Wheat Hamburger Buns

A few days ago, as I was putting groceries away, I suddenly sensed a peculiar smell in the air. Was something burning? I quickly scanned the kitchen appliances in case I had accidentally left something on during my grocery run. Nope, my kitchen was resting quietly in between shifts.

I turned my nose toward the open (hallelujah!) balcony door, and suddenly it hit me. People were grilling.

It’s been a long, hard, bitterly cold winter in Minneapolis, but finally there’s hope. Birds are chirping, snow mounds are melting, and the days are getting longer. The other night a ladybug flitted onto our screen door and the cat just sat and stared at it, transfixed by the sudden emergence of tiny wildlife.

People are grilling again.

In preparation for my favorite season, the time of sun-drenched cookouts, camping trips, and the acknowledgment that everything tastes better outdoors, I’m sharing my favorite hamburger bun recipe. Sure, you can pick up an eight-pack from the store. But the days are longer now, which means there’s plenty of time for baking. And hamburgers taste so much better on freshly baked buns.

Wheat hamburger buns

Wheat hamburger buns

••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••

Wheat Hamburger Buns

  • 3 Tbs. warm milk
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2 tsp. instant yeast
  • 2 Tbs. sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 large eggs, divided
  • 1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 1 3/4 cups bread flour
  • 2 1/2 Tbs. unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • sesame seeds, for sprinkling

In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together milk, water, yeast, sugar, salt, and one of the eggs until well combined. Attach the dough hook to the stand mixer and gradually add the flours while kneading on low speed. When dough starts to come together, add the butter. Continue kneading for about 6-8 minutes. The dough will be a bit sticky but should form a ball. You can add a little more flour or knead by hand for a minute or two if necessary, but try not to add too much flour as it will make the dough tougher.

Place the dough in a greased bowl, then cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, 1-2 hours. (I usually heat my oven to its lowest temperature and then turn it off to create a warm place for dough to rise.)

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Punch down dough and divide into eight pieces for large buns, or ten pieces for medium buns. Roll each piece into a ball and place on the parchment-lined baking sheet. Let rest for another 30-60 minutes, or until slightly puffed.

Meanwhile, place a large casserole or metal baking dish filled with water on the lowest rack of the oven, and place the other rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat oven to 400° F.

In a small bowl, beat together remaining egg with 1 Tbs. water. Brush each bun with the egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Bake buns for about 15 minutes, or until golden brown, rotating the baking sheet halfway through. Let cool completely on a cooling rack, then slice and serve.

Makes 8-10 buns.

Source: Slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen via Annie’s Eats.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Tart

Peanut butter. Chocolate. Math. Add them together and you get one killer dessert.

Gabe’s youngest brother visited us this weekend and picked a chocolate peanut butter tart as his dessert of choice. But before I could make it, I had to play with ratios.

As many of you know, lactose-free half-and-half is one of my favorite ingredients in the whole world, since it lets me make ice cream and other sweet treats for Gabe. But so far there’s no such thing as lactose-free heavy cream, so I have to modify recipes that call for cream. Generally a one-to-one substitution is not a problem, but the difference in fat content can affect the consistency of things like chocolate ganache.

And since ganache plays a starring role in this dessert, some experimentation was necessary. (I sacrificed myself to science and ate a lot of chocolate.) In the end, the winning ratio of chocolate to milk product was 2:1 instead of the original recipe’s ratio of approximately 1:1. You can certainly use the original amounts of 5 oz. chocolate and 3/4 cup heavy cream, but I’m happy to report that my way worked just as well.

And to continue this math and science-laden post, I made a couple of diagrams to demonstrate how to make pretty peanut butter swirls on top of the tart. Just to prove my liberal arts education comes in handy. Check them out at the bottom of this post. :)

Chocolate peanut butter tart

Chocolate peanut butter tart

••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••

Chocolate Peanut Butter Tart

Crust

  • 1/3 cup dutch processed cocoa powder
  • 1 cup flour
  • 8 Tbs. butter
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 2 Tbs. half-and-half

Filling

  • 3/4 cup creamy peanut butter, divided
  • 8 oz. dark chocolate (about 60% cocoa)
  • 1/2 cup half-and-half

Make the pie crust: In a small bowl, whisk together cocoa and flour. Set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugar for about 2 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Add egg, vanilla, and salt, and beat until well combined. With mixer on low, add half the flour mixture, then all the half-and-half, and then the rest of the flour mixture until well combined. The dough will be very soft.

Place dough on a piece of plastic wrap, flatten into a rectangle shape, and wrap tightly. Refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour and up to 2 days.

Once dough is firm, place it on a heavily floured work surface and roll into a 7 by 16-inch rectangle. Transfer the dough to a 4 1/2 by 14- inch rectangular tart pan and lightly push it down into the bottom of the pan. Trim off any excess dough around the edges and prick the bottom lightly with a fork. Freeze for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350° F. Place a piece of aluminum foil or parchment paper in the tart pan on top of the dough, and fill with dry beans or pie weights. Place the tart pan on a jelly-roll pan for easier handling and bake for 20 minutes, or until edges are set. Remove foil and beans and bake for another 10 minutes. Let crust cool completely in the tart pan on a wire rack.

Prepare filling: Melt 1/2 cup peanut butter in a small bowl in the microwave for 30 seconds. Pour peanut butter into the cooled pie crust and freeze for 20 minutes or until set.

Once the peanut butter is set, roughly chop chocolate and place in a medium bowl. Microwave half-and-half just until it comes to a boil, about 30 seconds. Pour over chocolate and let sit for 2 minutes.

Melt remaining 1/4 cup of peanut butter in microwave and transfer to a small plastic bag. Snip a tiny triangle off the corner so you can use the bag to pipe the peanut butter.

Whisk chocolate and half-and-half until smooth. Pour over peanut butter in the tart pan and lightly smooth with a spatula. Squeeze the peanut butter in the plastic bag and pipe it diagonally across the ganache. Lightly run a toothpick or skewer through the peanut butter in the opposite direction, perpendicular to the piping of the peanut butter. (See diagrams below.)

Let tart chill in refrigerator for at least 1 hour and up to 8. Slice diagonally into wedges and serve.

Serves 10.

Source: Slightly adapted from Martha Stewart via Annie’s Eats.

pipe peanut butter on tart

Pipe peanut butter diagonally across tart

run toothpick through peanut butter

Lightly run a toothpick through the peanut butter, perpendicular to the original piping

Chocolate Graham Crackers

The idea came to me while I was making ice cream.

A few days prior, I asked Gabe what kind of ice cream he had a hankering for, and he replied, “cookies ‘n’ cream!” So of course I made a whole bunch of chocolate wafer cookies using this recipe, instead of buying oreos to mix into the ice cream. As I was transferring the cookies from the baking sheet to the cooling rack– and a few just happened to make their way into my mouth for quality control– I had a memory, and then an epiphany.

The intensely rich, dark, chocolatey taste of those wafer cookies reminded me of eating chocolate teddy grahams as a little girl. I smiled. And then I thought, “I should make chocolate graham crackers!”

So I studied the tweaks I had made to previous graham cracker recipes, did a little research about cocoa powder, and developed a recipe that was dark and chocolatey but made with 100% whole wheat flour. Something that would taste fantastic on its own but sublime with a dollop of peanut butter. Something to please my taste buds and my conscience. And here it is.

Chocolate graham crackers

••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••

Chocolate Graham Crackers

  • 1 3/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 3/4 cup dutch processed cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. table salt
  • 1/2 cup (8 Tbs.) unsalted butter, cold
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, stir together pastry flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt until well combined. Roughly chop the butter into 1/2-inch pieces. Add the butter to the flour mixture and stir on low until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. (If you don’t have a stand mixer, you can use a large bowl and a pastry blender.)

In small bowl or glass measuring cup, stir together honey, milk, and vanilla extract. Add to the flour mixture and stir just until the dough comes together. Cover bowl and place in refrigerator for at least an hour.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350° F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

Remove dough from fridge and roll out half onto a lightly floured surface, about 1/8-inch thick. With a knife or pastry wheel, slice into 2-inch by 2-inch squares. Place on parchment-lined baking sheets and lightly poke with a skewer or other kitchen tool to make a dotted pattern. (Believe it or not, I use the poky side of a meat tenderizer.) Bake for 8-10 minutes. Let cool on baking sheets for a couple minutes, then let cool completely on a wire rack. Repeat with other half of dough.

Makes approximately 4 dozen crackers.

Source: A Lingonberry Jam original, inspired by these cookies and my previous adaptation of a Smitten Kitchen recipe.

Falafel

Alright, the cat’s out of the bag in my most recent composite recipe series. Along with Israeli salad and pita bread, I made falafel! Props go to my sister Brynna for guessing correctly via text message. :)

When I saw this recipe in the Jerusalem cookbook, it immediately caught my eye. Who doesn’t love falafel? As I read over the recipe instructions, I was even more excited to see that the authors specifically called for the mixture to be ground using a meat grinder. Being the proud (recent) owner of one of these contraptions, I jumped at the opportunity to use it again, this time for something other than hamburger.

Making homemade falafel also fulfilled a couple of my ongoing 2014 food resolutions: make things from scratch, scratchier; and expand my cultural culinary horizons. It also sort of helped me keep working toward my goal of only purchasing humanely raised meat by adding another great vegetarian recipe to the repertoire. I call that a win-win-win.

Note: This is the final part of my recent composite recipe series. If you want to be crazy like me and go all-out, serve this falafel with homemade pita bread, Israeli salad, and tzatziki. The various components of this recipe can be made a day or two ahead. Or you can pull a Krista and make them all in one evening… and eat dinner at 8:00 at night. Up to you!

Falafel

Falafel

  • 1 1/4 cups dried chickpeas
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbs. chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 3 Tbs. water
  • 1 1/2 Tbs. flour
  • sesame seeds for sprinkling
  • sunflower or canola oil for frying

The night before you plan to eat the falafel, place dried chickpeas in a medium bowl and cover with 2 1/2 cups water. Cover bowl and set aside to let soak overnight.

The next day, drain the chickpeas and place back in the medium bowl. Gently toss with onion, garlic, and parsley. Run the mixture through a meat grinder using the finest grinding plate possible. After the first grind, run the mixture through a second time. (Alternatively, you can use a food processor and pulse the mixture until it’s finely chopped.)

Combine ground chickpea mixture with cayenne, cumin, coriander, cardamom, baking powder, kosher salt, water, and flour. Mix well, then cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least one hour. (You can refrigerate it for longer if you don’t plan on eating falafel for breakfast.)

Remove falafel mixture from refrigerator and form into small patties or balls, about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. You might need to wet your hands for this step if the mixture is sticky. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.

While shaping the patties, heat oil in a medium saucepan or dutch oven with high sides. The oil should be at least an inch deep, preferably two. Heat the oil to 350° F.

Fry the falafel in the hot oil in batches, until dark golden brown and cooked through. Drain on a plate with paper towels. Serve immediately, preferably in fresh pita with tzatziki and Israeli salad.

Source: Slightly adapted from Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi.

Homemade Pita Bread

So I realized a little while ago that I had alluded to making pita before on this blog, but I hadn’t actually posted the recipe. Ay dios mio! I’m sure you were all on the edge of your seats just waiting for a pita bread recipe. So here you go!

Pita is actually an incredibly easy thing to make, and homemade pita is leaps and bounds better than the dried out store-bought stuff. I used to dutifully take whole wheat pita pocket sandwiches stuffed with tuna salad for lunch, but now I actually look forward to eating it. Because it’s supposed to be delicious!

Note: This recipe is part two of my latest composite recipe series. See part one, Israeli salad, here. There’s one more post coming. Can you guess what the final recipe will be?

Homemade pita bread

Homemade Pita Bread

  • 2 cups bread flour
  • 1 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 2 tsp. instant yeast
  • 1 Tbs. honey or sugar
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups warm water

In bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, stir together flours, salt, yeast, and honey. Stir in olive oil and a cup of warm water until a ball of dough forms. Add more water if necessary. Knead on low speed for 6 minutes. (Alternatively, you can stir all the ingredients together with a wooden spoon and then knead by hand for 10 minutes.)

Place dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover, and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about an hour. (I usually heat my oven to its lowest temperature and then turn it off and use it as a warm place to let my dough rise.)

Punch down dough and divide into eight equal pieces. Form each piece into a ball. Cover with a damp towel and let rest for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400° F with a pizza stone set on the bottom rack.

Roll out each piece of dough on a lightly floured surface into a round shape about 1/4-inch thick. Working with two to three pieces at a time, place rolled-out dough onto the heated pizza stone and bake for 4-6 minutes, or until puffed and golden. Remove from pizza stone and place on a plate. Repeat with remaining dough. Serve immediately.

Source: The Fresh Loaf.

Israeli Salad

Alright friends, it’s time for my latest composite recipe post. Today I’m writing about Israeli salad, that lovely mix of tomatoes and cucumbers that accompanies many dishes in Jerusalem. (And believe it or not, this salad also starred alongside some dishes in the cafeteria of my Norwegian-Lutheran alma mater. That’s a big hint there, Oles.)

As this long winter has drawn to a close, I’ve found myself craving the colorful produce of summer. Remember those days? When I was actually growing fresh dill, mint, and jalapeños on my tiny city balcony? Kirby misses the catnip, for sure, and I miss everything else. Alas, winter tomatoes are not the same as summer tomatoes, so I swapped out some nice looking cherry tomatoes from the grocery store in this dish. Extra points to whomever can guess what I served with this Israeli salad on a recent sunny-and-getting-sunnier March evening!

Israeli salad

 Israeli Salad

  • 1 cucumber, chopped
  • 10 oz. cherry tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 small red onion, finely diced
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 5 Tbs. olive oil
  • 2 Tbs. freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 Tbs. red wine vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic, pressed
  • 1/2 tsp. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. dijon mustard
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

In large bowl, stir together cucumber, tomatoes, red bell pepper, red onion, and parsley.

In small bowl or measuring cup, whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar, garlic, sugar, mustard, and salt and pepper, to taste. Pour dressing over vegetables and toss to coat well. Serve immediately.

Source: Adapted from Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi.

Peanut Butter Granola

Despite the plethora of ice cream recipes on this blog, I’m more of a salty person than a sweet person. Not personality-wise, but taste-wise. (Ahem.) So when I saw a recipe for peanut butter granola in The New Midwestern TableI pasted a sticky note on the page immediately. This girl likes her breakfasts savory.

This granola certainly delivers a salty/savory breakfast punch. You can stir in dried fruit right after it comes out of the oven for a bit of sweetness, or leave it as-is. You could even douse it in chocolate syrup. (I’m kidding. This is breakfast.) But if you love peanut butter and/or reliving your hippie days, try this granola stat!

P.S. Styling this picture made me feel like I worked for General Mills. Don’t you pour your milk in a tiny pitcher every morning? Part of a balanced breakfast! :)

Peanut butter granola

Peanut Butter Granola

  • 8 Tbs. (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 Tbs. water
  • pinch salt
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 4 cups uncooked rolled oats
  • 1 cup wheat germ
  • 1 1/2 cup unsweetened dried coconut
  • 1 cup dry-roasted peanuts

Preheat oven to 325° F. Line a jelly roll pan with parchment paper or foil and set aside.

Melt butter in large saucepan over medium heat. Continue cooking until the foam turns amber in color. Remove from heat and stir in peanut butter, honey, water, salt, and cinnamon until smooth. Stir in oats, wheat germ, coconut, and peanuts.

Spread granola onto prepared baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, remove from oven, and stir. Return to oven and bake an additional 5-10 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool on baking sheet. Store in an airtight container for up to two weeks.

Source: Adapted from The New Midwestern Table by Amy Thielen.