Thursday, April 26, 2012

Molly's "Farmer's Daughter" Sandwich

The entire university campus serves the same mega-chain coffee in all of its cafés...all of its cafés, that is, except for one.  I'm not sure what the loophole is, but I think it's allowed to exist because it sits in the basement of the art gallery on the edge of campus.  I never would have noticed its presence, but lucky me,  I have caring friends who steered me to its doors.  There are lots of things to love about Molly's:  They serve Stumptown Coffee.  Their punchcard offers two opportunities for free beverages instead of the usual one.  The drip coffee is only $1 if you bring your own mug.  The baristas are the friendliest hipsters in Seattle.  Their salads and sandwiches are almost entirely organic and sourced by local suppliers.

They serve the Farmer's Daughter Sandwich.
An apple, onion, and cheddar sandwich does not sound appetizing under its own name.  I suspect this is why the marketing team at Molly's put together the clever name, "Farmer's Daughter."  I decided to try it under Ryan's recommendation, and I was hooked!  Crisp tart apples, slightly sweet pickled onions, and fatty cheddar compliment each other incredibly well in both texture and taste.  Served on wheat bread with a smear of stoneground mustard, this is a sandwich that is meant for people who love tangy and sweet flavors.

Now that my days of attending the university are over, my reasons for visiting Molly's have dwindled.  I miss the smiling baristas, clean and bright study space, and delicious food and coffee...but who's to say I can't make the sandwich at home?

Adapted from sandwich served at Molly's

  • Whole wheat bread
  • Extra sharp white cheddar
  • Stoneground mustard
  • Pickled yellow onions (recipe here)
  • Granny smith apple, sliced 

Slice your apples thinly.
 Spread a generous amount of stoneground mustard.
 Layer a slice of cheddar (or the apples, since the mustard will keep the slices in place).
 Top with pickled onions!
 Finish off the sandwich...
 ...and you're ready to go.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Pickled Yellow Onions

Most people I know who regularly pickle and can their veggies are those who have abundant gardens or a fondness for specific goods (dill pickles, kimchi, etc.).  I've never had a reason or a desire to go through with the whole process, but a decent amateur attempt at refrigerator pickling keeps the process easy.  No specific equipment or jars are required, and it is quick enough to do in small batches.

In an attempt to reconstruct one of my favorite sandwiches (future post!) from a campus café, I made pickled yellow onions.  These onions are sweet and very tangy, and would go great with sandwiches, hot dogs, tacos, and salads.

Based on the seasonings I had on hand, I adapted a recipe for pickled red onions.  You can also adapt this based on what spices you have...I also added some garlic last minute, and I think I'll do peppercorns next time, too.

The arsenal
Recipe adapted from Simply Recipes
Yield: 16 oz jar of pickled onions


  • 1 medium yellow onion, peeled, halved, and sliced thinly
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1-2 bay leaves
  • 5 whole cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled 
Bring a saucepan of water to a boil (pot should be big enough to hold the onion pieces and cover with water).  Meanwhile, halve and slice the onion into thin strips.  
Blanch the onions by boiling them for two minutes, then draining in a colander and rinsing under cold water.
 Meanwhile, bring the other ingredients to boil in a small saucepan.  Once it reaches a boil, bring the temperature down to low and simmer for five minutes.

Add the onions to the vinegar mixture and steep for one minute.
Transfer to a glass jar (I used a pint-sized canning jar).  Let cool, and store in the refrigerator (will keep for several weeks).  I tasted mine after letting it sit overnight, and it was ready to go!

There was a complete lack of Digby photobombing this recipe shoot.  I'm not sure he had much interest in pickled onions (onions are really bad for dogs, but I doubt he knows that!), so for this recipe's obligatory-Digby-photo, I'll show you what he was doing instead of scoping out the kitchen:

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Cold S'mores

With homemade marshmallows and graham crackers, it was impossible not to make s'mores.  The problem lies in not having access to a campfire to properly brown the marshmallows.  Instead of forgoing the treats, I opted to make some cold s'mores for an aerospace-themed movie night (we were watching From the Earth to the Moon!), and dipped the marshmallow sandwiches in dark chocolate.

  • Marshmallows (recipe here)
  • Graham crackers (recipe here)
  • Dark chocolate (I used Ghirardelli baking chips)
  • Coconut oil (optional)
Match up the graham crackers with similarly-shaped marshmallows and sandwich.  This is easier if you have the precision of cookie cutters on your side! 

Melt the chocolate.  I used the microwave (20 second intervals with stirring in between), and kept the vessel in a hot water bath while I was dipping.  If you want thicker layers of chocolate, leave it as is.  If you want a thinner layer, add a small amount of coconut oil (1 teaspoon at a time until you're at the consistency you want).  Be careful, though--the coconut oil will make the chocolate softer when it you may want to freeze your s'mores.

Dip your cookies in the chocolate halfway.

Let the s'mores set on parchment paper.  You can also freeze or refrigerate these to speed up the process.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Graham Crackers

Did you know that graham crackers were originally a bland health food developed in the 1820's to help prevent people from having impure thoughts?  Yeah, I didn't, either.

Of course, they've since morphed into a mis-named cookie, staple to so many childhood snacks and camping trips.  I love graham crackers, and decided to take a stab at making some myself.  These use real graham flour, which is a whole grain.  Most graham crackers on grocery store shelves are made with white flour, so these will be a bit grittier in texture than what you may expect.

The dough is reminiscent of a pie dough, and the original recipe calls for a food processor to blend the butter with the dry ingredients.  I don't have a food processor, and the string of small kitchens I've lived in have forced me to heavily consider each appliance purchase...but I have a trick for you!

One quick note: the original recipe calls for measurement by weight, not volume.  I'm a huge fan of recipes that call for grams/ounces instead of cups (it's more accurate, it allows for easier dry ingredient substitutions, etc.), but I understand not everybody has a scale.  I attempted to measure as I went, and the volume measurements are approximate.

Recipe from Alton Brown 


  • 8 3/8 ounces (1 1/2 c) graham flour
  • 1 7/8 (1/2 c) ounces all-purpose flour
  • 3 (1/2 c, packed) ounces dark brown sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 ounces unsalted butter, chilled and cubed (frozen if you do not have a food processor)
  • 2 1/4 ounces molasses (I did honey, which ended up being 2 T)
  • 1 1/2 ounces (3 1/2 T)  milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Place all dry ingredients into a food processor and pulse to mix.  Add the butter slowly, and keep pulsing until it resembles cornmeal.  Add wet ingredients one at a time, and process until a ball forms. 
OR, if you don't have a food processor, follow the steps below:

Combine dry ingredients in a stand mixer.

Keep your butter in the freezer, and when frozen solid, grate the butter into smaller pieces.  Work quickly, and use the butter wrapper or gloves to keep your body heat as removed as possible.

Mix butter in with the dry ingredients, and beat until it looks like this:

Now add your wet ingredients one at a time.  Alton calls for molasses, but I wanted a milder I went with honey instead.  You could also do 1/2 and 1/2 between molasses and honey.

The following steps are the same, regardless of how you prepared the dough.

Wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 30 min.  Preheat the oven to 350ºF.

Roll the dough between two sheets of parchment paper until about 1/8" thick (I ran out, so I did plastic wrap for the top layer).

 You can now lay the parchment paper directly onto a baking sheet, and use a small knife or pizza cutter to cut into rectangles.  Be sure to use a fork to dot the tops.  I opted to do shapes with a cookie cutter instead (I apologize for the quality of the following camera battery died and I had to go with a backup plan):

Poke the tops with a fork:

Bake for 20-25 min, or until the edges start to brown.

A preview of what's coming up next post....

Monday, April 2, 2012

Whiskey Marshmallows

With Easter this upcoming weekend, it seemed like as good of a time as any to break out the candy thermometer and make homemade marshmallows!
A candy thermometer is very important.  I never considered myself a candy maker, but it can be used to make meringue buttercream frostings, caramels, and lots of other sweets.  It's an inexpensive kitchen tool that you'll find yourself using over and over again...well worth the investment.  If the proper temperature isn't reached (or is exceeded) in your sugar syrups, then you end up with crystallization, candies that won't set, and other problems.  

With a set of cookie cutters and some colored sugar, you can make your own Peeps.  You can also save these marshmallows for hot chocolate (it's still plenty cold here in Seattle), take them camping for s'mores, or just eat them plain.

I followed the recipe from Use Real Butter (one of my favorite food blogs), and added a special kick:

The best part of homemade marshmallows is the flexibility in flavors.  You can add vanilla, chocolate, almond, peppermint, lavender, coffee, whiskey, or any liqueur. 

Recipe from Use Real Butter


  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 envelopes of powdered gelatin
  • 1-2 shots whiskey (optional)
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup light corn syrup
  • 4 egg whites (room temperature)
  • pinch salt
  • 1 cup confectioner's sugar
  • 1 cup corn starch or potato starch
  • vegetable oil (for greasing pan)
Pour 1/2 cup of liquid into a bowl.  If you have no liqueur flavors, this will be all water.  If you are adding whiskey or another liqueur, first pour the liqueur in the measuring cup and then top off the 1/2 cup with water.  I used one shot, but the flavor is hardly noticeable.  I would try two next time.  Sprinkle gelatin powder over the liquid and let it sit.

Meanwhile, mix 1/3 cup cold water, sugar, and corn syrup in a small saucepan and warm over medium-high heat.  Keep a candy thermometer on the mixture.  

Meanwhile, beat egg whites on low speed until frothy.  Add a pinch of salt.  When the syrup reaches 210°F (Jen of Use Real Butter makes a good point that you have to reduce this temperature by 2 degrees every 1000 feet of elevation above sea level--yay, science!), turn the mixer on high and beat the egg whites until thick and fluffy.

When syrup gets to 245°F, slowly pour it in a thin stream into the side of the mixing bowl while the whisk is running (but avoid getting the syrup on the whisk and bowl sides). 

Leave the mixer beating, and return the saucepan to the stove.  Pour the gelatin mixture into the saucepan, and let the residual heat melt and dissolve the gelatin.  Pour this mixture into the mixing bowl (while still beating), in a similar slow stream to the syrup.  At this point, add any flavoring extracts (vanilla, peppermint, almond...).  Continue whipping until the bowl is cool to the touch.

Meanwhile, mix the powdered sugar and corn/potato starch in a large bowl.

Grease a 9x13 pan with vegetable oil, including the sides.  Dump a small amount of the powdered sugar mix into the pan to dust.

Gently tap the sides of the pan while tilting and rotating.  This will ensure an even coat.

If you have any excess, return it to the bowl.  Your coated pan should now look like this:

Your marshmallow fluff should be about done!  

Pour into the pan, and spread around evenly.

Let it dry overnight, uncovered.

Dust the top layer with the powdered sugar mix and coat evenly.

Run a knife along the edges to loosen, and gently invert the pan onto a clean surface.  You may need to use your hands (I used a spatula) to loosen the marshmallow.

From here, you can use a knife, pizza cutter, or scissors to cut the marshmallow into small blocks.  I decided to use some small cookie cutters instead.  Be sure to dip the cutters in the powdered sugar mix in between cuts!

Toss the marshmallow pieces in the powdered sugar mix to coat evenly.  If you're making homemade Peeps, you'll toss in colored sugar instead.

Shake off the marshmallows to get rid of any extra powder.

Space-themed marshmallows!

There will be plenty of marshmallow bits leftover after you're done cutting all of your shapes.  You can slice these up with scissors or a knife, toss in the remaining marshmallow powder, and save them for hot chocolate and other scrap-friendly uses.
You can store these in an air-tight container for up to a week.