Recession Chic

a down economy does not = ugly shoes

Completely Homemade Mac-n-Cheese February 14, 2011

Filed under: Dough Diaries,Food & Drink — karakrautter @ 10:10 AM
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My need for comfort food continued for another week; therefore, it was time for a round of mac-n-cheese. Since I had some extra time before dinner time, I decided to make homemade macaroni noodles. Something I learned from the lasagna adventure was the benefit of  using fresh, uncooked noodles to make sure the dish wouldn’t turn into mush during baking. Unfortunately, I only made it about halfway through the pasta making process before getting distracted and the dough dried out. Thankfully, I just needed to grab another extra large egg and flour to make another round of dough. The noodles were far from perfect but definitely looked homemade.

For the cheese sauce, I made a mornay sauce with white cheddar cheese and just a some Dubliner cheese shreds for a little bite.

I added some panko and regular bread crumbs for a crisp top. I baked the mac-n-cheese for about 20 min to melt the cheese and cook the pasta. Below is the final product (which was super delicious). I paired it with a mixed green salad dressed with a raspberry balsamic vinaigrette to help cut the richness.

 

Spinach Lasagna for the Vegetarian in All of Us December 1, 2010

Filed under: Cooking 101,Dough Diaries — karakrautter @ 4:39 PM
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After almost a year of making my own pasta, I finally felt ready to try to make homemade lasagna noodles. For many years around the holidays (or any celebration) my best friend’s mom would make the most amazing lasagna — complete with homemade noodles. So, after the chaos of the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, I thought that our Sunday night meal should be a warm, comforting vegetarian lasagna.

Here are the photos of the process:

1. First layer of sauce and noodles

2.Yummy spinach and ricotta layer

3. More sauce and mozzarella cheese

4. The final stage fresh out of the oven

5. The first slice…yummm

I was shocked at how good it was and how relatively easy it was to put together. The homemade noodles were the perfect texture — not too soggy and able to hold its own against the cheesy, delicious filling. I will definitely do this again!

 

Dough Diaries: Pizza! September 20, 2010

Filed under: Dough Diaries — karakrautter @ 7:42 AM
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I love pizza. Who doesn’t? When I began baking bread this year, pizza dough was one of the more intimidating chapters for me. I really thought it would be too much work. However, a couple of months ago when my brother was  visiting, he fixed pizza from scratch that was a good bit of work, but a lot more fun to make and eat.

Even in my bread baking cookbook, there were several different options for pizza crust. After reviewing all the crust options, I decided to make a European peasant dough because it used a blend of all-purpose, whole wheat and rye flour. I love whole wheat, but I’ve had my fair share of bland whole wheat crust. So, this recipe seemed to incorporate enough flavors to make it tasty.

I wanted to create a crispy, somewhat fancy pizza, so I opted for something a little non-traditional. For the toppings I went with sun-dried tomatoes instead of a sauce, fontina cheese over mozzarella, sautéed cremini and shiitake mushrooms and arugula. I did the dough a few days before and pulled together the pizza for a laid back Thursday evening at home. It was so delicious, and not too hard to make. I will definitely do this again soon. Feel free to share ideas for different toppings.

 

Dough Diaries: A Tale of Two Brioches August 27, 2010

Filed under: Dough Diaries — karakrautter @ 6:36 AM
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The Upper Crust Bakery in Austin, TX holds many childhood memories and baking inspiration for me: lunches of cheese soup and avocado sandwiches with my mom and coffee and cinnamon rolls on a Saturday morning.  Before I left Austin, I needed to get one last fix of fresh pastries from my favorite bakery. In addition to the usual cinnamon roll, I was struck by a beautiful, round loaf of bread topped with cheese. Brioche. Filled with cheese. Yum. The bread was so rich and filling, my breakfast partner and I decided to save the cinnamon roll for later and sliced the brioche loaf in half and dug in.

Now that I’ve been in Houston for almost two months, it was time to relive a little Austin and try my hand at baking brioche. I made the dough ahead of time since I’ve learned that letting it sit in the fridge for 24 hours after the initial rise seems to make for better flavor. I made enough dough for two different loaves and decided that one savory and one sweet brioche would be fun.

My first loaf was a classic brioche topped with a little Parmesan cheese. It was delicious and paired perfectly with a chilled cucumber soup. Once the bread started to get a little stale, I crushed up the leftover slices to create breadcrumbs for crab cakes.

I froze the other half of the dough and pulled it out a week or so later to make some chocolate-filled brioche. I just finished baking the second loaf for a weekend breakfast treat. Can’t wait to sample it!

 

Fresh Pasta, Fresh Pesto – Perfect for Summer August 18, 2010

Filed under: Cooking 101,Dough Diaries — karakrautter @ 8:44 AM
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The Cooking Channel is the best thing about TV this summer, hands down. Classic reruns of the original Iron Chef, Julia Child and hours of cooking shows (not reality TV) from talented chefs (not Rachel Ray or Sandra Lee). This weekend I was reminded of the greatness of simple meals with fresh ingredients.

Since I finally have a blender with a food chop option (instead of the sad mini chop from my college days), fresh pesto on some homemade pasta sounded like the perfect dish for a hot summer night. From an older episode of Jamie at Home, I realized that I’ve been working way too hard to make my pasta noodles. Although it makes some sense to use the dough hook on my Kitchen Aid mixer, using a food processor to create the dough is far more efficient. The processor roughly combines the egg and flour, creating a bread crumb consistency which requires far less water to form the dough.

For the pesto, I chose the classic recipe (garlic, basil, pine nuts, olive oil and Parmesan) and added tomatoes for a little extra color. Below are photos of the raw pasta and the completed dish.

 

Dough Diaries: Bread for a New Home July 12, 2010

Filed under: Dough Diaries — karakrautter @ 3:59 PM
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Nothing says ‘welcome home’ like the smell of  fresh bread baking in a new oven. This past weekend I made the move from Austin to Houston and did a lot of downsizing in the process. The only thing I didn’t cut back on is the kitchen. I know, surprise, surprise. My new kitchen is far more open, about twice the size and the best part of my new place. It was super exciting to unpack all my boxes and still have space in my cabinets and on the counter tops. So, I guess I need to find some more kitchen tools (my closet is packed to the brim, so no new clothes for a while).

To christen my new kitchen I decided it would be appropriate to bake a nice, simple bread that would compliment any meal. A baguette. Yeast, water, salt and flour are just amazing ingredients that do so many different things. The shape isn’t perfect, but it looks homemade 🙂

Oh, and here is my new kitchen. *Love*

 

Dough Diaries: Quiche for Sunday Brunch June 6, 2010

Filed under: Dough Diaries — karakrautter @ 1:18 PM
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Ok, so I’ve been a bit delinquent as of late. Most of y’all know that I’m moving from my lovely Austin condo to a new apartment  in Houston. The next month will be quite crazy getting everything ready for the move (plus a work trip to China at the end of the month is making the month feel like two weeks). However, I did make time over Memorial Day Weekend to explore baking a savory crust.

There is nothing nicer than a laid back Sunday (or Monday if it’s a holiday) morning, complete with delicious coffee and breakfast in the comfort of your own kitchen and pjs. A quiche sounded like the perfect dish to have for Sunday with leftovers for Monday. I decided to do an asparagus and gruyère cheese quiche with the same basic crust I used for the pie. There was leftover fresh asparagus that needed to be eaten ASAP, so it worked out perfectly.

Oh, and for those that have asked, below is the recipe for the crust from The America’s Test Kitchen Family Baking Book (aka, the best baking book I’ve ever had).

Traditional Single-Crust Pie Dough

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbs. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3 tbs. vegetable shortening (chilled and cut into 1/2 in. pieces)
  • 5 tbs. unsalted butter (chilled and cut into 1/4 in. pieces)
  • 4-6 tbs. ice water

Process the dry ingredients together, then add shortening and then the butter. Add just enough water to make the dough stick together. Before rolling the dough out, let it sit for about 10 minutes. Roll out dough and fit into your pie plate. Cover the crust in plastic wrap and freeze for at least 30 minutes. Check your recipe to see if you need to bake the dough before adding the filling or not.