Kitchen Progress, Life Progress

Things are happening so quickly!  The giant week (which is so giant that it actually encompasses 9 days) kicks off Friday when I see Van the Man receive his Freedom of the City.  Two days later, I’ll be taking in They Might Be Giants in my third country — this time, only down the street, no airplanes required!  Thursday brings the Lumineers, and Saturday is the Doctor Who 50th anniversary.  Somewhere in the middle, I have a sewing class to attend, parents to retrieve from Dublin, tons of crocheting to do (speaking of crocheting, if that’s your thing and you want to order for Christmas, you need to get on that.  Really.), and, oh, some houseWORK to tackle.

Tearing out kitchen

Clearly, one of my favourite parts of the process is the WORK.

So much to do — should I say ‘so much to be done’ — but it’ll all end with a brand new shiny kitchen for me to mess up during Thanksgiving.  The first crumb will be a tiny heartbreak, but then I know I’ll dive right in and make it my own.  And my own kitchen is nothing short of a workshop.

Kitchen newly plastered

The current state of the kitchen — yes, new plaster is meant to look like that.

Radio Silence

It’s been a while since I’ve posted, and there’s a reason.  This is my kitchen:

Kitchen

Yes, that’s a bottle of Pepsi and a package of string cheese. No, I’m not ashamed.

Well, if I’m honest, THIS is my kitchen:

Kitchen full

Doesn’t everyone keep mattresses on their countertops?!

You see, CB and I bought a house.  A big house that requires a lot of work.  What it means is that I have not properly cooked in close to a month.  Since I don’t have as much as a stove, I have also tried not to think too much about food in general.  We are working too much, not eating enough, and not sleeping enough.  It’s taking a toll, but it’s our house.  Every wall that is plastered and painted makes me fall more and more in love with it.

What I do have is a date for my kitchen installation!  About a week before Thanksgiving, the final touches will be finished.  I get to demolish the existing kitchen, too, which is just too much fun to me.  As soon as things get moving, I’ll start updating again, I promise.  Until then, send me all the good surviving-the-mess vibes you can manage!

The Weirdest Bread

My mother finds all these things on Facebook and tags me in them. I am always tempted to keep them open in tabs until I realise just how slowly they make my computer run. I’ve only recently started using bookmarks; my thinking has been that I’ll never actually go back and click on them. So far, I’m kind of right.

One post was intriguing enough that I didn’t have to keep it open for long. Here is the original post, though I should warn you that it’s confusing. I’ll fill you in on the details.

So, basically, “oopsie breads” start as meringues and ends as airy breads. I don’t know how it works. I put my scientist-analyst head on my shoulders (In the interest of full disclosure, I don’t have a scientist-analyst head anywhere in my bag of tricks.), and I still didn’t really get it. When I tried it, I think I might have overwhipped the eggs whites, if that’s possible. The recipe suggests that you could make 6 large breads or 8 medium ones. I had 8 really big breads that, as I later learned, were probably a bit too tall.  You might want to smooth them down with the back of a spoon to make them shorter.  I probably could have made 10 of the right size had I known.  They are really light and airy and kind of felt like foam.  I did NOT have high hopes.

I’m happy and surprised to say that they were really nice. CB liked them, though I only let him have one and half. They work really well as hamburger buns. I even sprinkled sesame seeds on a few of them to harken back to childhood barbeques.

Oopsie Bread

Yes, one has a bite taken out of it already.  How else was I to know it was done?!

Yes, one has a bite taken out of it already. How else was I to know it was done?!

Ingredients:
3 eggs
100 grams (3.5 ounces) of cream cheese
a pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 tablespoon psyllium husk powder

Hardware:
Stand mixer
Spatula
Spoon
Small bowl
Baking pan
Oven

Directions:
Separate eggs.  Place the whites in the bowl of the stand mixer with the salt and whip together until you achieve stiff peaks.

While the egg whites mix, place the egg yolks, cream cheese, baking powder, and psyllium husk powder in the small bowl and mix until combined.  When your whites are whipped, slowly spoon the yolk mixture into it and stir together with the spatula.  Try to do it with as few motions as possible to keep in all the air you have created.

Spoon the mixture onto a baking sheet in dollops depending on your desired size.  Like I said, the recipe says that it will make 6 large or 8 small breads, but I had 8 large ones.  It’s possible that my eggs expanded in the mixer more than expected.  I imagine you could top them with any spice or herb you want; I only tried the sesame seeds on a few.

You can see they didn't expand much in the oven.

You can see they didn’t expand much in the oven.

Bake for about 25 minutes or until golden.  I thought they looked like they would be done much faster, as they had a real shape after about 10 minutes, but they needed the entire time.  If they stick to the pan, use a metal spatula to pry away.

It doesn't feel like bread to the touch, but my mouth was fooled!

It doesn’t feel like bread to the touch, but my mouth was fooled!

4th of July

Happy 4th of July to my American friends! It’s a bit odd celebrating here, but I do it anyway. Tonight, we’re going to have a mini-BBQ on my father-in-law’s new grill — and it looks like we have been given a tiny dose of sunshine for the occasion!

Apple confetti cake with caramel buttercream frosting

As American as apple pie — Apple confetti cake with salted caramel buttercream frosting

Salted Caramel Buttercream Frosting

Ingredients
1/2 cup sugar (vanilla sugar if you have it!)
4 tablespoons water
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup double cream
115g unsalted butter, room temperature (1 stick)
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 cups icing sugar

Hardware
Medium saucepan
Stand mixer
Wooden spoon
Various measuring cups and spoons
Stove

Directions
Stir together the sugar and water in the saucepan.  Have the vanilla extract and cream ready beside the stove.  Place on medium-high heat and don’t touch it! (If you stir it, it’ll be harder to see when it turns dark, and it’ll burn if you miss it.)  Keep your eyes on it, and remove from heat as soon as it turns a dark amber colour.  Very slowly (exercise your patience), add in the cream and vanilla extract, stirring constantly with the wooden spoon.  Continue stirring until you have a smooth consistency and even colour.

You now have caramel!  Let it stand for 20-25 minutes until it is cool to the touch.  Avoid eating it by spoon.

Cream the butter in the stand mixer (paddle attachment) on medium-high with the sea salt.  It should take a few minutes and might require stopping to scrap the sides.  When smooth, lower the speed and add the icing sugar a bit at a time.  Once it is completely incorporated, pour in the caramel.  Mix until light and fluffy — at least 2-3 minutes.

This frosting is best if you let it stand at room temperature for a few hours before using.

How are you celebrating?

Did I Ever Tell You about the Time . . .

I once tried to make my own rice flour without a mill.  It was a spectacularly bad decision.  It was Easter weekend, which, in Belfast, means almost everything is closed for at least three or four days.  I really wanted to make quinoa cookies, and I needed rice flour.  I’m not known for my patience, so I wouldn’t wait until the following week.  I did have brown rice and a food processor, so, hey!, how hard could it be?

It turns out, making flour without a mill is hard.  Huh.  Who could have known?!  I stood in front of the processor, scraping the sides, pushing it down, yelling at it, mumbling at it, pleading with it.   THREE HOURS (yes, I’m that stubborn) LATER, I had a cup of flour.  You can’t tell me it wasn’t worth it.  You also can’t ever, ever tell me to do it again.

Rice and Quinoa Cookies

I made piles of these cookies just to prove a point (to myself)

I made piles of these cookies just to prove a point (to myself)

Ingredients:
1/2 cup honey
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup tahini (or peanut butter)
1 cup brown or white rice flour
3/4 cup quinoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla (optional)

Hardware:
Mixing bowl
Spatula
Baking sheet
Various measuring cups and spoons
Oven
Wire cooling rack
Paper towels

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350°F/175°C.

Combine honey, brown sugar, butter, and tahini in bowl and mix until creamy.

Add remaining ingredients and mix well.

Drop teaspoon-size balls of batter onto baking sheet and bake about 14 minutes. They spread out pretty far so space them well.  Let cool for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack with a layer of paper towel to completely cool.  They are great with greek yogurt because they lack the heavy richness of other cookies.