Recipe Failure

So the other day I tried a recipe that sounded wonderful.  I had a pork loin thawed out and looked for a recipe in my favorite America’s Test Kitchen online site.  The recipe sounded totally yummy and I had almost all the ingredients.  As always I followed the directions to the tee.  I had enough filling for at least three good sized pork loins, so froze the two left over rolls.  But I would cut everything in the stuffing by fourths, as there was way too much.  I would also experiment with temperature and cooking times.  My pork loin was so overdone, it tasted like it had been smoked.  So here is a photo of my sad looking pork loin and below is what it should have looked like.

The glaze from the Apricot Preserved puddled on the foil (luckily I wrapped the pan with a double layer of tin foil) and filled the house with the lovely smell of burnt apricots.  My husband was working upstairs in the house and the smell drifted upstairs and he was afraid I caught the house on fire.

The pork was totally dry and very overcooked.  The stuffing was dry and overcooked.

This is the first recipe I have tried from America’s Test Kitchen that was a total failure. Usually I love their recipes.  It seemed when I originally read the recipe that it was way too long and way too hot to cook pork loin.  Hum, seems to be the right reaction. I will try it again, but at a lower temperature to cook it and a lot less of the Apricot Preserves, so no major burning.  I guess we do learn from our mistakes.

IMG_6576

Roast Pork Loin with Apricot, Fig, and Pistachio Stuffing

WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS

To ensure that our stuffed pork loin recipe would give us moist meat and a flavorful stuffing in one cohesive package, we first brined our boneless pork roast for flavor and texture and then butterflied and pounded it to an even thickness, increasing the meat’s surface area to maximize the amount of stuffing we could use. For the stuffing in our pork loin recipe, we used fresh bread as a base and flavored it with dried fruit, nuts, and herbs, adding eggs as a binder. Prebaking the stuffing before stuffing the roast got it to a temperature high enough that we didn’t have to roast the stuffed pork until it was dry and overcooked.

INGREDIENTS

Print Shopping List

Roast

1 boneless pork loin roast (4 1/2 pounds), from the blade end

Brine

¾ cup granulated sugar
¾ cup kosher salt (or 6 tablespoons table salt)
3 bay leaves, crumbled
1 tablespoon allspice berries, lightly crushed
1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns, lightly crushed
10 medium cloves garlic, lightly crushed and peeled

Stuffing

5 cups roughly torn 1-inch pieces baguette (not sourdough) (7 to 8 ounces),from 1 baguette
½ cup dried apricots (about 4 ounces)
1 medium clove garlic, peeled
pinch ground cumin
pinch ground coriander
pinch ground cinnamon
pinch cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons grated onion from 1 small onion
½ cup dried figs, halved lengthwise (about 3 ounces)
½ cup shelled pistachios (about 3 ounces), toasted in medium skillet over medium heat until color deepens slightly, 3 to 5 minutes, then cooled and chopped coarse
2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves
1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt (or 1 teaspoon table salt)
Ground black pepper
2 large eggs
½ cup heavy cream

Glaze

½ cup apricot preserves

INSTRUCTIONS

SERVES 8 TO 10

Timing is important. The goal is to coordinate brining and stuffing so that the pork is out of the brine and ready to be stuffed when the pre-cooked stuffing comes out of the oven. To achieve this, begin preparing the stuffing ingredients immediately after setting the pork in the brine. Bamboo skewers, available in supermarkets (or see below), are our favorite way to fasten the roast around the stuffing. Alternatively, use poultry lacers (though they are generally sold only six to a package). The apricot preserves for the glaze can be melted in the microwave instead of on the stovetop. To do so, heat the preserves in a small, microwave-safe bowl, covered loosely with plastic wrap, at full power until melted, about 40 seconds.

1. Following illustrations 1 through 4, (see “Step by Step: Ready The Roast,” below) trim, butterfly, and pound pork loin to even 1-inch thickness with mallet or bottom of heavy skillet.

2. For the Brine: In a large, wide bowl, dissolve sugar and salt in 3 cups hot water. Add bay, allspice, peppercorns, garlic, and 5 cups cold water; stir to combine. Add butterflied and pounded pork; cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate until fully seasoned, about 1 1/2 hours. Remove pork from brine, pick spices off meat, and dry pork thoroughly with paper towels.

3. For the Stuffing and Glaze: Once the pork is in the brine, adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Process half the bread pieces in workbowl of food processor fitted with steel blade until broken into crumbs with few pieces no larger than about 1/4 inch, about 45 seconds; transfer to large mixing bowl and set aside. Repeat process with remaining bread pieces (you should have about 4 cups crumbs total).

4. In now-empty workbowl, process apricots, garlic, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, and cayenne until finely ground, about 30 seconds; add mixture to reserved bread crumbs. Add onion, figs, pistachios, thyme, parsley, salt, and pepper to taste to bread crumb and apricot mixture; toss until well distributed, breaking up any apricot clumps as necessary. Beat eggs and cream in small bowl; pour over bread and apricot mixture and toss with hands until evenly moistened and a portion of mixture holds together when pressed.

5. On parchment paper–lined cookie sheet or inverted rimmed baking sheet, form stuffing into log shape equal in length to butterflied pork. Cover stuffing with foil and bake until firm and cooked through and butterflied pork has been removed from brine and prepared for stuffing, about 45 minutes. Remove stuffing from oven; increase oven temperature to 450 degrees.

6. While stuffing bakes, heat apricot preserves in small saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until melted but not liquefied, 5 to 7 minutes. Strain through small strainer into small bowl (you should have about 1/3 cup) and set aside; discard solids in strainer.

7. To Stuff, Roast, and Glaze the Roast: Line shallow roasting pan or rimmed baking sheet with foil, position flat wire roasting rack over foil, and set aside. Following illustrations 5 through 8 (see “Step by Step: Ready The Roast,” below), stuff, roll, fasten, and tie pork loin. Place stuffed roast on rack, brush one-half apricot glaze evenly over exposed surface of meat and roast 20 minutes. Remove roast from oven and, with tongs, rotate roast so that bottom side faces up. Brush exposed surface with remaining apricot glaze; return roast to oven and roast 25 minutes longer (glaze should be medium golden brown and internal temperature of both meat and stuffing should register 145 to 150 degrees on instant-read thermometer). Transfer roast to carving board, tent with foil, and let rest 5 minutes. Cut off twine, slice, and serve.

STEP-BY-STEP

Ready the Roast

1. Using a boning knife, trim the tough silver skin from the pork loin.

2. Lay the loin on the cutting board and begin to slice laterally through the center, starting at the thinner edge.

3. As you slice, open the meat as you would a book. Stop slicing 1 inch shy of the edge to create a hinge.

4. Cover the surface with plastic wrap and pound the meat to a 1-inch thickness.

5. Cut eight 24-inch pieces of kitchen twine. Break nine 10- or 12-inch bamboo skewers in half.

6. Roll the hot stuffing onto the center of the butterflied pork, over the hinge.

7. Bring both sides of the meat together over the stuffing and fasten at the center with one skewer. Fasten the roast with the remaining skewers placed at regular intervals.

8. Shimmy lengths of twine one by one down the roast and tie them between the skewers, as shown. Trim the twine and remove the skewers before roasting.

Recipe Failure

Arroz con Pollo

Arroz con Pollo

Made this the other night after watching an episode of America’s Test Kitchen.  It is so good.  My husband, who is not a foodie, said to please add this to my repertoire of dinners.

Arroz con Pollo (Rice with Chicken)

Though chicken and rice is a classic combination, creating a single Latin American version was far from simple.

WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS

A staple in Latin American kitchens, arroz con pollo combines inexpensive ingredients—chicken, rice, and spices—in a filling one-pot meal. To make our version, we chose moist chicken thighs, which we browned in a Dutch oven to build flavor and render fat. We used the food processor to transform onion, cilantro, cubanelle pepper, garlic, and cumin into a flavorful sofritothat serves as the backbone for the dish. We found that we preferred medium-grain rice to long- and short-grain varieties because it gave the dish a creamy, cohesive texture. Sazón seasoning does double duty here, adding both savory flavor and vibrant color.

Read More

INGREDIENTS

Serves 6
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves and stems, chopped
1 onion, chopped (1 cup)
1 Cubanelle pepper, stemmed, seeded, and chopped (3/4 cup)
5 garlic cloves, chopped coarse
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ cup mayonnaise
3 ½ tablespoons lemon juice (2 lemons), plus lemon wedges for serving
Salt and pepper
6 (5- to 7-ounce) bone in chicken thigh, trimmed
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 cups medium-grain rice, rinsed
1 tablespoon Goya Sazón with Coriander and Annatto
2 ½ cups chicken broth
¼ cup pimento-stuffed green olives, halved
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed
2 bay leaves
½ cup frozen peas, thawed (optional)

Sazón is a spice blend common in Latin American cooking. We developed this recipe with Goya Sazón with Coriander and Annatto (or con Culantro y Achiote). It can be found in the international aisle of most supermarkets; however, other brands will work. (One tablespoon of Goya Sazón equals about two packets.) If you can’t find sazón, use our homemade version. You can substitute 3/4 cup of chopped green bell pepper for the Cubanelle pepper. Allow the rice to rest for the full 15 minutes before lifting the lid to check it. Long-grain rice may be substituted for medium-grain, but the rice will be slightly less creamy.

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Process cilantro, 1/2 cup onion, Cubanelle, garlic, and cumin in food processor until finely chopped, about 20 seconds, scraping down bowl as needed. Transfer sofrito to bowl.

2. Process mayonnaise, 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and 2 tablespoons sofrito in now-empty processor until almost smooth, about 30 seconds. Transfer mayonnaise-herb sauce to small bowl, cover, and refrigerate until ready to serve.

3. Pat chicken dry with paper towels and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add chicken to pot skin side down and cook without moving it until skin is crispy and golden, 7 to 9 minutes. Flip chicken and continue to cook until golden on second side, 7 to 9 minutes longer. Transfer chicken to plate; discard skin.

4. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons fat from pot and heat over medium heat until shimmering. Add remaining 1/2 cup onion and cook until softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in rice and Sazón and cook until edges of rice begin to turn translucent, about 2 minutes.

5. Stir in broth, olives, capers, bay leaves, remaining sofrito, remaining 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper, scraping up any browned bits. Nestle chicken into pot along with any accumulated juices and bring to vigorous simmer. Cover, transfer to oven, and bake for 20 minutes.

6. Transfer pot to wire rack and let stand, covered, for 15 minutes. Fluff rice with fork and stir in peas, if using. Discard bay leaves. Serve with mayonnaise-herb sauce and lemon wedges.

INGREDIENT SPOTLIGHTMEDIUM-GRAIN RICE

After experimenting with long-, medium-, and short-grain rices in our Arroz con Pollo, we decided to call for the medium type, which produced a distinct texture that we preferred. Medium-grain rices (such as Bomba) produced a creamy, cohesive result because their exterior starches thickened the dish while the grains remained firm and distinct. Long-grain varieties like basmati or jasmine will do, but the dish will be less creamy. Finally, short-grain varieties, like Arborio or sushi rice, produced a creamy texture because short-grain rice starts to release its starch (and more of it) at a lower temperature than long-grain rice does.

  • Medium-Grain: Best for arroz con pollo
  • Long-Grain: Too separate
  • Short-Grain: Too sticky

INGREDIENT SPOTLIGHTSAZÓN

Sazón (the term means “seasoning” in Spanish) is the signature spice blend of Latino home cooks; it’s used in everything from beans and rice to soups, stews, and more. There are many blends (we call for Culantro y Achiote in our Arroz con Pollo recipe), and ingredients vary, but sazón traditionally contains ground annatto (or achiote) seeds, which give dishes a rich yellow color. Garlic powder, cumin, and coriander are also often included. Sazón also typically contains monosodium glutamate (MSG), which is what supplies the savoriness. Look for sazón in the Latin American or international section of the supermarket.

SIGNATURE SEASONING

There are many Sazón varieties. Make sure you pick the right one.

THE AMERICAN TABLE 

PUERTO RICAN FLAVOR

Now in its 38th printing, Carmen Aboy Valldejuli’s Puerto Rican Cookery (1975) stands as one of the most enduring 20th-century cookbooks focused on that island’s complex cuisine.

Why so complex? As Aboy Valldejuli (cousin to Hollywood star José Ferrer) explains it, “One can seldom be exactly sure of how any really ancient dish began, of course. But it is safe to say that our cocina criolla [creole cuisine] was initiated by the first human inhabitants of the islands, the Arawaks and the Taínos. For almost five hundred years the basic ingredients the Indians used have been enriched by the culinary skills of newcomers—Spanish, British, French, Danish and Dutch settlers, and slaves brought forcibly from Africa. The delicate blends and innovations of five centuries have developed a genuine cuisine.” Also traceable back to Taíno culture? Good old American-style barbecue, based on techniques the original islanders called barbacoa.

Carmen Aboy Valldejuli worked with her husband Luis on many of the recipes in Puerto Rican Cookery, including a chapter on rum cocktails.

Arroz con Pollo

Summer Peach Cake

IMG_6042

So easy and SO yummy.  I was looking through one of my America’s Test Kitchen books and saw this.  The peaches in the store looked so inviting, I added Peach Schnapps to my pantry and with the help of Claire, my granddaughter peeled the peaches.  it was so worth the work.

WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS

To achieve the right texture for our Peach Cake, we sprinkled the peach slices with sugar and baked them in a very hot oven until they lost most of their moisture. Tossing the cooled peaches with crushed panko bread crumbs sopped up the gooey, viscous film that the peaches had acquired in the oven. (The panko gets incorporated into the cake as the peach cake cooks.) Adding some peach schnapps to the batter boosted the peach flavor and gave us a peach cake recipe that could be made even with not-so-perfect peaches.

5 tablespoons peach schnapps
4 teaspoons lemon juice
6 tablespoons plus 1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 cup (5 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
¾ teaspoon salt
½ cup packed (3 1/2 ounces) light brown sugar
2 large eggs
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
¼ cup sour cream
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon plus 1/8 teaspoon almond extract
cup panko bread crumbs, finely crushed

INSTRUCTIONS

SERVES 8 TO 10

To crush the panko bread crumbs, place them in a zipper-lock bag and smash them with a rolling pin. If you can’t find panko, 1/4 cup of plain, unseasoned bread crumbs can be substituted. Orange liqueur can be substituted for the peach schnapps. If using peak-of-season, farm-fresh peaches, omit the peach schnapps.

 

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees. Line rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with vegetable oil spray. Gently toss 24 peach wedges with 2 tablespoons schnapps, 2 teaspoons lemon juice, and 1 tablespoon granulated sugar in bowl; set aside.

2. Cut remaining peach wedges crosswise into thirds. Gently toss chunks with remaining 3 tablespoons schnapps, remaining 2 teaspoons lemon juice, and 2 tablespoons granulated sugar in bowl. Spread peach chunks in single layer on prepared sheet and bake until exuded juices begin to thicken and caramelize at edges of sheet, 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer sheet to wire rack and let peaches cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees.

3. Spray 9-inch springform pan with vegetable oil spray. Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt together in bowl. Whisk brown sugar, 1/3 cup granulated sugar, and eggs together in second bowl until thick and homogeneous, about 45 seconds. Slowly whisk in butter until combined. Add sour cream, vanilla, and 1/4 teaspoon almond extract; whisk until combined. Add flour mixture and whisk until just combined.

4. Transfer half of batter to prepared pan; using offset spatula, spread batter evenly to pan edges and smooth surface. Sprinkle crushed bread crumbs evenly over cooled peach chunks and gently toss to coat. Arrange peach chunks on batter in even layer, gently pressing peaches into batter. Gently spread remaining batter over peach chunks and smooth top. Arrange reserved peach wedges, slightly overlapped, in ring over surface of cake, placing smaller wedges in center. Stir together remaining 3 tablespoons granulated sugar and remaining 1/8 teaspoon almond extract in small bowl until sugar is moistened. Sprinkle sugar mixture evenly over top of cake.

5. Bake until center of cake is set and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 50 to 60 minutes. Transfer pan to wire rack; cool 5 minutes. Run paring knife around sides of cake to loosen. Remove cake from pan and let cool completely, 2 to 3 hours. Cut into wedges and serve.

STEP-BY-STEP

Peach Cake Run Amuck

Things aren’t always that peachy with most peach cakes.

PROBLEM: Fruit that isn’t fruity
HOW TO SOLVE IT: Macerate peaches Unless you’re working with the best farm-stand fruit, peaches are notoriously bland. To boost fruity taste, we macerate the peach wedges we’ve reserved for shingling on top of the cake in peach schnapps and a little sugar and lemon juice.

PROBLEM: Soggy fruit sinks to bottom
HOW TO SOLVE IT: Roast peaches Roasting the peach chunks destined for the batter concentrates their flavor and drives off moisture, so there’s not as much to weigh them down or to flood the cake.
PROBLEM: Wet, gummy crumb
HOW TO SOLVE IT: Toss peaches with panko Tossing the roasted peach chunks with bread crumbs helps absorb any remaining sticky juices, ensuring a cake that’s moist, not soggy.

RECIPE TESTING

Keep Your Peaches Out of the Cold

Keeping peaches in the fridge might seem like a good way to prolong their shelf life, but unless the fruit is ripe, the cold temperatures can turn their flesh mealy. Storing the fruit at or below 40 degrees deactivates an enzyme that breaks down its pectin during ripening. If this happens before the flesh is ripe, the pectin will remain intact and the flesh texture will be mealy. The lesson: Store peaches on the counter.

Summer Peach Cake

Breakfast of Champions?

IMG_5987

My granddaughter Claire did not get Ice Cream for dinner, so we promised it for breakfast the next morning.  She got it!  Of course it came with home made pancakes, fresh strawberries and whipped cream.  I didn’t have any, but my son and husband certainly enjoyed the treat.  My son passed on the added Ice Cream, but not my husband. I used America’s Test Kitchen pancake recipe and I will have to say I tasted it and it was pretty wonderful.  So easy to throw this together for a fun and yummy breakfast!

Best Buttermilk Pancakes

Published July 2009

WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS

To create a buttermilk pancake recipe with a tangy flavor and fluffy texture, we added sour cream for flavor and cut back on leaveners to keep the pancakes from rising too high and then collapsing. The result was a pancake recipe for light, fluffy pancakes with the trademark buttermilk tang.

INGREDIENTS

Print Shopping List

2 cups (10 ounces) all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
2 cups buttermilk
¼ cup sour cream
2 large eggs
3 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 – 2 teaspoons vegetable oil

INSTRUCTIONS

MAKES SIXTEEN 4-INCH PANCAKES; SERVES 4 TO 6

The pancakes can be cooked on an electric griddle. Set the griddle temperature to 350 degrees and cook as directed. The test kitchen prefers a lower-protein all-purpose flour like Gold Medal or Pillsbury. If you use an all-purpose flour with a higher protein content, like King Arthur, you will need to add an extra tablespoon or two of buttermilk.

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 200 degrees. Spray wire rack set inside rimmed baking sheet with vegetable oil spray; place in oven.

2. Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in medium bowl. In second medium bowl, whisk buttermilk, sour cream, eggs, and melted butter together. Make well in center of dry ingredients and pour in wet ingredients; gently stir until just combined (batter should remain lumpy with few streaks of flour). Do not overmix. Let batter sit 10 minutes before cooking.

3. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Using paper towels, carefully wipe out oil, leaving thin film on bottom and sides of pan.

4. Using 1/4-cup dry measuring cup, portion batter into pan in 4 places. Cook until edges are set, first side is golden brown, and bubbles on surface are just beginning to break, 2 to 3 minutes. Using thin, wide spatula, flip pancakes and continue to cook until second side is golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes longer. Serve pancakes immediately, or transfer to wire rack in preheated oven. Repeat with remaining batter, using remaining oil as necessary.

Breakfast of Champions?

Limoncello is yummy

IMG_5281

Limoncello is so yummy.  I had Limoncello in Italy for the first time and fell in love with the simple sweet flavor.  I do love all things lemon (right after chocolate) Making my own limoncello was first for me, and I think I like it. I am sure I will do it again, and would love to find other fruits that could infuse Vodka.  I basically followed America’s Test Kitchen recipe, but added a little lemon peel in every bottle.  Luckily there was just enough left that I got a little shot.  I think I could drink this.

I have a little thumb peeler, that made it simple to peel the lemons without getting any of the pith.  It still took a while to peel that many lemons.  Put on a good cooking show to pass the time.

How to Make Limoncello

America’s Test Kitchen This tart, sweet, ultra-lemony liqueur tastes like Italy in a bottle.

STEP #1

 

Limoncello is yummy

Simply Irresistible

IMG_5171

Okay, this took over seven hours to make, but well worth the exquisite flavor.  I made two loaves and gave one to my neighbor to share with her family for Mother’s Day.  Our loaf disappeared very quickly between three sons and a husband.  I weigh all my ingredients, as flours weigh all weigh differently and weight is more accurate than just measuring.  I did watch their video as I worked through the process and it was a big help.

Cinnamon Swirl Bread

Cinnamon Swirl Bread

INGREDIENTS

Dough

  • tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 ¾ cups (20 2/3 ounces) bread flour, plus extra for work surface
  • ¾ cup (2 3/4 ounces) nonfat dry milk, powder
  • ⅓ cup (2 1/3 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 1tablespoon instant or rapid-rise yeast
  • 1 ½ cups warm water, (110 degrees)
  • large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • 1 ½ cups (7 1/2 ounces) golden raisins

Filling

Egg Wash

  • large egg, lightly beaten with pinch of salt

Instructions

MAKES 2 LOAVES

NOTE FROM THE TEST KITCHEN To achieve the proper dough consistency, make sure to weigh your ingredients. The dough will appear very wet and sticky until the final few minutes of kneading; do not be tempted to add supplemental flour.
  1. 1. FOR THE DOUGH: Cut butter into 32 pieces and toss with 1 tablespoon flour; set aside to soften while mixing dough. Whisk remaining flour, milk powder, sugar, and yeast together in bowl of stand mixer. Using stand mixer fitted with dough hook, add water and egg and mix on medium-low speed until cohesive mass forms, about 2 minutes, scraping down bowl if necessary. Cover mixing bowl with plastic wrap and let stand for 20 minutes.
  2. 2. Adjust oven rack to middle position and place loaf or cake pan on bottom of oven. Remove plastic from mixer bowl, add salt, and mix on medium-low speed until dough is smooth and elastic and clears sides of bowl, 7 to 15 minutes. With mixer running, add butter, few pieces at a time, and continue to knead until butter is fully incorporated and dough is smooth and elastic and clears sides of bowl, 3 to 5 minutes longer. Add raisins and mix until incorporated, 30 to 60 seconds. Transfer dough to large greased bowl and, using bowl scraper or rubber spatula, fold dough over itself by gently lifting and folding edge of dough toward middle. Turn bowl 90 degrees; fold again. Turn bowl and fold dough 6 more times (total of 8 folds). Cover tightly with plastic and transfer to middle rack of oven. Pour 3 cups boiling water into loaf pan in oven, close oven door, and allow dough to rise for 45 minutes.
  3. 3. Remove bowl from oven and gently press down on center of dough to deflate. Repeat folding step (making total of 8 folds), re-cover, and return to oven until doubled in volume, about 45 minutes.
  4. 4. FOR THE FILLING: Whisk filling ingredients together until well combined; set aside.
  5. 5. Grease two 8½ by 4½-inch loaf pans. Transfer dough to lightly floured counter and divide into 2 pieces. Working with 1 piece of dough, pat into rough 6 by 11-inch rectangle. With short side facing you, fold long sides in like business letter to form 3 by 11-inch rectangle. Roll dough away from you into ball. Dust ball with flour and flatten with rolling pin into 7 by 18-inch rectangle with even ¼-inch thickness. Using spray bottle, spray dough lightly with water. Sprinkle half of filling mixture evenly over dough, leaving 1/4-inch border on sides and 3/4-inch border on top and bottom; spray filling lightly with water. (Filling should be speckled with water over entire surface.) With short side facing you, roll dough away from you into firm cylinder. Turn loaf seam side up and pinch closed; pinch ends closed. Dust loaf lightly on all sides with flour and let rest for 10 minutes. Repeat with second ball of dough and remaining filling.
  6. 6. Working with 1 loaf at a time, use bench scraper to cut loaf in half lengthwise; turn halves so cut sides are facing up. Gently stretch each half into 14-inch length. Line up pieces of dough and pinch 2 ends of strips together. Take piece on left and lay over piece on right. Repeat, keeping cut side up, until pieces of dough are tightly twisted. Pinch ends together. Transfer loaf, cut side up, to prepared loaf pan; push any exposed raisins into seams of braid. Repeat with second loaf. Cover loaves loosely with plastic, return to oven, and allow to rise for 45 minutes. Remove loaves and water pan from oven; heat oven to 350 degrees. Allow loaves to rise at room temperature until almost doubled in size, about 45 minutes longer (top of loaves should rise about 1 inch over lip of pan).
  7. 7. Brush loaves with egg mixture. Bake until crust is well browned, about 25 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees, tent loaves with aluminum foil, and continue to bake until internal temperature registers 200 degrees, 15 to 25 minutes longer.
  8. 8. Transfer pans to wire rack and let cool for 5 minutes. Remove loaves from pans, return to rack, and cool to room temperature before slicing, about 2 hours.
  9. TO MAKE AHEAD: Baked and cooled loaves can be wrapped in double layer of plastic and stored at room temperature for 2 days. To freeze bread for up to 1 month, wrap it with additional layer of foil.

TECHNIQUES

Simply Irresistible

Mandoline or Finger Guillotine

Every chef should have a mandoline for super thin slicing or for making fun waffle shapes.  I have had mine for several years and don’t use too often.  Tonight I wanted to slice some radishes very thin for a Carnitas dish I was making.  I sort of forgot one part, and attempted to slice holding the radish.  The first couple were fine, but with the third my mandoline became my finger guillotine, so I could show you how I feel about it this evening.  That is not a happy face.

IMG_5140

Dang, ruined the sauce on my Mexican Carnitas recipe as the sauce burned so much it set off the alarm and put a wonderful black patina on my Le Creuset  Baking dish.  The dish is over 40 years old and I am sad to say has seen this happen before.  It survives every time.  Had to make a quick run to the bandage drawer and left it on the stove (on high temperature) to destroy the sauce.  The smoke alarm went off and reminded me I had more than an injured finger, I had a fire on my stove. Don’t worry, house is intact.

mandoline

Note the large black holder in he right hand, well guess I forgot it and now have a slightly shorter finger.  This is when you have to laugh at yourself.  Here is the recipe and it was quite yummy even without the sauce.  But I am sure it would have been better,  but the crunch of the radishes was perfect in this recipe.  I added avocado as it is in season.  My husband ate his in flour tortillas, as he does not like corn.

Mexican Carnitas Recipe

America’s Test Kitchen

Ingredients

PORK
1 (3½- to 4-pound) boneless pork butt, fat cap trimmed to ⅛ inch thick, cut into
2-inch chunks
1 small onion, peeled and halved
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried oregano [I prefer to use 1/4 tsp next time]
½ tsp pepper
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp juice from 1 lime
1 medium orange, halved
2 cups water
2 bay leaves

TORTILLAS AND GARNISHES
18 (6-inch) corn tortillas, warmed
Lime wedges
Fresh cilantro leaves [a definite must have]
Thinly sliced radishes
Minced white or red onion
Sour cream

Instructions

  1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 300 degrees. Combine pork, 1 teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon pepper, cumin, onion, bay leaves, oregano, lime juice, and water in large Dutch oven (liquid should just barely cover meat). Juice orange into medium bowl and remove any seeds (you should have about ⅓ cup juice). Add juice and spent orange halves to pot. Bring mixture to simmer over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Cover pot and transfer to oven; cook until meat is soft and falls apart when prodded with fork, about 2 hours, flipping pieces of meat once during cooking.
  2. Remove pot from oven and turn oven to broil. Using slotted spoon, transfer pork to bowl; remove orange halves, onion, and bay leaves from cooking liquid and discard (do not skim fat from liquid). Place pot over high heat (use caution, as handles will be very hot) and simmer liquid, stirring frequently, until thick and syrupy (heatsafe spatula should leave wide trail when dragged through glaze), 8 to 12 minutes. You should have about 1 cup reduced liquid.
  3. Using 2 forks, pull each piece of pork in half. Fold in reduced liquid; season with salt and pepper to taste. Spread pork in even layer on wire rack set inside rimmed baking sheet or on broiler pan (meat should cover almost entire surface of rack or broiler pan). Place baking sheet on lower-middle rack and broil until top of meat is well browned (but not charred) and edges are slightly crisp, 5 to 8 minutes. Using wide metal spatula, flip pieces of meat and continue to broil until top is well browned and edges are slightly crisp, 5 to 8 minutes longer. Serve immediately with garnishes and warm tortillas.

detail_SFS_Slow_Cooker_Carnitas-16

So now with all that said I think it is time for my second glass of wine.  Yeah, I think my finger deserves another glass.

Mandoline or Finger Guillotine