In this time of uncertainty, we have found ourselves living a “new normal”. However, in the midst of everyday challenges and changes, one thing is certain to remain the same: we have to eat!
For over 20 years, Legal Aid has had a strong social connection with food—specifically, a highly anticipated weekly tradition: Friday Treats. Every Friday morning, staff members gather together in the break room to enjoy delicious sweet and savory breakfast items brought in our coworkers. Friday Treats offers the opportunity for staff to mingle across units and learn more about one another on a personal level.
In a similar spirit, as our summer fundraising campaign has evolved, so too has Legal Aid’s culture of building community through food. At the end of the Campaign, the top fundraising firms gather together in a friendly Iron Chef style cooking competition to celebrate and acknowledge the Campaign’s success.
This past year saw the advent of two new food centered events: the aptly named Baking Justice Real baking competition and a Chili Cook-Off!
In true Legal Aid fashion, “Recipes from a Socially-Distanced Kitchen” is our way of staying connected through the fellowship of food by sharing our favorite recipes here!
Perfect Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins
Author: Kim Lange
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 18 mins
Total Time: 28 mins
- 4 ripe bananas, medium or 1 & 1/3 cups of mashed banana
- 1/3 cup melted butter cooled
- 2/3 cup sugar or sugar of choice
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- A pinch of salt
- 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour Bob's Red Mill gluten-free flour or 1/2 cup Purely Amazing GF Flour
- 1 cup Ghirardelli semisweet chocolate chips
- Preheat oven to 350.
- Grease your muffin tins.
- Peel bananas and throw them in a big bowl with the melted butter and smash it all together with a fork.
- Keep blending until the mixture is creamy and smooth, not chunky.
- Add sugar, egg and vanilla and mix just until combined.
- Stir in salt and baking soda.
- Add flour and chocolate chips and mix until just combined. Do not overmix!
- Divide into muffin tins.
- Bake until cake tester or toothpick pulls out cleanly for about 18-20 minutes
Tip: Preference not to use liners because the muffins are so moist, they tend to just stick and be messy.
Nutrition: Calories: 106kcal | Carbohydrates: 23g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 14mg | Sodium: 97mg | Potassium: 22mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 11g | Vitamin A: 20IU | Calcium: 4mg | Iron: 1mg
Mom's Macaroni & Cheese Casserole
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1 small onion
- 1 box macaroni (elbow or penne work best)
- 2 cans tomato soup
- 2 cans milk
- 12-16 slices American Cheese
- Dice onion and put in skillet with ground beef. Brown ground beef.
- Cook pasta according to directions on package - less one minute. Drain.
- Dice cheeseMix pasta, ground beef, soup, milk all together. Stir in cheese throughout.
- Pour mixture into oven safe dish. Cook at 350 for about 40 minutes - until bubbly.
Author: Rose Levy Beranbaum
Dough Starter (Sponge): minimum 1 1/2 hours, maximum 24 hours
Minimum Rising Time: 10 hours
Oven Temperature: 425°F (350°F for the loaf)
Baking Time: 10 to 15 minutes for small brioche, 35 to 40 minutes for the loaf
Yield: Makes 16 small brioche (or one 8 1/2-by-4 1/2-by-4 1/2-inch-high loaf)/17.5 ounces/500 grams
- I like a sweeter brioche, so I double the sugar. It's still not enough sugar to make it overly sweet or cakelike.
- I definitely recommend adding a baked yam! It makes the brioche wonderfully moist.
- I have stopped pre-heating a baking stone/baking sheet, as I don't like my brioche to be too crusty.
- The egg glaze is totally optional! I haven't been doing that step.
Dough Starter (Sponge)
- Water, at room temperature (70° to 90°F): 2 tablespoons (1 ounce or 29.5 grams)
- Sugar: 1 tablespoon (scant 0.5 ounce or 12.5 grams)
- Instant yeast: 1/4 teaspoon (0.8 grams)
- Unbleached all-purpose ﬂour (use only Gold Medal, King Arthur, or Pillsbury): 1/2 cup (2.5 ounces or 71 grams)
- Eggs: 1 large egg (2 ounces or 58 grams weighed in the shell)
- Unbleached all-purpose ﬂour (use only Gold Medal, King Arthur, or Pillsbury): 1 cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoons (5.5 ounces or 156 grams)
- Sugar: 2 tablespoons (about 0.75 ounce or 25 grams)
- Instant yeast: 1 1/4 teaspoons (4 grams)
- Salt: 1/2 teaspoon (3.3 grams)
- Eggs: 2 large eggs, cold (4 ounces or 113 grams weighed in shells)
- Unsalted butter, very so: 8 tablespoons (4 ounces or 113 grams)
Egg Glaze (if making a large loaf, glaze is optional)
- eggs: 1 large egg yolk (1 tablespoon)
- cream or milk: 1 teaspoon
1. One day or up to 2 days ahead, make the dough. In the mixer bowl, place the water, sugar, instant yeast, ﬂour, and egg. Whisk by hand until very smooth, to incorporate air, about 3 minutes. The sponge will be the consistency of a very thick batter. (At ﬁrst the dough may collect inside the whisk, but just shake it out and keep whisking. If it's too thick to whisk, it means you've added too much ﬂour and will need to add a little of the eggs to be added Step 3.) Scrape down the sides of the bowl and set it aside, covered with plastic wrap.
2. Combine the ingredients for the ﬂour mixture and add to the sponge. In a small bowl, whisk the ﬂour with the sugar and yeast. Then whisk in the salt (this keeps the yeast from coming in contact with the salt, which would kill it). Sprinkle this mixture on top of the sponge. Cover it tightly with plastic wrap and let it stand for 1 1/2 to 2 hours at room temperature. (During this time, the sponge will bubble through the ﬂour mixture in places; this is ﬁne.)
3. Mix the dough. Add the 2 cold eggs and mix with the dough hook on low (#2 if using a KitchenAid) for about 1 minute or until the ﬂour is moistened. Raise the speed to medium (#4 KitchenAid) and beat for 2 minutes. Scrape the sides of the bowl with an oiled spatula and continue beating for about 5 minutes longer or until the dough is smooth and shiny but very so and sticky. It will mass around the dough hook but not pull away from the bowl completely. Add the butter by the tablespoon, waiting until each addition is almost completely absorbed before adding the next tablespoon, beating until all the butter is incorporated. The dough will be very so and elastic and will stick to your ﬁngers unmercifully, but don't be tempted to add more ﬂour at this point; it will ﬁrm considerably after chilling. (The dough will weigh about 19 ounces/536 grams.)
4. Let the dough rise. Using an oiled spatula or dough scraper, scrape the dough into a 1-quart dough rising container or bowl, greased lightly with cooking spray or oil. Lightly spray or oil the top of the dough and cover the container with a lid or plastic wrap. With a piece of tape, mark the side of the container at approximately where double the height of the dough would be. Allow the dough to rise until doubled, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
5. Chill the dough. Refrigerate the dough for 1 hour to ﬁrm it; this will prevent the butter from separating. Gently deﬂate the dough by stirring it with a rubber scraper or spatula, and return it to the refrigerator for another hour so that it will be less sticky and easier to handle.
6. Deﬂate the dough and allow it to rest, chilled. Turn the dough out onto a well-ﬂoured surface and press or roll it into a rectangle, ﬂouring the surface and dough as needed to keep it from sticking. The exact size of the rectangle is not important. Give the dough a business letter turn, brushing off any excess ﬂour, and again press down or roll it out into a rectangle. Rotate it 90 degrees so that the closed side is facing to your le. Give it a second business letter turn and round the corners. Dust it lightly on all sides with ﬂour. Wrap it loosely but securely in plastic wrap and then place it in a large zip-seal bag. Refrigerate for at least 6 hours or up to 2 days to allow the dough to ripen (develop ﬂavor) and ﬁrm.
7. Shape the dough and let it rise. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and gently press it down to deﬂate it. Cut the dough into 16 pieces (a scant 1 1/4 ounces/33 grams each). Without a scale, the easiest way to divide the dough evenly is to lightly ﬂour your hands and roll it into a long cylinder. Cut it in half, then continue cutting each piece in half until there are 16 pieces. Pinch off a little less than one-quarter of each piece, for the topknot. Roll each larger piece of dough into a ball and press it into a prepared brioche mold. With lightly ﬂoured hands, shape each of the dough pieces reserved for the topknots into an elongated pear form. Using your index ﬁnger, make a hole in the center of each brioche, going almost to the bottom of the mold, and insert the elongated part of a topknot deeply into the hole. Cover the molds loosely with oiled plastic wrap and let rise (ideally at 75° to 80°F) until the edges of the dough reach the tops of the molds, about 1 hour. (See page 493 for step-by-step illustrations.)
8. Preheat the oven. Preheat the oven to 425°F 1 hour before baking. Have an oven shelf at the lower level and place a baking stone or baking sheet on it before preheating.
9. Glaze and bake the brioche. Lightly beat together the egg yolk and cream for the glaze. Brush the top of the brioche with the egg glaze, being careful not to drip any on the side of the pans, or it will impede rising. Allow it to dry for 5 minutes and then brush a second time with the glaze. Use greased scissors or a small sharp knife to make a 1/4-inch-deep cut all around the base of the topknot so it will rise to an attractive shape. Set the molds on a baking sheet and place them on the hot stone or hot baking sheet. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or until a skewer inserted under a topknot comes out clean (an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center will read about 190°F).
10. Cool the brioche. Remove the brioche from the oven and unmold them onto a wire rack. Turn top side up and allow them to cool until barely warm.
Note: The small brioche can be reheated in a 350°F oven for 5 minutes.
Ultimate Full Flavor Variation
For the best ﬂavor development in Step 2, allow the sponge to ferment for 1 hour at room temperature, then refrigerate it for up to 24 hours.
Black Pepper Brioche: When I tasted this brioche, ﬁlled with lobster salad, at Larry Forgione's An American Place years ago, I imagined that it would be a great counterpoint to the smokiness of bacon in a BLT. Simply add 1 1/2 teaspoons (4 grams) coarse or butcher's grind black pepper along with the salt. For foie gras, 1 tablespoon (12 grams) green peppercorns in vinegar (drained) can be substituted.
Sweet Potato Brioche: This delightful version was inspired by Julia Carter, who used to be Susan Spicer's pastry chef at Bayona Restaurant in New Orleans. Sweet potato, or yam, adds a beautiful golden color and moister texture to the brioche, without adding the eggy ﬂavor that more egg would produce. The ﬂavor of the sweet potato, however, is so subtle as to be unnoticeable. Add 1/2 cup (about 4.5 ounces/126 grams) of sieved baked sweet potato or yam to the dough when adding the cold eggs. The overall sugar can be decreased by 1 tablespoon to compensate for the sweetness of the potato.
Brioche Loaf: The basic recipe, or the above variations, can be baked as one large loaf. Follow the recipe as written through Step 6, then proceed as directed below.
7. Shape the dough and let it rise. Deﬂate the dough as directed, then press or roll the dough into a rectangle about 7 1/2 inches long and 5 inches wide. Roll it down from the top in 3 turns, being sure to brush off any excess ﬂour, pressing with your thumbs to seal the dough. Place it seam side down in the prepared pan, pressing it down ﬁrmly. Cover it lightly with oiled plastic wrap and allow it to rise until the top of the dough reaches the top of the pan, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
8. Preheat the oven. Preheat the oven to 350°F 30 minutes before baking. Have an oven shelf at the lowest level and place a baking stone or baking sheet on it before preheating.
9. Glaze (if desired), slash, and bake the brioche loaf. For a shiny top crust, brush with the optional egg glaze. With a sharp knife or single-edged razor blade, make a 1/4- to 1/2-inch-deep lengthwise slash in the dough, starting about 1 inch from one end of the pan and going to within 1 inch of the other end. Set the pan on the hot stone or hot baking sheet. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until golden brown and a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean (an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center will read about 190°F).
10. Cool the brioche loaf. Remove the brioche from the oven and unmold it onto a wire rack. Turn top side up and allow it to cool until barely warm, at least 2 hours.
Giant Brioche: Makes a 9-inch-by-5-inch-high round loaf/2 1/4 pounds/1047 grams
Make a double recipe of Basic Brioche dough (2 pounds 6 ounces/1 kilogram, 80 grams), following the recipe as written through Step 6. Shape and let rise as in Step 7. Glaze and bake as in Steps 8 and 9, but after 5 minutes at 425°F turn down the oven to 375°F and continue baking for 45 to 55 minutes or until a skewer inserted under the topknot comes out clean. (An instant-read thermometer inserted into the center will read about 190°F.) Aer about 20 minutes at 375°F, or when the top crust is brown, tent it loosely with foil, shiny side out. Cool for several hours until barely warm.
Dairy Dinner Challah: People often complain that challah seems dry. This one isn't, because it's a true brioche, made with butter. According to kashruth (kosher) laws, bread made with butter or dairy products cannot be eaten when meat is served at the same meal. So break with tradition, and serve ﬁsh instead of chicken one Friday night. This challah will still be moist the next morning, ready to be lightly toasted and topped with smoked salmon. Makes a 9-by-5-inch-high round loaf/ 2 1/4 pounds/1047 grams. Make a double recipe of Basic Brioche dough (2 pounds 6 ounces/1 kilogram, 80 grams), following the recipe as written through Step 6, then proceeding as directed below.
7. Shape the dough and let it rise. Remove the dough from the refrigerator. Flatten it gently so as not to activate the gluten, making it stretchy. For a loaf with a braided top, divide the dough into 3 equal parts. Roll each on a lightly ﬂoured counter into a rope about 26 inches long. (If the dough is very elastic, allow it to rest, covered with plastic wrap, for 5 to 10 minutes.) For the most symmetrical loaf, braid the dough starting from the center and working toward each end, pinching it at the ends (see page 73). Coil the braid into the pan, starting at the center, and tucking the end underneath. Or, for an elegant snail shape, make one long thick rope and coil it around in the same manner.
8. Glaze the dough and let it rise. Brush the dough with the egg glaze, going deep into the crevices. Cover and refrigerate the remaining glaze. Cover the dough with a plastic box or oiled plastic wrap and allow it to rise in a warm place until the dough has reached the top of the pan, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
9. Preheat the oven. Preheat the oven to 425°F 1 hour before baking. Have an oven shelf at the lowest level and place a baking stone or baking sheet on it before preheating.
10. Glaze and bake the challah. Brush the challah again with the egg glaze, going well into the crevices; be careful not to drip any down the side of the pan, or it will impede rising. Sprinkle the challah with the poppy seeds. Place the pan onto the hot baking stone or hot baking sheet and bake for 5 minutes. Lower the heat to 375°F and continue baking for 50 to 55 minutes or until the bread is golden and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean (an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center will read about 190°F). Aer about 20 minutes at 375°F, or when the top crust is brown, tent it loosely with foil.
11. Cool the challah. Remove the pan from the oven and unmold the challah onto a wire rack. Turn it top side up to cool completely.
Convenience Brioche: To make the dough in a bread machine with a programmable setting and pause button, after mixing the sponge (Step 1), scrape it into the bread machine container and sprinkle the ﬂour blanket on top, as in Step 2. Add the cold eggs (Step 3) and mix the dough for 3 minutes, then let it proceed through the knead cycle for about 8 minutes, or until the dough is smooth, shiny, and elastic. You will need to pause the machine a few times to scrape out any ﬂour or dough that collects in the corners of the container. Add the softened butter at once and continue the kneading cycle until it is incorporated, about 3 minutes, pausing and scraping down the sides if necessary. For the ﬁrst rise (Step 4), turn off the machine and let the dough rise (with the lid closed) until approximately doubled, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Remove the container from the machine, cover it with plastic wrap, and refrigerate it for 1 hour (Step 5). Return the container to the bread machine (you can leave the plastic wrap in place) and deﬂate the dough by pressing the mix button and mixing for about 30 seconds. Return the container to the refrigerator for 1 hour. Then proceed from Step 6, deﬂating and chilling the dough.
Pointers for Success
- In a superb article on brioche in Pleasures of Cooking, the cookbook author Paula Wolfert recommends melting and browning about one-ﬁfth of the butter (2 tablespoons) for an extra rich, delicious ﬂavor.
- On some mixers there may not be an adjustment to raise the bowl, and the dough hook may not work as well for this small amount of dough; if this is the case, use the paddle beater.
- If after unmolding a brioche loaf the sides are still pale in color, place the loaf directly on the oven rack and continue baking for about 5 minutes to brown the sides and make them ﬁrm to prevent collapse.
- If a deeper shine is desired, the brioche can be double-glazed by brushing with the glaze immediately after shaping and then a second time just before baking. This also serves to prevent the dough from drying out during rising.
This dough is exceptionally wet. Just enough extra ﬂour is added to be able to handle it for shaping, resulting in a very light, soft bread. I do not use the food processor for this dough because it is so sticky that it is very difﬁcult to remove from the bowl and blade; it also lifts up the blade when incorporating the butter.
The Dough Percentage
Water: 55.4% (includes the water in the butter and egg white)
Fat: 47.7% (includes the fat in the egg yolk)