The dough in this recipe rises for 1 to 1 ½ hours. If a longer or overnight rise is more convenient, make the dough with ½ teaspoon of instant yeast and let it rise in the refrigerator for 16 to 24 hours. The caramelized onions can also be made a day ahead and refrigerated.

Makes 2 tarts, 8 to 10 first course servings

2 cups bread flour (11 ounces), plus extra for dusting work surface
1 teaspoon instant yeast
1 teaspoon table salt
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus additional oil for brushing dough and greasing hands
1 cup water (8 ounces), warm (about 110 degrees)

Caramelized Onions:
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 pounds yellow onions, sliced 1/4 inch thick
½ teaspoon table salt
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon water

Olives, Anchovies, and Garnishes:
olive oil
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
½ cup niçoise olives, pitted and chopped coarse
8 anchovy fillets, rinsed, patted dry, and chopped coarse (about 2 tablespoons)
12 anchovy fillets, rinsed and patted dry for (optional) garnish
2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon fennel seeds (optional)
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley leaves (optional)

1. For the dough: In workbowl of food processor fitted with plastic dough blade (see note), pulse flour, yeast, and salt to combine, about five 1-second pulses. With machine running, slowly add oil, then water, through feed tube; continue to process until dough forms ball, about 15 seconds. Generously dust work surface with flour; using floured hands, transfer dough to work surface and knead lightly, shaping dough into ball. Lightly oil 1-quart measuring cup or small bowl, place dough in measuring cup, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and set aside in draft-free spot until doubled in volume, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

2. For the caramelized onions: While dough is rising, heat oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over high heat until shimmering but not smoking; stir in onions, salt, and brown sugar and cook, stirring frequently, until moisture released by onions has evaporated and onions begin to brown, about 10 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring frequently, until onions have softened and are medium golden brown, about 20 minutes longer. Off heat, stir in water; transfer to bowl and set aside. Adjust oven rack to lowest position, set baking stone on rack, and heat oven to 500 degrees.

3. To shape, top, and bake the dough: When dough has doubled, remove from measuring cup and divide into 2 equal pieces using dough scraper. Working with one piece at a time, form each piece into rough ball by gently pulling edges of dough together and pinching to seal. With floured hands, turn dough ball seam-side down. Cupping dough with both hands, gently push dough in circular motion to form taut ball. Repeat with second piece. Brush each lightly with oil, cover with plastic wrap, and let rest 10 minutes. Meanwhile, cut two 20-inch lengths parchment paper and set aside.

4. Coat fingers and palms of hands generously with oil. Using dough scraper, loosen 1 piece of dough from work surface. With well-oiled hands, hold dough aloft and gently stretch to 12-inch length. Place on parchment sheet and gently dimple surface of dough with fingertips. Using oiled palms, push and flatten dough into 14- by 8-inch oval. Brush dough with oil and sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Leaving ½-inch border around edge, sprinkle ¼ cup olives, 1 tablespoon chopped anchovies, and 1 teaspoon thyme evenly over dough, then evenly scatter with half of onions. Arrange 6 whole anchovy fillets, if using, on tart and sprinkle with fennel seeds, if using. Slip parchment with tart onto pizza peel (or inverted rimless baking sheet), then slide onto hot baking stone. Bake until deep golden brown, 13 to 15 minutes. While first tart bakes, shape and top second tart.

5. Remove tart from oven with peel or pull parchment onto baking sheet; transfer tart to cutting board and slide parchment out from under tart. Cool 5 minutes; sprinkle with 1½ teaspoons parsley, if using. Cut tart in half lengthwise, then cut crosswise to form 8 pieces; serve immediately. While first tart cools, bake second tart.


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I haven’t been reading food blogs long – only about a week longer than I’ve had my own, in fact – but I’m already playing favorites. One of the blogs that first caught my attention and held it is Jen’s use real butter. Jen’s blog has what I consider the three requisite aspects of a good food blog: beautiful pictures, entertaining writing, and recipes I actually want to make. Something else I love about Jen’s blog is that some of those recipes are authentic Chinese food. At least, I’m assuming they’re authentic. As an all-American mutt, I’m not exactly an expert on spotting traditional ethnic cuisine.

The latest such recipe is moo shu pork. I’d heard of moo shu before – the term seems to get tossed around a lot just because it sounds cute and is fun to say. Moo shu. Moooooo shu. But I actually had no idea what it was until Jen’s post about it. Turns out, it’s a bunch of stir-fried goodness all wrapped up in flatbread. Sounds delicious!

The recipe is fairly simple, but it did involve some ingredients that weren’t familiar to me. The first is hoisin sauce. Jen says that she prefers to buy hoisin sauce with more Chinese on the label that English. That sounds reasonable. My grocery store has a well-stocked ethnic section, so I was pretty confident that I’d be able to find something that fit the bill. I ended up with a bottle with about 50% English, 50% Chinese on the label. Close enough.

The moo shu shells were a bigger problem. Even Wegman’s ethnic section can only go so far. I had a bit of hope when I saw an “asian” sign in the freezer section, but there was no luck to be had there. I had two options at this point: find an asian grocery store or make my own moo shu shells. I just moved to Philadelphia a week ago and didn’t relish the idea of driving around looking for an asian grocery store, so homemade it was.

Okay, let’s be honest. I could have found an asian grocery store – I know how to use the internet, after all. The truth is, I’m just not very comfortable in them. The merchandise is unfamiliar to me, I don’t know how anything is arranged, and most of the labels are in Chinese. Last time I went to one, I wandered up and down the aisles looking for dried shrimp. When I gave up and asked the cashier for help, she yelled, “in the cooler!” The cooler encompassed an entire aisle of this store. I wandered over there and searched around, all the while with her yelling from the cash register which direction I needed to be looking. Why she didn’t just walk the 10 steps over to the cooler and grab the damn shrimp off the shelf for me is a mystery. Then, as I was checking out, she asked if I was making pad thai. Apparently little white girls have one use for dried shrimp and one use only. I said I was, and she told me I needed Thai basil. I know Thai basil is a traditional pad thai ingredient, but I’m assuming that it has the same shelf life of regular basil – so about 3 hours. My pad thai had always been damn good without it, so I declined, admitting that my pad thai must not be that authentic. So there you go – my desire to make traditional ethnic food lies somewhere between dried shrimp and Thai basil.

So, homemade moo shu shells it was. Turns out making moo shu shells is even easier than finding a recipe for them on the internet. (Hint: Don’t google “moo shu shells”, regardless of how you spell the “moo.” You need to look up “mandarin pancakes.”) The process is a little strange, but it worked out beautifully in the end. Flour is mixed with boiling water, then the dough is allowed to rest. It’s rolled into a rope, then cut into pieces. Each piece is flattened, brushed with oil, and then stacked on another piece with the oiled sides together. Each pair of dough segments is rolled out together, then cooked in an ungreased skillet. The only tricky part is tearing the two pieces apart after they cook, and the only difficulty there stems from the fact that it’s hot!



So, in the end, moo shu pork is good. Really good, in fact. I can’t wait to make it again. And hoisin sauce? Also really good. All salty and sweet and just altogether tasty.

Now, Jen insists that these shouldn’t be called Chinese burritos. I can understand this I suppose – after all, I’ve never heard of a burrito referred to as Mexican moo shu. But I’m sure you can see the resemblance. In fact, when I handed Dave his plate, guess what he said? “Oh, cool. It’s a Chinese burrito.”


Mandarin Pancakes (from Fine Cooking)

The only change I’ll probably make in the future is to add a pinch of salt to the dough.

Makes 12

1¾ cups (8 ounces) unbleached flour
¾ cup boiling water
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil

In a bowl, mix the flour and the boiling water with chopsticks or a wooden spoon to combine. Turn the shaggy dough onto a lightly floured board, gather it into a heap, and knead it until smooth, about 3 minutes. Cover with a towel and let it rest for about 1/2 hour.

With your hands, shape the dough into an even cylinder about 12 inches long. With a sharp knife, preferably serrated, cut the roll into 1-inch pieces. If the cutting squashes any of the pieces, stand them on end and shape them back into rounds.

Lightly flour your palms and use them to flatten the pieces into 2-inch rounds. Brush the top of each round generously with sesame oil. Lay one round on top of another, oiled sides together. Flatten the pair together with the heel of your hand. Continue until you have 6 pairs.

With a floured rolling pin, roll each pair into a thin pancake about 7 inches in diameter, flipping the pancake over now and again to roll evenly on both sides. Stack the pancakes as you finish rolling them.

In an ungreased cast-iron skillet or nonstick pan over medium-high heat, cook the pancakes one at a time. Heat one side until it becomes less opaque and starts to bubble slightly, and just a few brown spots appear, about 1 min. Flip it over and cook it until a few light brown spots appear on the other side, about 30 seconds.

While the pancake is still hot, pick it up, look for a seam to grab, and separate it into two very thin pancakes. Stack them on a plate as you go and wrap them in foil to keep them warm and prevent drying. If not using right away, refrigerate until ready to use.

For Jen’s mu-shu pork filling, check out her blog.

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For someone who’s been very interested in food and cooking for a large part of her life, I was late catching onto Martha Stewart fanhood. I just didn’t know much about her, for whatever reason. I didn’t watch her show, I didn’t read her magazine, and I hadn’t made any of her recipes. But then last Christmas, my mother-in-law gave me Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook.

This is a really great book. For one thing, every recipe has a beautiful picture accompanying it. Also, many of the recipes include garnishes. What a relief for someone like me, who is new to caring about garnishes! But more important, of course, are the recipes themselves. There’s a great mix of classics, like chocolate chip cookies and buttermilk biscuits, to more advanced but still familiar recipes, like a wedding cake and croissants, plus a good peppering of more original ideas, like grapefruit cookies and rum-raisin pie. I’m especially excited to make my way through some of the cookie recipes. Whoever heard of grapefruit in cookies? Yum!

I’ve been craving cupcakes for quite some time now, and I wanted something a little bit more…interesting that your standard old chocolate or vanilla. These were perfect! I’m especially happy with the maple buttercream frosting. I had my doubts going in, because I haven’t had the most successful history of working with buttercream. Also, I was only making a third of the recipe. I know buttercream is very temperature sensitive, and this much smaller amount was going to change temperatures a lot faster than the recipe indicates. And, I was worried about the method of combining the maple syrup and the egg yolk. The syrup is heated to 240 degrees (my probe thermometer tops out at 212 degrees, so I guessed and hoped for the best), then drizzled into the egg yolk. 240 degrees is…hot, especially for egg. But, it all seemed to work out! The buttercream did show signs of breaking, but I tried beating it more, and it actually came together very nicely!

The only change I would make to the recipe is to toast the walnuts before mixing them with the batter. Oh, and I wouldn’t spill a quarter of the dry ingredient mixture on the counter and then not notice until the cupcakes were in the oven. All in all, they were really good.  And cute!


Maple-Walnut Cupcakes (from Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook)
Makes 2 dozen

2¾ cups (13.75 ounces) unbleached flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 ½ cups (10.5 ounces) granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup milk
1½ cups (5.5 ounces) walnuts, toasted, chopped medium-fine
Maple Buttercream

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two standard 12-up muffin pans with paper liners. Into a large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon; set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until creamy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs and vanilla, and beat until combined. With the mixer still on medium speed, add the flour mixture in two parts, alternating with the milk and beginning and ended with the flour. Fold in the walnuts.

Divide the batter evenly among he muffin cups, adding about 1/3 cup to each. Bake, rotating the pans halfway through, until cupcakes are golden and a cake tester inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean, 18-20 minutes. Transfer the pans to a wire rack to cool slightly. Invert the cupcakes onto the rack; then reinvert and let them cool completely, top sides up. Frost tops with Maple Buttercream. Cupcakes can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Maple Buttercream
Makes enough for 2 dozen cupcakes (about 2 cups)

This frosting can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to three days. Bring to room temperature before using.

3 large eggs yolks
1 cup pure maple syrup
16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold, cut into small pieces

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitting with the whisk attachment, beat the egg yolks on high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes; set aside. In a small saucepan set over medium-high heat, bring the maple syrup to a boil, and cook until it registers 240 degrees on a candy thermometer, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat.

With the mixer running, slowly pour syrup down the side of the bowl in a slow, steady stream, until completely incorporated, about 1 minute. Continue beating until bowl is just slightly warm to the touch, 4 to 5 minutes. Add butter, one piece at a time, until thoroughly incorporated and the frosting is fluffy, about 4 minutes more.


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Recently, I’ve noticed a lot of people trying out homemade bread for the first time. I remember my first time making yeast bread. I was nervous about everything – the amount of flour I was kneading into the dough, the rising time, the baking temperature. There’s so much uncertainty involved with bread baking, and I’m not sure why. Bread isn’t any different from a recipe for anything else – just follow the directions and everything should go smoothly. There are a few more variables to take into account – the freshness of the yeast and the temperature of the room can affect the rate of rising, but as long as you follow the visual clues, everything should come out okay. Plus, I’ve found bread to be relatively forgiving. You can add some extra flour, knead too long, let it rise a bit longer (or less) than ideal, but the effect on the final product will be minor. No worries!


One thing about bread though, is that I always feel like kind of a jerk when I make it. It all starts with these little fungal yeasties. So you give them some food, and a nice warm place to the live. Give them plenty of time to grow and start a little community. Then you cook them and eat them. Poor little dudes. (Yes, yes, I eat meat, I know it’s considerably worse. I’m a bad person.)


This is one of my favorite breads. It’s just a nice, simple sandwich bread, but it has plenty of flavor. My mom serves it at holiday meals, and it’s one of my favorite foods on the table. For this particular loaf, we snacked on it a few hours after it came out of the oven in between doing chores, and then I made French toast with it the next day. Both were really satisfying.

Country Crust Bread (called Rich Egg Bread in recent additions of Betty Crocker cookbooks)
Adapted from Betty Crocker and Cooks Illustrated

Makes one 9-inch loaf

I used honey and butter, and I substituted about 1/3 of the white flour for whole wheat flour. You can increase that to half the total flour without any detrimental affects to the bread, although the rising time will probably need to be increased.

To braid the loaf instead of baking it in a loaf pan, divide the dough into three equal portions. Gently roll each portion into a 16-inch length. Braid the pieces together, then pinch the ends together and tuck them under the loaf. Reduce the baking time by 15 minutes.

3 – 3½ cups (15 – 17½ ounces) unbleached flour, plus extra for work surface
1½ teaspoons table salt
1 cup water, warm (110 degrees)
1 egg
2 tablespoons vegetable oil or unsalted butter, melted
¼ cup (1.75 ounces) granulated sugar or 3 tablespoons honey
1 package (2 1/4 teaspoons) rapid-rise yeast (also called instant)

1. Adjust oven rack to low position and heat oven to 200 degrees. Once oven temperature reaches 200 degrees, maintain heat 10 minutes, then turn off oven heat.

2. Mix flour, salt, and yeast in bowl of standing mixer fitted with dough hook. Mix water, egg, butter, and honey in 1-quart Pyrex liquid measuring cup. Turn machine to low and slowly add liquid. When dough comes together, increase speed to medium (setting number 4 on a KitchenAid mixer) and mix until dough is smooth and satiny, stopping machine two or three times to scrape dough from hook if necessary, about 10 minutes. Turn dough onto lightly floured work surface; knead to form smooth, round ball, about 15 seconds.

3. Place dough in very lightly oiled bowl, rubbing dough around bowl to lightly coat. Cover bowl with plastic wrap; place in warm oven until dough doubles in size, 40 to 50 minutes.

4. Form dough into loaf by gently pressing the dough into a rectangle, one inch thick and no wider than the length of the loaf pan. Next, roll the dough firmly into a cylinder, pressing with your fingers to make sure the dough sticks to itself. Turn the dough seam side up and pinch it closed.  Finally, place dough in greased 9-by-5-by-3-inch loaf pan and press it gently so it touches all four sides of the pan.

5. Cover with plastic wrap; set aside in warm spot until dough almost doubles in size, 20 to 30 minutes. Heat oven to 350 degrees, placing empty loaf pan on bottom rack. Bring 2 cups water to boil.

6. Remove plastic wrap from loaf pan. Place pan in oven, immediately pouring heated water into empty loaf pan; close oven door. Bake until instant-read thermometer inserted at angle from short end just above pan rim into center of loaf reads 195 degrees, about 40 to 50 minutes. Remove bread from pan, transfer to a wire rack, and cool to room temperature. Slice and serve.


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