Hot-And-Spicy Togarashi Meringues

These meringues are found in the “Cocktail Cookie” section of our cookbook…and wow do they pack a punch. These are not sweet…and very definitely hot and spicy!

The spice comes from the Japanese seven-spice blend called Shichimi Togarashi….a mixture of chili pepper and spices that manages to be hot, sweet, salty, bitter, nutty, and packed with umami…😳…that is a lot! I followed Dorie’s lead and bought the S & B brand…she tells us every brand has a little different mixture. Typically it includes…chili pepper, dried orange peel, black and white sesame seeds, Japanese pepper, ginger, and dried seaweed.

The meringues are made in the usual fashion, but as a last step in the whipping, we are told to add a teaspoon of the spice blend…and after our first batch we can decide to add more if we would like it hotter…which is surprising that you could want them hotter haha after trying them.

The meringues are baked for about 45 minutes and then rested in a cracked oven for another 1 and 30 minutes to let them cool and dry out.

My husband tried one before I had the chance to tell him what they were, and you can imagine his surprise…not sweet, and not at all what he expected. I would like to tell you he liked them, but that isn’t the case…which surprises me since he loves spicy food. These were just not his thing.

In fact, I didn’t find anyone who enjoyed these. I think we will just try the Togarashi on some edamame or ramen with what I have left haha.

English Muffins

My husband said, “Thomas has nothing on you” haha!! I am thinking…best kind of compliment in this circumstance!

I have been baking a long time with this group. Back when we were using the cookbook, Baking With Julia, we baked all kinds of bread…loaves, croissants, pita, bagels…but surprisingly, we never made English Muffins. This was a new one to me. I have never attempted them…or thought to quite frankly…but oh has that changed.

These were so delicious…how could we ever buy store bought again?!!

They do take a while…it is a day project or at least an overnight project. I think it is one of those that is worth it. None of it was hard, just some planning involved.

I started in the morning with making the dough and allowing the first rise on the counter. After an hour, the dough is collapsed and then put in the fridge for a minimum of three hours for the second rise. (This is where an overnight could take place). When you are ready to proceed, the dough is brought out, collapsed, and portioned into 12 sections. Each getting rolled into a ball and pressed down on some cornmeal. This is the third and final rise…taking 40 min. Because we were just going to have them as a mid-afternoon snack, I wasn’t worried about time. The finished product would be ready for breakfast the next day.

Baking the muffins is very similar to making pancakes…used my same griddle…coating the pan with butter you pop them cornmeal side down and give them a good push with the spatula. They are left alone to cook…I went more by look than time as the golden bottom showed they were ready to be turned. Same on the other side. Since they don’t really spread, I did six at a time and was done in no time.

Since they are meant to be slightly under baked, once they have cooled, you use a fork to prick around the center. Then using your fingers your pull the sides a part and pop them in the toaster to get the classic browned English muffin.

I am amazed at how easy these were and wonder how I have never tried making them. They were delicious! I would have no problem making these and freezing them for when we want to have one. Everyone loved these!

This is a keeper for sure!

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

This soup, looks simple, but is made up of many layers of flavor. It was a wonderful surprise!

There are a few steps and some time involved in making this soup, but it was all worth it. It was delicious and so interesting.

You begin by coating the butternut squash, onion, and carrots in a sauce comprised of olive oil, maple syrup, soy sauce, cinnamon, and cayenne. This mixture, along with a head of garlic, halved cut side down, are roasted until tender and slightly colored. When that is done, the onion and carrots are put into the pot, the skin removed from the squash and then added to the pot, and lastly the garlic squeezed out from the paper and into the pot.

All of this is mixed with chicken stock, 5 ginger “coins” and a star anise…brought to a boil and them simmered for half hour. Then the star anise is removed and the whole pot is puréed to a smooth consistency. Because the soup can be on the sweet side, a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar is sprinkled on top along with a couple of croutons for crunch.

I am not sure what my husband and I were expecting from the soup, but not this. It has incredible depth of flavor…I am sure from all the different spices, vegetables and the roasting in the sauce. It is complex and very difficult to pinpoint any flavor other than, wow…this is delicious.

This soup seemed like a bit of work, but I totally see myself making this one again. It was delicious.

This one is a keeper!

Chicken and Winter Squash Tagine

What is a Tagine?

Interesting…it not only refers to the “stew” best known and treasured in North Africa, but also the pot that the stew is cooked in…a wide, shallow flameproof pottery that’s cover looks like a chimney or dunce cap.

These stews are African, but also a little bit French and Middle Eastern as well. The main seasoning, Ras el hanout, originates in Morocco. There are many spices included in this mixture and vary with which/where you buy it, but most commonly included are cumin, cloves, allspice, cardamom, ginger, chili, and peppers.

This particular Tagine combines chicken, slow cooked onion, and acorn squash.

The onions are slow cooked in either a Tagine or Dutch oven, which I used. While that is cooking, you brown the chicken thighs and drumsticks. Before you mix the two together, you add all the spices to the onions…and some of it is by the tablespoon!: Ras el hanout, honey, sumac, strips of lemon zest, turmeric, and cayenne. That is all blended with the chicken broth and lemon juice.

The browned chicken pieces and cut and prepared acorn squash are added to the pot. The entire thing is covered brought to a boil and then simmered for about 45 min until the “chicken is fall of the bone tender”.

It is suggested that the chicken and squash is served with couscous so that is what I prepared. There is a lot of juice in the stew that can be used to pour over the chicken, squash, and couscous giving it extra flavor.

The good news is, the chicken was literally “fall off the bone tender” so much so, my husband said, “you should find more recipes to make chicken this way” haha. So moist and flavorful. The bad news is, we weren’t huge fans of the overall dish. We ate it and were thankful to try something new and different, but we just didn’t love the spices or the squash. 🤷‍♀️. I think we just aren’t crazy about the allspice/cinnamon flavoring on chicken. We ate the leftovers the next day, but I don’t see myself making this particular recipe again. Will be curious to see what the others thought…it is probably just us haha!

Apple Pandowdy

Let’s start by first saying, this was absolutely fantastic and I am so excited to be baking in this new cookbook!

What is a Pandowdy?… is the obvious question…I can’t be the only one who has never heard of this dessert. 😳😂

According to Dorie:

A Pandowdy’s a pie that’s got only a top crust, often made of odd-shaped pieces of dough, probably created to put pastry scrapes to good use. Neatness is never the point, it’s the haphazardness, the dowdiness, that makes it beautiful.

Although this seems like an apple pie, Dorie cautions us not to add the cinnamon or spices we will want to add on our own…that we will think this too plain to just have lemon and apple, but to please have it this lemon version first before changing anything.

I was a skeptic.

It took some real restraint NOT to add those obvious spices in just to flavor the dessert but I am so, so glad I did not. What we got was such a unique and delicious dessert that I can’t wait to make it again.

The filling is, oh, so simple…sugar, lemon zest, sweet apples (I used Gala), lemon juice and butter. No thickener is used, so really you just have apples and some juice. This is put in a pie plate and then covered in pieces of pie crust.

The crust, which needs to be made ahead of time since there is some chilling involved, is taken out and cut into random triangles or shapes of any kind. The pieces are placed on top of the apples…brushed with milk, and then given a good dose of sanding sugar.

The whole thing gets popped in the oven and is done when the crust is golden, and the juices bubbling. We are to be patient, and wait for this to cool off or get to room temp before eating it.

I don’t know what any of us were expecting but this really surprised us. We didn’t expect to love it as much as we did…it was just so unique, so light, and so flavorful. We couldn’t even describe what it was like…maybe lemon apples with a sugar cookie on top?? 🤷‍♀️

All I know is, if I wasn’t a believe before of listening to Dorie’s advice the first go around with a recipe…I sure am now haha.

This was a keeper!!