Sunday, April 28, 2013

Recipe: Challah

Based on a recipe December 2006 recipe from Cook's Illustrated.  Prepared on April 21, 2013. 

Challah is an enriched Jewish bread, similar to brioche, and traditionally braided. There are many different ways to braid the dough, here a large 3-braid serves as the base for a smaller 3-braid.


15 ounces (3 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour plus up to ½ cup
¼ cup sugar
2¼ teaspoons instant yeast (or 1 envelope)
1¼ teaspoons table salt
3 large eggs
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ cup plus 1 tablespoon warm water (approximately 110°)
1 teaspoon poppy seeds or sesame seeds (optional)


  1. Melt the butter.
  2. Separate one of the eggs. 
  3. In a small bowl mix egg white with 1 tablespoon water, cover, and refrigerate.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk together 15 ounces flour, sugar, yeast, and salt.
  5. In a standing mixer, mix together 2 eggs, egg yolk, melted butter, and ½ cup warm water.
  6. Add the flour mixture and knead at low speed until a dough ball forms, about 5 minutes. Add up to ¼ cup additional flour, a little at a time as needed, so the dough doesn't stick.
  7. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, turn to oil the dough on all sides, cover, and let rise until doubled, 1½ to 2 hours.
  8. Gently press the dough to deflate it, cover, and let rise until doubled again, 40 to 60 minutes.
  9. Follow these on-line instructions to braid the dough and form a loaf. 
  10. Cover the loaf with plastic wrap and let it rise until it becomes puffy, 30 to 45 minutes.
  11. With a rack in the lower middle position, heat oven to 375°.
  12. Brush the loaf with the egg wash and, if using, sprinkle the loaf with sesame or poppy seeds.
  13. Bake until golden brown and the internal temperature is 190°.
  14. Cool on wire rack before serving. 
Make an egg wash with one egg white and some water.

Mix flour, sugar, yeast, and salt.

In standing mixer, mix melted butter, two eggs plus a yolk, and warm water.
Add flour mixture and knead until a ball forms.
Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl and rise until doubled in volume.

Gently deflate the risen dough and let rise until doubled again.
Divide the dough into two pieces, one twice as large as the other.
For a three-braid loaf from each piece of dough.

Apply the egg wash to the larger loaf, place the smaller loaf on top, apply the egg wash and sprinkle with seeds.
Bake at 375° until golden brown with an internal temperature of 190°.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Recipe: Crispy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Based on a recipe for "Crispy Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookies" from Patty's Food.  Prepared on April 20, 2013. Makes 21 cookies.


6 ounces (1⅓ cups) all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
10 tablespoons (1¼ sticks) unsalted butter
½ cup rolled oats
½ cup sugar
¼ cup packed dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon light corn syrup
2 tablespoons milk
½ teaspoon coarse salt
7 ounces large bittersweet chocolate chips or chunks


  1. Melt the butter and set it aside to cool.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk the flour and baking soda.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the melted butter, oats, sugars, corn syrup, milk, and salt.
  4. Stir in the flour mixture until combined.
  5. Stir in the chocolate chips until evenly distributed.
  6. Cover the bowl and chill it in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes or as long as overnight.
  7. Preheat the oven to 325° with racks in the lower middle and upper middle positions.
  8. Using a #24 disher (2⅔ tablespoons), place 5 or 6 well spaced mounds of dough on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Return any remaining dough to the refrigerator.
  9. With your hand, flatten the dough balls into 3-inch diameter circles.
  10. Bake, switching and rotating the pans half way through, until the cookies are dark golden brown, about 14 minutes.
  11. Cool the cookies on the baking sheets for a few minutes then transfer them to wire racks.
  12. Snack on the left over chocolate chips while the cookies cool.

Whisk together flour and baking soda.

Whisk together melted butter, rolled oats, sugars, corn syrup, milk, and salt.
Stir in the flour mixture.
Stir in the chocolate chips (or chunks).
Place 5 or 6 balls of dough on a lined baking sheet.
Flatten them then bake at 325°.
Bake until dark golden brown, about 14 minutes.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Recipe: Quick Grilled Chicken Breasts with Grilled Cherry Tomatoes

Based on a recipe from The America's Test Kitchen Quick Family Cookbook, p. 279.  Prepared for dinner on April 6, 2013. Serves 8-10.

This is an easy method for grilling chicken breasts. In addition, it is a great way to enhance the flavor of sometimes-bland supermarket cherry tomatoes, turning them into a simple yet delightful side dish.


24 ounces cherry tomatoes
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Fresh basil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 garlic cloves

4 bone-in split chicken breasts, approximately 12 ounces each
Salt and black pepper


  1. Prepare the tomatoes: Toss tomatoes with 2 tablespoons oil.
  2. Thread the tomatoes onto metal skewers through the stem end.
  3. Prepare the vinaigrette: Chop the basil so you have ¼ cup of chopped fresh basil.
  4. Mince the garlic using a garlic press.
  5. Whisk together the oil, basil, vinegar, garlic, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon black pepper.
  6. Prepare the chicken: Cut each split breast in half crosswise and trim excess fat and skin.
  7. Pat dry and season with salt and pepper.
  8. Preheat a gas grill: turn all of the burners on high and close the lid, about 15 minutes.
  9. Clean the grill grates and apply a vegetable spray that is formulated for use on the grill.
  10. Turn off all but the primary burner which should remain on high or adjusted to maintain a temperature of 350°.
  11. Place the chicken on the hot side of the grill and cook until lightly browned, about 3 minutes per side.
  12. Move the chicken to the cool side of the grill with the thicker sides of the chicken closer to the hot side of the grill.
  13. Cover and cook, turning and rotating the meat as needed, until the internal temperature is 160°, 15-30 minutes depending on your grill.
  14. Transfer the cooked chicken to a platter, tent loosely with aluminum boil, and rest for 5 minutes.
  15. Grill the tomatoes: Place the tomatoes on the hot side of the grill.
  16. Cook the tomatoes until lightly charred and blistered, turning as needed, about 5 minutes.
  17. Drizzle chicken and tomatoes with the vinaigrette and serve.
Toss cherry tomatoes in Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) and thread onto metal skewers.
Whisk together EVOO, red wine vinegar, minced garlic, chopped basil, salt, and pepper.

Trim chicken breasts, cut in each in half, pat dry, and season with salt and pepper.
Brown both sides of the chicken over direct heat then cook on indirect heat to an internal temperature of 160°.
While the chicken rests, cook the tomatoes over direct heat, turning as needed, until blistered and lightly charred.
Drizzle the chicken and tomatoes with the vinaigrette and serve.