Creamy Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Today we are making a class meal. Each group has chosen a side dish to accompany the store bought and home-bred chickens we will be examining and cooking. After two days of complications in the kitchen, we are simplifying things. Garlic Mashed Potatoes is an easy yet delicious recipe that we have previous knowledge of making, so our goal is to have them turn out perfectly.

We are trying two different things today, adjusting the recipe and focusing on timing to fit our needs. Our goal is to have every group’s side dish out of the oven simultaneously. While our recipe says the time should be approximately 50 minutes, we are allotting extra time given our cooking record. We are also adjusting the recipe slightly, by replacing parmesan with 1 package of scallions we hope to improve the quality of the recipe and add diversity to the meal.

Original Creamy Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Ingredients

  • 3 1/2 lbs russet potatoes
  • 2 T kosher salt
  • 2 c half-and-half
  • 6 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 6 oz grated Parmesan
  1. Peel and dice potatoes, making sure all are relatively the same size.
  2. Place in a large saucepan, add the salt, and cover with water.
  3. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and then reduce heat to maintain a rolling boil
  4. Cook until potatoes fall apart when poked with a fork.
  5.  While the potatoes are cooking, heat the half-and-half and the garlic in a medium saucepan over medium heat until simmering.
  6. Remove from heat and set aside
  7. Remove the potatoes from the heat and drain off the water.
  8. Mash and add the garlic-cream mixture and Parmesan, stir to combine.
  9. Let stand for 5 minutes so that mixture thickens and then serve.

Our Recipe for Creamy Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Ingredients

  • 3 1/2 lbs russet potatoes
  • 2 T kosher salt
  • 2 c half-and-half
  • 6 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 package scallions
  1. Peel and dice potatoes, making sure all are relatively the same size.
  2. Crush the garlic and set aside
  3. Place in a large saucepan, add the salt, and cover with water.
  4. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and then reduce heat to maintain a rolling boil
  5. Cook until potatoes fall apart when poked with a fork.
  6. While the potatoes are cooking, heat the half-and-half and the garlic in a medium saucepan over medium heat until simmering.
  7. Also while the potatoes are cooking wash and cut the scallions into 1/2 inch pieces. Then saute them over medium-low heat until tender.
  8. Remove from heat and set aside.
  9. Remove the potatoes from the heat and drain off the water.
  10. Mash and add the garlic-cream mixture and scallions; stir to combine.
  11. Let stand for 5 minutes so that mixture thickens and then serve.

After two days of mistakes, and dishes gone wrong, we  finally have a success. The mashed potatoes came out wonderfully! Everything went smoothly, the instructions were followed exactly, and we had absolutely no problems.  And on top of no problems while cooking, they tasted delicious. By far, some of best potatoes we’ve eaten. Not only were they a big hit at the meal, but we had no problem getting rid of the leftovers. Overall, today was a wonderful day. All of the groups came together as one, and we enjoyed a very tasty meal.

Twice Baked Potatoes (and that last bit of panic while cooking a whole meal)

Twice Baked Potatoes (adapted from Simply Recipes)

4 large potatoes
1/2 C milk
2 T butter

Additions to mashed potatoes (optional)
1/2 C sour cream
1 T cream
1 clove garlic, crushed and minced
salt and pepper to taste

Toppings (optional)
grated cheese
green onion
ham or bacon
chives
sour cream

Baking Potatoes (oven at 400°F)
1.    Wash the potatoes and pierce the skins with a fork.
2.    Bake for 60 to 75 minutes or until they are cooked through. You can prepare additional toppings during this time, if desired.
3.    When the potatoes are finished, remove them from the oven and allow them to cool.

Making the Filling and Twice-Baking (oven at 350°F)
1.    After the potatoes are cooled, there are two options for cutting them open. For large and well stuffed potatoes, cut the top third of the potato off. For more individual servings, cut each potato in half.
2.    Spoon out the inside of each potato piece for the mashed potato filling, being sure to leave a layer of potato inside the pieces that will be used as the base later.
3.    Mix the potatoes, milk, butter, and other mashed potato additions. You can use an electric mixer if you want fluffier potatoes.
4.    Spoon the mashed potatoes into the potato bases on a baking sheet and layer the toppings on the mashed potatoes.
5.    Bake the potatoes for 15-20 minutes until warmed through and the tops or toppings are lightly browned.

The potatoes turned out excellently. We didn’t follow this recipe exactly, substituting more smaller potatoes (which I forgot to oil before baking) and opting for Greek yoghurt in place of sour cream. Alex and Luke got everything nicely topped in a variety of combinations using cheese, green onion, and ham. The second baking took about 25 minutes and produced nice potatoes covered in browned cheese and more.

Impromptu Gravy
Pan drippings from two chickens
1-3 T flour
1/2 C milk

1.    Place pan drippings in a sauce pan and bring to a simmer.
2.    Add the flour and whisk like crazy.
3.    Slowly add milk, whisking continuously.
4.    Bring back to a simmer and serve.

This was the very last thing to get cooked for our meal because I realized the potential for gravy only after the chickens came out of their ovens. My method was rather ineffective and required a massive amount of whisking (with help from a spatula) to get rid of flour lumps. The gravy came together very nicely as I added the milk to the strange combination of roux and the water component of pan drippings as the remaining flour lumps quickly vanished. Despite whipping it up at the last moment, the gravy came out very well without the need for additional salt or pepper.

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A Tale of Two Chickens

Group 1:   Today, we are cooking two different chickens with completely different origins. One, short-legged, fat , and slightly square, comes from an unknown factory in America. The other, long-legged and lean, comes from the backyard of our instructor, Ms.Baker. These chickens have nothing in common except for the fact the they are chickens.  The differences between a homegrown chicken and the industrialized one are great.

Local, Free Range Chicken (Left) vs. Industrial Chicken (Right)

The home-bred one has been allowed to roam in a large area, and has been fed healthily with grass and chicken-feed, and also corn on cold winter nights. This makes the chicken leaner and long-legged.

The factory chicken had only eaten corn for two months before it was slaughtered for its tender meat. It has rarely been allowed to move to maximize the amount of meat on the bird. The lack of movement gives the chicken a larger breast and shorter legs.

There is a large difference between the taste and texture of the two chickens. The home-bred chicken, though leaner, was much less stringy and had a lot more taste to it. That is probably because of the healthy diet it ate with grass and a few different types of grain. The home-bred chicken also had some juices still in it. The store-bought chicken was much more stringy, and was pretty bland and tasteless, but there was also more of it.

This would bring up the question of what type of chicken should a person buy if they wanted chicken. Well, if you wanted more chicken to feed a larger group, you might want to buy one, maybe even two, store-bought chickens. But if you are a party of two or three, a home-bred chicken would do you just fine, and you would also get the delicious flavor. All in all, I liked both chickens, though I did like the home-bred chicken a little more.

Group 2:  There were many differences between the two chickens set before us on the counter. Firstly, one was free-range, and the other was an industrial chicken. You would almost have thought that they were two different species of birds. What people don’t know is that they practically are. The ways that industrial chickens are processed before they are put into stores seem disgusting. Firstly, chickens are bred and fed to grow so fat and weak that they no longer will be able to walk and barely move. By the time they are taken to the slaughter houses, the chickens would not be able to last much longer if they were left to live.

     The visual differences included the fact that the free-range chickens had longer, more muscular legs, versus the industrial chicken, which had perfectly poised stubby legs that folded right into the breast of the bird. The color of the two different birds were also very different; the industrial chicken had almost a yellow tint to it while the free-ranged chicken was white. The holes in the skin are still left on the free-range chicken where the feathers had previously been, but on the the other chicken, the skin is very smooth and appears to not have had any feathers whatsoever.
     The industrial chick had much different proportions: the breast was much fatter and full, by far surpassing the size of the free-range chick breast, though the actual sizes of the bird revealed that the free-range was larger as a whole. The free-range chicken was much more shapely: it had more angles and more points, and was more proportional in terms of the breast and legs.
     The free-range chicken had been slaughtered and had been left with the internal organs still inside and the neck, which is used for stock, still attached. Since the industrial bird had all of these parts in a small little bag, included in the chicken package, we also assumed that it had been drained of blood before being wrapped up and sent out. The difference between the amount of blood produced by the two birds was surprising, yet most Americans think nothing of the processing that their chicken must go through before it hits their table.
Group 3:
 

The previous question regarding chickens was related to which came first, the chicken or the egg. Technological advances have allowed the human race to directly manipulate the chicken to increase yield drastically. When juxtaposing a factory chicken with a homegrown chicken, the differences are drastic. The size and shape of the differing birds is the most obvious. The homegrown bird appears skinny, with long, well developed legs. It also has small breasts and wings, the more meat around the legs. The factory chicken is almost boxed shaped, with a large amount of meat everywhere. The bird is obese, only able to be living for two months before the overfed and caged birds become so large that their legs break under the weight of their own bodies. when comparing and contrasting the two birds, one begins to wonder if the new, more important question regarding the chicken is centered around the treatment of the birds, and which is healthier for human consumption.

“I cannot remember the books I’ve read any more than the meals I have eaten; even so, they have made me.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson

Stock made from each chicken.

French Bread

Today, we as a class are having a baked-chicken lunch with yummy sides. As a group, we decided to make french bread because no meal is complete without some sort of bread. There are so many different types of bread and it was hard to choose. We wanted something simple, classic, and would work well with carrots, potato dishes, and most of all, chicken. French bread is something that can be enjoyed by many different people because its just simple bread that is good plan or with butter.
French Bread
-Yields 2 baguettes
Ingredients:
4 c All purpose flour
2 t Salt
2¼ t Active dry yeast
2½ c + 1 T water
1 Egg White
  1. Mix the flour, salt, and yeast in a large bowl.
  2. Pour in 1½ c warm water and mix by hand until the dough become elastic.
  3. Cover with a moist cloth and let rise for 1½-2 hours.
  4. When the dough rises to twice it’s original size, punch it down and divide it in half.
  5. Place the halves onto a floured surface and pat into a rough rectangle. Then, roll the dough away from you to form it into the traditional baguette.
  6. Place the two loaves onto a greased baking sheet. Be aware that they will double in size. Cover with a floured cloth. Let rise.
  7. Preheat the oven to 400° F.
  8. With a sharp knife, score the top of the loaf. The cut should be about ½ inch into the dough.
  9. Pour 1c of water into a baking pan and place it on the bottom rack of the oven. The steam will make the crust of the bread crisp.
  10. Bake the bread on a center rack for 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350° F and bake for another 25 minutes, or until crust it is golden brown.
  11. Brush the bread with a combination of 1 egg white and 1 T cold water. Bake for another 5 minutes.
  12. Let cool on rack and serve.

This classic recipe resulted in a delicious outcome of warm, crunchy french bread that really complemented the chicken lunch. Even though at points, one has to carefully read the recipe otherwise mistakes can be easily made, the end result was completely worth the long wait and attention. One of the things that as a group we noticed is make sure that once the french bread is done cooking, let cool until a reasonable temperature, otherwise it is difficult to cut to serve. Also the water bath is key to the crust of the bread, making the crust crunchy and delicious. Overall, the french bread was a success!

Brown Sugar Glazed Carrots

     Glazed carrots are a classic side dish which we happen to be making for a chicken lunch. Along with potato dishes that the other groups are making and the french bread that our group is baking, the glazed carrots nicely compliment the other side dishes and the main course. Boiling the carrots in butter and brown sugar take them away from the normal, everyday recipe for simple boiled carrots, and not that we have anything against them, but we prefer to add a twist to basic vegetables. When we’re older and if we have kids, this might come in handy.
Brown Sugar Carrots
Serves 4 – 6

Ingredients:

  • 16 oz chopped carrots
  • 2 T butter
  • 1/3 c brown sugar
  • 1 c water
  1. Gently mix the ingredients in a medium saucepan. Allow the sugar to dissolve.
2.  Bring to a boil over high heat
3.  Reduce to medium heat and boil uncovered until water has evaporated (20-25 min)

Upon finishing the carrots, they turned out okay. We wished they could have boiled a little longer in the brown sugar and butter and been cut a little thinner, but they turned out soft and still quite yummy.

Lattice Apple Pie

Apple Pie
(from the Food Network’s show Tyler’s Ultimate, online recipe)

Crust:
2 c all-purpose flour
1 t salt
3/4 c chilled vegetable shortening
Ice water

Filling:
1/2 to 1 c all-purpose flour
6 to 7 c apples cut into thin slices (recommended: Green Golden and Jonathan’s)
1 c white sugar
1 c brown sugar
1 t cinnamon
2 T melted butter

Preparing the Dough
1.    Stir together the four and salt in a mixing bowl (using a stand mixer helps in the next steps).
2.    Add the shortening and mix into the flour until there are no large lumps of shortening.
3.    Slowly add the ice water a tablespoon at a time, being sure to scrape the mixture down, until the dough clumps easily when mixed (about 3 T).
4.    Divide the dough into two balls, one slightly larger than the other, for use as the two pieces of crust when assembling the pie.

Making the Filling
1.    In a large mixing bowl, combine the sugars, flour, cinnamon, and butter.
2.    Wash, peel, and core the apples, then cut them into eighths.
3.    Add the apples to the sugar mixture and coat all the slices.

Rolling the Dough and Assembling the Pie
preheat oven to 375°F
1.    Roll out the larger dough ball until it is about 2 inches in diameter larger than the pie dish.
2.    Transfer the sheet of dough onto the rolling pin and place it in the pie dish.
3.    Firmly press the dough into the dish.
4.    Evenly spread the apple filling in the crust.
5.    Cut the dough into even strips, long enough to cover the top of the pie
6.    Lay four of the strips about an inch apart across the pie
7.    Weave four to five more strips perpendicular to the strips already laid down.
8.Cover the edges of the pie crust with foil and bake for 25 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for another 20 minutes or until the top of the pie is browned.

The biggest challenge we faced while making this pie was perfecting the dough. We added water to the mixer to moisten the dough, we were already doubting ourselves. It was still crumbly, but we were still able to roll it into a ball. We thought that some time in the fridge would help the dough come together. After making the filling, we removed the dough from the fridge and sprinkled our work surface and rolling pin with flour, attempting to roll the dough that was falling apart. It took a lot of extra water to make the dough workable, and it turns out that we probably needed a little more water in the mixer from the start. Since we were having trouble rolling the dough into one thin layer to completely cover the filling, we decided to attempt a lattice weave. With help from our instructor, we were able to weave the dough correctly. We then used a fork to mold the edge of the dough together and then trimmed the edges. Finally, foil covered the edges and the pie then went into the oven. The struggles with the dough were over.


Two Pie Day: Pecan Pie

Flaky Pie Crust
from How to Cook Everything, 10th Anniversary Edition, p. 928
1 C + 2 T + extra flour
1/2 t salt
1 t sugar
8 T butter, cut into pieces
3 T cold water, more if necessary

1-2 C rice, beans, or pie weights (for precooking)

Preparing the dough
1.    Mix the flour, salt and sugar in a food processor.

2.    Add the pieces of butter and process until the mixture looks like cornmeal.
3.    Move the mixture to a bowl and carefully mix in the ice water with your hands. If the mixture is too dry, you can add another tablespoon or two of cold water.
4.    Form the mixture into a ball, wrap it in plastic, and refrigerate for half an hour or freeze for ten minutes. The dough can be wrapped and stored in the refrigerator for a few days.

Forming the Crust
1.    Prepare a counter top and rolling pin by dusting each with flour. Place the dough on the counter and sprinkle it with additional flour.
2.    Roll the dough out into a disk, dusting with flour as necessary. If the dough becomes soft and sticky, cool in the refrigerator or freezer again before continuing to roll it.
3.    When the dough is about 2 inches in diameter larger than the pie plate, transfer it to the pie plate by draping it over the rolling pin.
4.    Firmly press the dough into the plate and refrigerate for an hour or freeze for half an hour.
5.    Trim the excess dough from the edges of the crust and from the edges by pinching the dough or pressing a fork into it. Freeze the dough for ten minutes or refrigerate for half an hour.

Blind-Baking the Pie Crust
preheat oven to 425°F

My first homemade pie crust!

1.    Immediately after refrigerating the crust, prick it with a fork to allow steam to escape while it is baking
2.    Lightly grease a piece of aluminum foil and line the pie crust with the greased foil, butter side down. Chilling the pie crust again will help the crust turn out well.
3.    Fill the foil with rice, beans, or pie weights and bake for 12 minutes.
4.    Remove the foil and weights, reduce the oven temperature to 350°F, and bake until the crust is a light golden brown (about 10 minutes).
5.    Fill the pie and finish baking according to the pie recipe.

Pecan Pie Filling
from Karo® brand corn syrup, Ach Food Companies, Inc.

1 c dark corn syrup
3 eggs
1 c sugar
2 T melted butter
1 t vanilla extract
1 1/2 c toasted pecans
1 blind-baked or frozen pie crust

1.    Preheat oven to 350°F
2.    Combine the corn syrup, eggs, sugar, butter, and vanilla extract.
3.    Place one layer of pecans on the bottom of the pie crust, then set them aside.
4.    Chop the remaining pecans.
5.    In a small bowl, coat the whole pecans in a few tablespoons of the syrup mixture.
6.    Add the chopped pecans to the syrup and pour into the pie crust.
7.    Place the whole pecans in a radial pattern on the surface of the pecans and syrup in the pie crust.

The pie before baking.

8.    Bake for 60-70 minutes or until the center of the pie springs back if pushed down.

The completed and baked pie.

Making a pie from the bottom up was a great experience. We didn’t have a food processor, but I was able to make the dough relatively easily. After chilling for a while, the dough was not difficult to work with and only stuck to the counter a little bit. The pie plate I was using didn’t have a large lip, so I didn’t make a very decorative edge for the crust. Precooking the crust worked pretty well, but it still had a few air bubbles that I pressed out after lightly browning the crust.

After that new experience, I just had to finish the familiar routine of finishing a pecan pie. It turns out that the lack of a decorative edge on the crust, coupled with the walls of the crust shrinking slightly helped because there wasn’t enough filling to completely fill the pie plate. After baking for an hour and cooling for another, the pie was still slightly warm and I got to serve it to a bunch of the MSSM staff.

It became apparent that I should have greased the pie plate before baking the crust, but I managed to pry the first few slices out successfully. Now, I can look forward to having more pie for breakfast tomorrow.

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Considering Pies

Alex:

Since I was about 7 years old, I have been crazy about pecan pie. My mom made a pie every Christmas, and I am excited to try my hand at it. We have a limited amount of ingredients, so I doubt it will be anything fancy. This is something I worry about tomorrow’s apple pie, because it lacks molasses. However, a pie does not require numerous, fantastic ingredients to be tasty. My biggest worry with the pie is burning it because I never have been a particularly gifted baker, especially because pecan pie is filled with sugar and can easily crisp up and be ruined. I’m also concerned about proportions and making sure the pie isn’t overwhelmingly sweet or nutty. However, if we follow our plans and keep a careful eye on the pie while it is baking, success should not be too hard to grasp.

Thomas:

Making pies is easy, right? Well, making a pie is easy when you just make the filling and drop it into a frozen prepared pie crust. I’m confident that today’s pie fillings will come out nicely, but preparing crust from scratch seems much more difficult. After this, I would like to see if a homemade pie crust seems better than store-bought. Ingredients-wise, it’s probably better for you, but making the crust takes a great deal of time. Since the apple pie we are making today has a crust top, it should be worth the time to make the complete pie, but the pecan pie doesn’t need such a complex crust arrangement.

Luke:

When making pies, the most “American” pie would be the apple pie. The image that comes to mind is a old grandmother pulling a delicious smelling pie out of the oven and putting it on her windowsill. My expectations for the apple pie is just that. The perfect pie: its smell making your mouth water. For the pecan pie, I’m going to try it for my first time, which is exciting.

Cheesecake with Strawberry Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs Cream Cheese
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 c Heavy Whipping Cream
  • 1 T Flour
  • ½ c Maple Syrup
  • ½ t Vanilla
  • 3c Crushed Graham Crackers
  • 1 c butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 c frozen strawberries
  • 1 T maple syrup
  • 1 t corn starch

Crust:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F
  2. Melt the butter. Pour the melted butter over the crackers until the mixture becomes stiff enough to hold together on it’s own.
  3. Press this into the bottom and halfway up the sides of a springform pan.

    Graham cracker crust in the spring-form pan.

  4. Bake at 400°F for 5-10 minutes, and give some time for it to cool.

Strawberry Sauce:

  1. Mash frozen strawberries
  2. Put mashed strawberries in to a sauce pan and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Keep at this boil until the sauce becomes thick.

    Heating up the strawberries to create the sauce.

  3. Add the maple syrup to sweeten to the sauce.
  4. Leave until cool. Mix in the corn starch to stiffen.

    Cooling both the cheese cake and the strawberry sauce.

  5. Place on top of the cheese cake right before placing the cake into the fridge.

    Pouring the sauce on top of the cheese cake.

Custard:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F
  2. Whip the cream cheese until soft.

    Whipping the cream cheese.

  3. Mix together the cream cheese, the egg, cream, flour, syrup, and vanilla into a large mixing bowl. Be careful not to over mix, as it can cause the cake to crack during cooling. There will be small lumps in the mix.
  4. Pour the cheese mixture into the crust.
  5. Place a pan full of water on a low rack in the oven. This will keep the cake moist, and prevent cracking.

    How to place the pan of water underneath the cheese cake in the oven.

  6. Bake the cake for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Allow it to cool in the oven  with the door cracked for at least 1 hour. Run a knife between the crust and the side of the pan to separate them.
  7. Top with the strawberry sauce and cool  in the fridge for at least 2 hours. When stiff, remove the sides of the pan and serve.

    Making sure that the cheese cake is not sticking to the springform pan.

This recipe went very smoothly. The biggest recommendation we can make is to allow the cream cheese to reach room temperature before whipping. Soft cream cheese is much easier to beat, and (hopefully) cling to the whisk less compared to the cool cream cheese. We also found that an electric mixer is very necessary to properly whip the cream cheese, although the other ingredients should be mixed by hand. Use as few strokes as possible and make them large and slow to make the cheese cake come out the best.

Considering Red Velvet Cake

Zeb

I wanted to make a cake because I am not very good at baking. I figured that if I wanted to learn how to bake, I should try something difficult so that it would be easy to make anything else. We had to go through a large disagreement about what to make. Apple Pie, Lemon Sorbet, and Pecan Pie all got shot down before we decided to bake something I’ve never had before. As a group, we decided to make a Red Velvet Cake. This sounded like a great idea, and I immediately agreed. Though there was some skepticism at first, Red Velvet Cake won through in the end. Hopefully this group decision will get us to work together better, as we have had trouble in the past.

Jenna

After constant feuding between our group about which desert to make, we could not reach an agreement. Pies, ice cream, clafouti, all of the options in the world but we couldn’t settle on anything. An idea was finally brought to our attention, something classic and delicious. We decided on a red velvet cake with homemade frosting. The main goal of this project is to have our cake come out as intended, rather than having another surprise like yesterday. We want to make sure to follow the recipe exactly and achieve the perfect red velvet cake. I’m hoping that doing a project that we agreed on unanimously will help bring our group together and make something that we will all enjoy.

Ryan

After lots of bickering and arguing our group finally came to a decision.  Red Velvet Cake is what we decided to make. Red Velvet Cake is not a dessert I’ve had before, nor have I made one. I always hear people talking about how good the cake is. The mystique surrounding this supposedly decadent dessert intrigued me enough to create the cake. In doing so I hope to learn to love baking, since currently I am not very fond of it as a whole.