alison roman’s chocolate chunk shortbread cookies

I know, I know. another variation on chocolate chip cookies.

between me visiting family, some people crashing with me in d.c., and the wrap-up of my summer associateship, the last few weeks have been a bit of a whirlwind. one of the fun parts about visitors is it gives me the excuse to do all the fun touristy things, like the burning man exhibit at the renwick gallery and some commercial therapy in georgetown. but on the flip side, I usually meal prep on the weekend, and with my weekends otherwise occupied, it’s been a lot of ramen and frozen dumplings (and piles of dirty laundry washed at 11pm on a weekday) the last few weeks.

color-changing psychedelic mushrooms at the renwick gallery.

we’re also in the midst of peach season down here, so there’s basically a fire sale on peaches at the local farmers markets. I did have a beautiful peach buttermilk cake planned, but alas, I forgot that my baking powder had aluminum, and it turns out aluminum and the acid in peaches produce blue streaks that made my delicious baked effort look like the cake version of blue cheese. one of these days, I’ll get back to the peach cake. not to brag, but I packed some out for an outing to a virginia winery this past weekend, and it was a huge hit once I promised my friends it was not, in fact, laced with mold.

in the meanwhile, I just love a good cookie recipe, and this recipe by alison roman combines my two favorite things to bake: shortbread and chocolate chip cookies. this is a recipe that benefits from really good dark chocolate, so I whipped out my fancy artisan 70% cacao chocolate bar, with a flavor so dark and concentrated, it tastes almost fruity. and with that lovely, buttery, crumbly texture that defines a good shortbread, these cookies gave my favorite chocolate chip cookie variation a serious run for its money.


makes 24 cookies

255g (1 cup + 2 tbsp) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 tsp kosher salt + more for sprinkling
100g (1/2 cup) granulated sugar
50g (1/4 cup, packed) light brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
325g (2 1/2 cup) all-purpose flour*
170g (6oz) bittersweet dark chocolate, roughly chopped*
demerara sugar, for rolling

alison roman. salted chocolate chunk shortbread cookies. new york times. 19 january 2018. accessed 8 august 2018.

1 line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
2 using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or an electric hand mixer, beat butter, both sugars, and vanilla on medium-high until super light and fluffy, 3-5 minutes for stand mixer, 6-8 minutes for hand mixer. (you can also beat by hand, using a wooden spoon; it’ll just take a little longer.) using a spatula, scrape down the sides of the bowl, and with mixer on low, slowly add flour, followed by chocolate chunks, and mix until just blended. knead dough with hands to make sure flour is fully incorporated. the dough should be smooth and feel like play-doh, with no pockets of flour.
3 divide dough in half, placing each half on a large piece of plastic wrap. loosely wrap the dough, then roll the dough into a 6-inch-long log, ~2-in in diameter. chill in fridge until totally firm, ~2 hours.
4 heat oven to 350ºF. roll logs in demerara sugar, then using a serrated knife, slowly and carefully slice each log into 1/2-in rounds. if the cookies break or fall apart, just press them back together. place rounds on prepared baking sheets ~1-in apart. sprinkle with flaky salt.
5 bake until the edges are just beginning to brown, 12-15 minutes. let cool slightly, then serve immediately.
 
* shortbread walks a thin line between too buttery (which will cause the cookie to spread) and too crumbly (which will cause the cookie to fall apart) – this recipe works much more reliably if ingredients are measured by weight, not volume.
* irregularly chopped chocolate chunks are a bit of a pain to prep, but really help add moisture to the dough and give the cookie a more varied texture.
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vegetarian moussaka

so it’s been a second. since my post in may about cooking my way through joanne chang’s cookbooks, I have actually made some progress, but unfortunately, none of it has been documented. part of it is because I’ve been baking for office breakfasts and hiking snacks, which means I tend to bake late at night then pack everything up for quick and easy transport in the morning. the other, bigger reason is that I accidentally vacuumed my camera charger, shredding the charger’s electrical cord and splitting my vacuum head in two.

unfortunately, my digital camera is apparently so old that the charger is no longer manufactured. so it’s been a wild ride through the cheap, poorly-made camera charging products sold on amazon. I’ve discovered that these shady sellers often does not allow returns (which is not made clear at time of purchase), so I’m just stuck with a bunch of useless plastic. anyways, I finally found a universal charger that worked, though my battery looks ridiculous, barely hanging on at a perpendicular angle, attached to the charger by only its charging part.

rant about my camera aside, in the past two months, I’ve also fallen completely in love with a british cookbook, honey & co: the cookbook. I generally enjoy the personable, yet methodically competent tone of british cookbooks: some other favorites include nigel slater’s books and claire ptak’s violet bakery cookbook. I’ve had friends over and cooked entire meals using only honey & co’s cookbook, because the recipes are so simple, delicious, and perfect for groups. I’ve emailed recipes from this book to friends and family, I’ve made and consumed much too much pita bread because honey & co’s recipe makes it so easy.

here’s just one of my recent favorites, a homey, hearty moussaka perfect for potluck dinners, or for meal-prepping and stretching out over a busy week. I never tire of its umami tomato taste mixed with the textures of creamy goat cheese and silky soft eggplant.


makes 8•8-in pan

moussaka
3-4 large eggplants, trimmed
olive oil, for brushing and drizzling
sea salt
fresh ground black pepper
100g (4oz) goat cheese
25g (2 tbsp) pecorino cheese, grated (or kashkaval, if you can find it!)
tomato sauce
1 large red onion, peeled and diced
6 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1/2 cinnamon stick
2 thick slices of lemon
4 sprigs fresh oregano, picked (1 tsp dried oregano will do in a pinch)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 lb large plum tomatoes, diced (6-8 tomatoes)
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1/4 cup water

sarit packer and itamar srulovich. honey & co: the cookbook. new york: little brown and co. 2015.

moussaka|1 preheat oven to 425ºF.
2 slice each eggplant into 4-5 thick slices lengthwise. brush a foil-lined baking tray with olive oil and place the slices flat on it. brush the eggplants with more oil and season with salt and pepper.
3 roast in oven for 12 minutes, then rotate the tray to cook eggplant slices evently. roast for another 8-12 minutes, until golden and soft. set aside to cool.
sauce|1 saute the onion, cinnamon stick, lemon slices, and oregano with oil and salt in a frying pan over medium heat until the onion and garlic start to soften, 5-6 minutes. add half the diced tomatoes and sugar, increase the heat to high and cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes become very soft, 8-10 minutes.
2 add the remaining tomatoes and tomato paste, black pepper, and water, and continue cooking over high heat for another 6-8 minutes.
3 remove the cinnamon stick; you can leave the lemon slices if you’d like.
assembly|1 cover the base of an 8×8-in casserole dish or pan with a layer of eggplant, then spoon 1/3 of the tomato sauce on top. smooth it out and crumble half the goat cheese all over.
2 repeat the process with a second layer of eggplant slices, another 1/3 of the tomato sauce, and the rest of the goat cheese. cover with another layer of eggplants and the remaining 1/3 sauce, then sprinkle with the pecorino.*
3 bake in the center of the oven for 20-25 minutes, until the cheese topping is melted and golden. place a sheet pan on the shelf underneath to catch any drippings.
 
*at this point, the moussaka can be chilled overnight; just take the moussaka to defrost for at least 30 minutes, then bake at 425ºF for 30-35 minutes.

blueberry boy bait

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lately, I feel like many of the conversations I’ve had center around relationships (and lack thereof). it’s something I didn’t really think about much back in philly – but in d.c., a melting pot of semi-transient young working professionals, it seems like people wear their lonely hearts on their sleeves.

for example, a friend of mine was invited to a potluck dinner by a boy she was interested in. she agonized about what to bring – and whether flexing her considerable cooking skills and bringing ottolenghi’s cauliflower cake (look it up – it’s stunning) would be “too much”.

I’m not much good at romantic advice, but my general feeling about talents is that you should never be afraid to show them off! chances are you worked hard for those skills, and sharing them with other people tends to make everyone a little happier. she did end up making the cauliflower cake, and I heard from her later that it was very well-received. of course, the boy didn’t make any overt moves, but that’s just 20-something straight males for ya.

having just returned from dinner with some friends where they once again chatted about the single life, I was searching for a recipe to use up the rest of the almost-expired buttermilk in my fridge and came across america’s test kitchen’s “blueberry boy bait” recipe. the name was simply too good to pass up. (read more about the name here.) my first attempt came out a bit too greasy and heavy on the palate, but with a few tweaks, this “boy bait” becomes a buttery delight – dense with a close, chewy crumb, a slightly crackly sugar topping, and lovely bursts of blueberries.

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makes one 9•13-in pan

cake
250g (2 cups) all-purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt
169g (12 tbsp) unsalted butter
145g (3/4 cup, packed) light brown sugar
100g (1/2 cup) granulated sugar
1 tsp lemon zest (from ~1 lemon)
3 large eggs
1 cup (235mL) buttermilk
~85g (~3/4 cup) blueberries, frozen*
topping
~85g (~3/4 cup) blueberries, frozen
50g (1/4 cup) granulated sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

jack bishop et al. cook’s country eats local: 150 regional recipes you should be making no matter where you live. new york: penguin random house. 2015.

cake|1 preheat oven to 350ºF. lightly grease and flour a 9×13-in pan.
2 in a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. in a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugars until light and fluffy (~2 minutes with paddle attachment of stand mixer, ~6 minutes ). add eggs, one at a time, beating until just incorporated. (scrape down the sides if necessary and mix again for a few more seconds.)
3 mix in 1/3 of flour mixture, then 1/2 the milk, and continue alternating, ending with flour, until the mixture is well-mixed. toss the blueberries with flour and fold into the batter. spread the batter into the prepared pan.
topping|1 scatter blueberries over the top of the batter. stir sugar and cinnamon and sugar together in a small bowl, then sprinkle evenly over the batter.
2 bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 45-50 minutes. (check on the cake at the 25-minute mark – it may brown quicker than expected. if it does, cover it with foil.)
3 let cool in the pan for 20 minutes, then turn out and place on a serving platter or cutting board, topping side up. cut into squares and serve warm or at room temperature. (this cake can be stored at room temperature for up to 3 days, and freezes well for up to 1 month.)
 
*I used frozen blueberries in this recipe because I found they held up better to the denser crumb of the cake. but if you have fresh berries, they work beautifully as well. the berries do tend to sink to the bottom in this recipe, as the cake batter is quite thin.

flour bakery’s chocolate chunk cookies

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considering I don’t really post that much, it seems gratuitous that this is the third chocolate chip cookie recipe to make it onto the blog. (see: chocolate chip cookies from “not without salt” and tahini chocolate chip cookies.) but I promise, there is a story behind it:

last weekend, I promised to make banana bread (using my favorite recipe from joanne chang’s famous flour bakery) for a picnic hangout. I scrambled to make it the night before, having come back in d.c. later than planned after changing my travel plans last-minute. around 2am, after waiting 1 hour and 10 minutes for the freaking bread to finish baking, I finally went to sleep.

it was a beautifully misty morning when we we set out on an unexpectedly taxing hike the following day. heavy rains had blocked our planned hiking path with a fast-flowing and deceptively deep stream. in our efforts to find a different point to ford the stream, two members of our party got lost in the dense foliage of the george washington national forest. we didn’t locate them until an hour later – one was sitting, almost hidden in dead leaves, legs bloodied and left ankle sprained after multiple falls, while the other, in a panic, had torn through branches and brambles, covering his arms in scratches. it was altogether one of the scarier hiking experiences I’ve had.

after finding the two lost hikers, we were in no mood to continue the hike, especially not with one hiker left hobbling, so we set out for a winery in the area. thankfully, no one’s injuries were very serious, and the mood quickly became more jovial as people unpacked bags of chips, deli meats, tabbouleh, naan, and spreads. after our taxing day, I was glad to have made the banana bread after all.

food is like that. good eats, shared with good people, can completely change the mood. it got me thinking about a possible fun project for this summer and beyond: baking (and maybe cooking) my way through joanne chang’s cookbooks, and sharing the results with friends. first up: these chocolate chunk cookies, shared with my fellow summer associates. I can usually tell if I’ll love a chocolate chip cookie by the way it bakes in the oven – these start as slightly flattened balls, then melt outwards as they bake, forming those coveted ripples of crisp, buttery, brown rings on the outside of the cookie, while the middle of the cookie remains soft and chewy. and my fellow associates certainly agree with me – after 10 minutes, all 36 cookies were gone!


makes ~24 bakery-sized cookies or ~42 standard-sized cookies

228g (1 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
150g (3/4 cup) granulated sugar
165g (3/4 cup) firmly packed light brown sugar
2 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
140g (1 cup) all-purpose flour
150g (1 cup) bread flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp kosher salt
255g (~1 1/2 cups) bittersweet (60%) chocolate, chopped
70g (~1/2 cups) milk chocolate, chopped*

joanne chang.
flour: spectacular recipes from boston’s flour bakery + cafe.
san francisco: chronicle books, 2010.

1 using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or a wooden spoon), cream together the butter and sugars on medium speed until light and fluffy (~5 minutes with stand mixer, ~10 minutes with spoon). scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl to release any clinging butter or sugar, then mix again.
2 beat in the eggs and vanilla on medium speed until thoroughly combined (2-3 minutes). scrape the bowl and paddle again to make sure the eggs are thoroughly incorporated.
3 in a medium bowl, stir together the flours, baking soda, and salt until well mixed. add the chocolates and toss to combine. on low speed (or with the wooden spoon), slowly add the flour-choclate mixture to the butter-sugar mixture, then mix just until the flour mixture is totally incorporated and the dough is evenly mixed. (don’t over-mix!)
4 cover the dough and refrigerate overnight (at least 12 hours and up to 36) before baking. when you are ready to bake, position a rack in the center of the oven and heat to 350ºF.
5 drop the dough into 1/4-cup balls (for bakery size) or rounded 2-tbsp balls (for standard size), spacing them ~2 inches apart. using the palm of your hand, flatten each ball slightly. (optional: sprinkle cookies lightly with flaky salt.)
6 bake for 15-18 minutes (for bakery size) or 11-13 minutes (for standard size), until cookies are golden brown on the edges and slightly soft in the center. do not let them get brown throughout. let cool on the baking sheet on a wire rack for 5-10 minutes, then transfer the cookies to the rack to cool completely.
7 cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. the unbaked dough can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week (and can be frozen for up to 1 month; just defrost while the oven preheats so you can flatten each ball, then add 1-2 extra minutes of bake time).

 
*I used ghirardelli bittersweet chocolate discs and milk chocolate chips because I didn’t have any chocolate bars to chop, but taking the time to chop the chocolate will add more variation in texture to your cookies.

danish dream cake + copenhagen

crazy it’s been just about a year since I visited denmark. though I spent only a week there, it was enough time to fall in love with scandinavian food and architecture, and their hygge way of life.

now of course, I visited during the summer. talking to residents of copenhagen, I heard mostly about the unusually cold summer they’d been having, a complaint especially heartfelt because their summers are only two or so months long, with even shorter autumns and springs and long, long winters. perhaps because their time to enjoy the relative warmth was so short, copenhagen was bursting with life and laughter – one evening, a hostel buddy and I found a raucous bar with a hilarious fake beach on a small river barge, then grabbed platters of food from all sorts of different stalls in a food hall and watched the sun set while sitting with what felt like every other 20-something in copenhagen on the pier.

a view of copenhagen from atop vor frelsers kirke

I also miss mornings in copenhagen. at many of the coffee shops around me, most people are wearing headphones while on their laptops or in their textbooks, and conversation is subdued or nonexistent. at coffee shops in denmark, families and friends were chatting and places were particularly busy early the morning as people met up for a solid breakfast before work (with the tourists usually appearing around 10am or so). unfortunately, I don’t have the equipment or the expertise to recreate the fantastic cups of coffee I had in denmark – however, I have been slowly working my way through the delicious pastries I had. here’s a recipe for a cake so decadent, just one small slice would satisfy my sweets cravings for the rest of the day. it tastes great with coffee, and for children, I imagine it would go perfect with a tall glass of cold milk.

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a beautiful morning at frederiksborg castle

places i loved
la cabra coffee roasters | best cup of coffee I had in europe. very popular with the locals in arhaus, so you may have to wait a bit for a table to clear.
original coffee, bredgade | coffee shop with multiple locations across copenhagen. this location is small with limited seating, but isn’t too busy and has great pastries and really fantastic coffee.
meyers bageri, st. kongensgade | popular copenhagen bakery with locations across the city. try to go before 9:00am – after that, the bakery quickly runs out of its most popular pastries.
torvehallerne | so many great vendors in this glass-windowed food hall. the tapas at tapa del toro took me straight back to spain, and at another stall, we found fresh oysters and fish galore. the florists had incredibly beautiful arrangements featuring flowers I’ve never seen before.
restaurant pluto | trendy restaurant popular for group dinners among the tall, young and beautiful residents of copenhagen. they make a showstopper of a steak (probably the best steak I’ve ever had), and the staff is super friendly.
kodbyens fiskebar | incredibly fresh seafood prepared impeccably and served in a trendy, industrial former meat market. if it’s warm, share an outdoor picnic table with some copenhagen locals! (and grab a beer afterwards at nearby warpigs brewpub.)
geranium | with three well-deserved michelin stars, geranium is the most expensive meal you’ll ever eat, and the best. there’s no other dining experience like eating edible pieces of art full of flavors you never even knew were possible, while seated in a panoramic dining room on the top floor of a soccer stadium. all diners also get a tour of the extensive wine room and spotless kitchens.
restaurant domestic | a two michelin star gourmet gastronomique experience. the restaurant atmosphere is industrial yet cozy, and the food is delicious and whimsical – it’s as if the farm came to your table in the form of food made by woodland fairies. easily the best meal we had in arhaus (and the second-best meal we had in denmark).

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rainbow panorama at aros aarhus kunstmuseum

aros aarhus kunstmuseum | a really, really modern art museum in arhus. when we went, there were some cool textile exhibits, and the rainbow walkway on top of the museum was 100% worth it.
frederiksborg castle | the most beautiful castle we visited. built in the renaissance style, it’s surrounded by a serene moat among rolling hills and has a beautiful english-style garden. the rooms are lavishly furnished. it’s about an hour train ride from copenhagen, and was totally worth the visit.
kronborg castle | supposedly the castle that hamlet is based on. it’s more imposing than attractive and the rooms are mostly empty, but during the summer, the castle hosts fun and well-acted interactive “hamlet” performances where the audience follows the actors from room to room in the castle. it’s about an hour train ride from copenhagen (and can be done in the same day as frederiksborg if you wake up early enough!).
tivoli gardens | if you like amusement parks, tivoli is worth a visit. the park is beautifully executed and there are some legitimately fun rides. however, the ticket prices are quite high (and if you pay per ride, it can really add up) and lines can be quite long. if you don’t mind getting split up and riding with strangers, always opt for the singles line, which moves significantly faster.


makes one 8•8-in pan

cake
245g (1 3/4 cup) ap flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
110g (1/2 cup) salted butter, at room temperature
300g (1 1/2 cups) granulated sugar
1 tbsp vanilla paste
2 large eggs, at room temperature
3/4 cup (175 mL) heavy cream
topping
200g (1 stick + 6 tbsp) salted butter
1/2 cup (100mL) whole milk
300g (1 1/2 cups) light brown sugar, packed
200g (1 cup) granulated sugar
200g (2 cups) unsweetened desiccated coconut flakes

nadine redzepi. downtime. new york: pam krauss books/avery, 2017.

cake|1 preheat oven to 350ºF. lightly butter an 8×8-in pan.
2 whisk flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl. put butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer* fitted with a paddle attachment. beat at medium-high speed until pale, ~3 minutes. add the vanilla paste and beat for another minute, until incorporated.
3 add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition until light and fluffy. with the mixture on low speed, add flour mixture in thirds, alternating with two additions of heavy cream. beat until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
4 spread the batter evenly in the pan. bake until top is browned and center is almost, but not quite set when pressed with a fingertip, 30-35 minutes.
topping|1 10 minutes before the cake finishes its first bake, melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. add milk and heat until it is simmering. stir in the brown and granulated sugars and bring to a boil, stirring often. stir in the coconut. reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring almost constantly, until sugar has dissolved, ~2 minutes. the mixture should still be quite liquidy.
assembly|1 remove cake from oven and immediately poke holes all over the surface using a wooden skewer (or a chopstick). pour topping evenly over the cake, using the back of a spoon to spread it into the corners. return cake to the oven and bake until the topping is set and has turned a shade or two darker, ~15 minutes.
2 place pan on a wire rack and let cake cool completely. cut into squares and serve.

*you can make this cake by hand as well; use a wooden spoon to mix together the butter, sugar, and vanilla paste until pale and smooth. beat the eggs in a separate bowl, then mix them into the butter-sugar mixture until light and fluffy. follow the rest of the recipe as directed.

kimchi jjigae

this kimchi jjigae recipe is a recipe half-remembered. my dad used to stop by a tiny korean supermarket somewhere in the middle of delaware on his way home from work and buy a pound of homemade kimchi from the shop owner. whenever he came in the door with bags of korean groceries, we knew that we could expect kimchi jjigae, whipped up in under an hour in the o.g. of “painless cooking” kitchen gadgets, the pressure cooker. I’ve half-watched him make it a number of times while doing homework at the kitchen counter, but it’s been over a decade since then and the details, which were never truly committed to memory to begin with, have only become fuzzier.

I’m not much for kitchen gadgets, and my small apartment kitchen has forced me to be even choosier. as a result, I’ve adapted this recipe to my dutch oven (a.k.a. the only pot I have that is large enough to hold a stew), and have done my best to adapt my memories of what my dad made to my current tastes. though my kimchi jjigae doesn’t quite match what I remember, it does capture the addictive spiciness and comfort of one of my favorite childhood dishes.

makes 6-8 servings

2 lb beef short ribs (bone-in if possible)
ground black pepper
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, sliced
1 tsp kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
2 tsp sugar
1 lb kimchi (with juices), chopped
1 tbsp chili flakes (gochugaru preferable, though red pepper flakes work in a pinch)
1 tbsp gochujang
3 carrots, coarsely chopped
3 cups dashi (3 cups hot water + 1/2 tbsp dashi granules)
8 oz firmed tofu, cubed
1 tsp sesame oil
chopped scallion, for garnish

sarah leung. kimchi stew. the woks of life. 8 march 2016. accessed 13 april 2018.
jennifer yu. get jjigae with it. use real butter. 25 october 2015. accessed 13 april 2018.

1 heat oil over high heat in a large dutch oven. generously season beef short ribs with salt and pepper. (if you bought boneless beef short ribs, cut ribs into 3-in cubes, then season.) place in short ribs in pot and sear until brown (working in batches if necessary to avoid over-crowding), about 2 minutes on each side. with tongs, transfer the short ribs to a plate.
2 reduce heat to medium and add onions. sauté until soft and translucent, then add the garlic and cook for ~1 more minute, until fragrant.
3 add kimchi and fry for ~2 minutes, then add 1 tsp salt and the sugar, chili flakes, gochujang, and dashi. when the mixture comes to a boil, return the short ribs to the pot, turn the heat down to a simmer, cover, and cook for 2-2.5 hours, until the ribs are tender.
4 uncover and nestle the tofu on top. replace the cover and simmer for another 10 minutes. uncover again and stir in the sesame oil. garnish with chopped scallion and serve immediately over rice.

 
*I photographed the stew in a korean dolsot. you can halve the recipe and cook it in a medium-sized dolsot if you want; if you use a dolsot, I’d recommend browning the meat separately in a pan to avoid steaming the meat.
*I like carrots in my jjigae for the natural sweetness they impart, but it’s not traditional to include carrots and you can leave them out. my dad likes to add daikon to his jjigae; just roughly cube it and use in place of the carrots
*other fun toppings: you can also add a handful of enoki mushrooms right before serving, and you can top the jjigae with raw bean sprouts or raw matchstick carrots.

quick cinnamon buns

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back in college, I used to use baking as a stress reliever, and law school has marked the return to late-night/really-early-morning baking. in the last few years, I’ve found enjoyment in a good weekend baking project, but as a law student, I’ve lately been on the hunt for recipes for pastries that require less time.

unfortunately, this means I’m still am mystified by pastries made with yeast (a project I’m hoping to tackle this summer). but fortunately, this search turned up violet bakery’s baking powder-leavened cinnamon buns, which has all the sugary, intense cinnamon flavor and enjoyable flaky dough without the hours of rising. these cinnamon buns also freeze great, and with my new gas oven (which preheats in only 5 minutes!!!), I’m always 30 minutes away from a tasty, fresh-baked pastry.

law school has marked the return of another habit that perhaps is in tandem with late-night bakes: late night snacking. unfortunately, I no longer have my college-age metabolism, which leads me to another project I’m hoping to tackle after finals: some of the beautiful hiking trails around d.c! I’m definitely looking forward to packing some of these highly-portable buns and scrambling up some rocks this summer.

makes 12 buns

filling
75g unsalted butter
250g light brown sugar
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cardamom
cinnamon buns
560g all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
2 tbsp baking powder
2 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp ground cardamom
240g cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
300g cold milk
2 tbsp sugar, for dipping
optional: butter, for greasing the tin, or muffin tin liners

claire ptak. the violet bakery cookbook. new york: ten speed press, 2015.

filling|1 melt the butter and leave in a warm place so that it remains liquid.
2 in a small bowl, mix together the light brown sugar and cinnamon until no lumps remain, then set aside.
buns|1 preheat oven to 400ºF. butter a 12-cup muffin tray, or line with paper liners.
2 in a large bowl, combine all the dry ingredients, then using a pastry cutter, mix in the cubes of butter until you have a coarse meal.
3 slowly add in the cold milk while mixing, and continue mixing until the dough forms into a balls and comes away from the bowl.
4 turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and leave to rest for 5 minutes. fold the dough gently over itself once or twice to pull it all together. let the dough rest a second time, for 10 minutes.
5 clear a large surface and dust lightly with flour. roll out the dough into a large rectangle until about 5mm (1/4in) thick. (I roll it out to 24in x 12in rectangle.) brush the surface of the dough with melted butter and before the butter hardens, sprinkle the cinnamon sugar onto the butter. use it all up!
6 roll the dough up, starting at the long side, keeping it neat and tight. (start with the long side facing you, then gently tug the dough towards you while rolling to get a tight spiral.) once it’s rolled, gently squeeze the roll to ensure the same thickness throughout. use a sharp knife or pastry cutter to cut the roll cross-ways into 12 even slices (mine were each 2in thick). take a slice of the cinnamon roll, peel back ~5cm (~2in) of the loose end of the pastry and fold it back under the roll to loosely cover the bottom. place in the muffin tray, flap-side down. repeat with the remaining slices.
7 bake the buns for 20-25 minutes. as soon as they’re done, flip them onto a wire cooling rack and allow them to cool for 5 minutes. dip each cinnamon bun to a bowl of sugar and serve straight away.

*if you want to freeze the buns, you can freeze the unbaked dough in the muffin tins. after they’re frozen, they can be un-molded and stored until needed. when you bake them, add a few minutes to the bake time.