Friday, October 17, 2014

Chocolate-cranberry Cookies with Self-rising Flour

It was picnic time for my kids' Chinese class and I signed up for dessert. I thought I would make some chocolate-cranberry cookies. This time though, I altered the recipe I posted long time ago by using the self-rising flour I had plenty on hand. Here is what I did.

3/4 cup (1&1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup packed light or dark brown sugar
1/4 cup orange juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
2&3/4 cups King Arthur unbleached self-rising flour
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips or chunks
1 cup dried cranberries
3/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)

Yield: 4 dozen

In a large bowl, cream together the butter, sugar, orange juice, vanilla and salt.

Beat in the egg until combined. Add the flour, mixing until smooth. Stir in the chocolate chips or chunks, cranberries and nuts. Drop by the tablespoon onto the foil-lined baking sheets. Bake at 375 Fahrenheit for about 12 minutes, until just beginning to brown around the edges and the tops. Remove from the oven and let cool.

Since I only have one oven to work with, I slid the entire foil lining with the baked cookies onto the cooling rack. Put a new foil lining onto the baking sheet for the second batch of cookies to bake. By the time the second batch was done, the first batch has cooled down enough for me to take off the foil to store. Then I put the emptied-out foil lining back onto the baking sheet for the third batch to bake in the oven after the second batch was moved to the cooling rack. This method worked out quite well for me by alternating the foil between batches.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Mushroom & Onion Turnovers

I've always liked the flakiness of turnovers and it seems to be the right time to make it now. The difficult part is to find time to do it because the pastry dough takes quite a bit of time. One Monday during summer break, it was my day staying home with the girls. Perfect! I got all day to make the turnovers. Since it's for a dinner idea, I wanted to make a savory kind. Mushroom and onion turnover sounds delish.

The pastry dough I made the first time was a no yeast recipe I found online with my own adjustments.

2 cups of unbleached all-purpose flour for dough
1&1/2 stick of unsalted butter, cold, cut into small pieces
2/3 cup of cold water
1 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt

Dissolve salt and sugar in cold water, set aside. Put the flour in a wide bowl, mix the butter cubes well with the flour. The mixture should be lumpy with pea size butter pieces. Add the water in, mix it with fork to form a cohesive dough ball. Cover the dough and chill it at least for 3 hours in the fridge.

After the dough cooled down, get the dough out on a flat surface dusted with flour, knead it a few times, then roll it with rolling pin dusted with flour. Fold dough in thirds like a business letter along the long side, then fold it in half. Roll the dough envelope thin, dust with flour and fold it in three again along the short side, then fold it in half.

Roll the dough again, now it's ready to be made into the puff pastry you want. But if you aren't going to use it right away, you could fold it again and put it in a freezer bag until needed.

The second time I made the dough, I used another recipe that requires less refrigeration time (30 minutes instead of 3 hours), from King Arthur Flour's web site, I used 1/2 cup more flour with 1&1/2 sticks of butter. I also substitute the sour cream with plain yogurt because that's what I had on hand. Because I had more flour, I used 3/4 cup of the yogurt.

Pastry filling:
1&1/2 package of sliced baby bella mushrooms, diced
1/2 of a medium onion, chopped
2 tbsp Olive oil
2&1/2 tbsp soy sauce
3 tbsp rice wine
1/4 tsp dry basil

In a large skillet, heat the oil up, add onion, stir occasionally, until transparent. Add mushrooms, cook and stir occasionally. Add the rest of the ingredients, cover and let it simmer to let all the flavors absorbed into the mushrooms and onions, about 8 to 10 minutes. Be sure not to leave too much liquid in the mixture. Set aside or scoop out of the skillet to let cool. It will make folding and transferring the pastry easier when the filling is cooled down. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

I could never roll out the dough in symmetrical shapes, so I ended up making the puff pastries in different shapes. Once the dough is rolled out thin, cut out whatever shapes you like, put the fillings in one half of the pastry close to the center fold, fold it in half, then seal all 3 sides well. Cut a few slits on top. I made 11 of them in total. Put them in the oven about 20 minutes or until they are golden brown. The following pictures are before and after they were baked.
Before going into the oven
Nicely browned when done.
You can scramble in a couple of eggs or put some garbanzo beans in the mushrooms and onions for extra protein. You can also add shredded cheese in the mushrooms and onions right before you are ready to put it in the pastry. Making more than you can eat for one meal will definitely make the whole production more worthwhile and they keep well as leftovers.

They came out very yummy! The pastry is buttery and the filling is very savory. A big hit at the family dinner!