Chef Forrest’s Blondies

Our many Castilleja School readers will recognize this recipe, although it appears just once a year. The last minutes we spend at school before the summer vacation are spent eating these blondies, as they are the fonder for many hungry middle schoolers after 8th grade promotion, baked by the inimitable Casti kitchen staff. I can definitely tell you that these blondies are one of the main reasons why Promotion is 10x better than Class Day, a day so boring that they give the sixth graders bingo cards to keep them entertained. After watching two different classes be promoted to the Upper School, it is finally our turn to dress in our finest dress whites and receive fancy diplomas (possibly even make some speeches). I am excited to move on to our next chapter, but I am very sad to be saying goodbyes way too early to several members of the class of 2020. You will be missed! If I could keep everyone at Casti, I would. I know that I will be making a batch of these simply delicious blondies to eat after finals (and some of you may be lucky enough to snag a few). I can easily replicate the simple, sweet and toffee-y (yes that is totally a word) flavor of these yummy treats, but not the feeling that yet another year has ended and another era is about to begin.

So, whether or not you go to Casti, please enjoy making this recipe as you think about new beginnings and remember that as one door closes, another opens.

** also please note, this recipe is the simplest I have ever made. You cannot screw these up, so if you are looking a recipe to dive into baking, this is it. It will definitely impress your family, and you can feel very smug about the effort to praise ratio of this recipe.

Chef Forrest’s Blondies

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup butter (room temp)
  • 2 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • optional! 1/2 cup chocolate chips (if you must; for the authentic version please skip these)

Directions:

  1. Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs one at a time. Add vanilla and remaining ingredients, until just incorporated.
  2. Spread on buttered/floured square brownie pan (mine is 9×5).
  3. Bake at 350˚ Fahrenheit for 25 min.
  4. Cut after cooling. Enjoy!
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Quick + Easy Scones

Hi blog readers! It’s been a while AGAIN. Our sincerest apologies.

So. Scones. I don’t know about you but I am an afternoon tea aficionado. I have been at Claridges, the Empress Hotel in Victoria, the Drake in Chicago and the Garden Court here in San Francisco. I absolutely adore afternoon tea. It makes me feel like I am Lady Mary, about to go meet my dashing race car-driving husband or follow the hunt in some utterly fabulous clothes. Simply put, I feel like a queen.

The most important part of afternoon (other than the tea) is the scones. Taken with lemon curd and clotted cream, they are divine. I recently hosted (along with Michal) a petite afternoon tea with some friends. Because clotted cream is incredibly annoying to make, I made whipped cream instead. Michal made some incredible lemon curd, and I made these. The group made quite a refined trio.

I will be posting more from the tea party soon, but let’s start with these scones.

Zuni Cafe Scones 

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ingredients:

  • 1.5 cups flour
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • Dash of salt
  • 1 stick of butter (VERY VERY COLD)
  • 1 ½ teaspoon freshly grated orange zest (optional)
  • 1 egg yolk
  • ¼ cup whole milk

directions: 

  1. Preheat oven to 350˚ Fahrenheit and line a baking tray with parchment paper.
  2. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Mix well.
  3. Using a pastry cutter, cut the butter into the dry ingredients. Continue cutting until you achieve tiny pea size butter chunks.
  4. Whisk together egg yolk and milk, and add to the bowl.
  5. Stir to combine, then knead with your hands until the dough comes together.
  6. Roll dough out with a rolling pin, and cut into triangles.
  7. Bake for 25 minutes, then let cool for 5 minutes on the pan.
  8. Enjoy! These are best warm and make a great breakfast if you have leftovers 🙂

 

Creamy Lemon Pasta with Chicken and Tomatoes

Hi blog readers!

We apologize for our absence of posts these past few weeks.We were taking a holiday hiatus because things caught up with both of us. Sorry! However, buckle your seat belts because 2016 is going to GREAT for the Flour Power Girls. We have a whole lineup of incredible posts ready for you over the next few weeks.

This year, I really want to get more involved with savory things. My parents would DEFINITELY appreciate not having to cook dinner every night, and I get excited just thinking about the whole new world of recipes that dinner, lunch and meals that don’t involve baked goods bring to the table. I received a few top notch cookbooks this year, including The Sugar Hit! by one of my all-time favorite bloggers, Sarah, Veganomicon by Isa Moskowitz and Terry Romero, and Voracious by Cara Nicoletti. I am so psyched to cook from them! Yay!

And on to the recipe. We’re kicking off our new savory section with this cream-sauce pasta recipe.

Get ready, because what I am about to tell you might shock you. DISCLAIMER: Flour Power Girls cannot be held legally responsible for your actions after reading the following sentence.

This super-thick, creamy pasta has NO CREAM. Yes. You can laugh in disbelief, but it is 110% true.

It is so so fast, with minimal prep, and the results are incredible. Trust me. This pasta tastes indulgent and rich, but definitely doesn’t come close to the foooooood cooooooma stage. In fact, it’s relatively light. It has some heat, refreshing lemon, lean protein, and healthy greens. It may just be the perfect meal.

Creamy Lemon Pasta with Chicken and Tomatoes.

Serves 4

Ingredients:

For the chicken:

  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 2 teaspoons salt, divided
  • 2 teaspoons pepper, divided
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, divided

For the pasta:

  • 3/4 lb pasta, preferably spaghetti or another thin, long pasta (ie tagliatelle)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 4 cloves of minced garlic
  • 2 lemons, juiced and zested
  • 3/4 cup greek yogurt (yes, nonfat totally works!) or creme fraiche
  • 1 cup shredded Parmesan
  • 1 cup arugula or spinach (stems removed)
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

Instructions:

For the chicken.

  1. Preheat oven to 350 fahrenheit.
  2. Combine spices and 1/4 teaspoon pepper flakes and gently dredge chicken in spice mixture.
  3. Cook in 1 tablespoon of oil in a nonstick pan over medium heat. Flip after 3 minutes or so, developing a nice char.
  4. Transfer to a baking sheet, and bake for about 25 minutes, until chicken is fully cooked (test it please!).
  5. Let cool and cut into bite-size pieces.

For the pasta.

  1. Cook pasta according to package directions, and drain, reserving 2 tablespoons of pasta water.
  2. In pasta pot, cook garlic in remaining 2 tablespoons of oil and remaining pepper flakes.
  3. Add lemon juice, greek yogurt and pasta water.
  4. Once the sauce has thickened slightly, and greek yogurt has melted, add chicken, pasta and Parmesan. Mix well.
  5. Once the cheese has melted, add arugula/spinach and tomatoes. Combine and let wilt.

Enjoy!

All Year – French Bread

Hello baking friends! Coming fresh from the Hingham kitchen, you have… French bread! This bread is perfectly paired with butter, cheese, and everything in between! You can grill the bread and put butter on it for dinner, or just PB & J for a yummy sandwich! I made this bread today because recently my dad has been asking me to try making bread more. We have a bread machine, but sometimes it’s just easier to go basic. So, I give you easy French bread!

This bread is just so yummy! You really can do anything with it! Although this bread does take quite a while, it is fairly simple. It’s perfect on a warm summer’s night or a chilly winter morning. Yum!

Overall, this bread was a success! My dad loved it, and he even put some garlic and butter on it to make garlic bread! So Good!

~Eleanor

This is a variation of Chew Out Loud’s Crusty French Bread Recipe made by Eleanor in the Hingham Kitchen!

Ingredients:

  • 4 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 packets dry yeast
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 ½ cups of warm water*
  • 1 egg white beaten with 1 TB water

Directions:

  1. Combine flour, yeast, salt, and sugar in a large bowl. Hand whisk until well combined. Stir in the warm water gradually, until dough forms. The dough should resemble a smooth texture, but not be too sticky. Add flour or water until it resembles this teaspoon, roughly 1 TB at a time.
  2. Place dough on a lightly floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes. Roll dough into a  ball, and place in a lightly oiled bowl.* Cover bowl with saran wrap and place in a warm, draft-free place* for about 30-60. The dough should be doubled in size by now.
  3. Take the dough out of the bowl and place back onto the lightly floured surface. Pound the dough down and divide in half. Let them sit for 10 minutes, covered.
  4. Roll out dough into the shape of your desire (I made one long loaf, and one round-ish rectangle). Roll your shape lengthwise, and moisten the edges with water. Make sure the edges are sealed.
  5. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, or a silicone baking mat. Place loaves seam side down on the sheet. If they look sticky, little sprinkle them with flour. Cut diagonal slits so you can allow for the steam to rise in the oven. Brush loaves with the egg/water mixture.
  6. Lightly lay saran wrap over the loaves and place back in a warm, draft-free place for about 30 minutes. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 375 degrees, and place a large pan of water below the bread.*
  7. Bake for 15 minutes. Brush the loaves with the egg/water mixture again, and bake for another 15 minutes, or until the bread looks done.

Ta-Da! You have completed delicious French bread!

*1. Oil the bowl with vegetable oil, olive oil, or melted coconut oil.

*2. Places include: oven turned off, microwave, and above the refrigerator.

*3. A pan of water below the bread will give the bread a golden crispy crust with a soft inside.

Red Velvet Cake

Attention, readers! Here in the Palo Alto kitchen we have a science-defying, diet-busting, jeans-shrinking, mind-blowing red velvet cake. This distinctly Southern delight was inspired by a certain character in a certain play that a certain theatre class is certainly performing soon! That would be Clairee Belcher in Steel Magnolias, people. Yup, that’s the one where (SPOILER ALERT) everyone cries. The absolute tear-jerker of a play manages to be hilarious, devastating and breathtakingly written at the same time. I get to bring to life the matriarch of the whole thing, the epitome of a proper Southern lady (not unlike a particular grandmother [yup, Gram, I’m talking about you]). Clairee is sweet and sassy and she inspired this cake. The cake itself is a bomb.com recipe from the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York. I got it from a woman who found it in her shed with a note that said that the recipe-recorder had paid $250 dollars for it.

The decorations were – an adventure. I, being the Buzzfeed addict that I am, was inspired by one of those classic Buzzfeed lists, this time about cake decorating. Unfortunately, once I’d melted my chocolate, with which I was going to artfully pipe out some pretty decorations, I added cold milk. This turned my nice, melted chocolate into basically chocolate clay. I will let you in on a secret, readers. I am a baker. I am not a decorator. Decorations are usually the weakest part of whatever I am baking. Hopefully I will improve with time, but it is a work in progress. Riley Guggenhime, if you’re reading this, THANK YOU! you are a decorating lifesaver. So here it is. The cake that tastes delish, has a beautiful red color, and which broke the no sugar pact I’d been keeping up for a week.

Note: Try this substitute for cake flour: 1 cup minus 2 tablespoons regular flour, 2 tablespoons cornstarch. You can put the cornstarch in the bottom of your measuring cup. For buttermilk, try this: 1 teaspoon white vinegar or lemon juice with 1/2 cup milk. Stir and let sit for 5 minutes. I learned that from Sally – thanks, Sally!

Waldorf Astoria Cake from Food.com:

Makes two 8-inch round layers.

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 1cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 ounces red food coloring (I used “christmas red” gel)
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa (heaping)
  • 1 cup buttermilk (see note)
  • 2 1cups cake flour (see note)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar
  1. In a stand mixer, cream butter, sugar and eggs.
  2. Make a paste with red food coloring and cocoa. It will basically still look like cocoa powder, your paste will not turn red. Add to mixer.
  3. Combine flour and salt, then add half to the mix.
  4. Add half your buttermilk, then the rest of the flour and salt.
  5. Now, add the rest of the buttermilk and mix.
  6. Add vanilla.
  7. Create that super fun reaction with the baking soda and vinegar together (let out your inner second-grader!) and wait for it to stop bubbling a bit to add it to the mix.
  8. Pour into greased and floured cake pans (I also put parchment paper circles on the bottoms of mine), and bake at 350˚ for 24-30 minutes.
  9. Let cool and frost.

Cream Cheese Frosting from the Food Network:

  • 4 ounces butter
  • 4 ounces soft cream cheese (I used low fat neufchâtel cheese)
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  1. Combine butter and cream cheese in a stand mixer.
  2. Add powdered sugar 1 cup at a time, with mixer on s l o w  s p e e d.
  3. Beat in vanilla.

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and yes, I am burning the almost-midnight oil to post this. you’re welcome. 😉

Feels Like Fall Soft Pretzels

Hi Fellow Bakers! Sorry for not posting last week, we have been VERY busy! So from now on, we will be trying to post on Thursdays. Yesterday was my first day of school, ugh. I wish we could have summer all year long, NO WINTER! After last year, I’m so sick of the cold and snow and snow and snow and snow!!!! UGH! Anyway, let’s get to baking!

Today, I have for you Feels Like Fall Soft Pretzels! These pretzels are soooooo delicious that they were gone within a day. They are just like your favorite store-bought ones, but like 10x better! Not only are these pretzels DEEEElicous, but they are super fun to bake! I PROMISE you, you will N-O-T regret making these scrumptious fall treats!

I revised this yummy snack from our favorite blogger Sally McKenney with Sally’s Baking Addiction! If you haven’t checked out her blog, you totally should! She has great recipes and techniques. I hope you LOVE these soft pretzels just like I do!

~Eleanor/Hingham Kitchen

This recipe is adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction Cookbook.

Yields about 8 pretzels.

Ingredients:

Pretzels:

  • 1 packet standard yeast (2 ¼ tsp)
  • 1 ¼ cup warm water (110-115°F)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp light brown sugar
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra
  • 1 pot full of water (about 9 cups)
  • ⅔ baking soda

Topping:


Savory:

  • 3-4 tbsp sea salt
  • 2 tbsp butter, melted

Sweet:

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon

Directions:

  • PREP: Preheat oven to 425°F. Place parchment paper or silicone baking mats on two large baking sheets. Set aside.
  • MAKE THE DOUGH: Combine the yeast with the warm water in a medium sized bowl. Allow for the yeast to fully dissolve before whisking in the salt and brown sugar. Add the flour slowly, one cup at a time until the dough begins to form. Do not add too much flour, or the pretzels will be too hard.
  • KNEAD THE DOUGH: Place the dough on a lightly floured surface. Knead the dough for 2-3 minutes and shape into a ball. Cut the dough into 7-8 sections with a sharp knife.
  • ROLL THE DOUGH: Roll each section into a 18-20 inch rope; not too thin. Form the rope into a giant U shape. Then take the ends and twist them together toward yourself to create a pretzel shape.
  • BOIL THE PRETZELS: Whisk the large pot of water with the baking soda. Bring to a boil. Place a pretzel onto a strainer and dip into the boiling water until it floats to the top; about 30 seconds. Take the pretzels out of the water and place onto the baking sheet. Repeat with all of the pretzels.
  • BAKE THE PRETZELS: Bake the pretzels for 10 minutes. Mix the sugar with the cinnamon in a small bowl together. Remove the pretzels and brush the top with the melted butter and sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar or salt. Bake the pretzels for another 5-8 minutes, or until their bottoms aren’t raw. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with more of your desired topping.
  • ENJOY!: Serve warm for best results:)! Pretzels will last for up to two days in an airtight container!

Please answer the question below!

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Blueberry Pie!

Hello blog followers! This is the Flour Power Girls, making our first official post! So exciting! This past Sunday, we had a big family gathering (20 people!) and for that we decided to make… wait for it… 2 big, juicy blueberry pies. We embarked on this journey with the always helpful Martha Stewart for guidance. Shout out to Aunt Toria and Auntie L for buying us fresh blueberries from the farmers’ market.

There is something so delicious about pie. Maybe it is the thick, flaky, buttery crust. Or the sweet, ripe and juicy fruit. Maybe it is the beauty of the whole thing, warm and steamy and made for sharing. Whatever it is, we prepped with water in the fridge and  got up at 8:00 (!!!) to make pie crust. We did it somewhat robotically then crawled back into bed. Then back up for filling. Blair’s favorite part – squishing 1/2 a cup of blueberries with her hands! Yay! then baking. The house smelled amazing. If we made “Blueberry Pie in the Oven” scented perfume, we would make a FORTUNE!

The Relatives were very impressed (both parties – the Grandparents as well as the Bronxville Cousins). Uncle Larry and Uncle Jim much appreciated the “breakfast-sized” mini-pies which we baked in jumbo muffin tins, and the pie crust cookies. Yummy!

~Eliza

This is a variation of Martha Stewart’s Blueberry Pie with a Pate Brisee Crust made by everyone!

Crust (Pate Brisee):

  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks of butter (1 cup), cut into small pieces
  • varying from ¼ to ½ cup of ice water

Filling:

  • 3-4 pints of blueberries
  • ¼ cup of sugar
  • ¼ cup of cornstarch
  • 1 ½ tablespoons of cornstarch
  • 2-3 tablespoons of butter cut into small pieces
  • 1 egg yolk
  • ¾ tablespoon heavy cream

Directions for Pate Brisee:

  1. In the bowl of a food processor, or in a large bowl with a pastry cutter, combine flour salt until the mixture resembles small crumbs with a few large ones (pulse with a food processor).
  2. Slowly add the ice water; do not process for more than 30 seconds. If the dough crumbles when you pick up a small amount, add more water; one tablespoon at a time.
  3. Carefully place the dough onto a clean surface and divide it into two sections. Shape the dough into flattened disks and wrap them with plastic wrap. The dough must be refrigerated for at least one hour or overnight. It can be frozen for up to a month; thaw overnight before using.

Directions for Pie:

  1. Roll out your chilled pie dough on a lightly floured surface to a 12-inch round. Fit the dough into a 9-inch glass pie plate; pressing it into the edges. Cut the dough around the edge with a small amount of overhang. Chill pie dough in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
  2. Place all of the blueberries in a large bowl; crush about ½ cup of them with your hands. Add the sugar, cornstarch, and lemon juice; stir them until they are combined with the blueberries. Spoon blueberries into chilled pie crust; dot with small pieces of butter.
  3. Roll out the rest of dough in the same manner as the first section; place the dough over the blueberry filling.* Use your fingers to press the two pieces together; use a fork to crimp as desired.
  4. Using a knife, cut several vents in the top of the crust. Whisk the egg yolk and cream together. Brush a thin layer of egg wash on the surface of the egg wash. Place the pie in the fridge and refrigerate for 30 minutes. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  5. Take the pie out of the fridge and place it on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the crust is golden. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees and bake for another 45-55 minutes, rotating halfway through. Transfer the pie to a wire rack to cool completely. This pie can be kept loosely covered with saran wrap for up to two days.

And wallah! You have a delicious blueberry pie!

*For extra decorations, take cookie cutters and cut small shapes in the top crust for vents!

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