Monday, December 1, 2008

R2R:Squash Soup with Vanilla Crème Fraiche

This months Recipes to Rival challenge was Squash Soup with Vanilla Crème Fraiche as seen on Bravo TV's Top Chef a season or so ago. I have never had Squash soup before but it has intrigued me so I was glad of the opportunity. This recipe was just a series of discoveries for me.

The recipe as given is huge! and I do mean huge as one person put it 40 pounds of squash is a little much. I cut mine in 1/4th and used an acorn squash and 2/3rds of a pumpkin left over from the pumpkin Rendang (one of the perks of being a founder is I knew this challenge was coming.) I cheated a bit with the veggie broth, I started with canned and then personalized it. I was tempted to throw in some apple or pear peels but resisted, looking back I wish I had gone ahead.

The Mirepoix (had to look that one up on wikipedia) was fantastic, I kept coming up with other things I could use it for and wondering if I made a really big batch if I could freeze it. And the Miso was a revelation, there are definitely some possibilities there, glazed vegetable and I was thinking chicken (or turkey). Don't think I am quite ready for miso soup though.

I thought it was really clever to use a sage leaf to add flavor to the roasted squash. When it was done it was lovely and fragrant and almost made me say to heck with the soup, almost. I did not have a ricer or a decent immersion blender so I used my food processor. It worked sorta, (there were still little carrot flecks) but definitely good enough. At this point I froze half of the 'soup'.

There was alot of variation in soup thickness. I tried to get somewhere between porridge and broth, and ended up with something that was almost to thick to really be soup. Instead of Crème Fraiche, I used Greek yogurt with honey and vanilla.

Temper's Take:
I was disappointed. I am not sure if it was the veggy broth (not a big fan) the thickness, not being hot enough or me just really not being a fan of sour milk products. The whole time it was cooking I kept thinking bacon, and maybe some bacon crumbles or spiced nuts. I am letting it sit and trying it again, maybe I will thin it down a little more and add some more miso. We will see.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

BBD: Colored Breads

This one was a toughy, after deciding that brown (or any of its derivatives) was probably cheating and that is white a color argument to involved, I turned to Foodgawker and found the perfect recipe, Pumpkin Sage Rolls.

Even if these hadn't turned out yellow/orange I would have claimed they had and used photoshop to prove my point.

Pumpkin Cloverleaf Rolls (Family Fun Magazine)

Ingredients:
3-3/4 cups flour, plus more for sprinkling
1 pkg or 2-1/4 tsp instant or bread machine yeast
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup canned or frozen and thawed pureed pumpkin or squash
1 lg egg
1/2 cup water
8 fresh sage leaves, slivered (or 1-1/3 teaspoon dried leaves)
1/2 cup butter

Directions:
1. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, yeast, and salt, and set it aside.

2. Pour the milk into a microwave-safe bowl or 4-cup glass measuring cup and microwave on high for 30 seconds. Whisk in the honey, squash, egg, and water. (The liquid mixture should be less than 110°; anything hotter might kill the yeast.)

3. With a fork, blend the squash mixture into the flour mixture until you have a soft dough. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

4. Two hours before baking, turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead 6 sage leaves into the dough. Melt the butter and set it aside in a small bowl. Divide the dough in half, then divide each half into 6 portions. Divide each portion into 3 pieces. With floured hands, roll each piece into a ball and dip it into the melted butter. Place 3 balls in a muffin cup. Continue until 12 muffin cups are filled.

5. Drizzle or brush each roll with 1/2 teaspoon of the leftover melted butter and then sprinkle them with the rest of the sage. Let the rolls rise in a warm spot (at least 70°) until they're double in size, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours. The 3 balls of dough will rise together to form a cloverleaf shape.

6. Heat the oven to 350°. Bake the rolls until golden, about 15 to 17 minutes. Makes 1 dozen.

Temper's Take:
These were a nice surprise, I expected them to be much more sagey then they were. The pumpkin really didn't do alot other then add some color and some moistness, maybe when I toast them the pumpkin will perk back up. I suspect that part of my problem was that darn room temperature thing, I really didn't get the rise I wanted and then I got impatient and didn't let them brown as much as I should. :(

They are exceedingly excellent with a trickle of Caramel syrup though. MMmmm

Cookie Carnival: Soft and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

After a brief hiatus I'm back with another Cookie Carnival cookie. This one is a soft and chewy chocolate chip cookie, from Regan Daley from her absolutely fabulous MUST-HAVE book, In The Sweet Kitchen. Not my normal fare but hey chocolate chip cookies! gotta be good right? Yep, they were good, all three batches, only one approached soft though.

My problems? Room temperature may vary greatly from the norm with no central heat and I may have a wee problem with overcooking cookies. Maybe I will give them another go this summer when no air conditioning raises the temp a bit.

The Ultimate Chewy and Soft Chocolate Chunk Cookies

INGREDIENTS
1 cup unsalted butter at room temp
1 cup tightly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 tsps. pure vanilla extract
3 cups plus 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
16 oz. flavorful bitter or semi-sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

INSTRUCTIONS
1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, or lightly butter them, and set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer, or stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, or a large bowl if mixing by hand, cream the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well and scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Beat in the vanilla.


2. Sift the flour, baking soda and salt together in a small bowl. Add the dry ingredients to the butter-sugar mixture, and mix until just combined. Fold in the chocolate chunks.


3. Using your hands, shape knobs of dough about the size of a large walnut and place them 2 inches apart on the baking sheets. Stagger the rows of cookies to ensure even baking. Bake 12-15 for smaller cookies, 14-17 for larger ones or until the tops are a light golden brown. If the cookies are neither firm nor dark when they are removed from the oven, they will cool chewy and soft. Cool the cookies on the sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely. If somehow they don't get inhaled immediately, they may be stored airtight at room temperature for up to one week.

Temper's Take:
Good cookies, nothing spectacular and Toll house still rocks my chocolate chip cookie boat.

Friday, November 28, 2008

DB: Bacon Caramel Cake

This months Daring Baker challenge was Caramel Cake with Caramelized Butter Frosting. The initial reviews came back OMG sweet but very good, and not being one to shy away from sugar I was looking forward to it. I will admit the Caramel portion of the recipe had me a bit worried me and candy just don't have a good history (I fail at no-fail fudge).

To put a spin on things work had a 'Bacon Off' where we were challenged to make a bacon flavored dessert. With a bit of help from Heather I tracked down Maple Bacon Cupcakes with Maple Frosting and wouldn't you know it the recipe looked awfully familiar. SO for this challenge I made Bacon Caramel Cake. (my changes are in green)

CARAMEL CAKE WITH CARAMELIZED BUTTER FROSTING
10 Tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature (8 Tblsp Butter and 2 Tblsp Bacon drippings)
1 1/4 Cups granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 Cup Caramel Syrup (see recipe below)
2 each eggs, at room temperature
splash vanilla extract
2 Cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup milk, at room temperature
1/2 cup of minced bacon, cooked and drained

Preheat oven to 350F, Butter one tall (2 – 2.5 inch deep) 9-inch cake pan.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter until smooth. Add sugar and salt & cream until light and fluffy.

Slowly pour room temperature caramel syrup into bowl. Scrape down bowl and increase speed. Add eggs/vanilla extract a little at a time, mixing well after each addition. Scrape down bowl again, beat mixture until light and uniform.

Sift flour and baking powder.

Turn mixer to lowest speed, and add one third of the dry ingredients. When incorporated, add half of the milk, a little at a time. Add another third of the dry ingredients, then the other half of the milk and finish with the dry ingredients.

Take off mixer and by hand, use a spatula to do a few last folds mixing in bacon bits at this time, making sure batter is uniform. Turn batter into prepared cake pan.

Place cake pan on cookie sheet or 1/2 sheet pan. Set first timer for 30 minutes, rotate pan and set timer for another 15-20 minutes. Your own oven will set the pace. Bake until sides pull away from the pan and skewer inserted in middle comes out clean. Cool cake completely before icing it.

Cake will keep for three days outside of the refrigerator.

CARAMEL SYRUP
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
1 cup water (for "stopping" the caramelization process)

In a small stainless steel saucepan, with tall sides, mix water and sugar until mixture feels like wet sand. Brush down any stray sugar crystals with wet pastry brush. Turn on heat to highest flame. Cook until smoking slightly: dark amber.

When color is achieved, very carefully pour in one cup of water. Caramel will jump and sputter about! It is very dangerous, so have long sleeves on and be prepared to step back.

Whisk over medium heat until it has reduced slightly and feels sticky between two fingers. {Obviously wait for it to cool on a spoon before touching it.}

Note: For safety reasons, have ready a bowl of ice water to plunge your hands into if any caramel should land on your skin.

CARAMELIZED BUTTER FROSTING
12 tablespoons unsalted butter (8 Tblsp Butter and 2 Tblsp Bacon drippings)
1 pound confectioner’s sugar, sifted
4-6 tablespoons heavy cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2-4 tablespoons caramel syrup
Kosher or sea salt to taste

Cook butter until brown. Pour through a fine meshed sieve into a heatproof bowl, set aside to cool.

Pour cooled brown butter into mixer bowl.

In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, add confectioner's sugar a little at a time. When mixture looks too chunky to take any more, add a bit of cream and or caramel syrup. Repeat until mixture looks smooth and all confectioner's sugar has been incorporated. Add salt to taste.

Note: Caramelized butter frosting will keep in fridge for up to a month.
To smooth out from cold, microwave a bit, then mix with paddle attachment until smooth and light


(recipes above courtesy of Shuna Fish Lydon Also big thanks to the host this month; Dolores of Culinary Curiosity, Jenny of Foray into Food, Natalie of Gluten-a-Go-Go, Alex (Brownie of the Blondie and Brownie duo)

Temper's Take:
It may just be the sugar high talking but the bacon was pretty decent in this cake. The guys at work ate it all so they seem to have agreed (Indra didn't but I think she was still mad that I didn't let her eat more bacon before adding it to the cake). People were right this is a very sweet very rich cake. But it was surprisingly easy, despite the caramel aspect. And let me say I never knew I would find so many uses for a jar of caramel syrup, definitely good stuff! will I make this again? You know I think I might. :)

Friday, November 21, 2008

DB: Pizza!

Look what I found! It was hiding on my other blog waiting to be published. See what happens when you don't read your own blogs!

~ BASIC PIZZA DOUGH ~
Original recipe taken from “The Bread Baker’s Apprentice” by Peter Reinhart.

Makes 6 pizza crusts (about 9-12 inches/23-30 cm in diameter).
Ingredients:
4 1/2 Cups all purpose flour, chilled
1 3/4 Tsp Salt
1 Tsp Instant yeast
1/4 Cup Olive oil
1 3/4 Cups Water, ice cold
1 Tb sugar
Semolina/durum flour or cornmeal for dusting

DAY ONE

Method:
1. Mix together the flour, salt and instant yeast in a big bowl

2. Add the oil, sugar and cold water and mix well in order to form a sticky ball of dough. On a clean surface, knead for about 5-7 minutes, until the dough is smooth and the ingredients are homogeneously distributed. If it is too wet, add a little flour (not too much, though) and if it is too dry add 1 or 2 teaspoons extra water.

3. Flour a work surface or counter. Line a jelly pan with baking paper/parchment. Lightly oil the paper.

4. Cut the dough into 6 equal pieces.

5. Sprinkle some flour over the dough. Make sure your hands are dry and then flour them. Gently round each piece into a ball.

NOTE: If the dough sticks to your hands, then dip your hands into the flour again.

6. Transfer the dough balls to the lined jelly pan and mist them generously with spray oil. Slip the pan into plastic bag or enclose in plastic food wrap.

7. Put the pan into the refrigerator and let the dough rest overnight or for up to thee days.

NOTE: You can store the dough balls in a zippered freezer bag if you want to save some of the dough for any future baking. In that case, pour some oil(a few tablespoons only) in a medium bowl and dip each dough ball into the oil, so that it is completely covered in oil. Then put each ball into a separate bag. Store the bags in the freezer for no longer than 3 months. The day before you plan to make pizza, remember to transfer the dough balls from the freezer to the refrigerator.

DAY TWO

8. On the day you plan to eat pizza, exactly 2 hours before you make it, remove the desired number of dough balls from the refrigerator. Dust the counter with flour and spray lightly with oil. Place the dough balls on a floured surface and sprinkle them with flour. Dust your hands with flour and delicately press the dough into disks about 1/2 inch and 5 inches in diameter. Sprinkle with flour and mist with oil. Loosely cover the dough rounds with plastic wrap and then allow to rest for 2 hours.

9. At least 45 minutes before making the pizza, place a baking stone on the lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven as hot as possible (500° F/260° C).

NOTE: If you do not have a baking stone, then use the back of a jelly pan. Do not preheat the pan.

10. Generously sprinkle the back of a jelly pan with semolina/durum flour or cornmeal. Flour your hands (palms, backs and knuckles). Take 1 piece of dough by lifting it with a pastry scraper. Lay the dough across your fists in a very delicate way and carefully stretch it by bouncing it in a circular motion on your hands, and by giving it a little stretch with each bounce. Once the dough has expanded outward, move to a full toss.

NOTE: Make only one pizza at a time.
During the tossing process, if the dough tends to stick to your hands, lay it down on the floured counter and reflour your hands, then continue the tossing and shaping. In case you would be having trouble tossing the dough or if the dough never wants to expand and always springs back, let it rest for approximately 5-20 minutes in order for the gluten to relax fully,then try again. You can also resort to using a rolling pin, although it isn’t as effective as the toss method.


11. When the dough has the shape you want (about 9-12 inches in diameter), place it on the back of the jelly pan, making sure there is enough semolina/durum flour or cornmeal to allow it to slide and not stick to the pan.

12. Lightly top it with sweet or savory toppings of your choice. Remember it is Pizza, it is all about the cheese!

NOTE: Remember that the best pizzas are topped not too generously. No more than 3 or 4 toppings (including sauce and cheese) are sufficient.

13. Slide the garnished pizza onto the stone in the oven or bake directly on the jelly pan. Close the door and bake for about 5-8 minutes.

NOTE: After 2 minutes baking, take a peek. For an even baking, rotate 180°.

If the top gets done before the bottom, you will need to move the stone or jelly pane to a lower shelf before the next round. On the contrary, if the bottom crisps before the cheese caramelizes, then you will need to raise the stone or jelly.

14. Take the pizza out of the oven and transfer it to a cutting board or your plate. In order to allow the cheese to set a little, wait 3-5 minutes before slicing or serving.

Temper's Take:
I went with the classics, Hamburger for Indra and Sweet Italian Turkey Sausage for me. I had to resort to rolling the dough out because it tore and got all thin as soon as I picked it up and then had a big roll of dough on the edge. It was fun to try but I don't think I am cut out to toss pizza. When everything is all said and done I think that a Pumpkin Rendang Pizza would have been killer.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Bedino Blanc


Remember this post where I speculated what a white chocolate version with coconut and pound cake would be like? Well I tried it. It was good, very good.

Bodino Blanc [my version]
Ingredients for 4 servings
3 ounce White chocolate. chopped
1 can Coconut milk
2 large eggs
3 cup cubed (1/2 inch size), toasted pound cake
Confectioners' sugar, for serving
Softly whipped cream, for serving

Recipe Preparation
1. Preheat the oven to 350 F, with a rack in the center. Butter ramekins or mold well

2. Combine the chocolate and coconut milk in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir occasionally until the chocolate is partially melted. Remove from the heat and stir until completely smooth.

3. In a bowl, beat the eggs well. Whisk in the chocolate mixture; fold in the cake cubes. let the mixture stand for 15 minutes to absorb some of the liquid.

4. Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan. Cover the top with a buttered sheet of foil, buttered side down. Set the pan in a roasting pan and place in the oven. Pour in enough hot tap water to reach about halfway up the sides of the pan.

5. Bake until the pudding is nearly set, but still slightly wobbly, about 35 minutes (the timing can vary based on the size and depth of the pan; do not overbake).

6. Carefully remove the pan from the water bath and cool to lukewarm on a wire rack. Sprinkle with confectioners' sugar, and serve warm, with softly whipped cream.

Tempers Take:
Not as rich as the chocolate version but darn good, the coconut flavor came thru nicely and while the Pound cake started out a little dry and crunchy it was soft and melty by the time I was done. This was even good cold the next morning for breakfast. I kept thinking I needed something a wee bit tart to set it off, maybe some lemon sauce or a little pineapple preserves. I also wish I had let it sit longer so the pound cake could have absorbed more flavors.

This recipe is definitely a keeper for stale cakes of all descriptions, flexible and simple it makes something old new again.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

R2R: Beef Rendang

This month challenge for Recipes to Rival was Beef Rendang. Since I have had limited exposure to curry in my life and have definitly never made it before it was a great challenge.

My first thought when seeing the recipe is that would be darn good with pumpkin, and you know it was. I made half beef and half pumpkin. I really should have done them seperately because of the diffrent cooking times but I am lazy.

The night I made it I had a couple of tortillas with beef and sour cream that was delicious. The rest I packed up and took for lunch the next day with jasmine rice. I learned two things. Rendang is even better the next day and the lights at work are great for pictures.

The pumpkin rendang was great, if I had been thinking I would have had some pepitos to sprinkle on top for crunch. Or maybe some toasted coconut.....

It took me almost 5 hours of simmering to finish this. If / when I do it again I think I am going to try the crockpot so it doesn't have to be watched as closely. I also think I need to make the pickles next time and maybe some flat bread to round it all out. I used sour cream as my condiment of choice but I am thinking a little cucumber and yogurt would be even better. There are just so many options.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

R2R: Chinese Dumplings

I am sick, so I will post pictures later when I am up to uploading them. Right now I just want to close my eyes and let someone else take care of everything. So check out the pictures on the official Recipe's to Rival post until I am feeling a bit better.


Dumplings
4 large shiitake mushrooms
3 scallions
1/2 garlic clove
1 pound ground pork
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon dark sesame oil
3 dashes of hot red-pepper sauce
5 prunes (or as I like to think of them dried plumbs)

Dipping Sauce

2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons rice wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon honey
1/2 teaspoon dark sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh ginger or 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger

1. Coat a steamer basket with a non stick cooking spray and set aside.
2. In a food processor, combine the mushroom caps, scallions, prunes, and garlic and whirl until finely chopped. Transfer to a medium bowl and stir in the pork, soy sauce, oil, and red-pepper sauce.
3. Place 1 tablespoon of the pork mixture in the center of each dumpling wrapper. Dampen the edges with water, the fold up the sides around the filling, pleating the edges. Place in the steamer basket, leaving 1/2 inch of space between the dumplings for the steam to circulate. Set over boiling water, cover, and steam for 15 minutes.
4. For the dipping sauce, in a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, vinegar, honey, oil, and ginger. Serve the dumplings hot with the dipping sauce.

HOT WATER DOUGH:
4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 to 1 3/4 cups boiling water

1. In a stainless steel bowl mix flour and salt. Slowly add hot water to flour in 1/4 cup increments.
2. Mix with chopsticks until a ball is formed and the dough is not too hot to handle.
3. On a floured surface, knead dough until it becomes a smooth, elastic ball.
4. Place back in bowl and cover with a damp cloth. Allow to rest for at least 1 hour.
5. Working on a floured surface with floured hands, roll out dough to form a long 'noodle', 1-inch in diameter. Cut 1/2-inch pieces and turn them over so the cut sides are facing up.
6. Flatten with your palm and roll out thin using a rolling pin. The dumpling wrapper should end up about 3 inches in diameter.


Temper's take:
MMM MMMM good....more to follow

DB: Lavash Crackers


I am late posting this month because I had a very bad reaction to some poison ivy, I spent most of this past weekend asleep and when I wasn't asleep I was miserable, heck I was even miserable in my sleep according to Indra. Watch this space as I play catch up this week.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Pineapple Tamales

Ever since we did the tamales for the August Recipes to Rival challenge I have wanted to make a sweet tamale. I had a couple ideas, other than the recipe I found for ones with raisins, I mean chocolate is always good right? What I finally settled on was pineapple and brown sugar, kind of like pineapple upside down cake in a corn husk.

Pineapple Tamales
serves 12
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 can delmonte chunk pineapple, drained
2 cups drained pineapple juice and water
2 cups masa
1/2 cup shortening
1/8 tsp Baking Powder
pinch of salt

1. Heat pineapple juice and water.
2. Combine the masa harina flour with the salt and baking powder.
3. Stir the shortening rapidly until it is creamy.
4. Pour the stock into the masa mix and stir until it is thoroughly combined. Beat the moist masa mix into the shortening until you have a paste that will spread with a knife without breaking apart. You should end up with a semi-thick paste. If you do not have this, you can add more stock in ¼ cup amounts to the mix until you have the right consistency (This recipe actually has more liquid than is usual recommended so just add it till you get the desired consistency).
5. Add drained pineapple and brown sugar to masa mixture mix together.
6. Place masa mixture in tamales and fold. If desired a table spoon of brown sugar can be added before folding.
7. Steam the tamales for 45 minutes. If you have a lot of tamales and a tall steamer, you can place the tamales vertically in the steamer. Because of the extra liquid these will appear slightly soft when they are done.

Temper's take:
These were so good fresh and hot, almost cake like in their texture and delicately sweet (which I ruined by putting Dulce de leche sauce all over it). It was good cold the next day and reheated later in the week. Over all I was very happy with the results.

Chicken Frarej

I was first introduced to this by a friend, and it is only because they are my friends that I tried it. I am not a fan of lemon and meat, Lemon and potatoes was an even further stretch, and this has a heck of alot of lemon in it.

Chicken Frarej or Lebanese chicken is a recipe served at Hedary's in Fort worth TX and the recipe first appeared in the Dallas Morning News in 1988. It is a simply amazing dish, the way the flavors meld together is fantastic. I will admit this recipe has me licking my fingers and scraping the baking dish for the last bit of goodness.

Chicken Frarej
Serves 4, preheat oven to 500 degrees
4 chicken breasts, with skin and ribs
2 teaspoons salt
3/4 cup olive oil
3 lemons, juiced
2 large potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 white onion, sliced
4 Roma tomatoes

Instructions:
Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. Rinse the chicken in cold water. Rub each with 1/2 tsp salt. Mix lemon juice and olive oil.

Place the potatoes, garlic and onion into a 9x13 baking dish; with the lemon/olive oil mixture. Stir the ingredients to coat the potatoes. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes.

Add the chicken breasts and Roma tomatoes to the baking dish. Generously spoon the hot lemon/oil/garlic mixture over the chicken.

Put the dish back into the oven and cook uncovered for another 20 minutes, or until the skins on the chicken turn a very dark brown and the chicken is firm and juices run clear when poked with a fork. Baste the chicken breasts two or three times in the lemon/oil mixture during cooking.

Serve with pita bread. Serve each breast with a helping of potatoes, some onions, and a tomato.

Tempers Take:
The way the potatoes get all soft and full of flavor is one of my favorite parts of this dish. Followed by the Chicken itself, the skin is so pretty when it blackens. I have had this as a whole roast chicken and let me tell you that was a presentation. Since I like mushy potatoes I actually cooked it longer then 10 minutes before adding the chicken and finishing it, but that really is a personal choice. Once it was done even Indra admitted it smelled grate and tasted good too.

Monday, September 1, 2008

BBD: 100% Whole Grains, Cornbread

This months Bread Baking Daily Challenge was 100% Whole Grains. And you know due to these challenges I am learning more about the grains available for bread making then I ever knew before. This time however I decided to go simple and do Cornbread.

I had a package of Bob's Red Mill 100% Stone Ground Whole Grain Cornmeal, Coarse Grind that I have been dying to use and this was the perfect opportunity. To make matters even simpler I used the recipe on the back of the package.

Golden Cornbread
1 cup Cornmeal (any grind)
1 cup Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
1/2 tsp Salt
4 tsp Baking Powder
1 tbsp Sugar
1 Egg
1 cup Milk
1/4 cup Butter, softened

shift dry ingredients together
add wet ingredients
beat until smooth (do not overbeat)
bake in greased 8 inch square pan 20-25 minutes at 425 degrees


I was at a friends house who does not bake so I used one of her cast iron frying pans so the corn bread came out a little thinner than I prefer. But the coarse corn meal had a lovely taste and I enjoyed the rough chewy texture. I am thinking about toasting the corn meal next time before using it and doing it half and half with a fine cornmeal.

Temper's Take:
Not quite how I remember that long ago cornbread that turned me onto coarse ground grain, but good. And really does anything ever live up to our memories?

Sunday, August 31, 2008

DB: Chocolate Éclairs by Pierre Hermé

This months Daring Baker's challenge was Eclairs. As a big fan of cream puffs this challenge really excited me. We usually fill or cream puffs with pudding or whipped cream so I was unsure what pastry cream was and how I would like it. I also wanted to do something besides chocolate as amazing as it sounds I was just a little tired of chocolate at that point. Instead of chocolate I choose to use some of my Black and Blue Berry sauce for the filling, much more summery. :) Unfortunately my camera had an off week and all I have is this blurry picture, Trust me though very very nice.
Pierre Hermé’s Cream Puff Dough
Recipe from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé
(makes 20-24 Éclairs)

• ½ cup whole milk
• ½ cup water
• 1 stick unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
• ¼ teaspoon sugar
• ¼ teaspoon salt
• 1 cup all-purpose flour
• 5 large eggs, at room temperature

1) In a heavy bottomed medium saucepan, bring the milk, water, butter, sugar and salt to the boil.

2) Once the mixture is at a rolling boil, add all of the flour at once, reduce the heat to medium and start to stir the mixture vigorously with a wooden spoon. The dough comes together very quickly. Do not worry if a slight crust forms at the bottom of the pan, it’s supposed to. You need to carry on stirring for a further 2-3 minutes to dry the dough. After this time the dough will be very soft and smooth.

3) Transfer the dough into a bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or using your handmixer or if you still have the energy, continue by hand. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each egg has been added to incorporate it into the dough. You will notice that after you have added the first egg, the dough will separate, once again do not worry. As you keep working the dough, it will come back all together again by the time you have added the third egg. In the end the dough should be thick and shiny and when lifted it should fall back into the bowl in a ribbon.

4) Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Divide the oven into thirds by
positioning the racks in the upper and lower half of the oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

5) Fill a large pastry bag fitted with a 2/3 (2cm) plain tip nozzle with the warm cream puff dough. Pipe the dough onto the baking sheets in long, 4 to 41/2 inches (about 11 cm) chubby fingers. Leave about 2 inches (5 cm) space in between each dough strip to allow them room to puff.

6) Slide both the baking sheets into the oven and bake for 7 minutes. After the 7 minutes, slip the handle of a wooden spoon into the door to keep in ajar. When the éclairs have been in the oven for a total of 12 minutes, rotate the sheets top to bottom and front to back. Continue baking for a further 8 minutes or until the éclairs are puffed, golden and firm. The total baking time should be approximately 20 minutes.

Notes:
1) Once the dough is made you need to shape it immediately.

2) You can pipe the dough and the freeze it. Simply pipe the dough onto parchment-lined baking sheets and slide the sheets into the freezer. Once the dough is completely frozen, transfer the piped shapes into freezer bags. They can be kept in the freezer for up to a month.

Berry Pastry Cream

• 1.5 cups whole milk
• 4 large egg yolks
• 4 tbsp sugar
• 3 tablespoons cornstarch, sifted
• 1/2 cup mixed berry sauce
• 2½ tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature

1) In a small saucepan, bring the milk and berry sauce to a boil. In the meantime, combine the yolks, sugar and cornstarch together and whisk in a heavy‐bottomed saucepan.

2) Once the milk has reached a boil, temper the yolks by whisking a couple spoonfuls of the hot milk into the yolk mixture. Continue whisking and slowly pour the rest of the milk into the tempered yolk mixture.

3) Strain the mixture back into the saucepan to remove any egg that may have scrambled. Place the pan over medium heat and whisk vigorously (without stop) until the mixture returns to a boil. Keep whisking vigorously for 1 to 2 more minutes (still over medium heat).

4) Scrape the pastry cream into a small bowl and set it in an ice‐water bath to stop the cooking process. Make sure to continue stirring the mixture at this point so that it remains smooth.

5) Once the cream has reached a temperature of 140 F remove from the ice‐water bath and stir in the butter in three or four installments. Return the cream to the ice‐water bath to continue cooling, stirring occasionally, until it has completely cooled. The cream is now ready to use or store in the fridge.

Notes:
1) The pastry cream can be made 2‐3 days in advance and stored in the refrigerator.

2) In order to avoid a skin forming on the pastry cream, cover with plastic wrap pressed onto the cream.

3) Tempering the eggs raises the temperature of the eggs slowly so that they do not scramble.


The berry pastry cream turned out a chalky purple color and was way to rich for my taste so I added some Black and Blue berry sauce to the eclair when assembling it and used a plain chocolate ganache on top. My eclairs ended up being about 3 bites long, but they were so rich that I really didn't want any more.

Temper's Take:
Puff pastry is always good in my book. But after this challenge I have decided that whipped cream is my filling of choice (though I haven't tried Ice Cream yet). The berry sauce made a very nice counterpoint to the richness of the cream but the cream was just way to rich for my taste.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

R2R, Tamales

This month Recipes to Rival challenge was Tamales hosted by Debyi of The Healthy Vegan Kitchen. Let me just say great choice! Last Xmas was the first time I was convinced that Tamales might be worth the effort. I immediately went out and looked up a recipe... and just as quickly decided I was better off buying from a professional. let me tell you there are alot of places to get tamales in Texas, but only a few worth the money. So this challenge was a welcome surprise.

The recipe from the challenge can be found here There were lots and lots of options, which is good for me. The recipe as written says it makes 24 tamales. I made half a recipe and got more then that, and my masa layer was thicker then I liked so I could probably have gotten twice what I did.

Tamale dough:
6 cups of masa harina flour
5 cups of water or veggie stock (For my stock I boiled some onion, garlic and a dried pepper in some water.)
1/2 tbsp. of salt
1.5 cups of vegetable shortening
1/2 tbsp. of baking powder
24 dried corn husks
Water to soak the husks

1. Warm the stock. Combine the masa harina flour with the salt and baking powder. Stir the vegetable shortening rapidly until it is creamy.
2. Pour the stock into the masa mix and stir until it is thoroughly combined. Beat the moist masa mix into the shortening until you have a paste that will spread with a knife without breaking apart. You should end up with a semi-thick paste. If you do not have this, you can add more stock in ¼ cup amounts to the mix until you have the right consistency.
3. To check the consistency, spread the masa on a corn husk and if it spreads easily while staying together, you have the right consistency.
4. Soak the corn husks for at least 2 minutes. (Some husks may still have the silks in them, make sure you remove them before using)
5. Spread masa paste over the top half of a corn husk (the top half is the wide half.) Spoon a line of your filling of choice in a line on one side of the masa paste. Roll the tamale from the filling side to the other side. You will end up with one half of the roll that has masa paste and one that does not. Fold the half that does not have the masa paste against the tamale, folding it in towards the flap of the roll.
6. Repeat this process with the rest of the ingredients.
7. Steam the tamales for 45 minutes. If you have a lot of tamales and a tall steamer, you can place the tamales vertically in the steamer.

I choose to do the Black Bean Chipotle filling for my official tamales and two others for some variation.

Black Bean Chipotle Tamale Filling:
16 oz. of black beans, rinsed
½ cup of shredded carrot
½ of a red onion, minced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp. of chipotle powder
1 tsp. of whole cumin seeds
2 tsp. of whole coriander seeds
½ tsp. of salt
1 tsp. of olive oil

1. Shred the carrot. Mince the onion and garlic. Rinse the beans. Combine all of these together in a bowl.
2. In a small pan, toast the cumin seeds and coriander seeds on a medium heat in the 1 tsp. of oil until the coriander seeds start to pop or the cumin seeds turn a deep brown color, whichever comes first.
3. Mix the chipotle powder, New Mexico chile powder, cumin, coriander, and salt together. Toss this into the veggie mix.

Filling two was BBQ pork a friend had made that while excellent in texture was to spicy for me to enjoy, so I added some taco seasoning and it was excellent. Filling three was left over smoked sirloin and corn from the Texas Land and Cattle steak house, sauteed with a little peppers and onions, It was a little mild and I really should have used more meat.


And since tamales with out sauce is a very dry thing indeed I made a chipotle sour cream sauce to go with it.

Chipotle Sour Cream Sauce:
1 container sour cream
Chipotle Salsa to taste
stir over low heat until bubbly.
easy and good.

Temper's take:
Very very good, and much easier then I had expected. Left overs freeze well and are a cinch to heat up. I liked the fact I could make good fillings with leftovers and stuff from the freezer. Next time I need to make my masa layer much thinner and remember if I cram a bunch of tamales in one steamer it will take longer to cook. I am looking forward to doing this again, maybe next time I will make some sweet tamales I am thinking pineapple and bananas.

Indra's Take:
I told her I was making tamales, I got a ok, later she wandered by and commented that it smelled like 'real' tamales. I am not sure what she thought I was making but it apparently wasn't real tamales. The end result passed the Indra test and has been invited to make a reappearance. That and all the bragging she has been doing makes me think she liked them.

(unfortunately I was having a bad camera week and so only got the one picture.)

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Structure.

I really need to sit down and figure out what I want my blog to look like, right now it is sort of minimalistic (which I like) but it isn't really consistant in the posts formatting. And it just seems like a little much. So I will think about it (and browse other places) and see if I can come up with something more visualy apealing and readable.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Cookie Carnival: Chocolate Pecan Biscotti

Sorry for the fuzzy picture but that is how I felt all week after making this. I started feeling bad Friday night but darn it I had plans and then I slept for a week. So by the time I figured out my pictures were fuzzy it was way past time to take another.

This months recipe from Kate at The Cookie Carnival was Chocolate Hazelnut Biscotti. I have never made biscotti before, heck I have never eaten biscotti before so this was a real experiance for me.

I had some problems with the recipe. The biggest problem was heat both my internal and the external. The rest was a dough that was much softer than I think it should have been. If I had been capable of thought at all I would have chilled it so I could form it into loafs. But I didn't and it shows.

CHOCOLATE PECAN BISCOTTI
ingredients:
1 1/2 cups pecans, toasted
3 cups all purpose flour
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar
3 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

preparation:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line heavy large baking sheet with parchment paper. Grind 1/2 cup toasted pecans in processor. Set aside. Whisk flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt in large bowl. Beat butter and sugar in another large bowl to blend. Add eggs and vanilla and almond extracts and beat until well blended. Beat in flour mixture. Mix in 1 cup whole toasted pecans, chocolate chips and 1/2 cup ground hazelnuts.


Divide dough into 2 equal pieces. Shape each piece on baking sheet into 2 1/2-inch-wide by 14-inch-long log. Place logs on prepared baking sheet, spacing 2 1/2 inches apart (logs will spread during baking). Bake until logs feel firm when tops are gently pressed, about 35 minutes. Cool logs on baking sheet 15 minutes. Maintain oven temperature.


Using long wide spatula, transfer baked logs to cutting board. Using serrated knife, cut warm logs crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices.


Arrange slices, cut side down, on 2 baking sheets. Bake biscotti until firm, about 15 minutes. Transfer to racks and cool completely. (Chocolate-Hazelnut Biscotti can be prepared ahead. Store in airtight container up to 4 days, or wrap in foil and freeze in resealable plastic bags up to 3 weeks.)


Temper's take:
They were my favorite kind of cookie, one that needs a big glass of milk. It was dry and rich and dense. Unlike alot of cookies, even though it soaked up alot of liquid it did not become mush and fall apart, a definite plus in a dunking cookie. I need to learn how to make them prettier and smaller. I will definitely try these again, or something similar.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Taste and Create: Chana Dal Parantha

My Partner For this month's Taste and Create is Simran of Bombay Foodie. Her blog has a wide selection of Indian food with the occasional cookie or other treat thrown in. Not surprisingly I was totally unfamiliar with alot of the dishes and ingredients. I still found plenty of things that appealed to me (and I wouldn't be to scared to make). I will admit it was a tough choice the Lemon and Mint Cooler looked like it would really hit the spot and the Biryani intrigued me. But I choose to go with the Chana Dal Parantha. I have been eyeing different versions of this ever since I started browsing food blogs. So I decided now was my chance.

I am pretty sure what I made doesn't qualify as a Roti Mela (not being real sure what that is exactly, I can't be positive) but it is close enough for me.

Here is the original recipe:
To make the parantha, boil 1/2 cup split yellow lentils until al dente. In a bowl, mix the lentils, one small onion chopped finely, a tbsp of chopped coriander, salt, garam masala, red chilli powder, cumin seeds and anardana (dried pomegranate seeds). Mix well to make your filling.

Knead one cup whole wheat flour with enough water to make a firm yet pliable dough. Let it rest for a while.

Take a small ball of dough (roughly the size of tennis ball) and roll out to a thick disc. Place 2 tablespoon of the filling in the middle of this disc. Gather the side and bring them together to form a filling-stuffed ball. Toss the ball in dry flour to prevent it sticking and roll it out to a thin parantha.

Heat a griddle and place the stuffed parantha on it. Cook for around half a minute, then flip over. Spread ghee over the parantha, flip back again and apply ghee on the other side. Cook the parantha on both sides until its golden in color. You will notice that chana dal will absorb a lot more ghee than any other parantha, making it sinfully rich yet delicious.


I of course changed it all up and had more of a southwestern parantha then an Indian one.

1 cup flour with enough water to make a firm but pliable dough (mine was a soft dough, but close enough)

For the filling I used
corn from a left over ear of corn on the cob.
chopped carrots
chopped onion
chopped garlic
left over sweet potato fries
chipotle powder
garlic salt
pepper
cumin
corriander
caraway
threw it all in the food processor to get rid of the big chunks and boy did it smell good.

I made my dough balls walnut sized and they rolled out beautifully. When I fried them up I didn't read the recipe right and used way to much butter. They were as good as I expected but something was missing.

So I sauteed up the left over filling and ate it like a taco with a little chipotle sourcream and it was devine. (chipotle sourcream is chipotle salsa and sour cream heated together until bubbly, then served right away as a sauce or cooled and used in place of sourcream.)

Would I make these again? With out a doubt. Next time there will be less butter though, and maybe some cucumbers and tomatoes in yogurt to go with them, and maybe something green.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

BBD: Small Breads, Biscuits

This months Bread Baking Daily Challenge was Small Breads Hosted by My Diverse Kitchen.

Biscuits are one of the quintessential American small breads. Easy to make, versatile, and presized for the individual. I started 'helping' my mother make biscuits since I was old enough to be trusted not to dump the flour everywhere, I started making biscuits on my own when I was 11. Sadly Bisquick, biscuits in a can and my hectic life has made me let my skills lapse. This is the recipe I grew up with.

Richer Biscuits
from the Betty Crocker's Picture Cook Book, copyright 1950
It says it makes 20 1 3/4" biscuits, I say you will be lucky to get a dozen.

Shift together
2 cups flour
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt

cut in finely
6 tblsp shortening

stir in
2/3 cup milk.

roll out 1/2 inch thick and cut. place on ungreased baking sheet and bake til golden brown (about 10 minutes) in a 450 degree oven.

You Bar, Now a Me bar!

Protien suppliments and I usualy get along like oil and water only not that well. Just the smell of the protien makes my stomach roll. Which I usualy take in stride after all I am a dedicated carnivore and definitly not a muscle builder so I really don't need protien suppliments. But occasionaly when I am out and about it would be nice to have a quick snack that was more protien then sugar. Up until now that has been impossible, But the whey protien in You Bars doesn't smell funny or taste funky either. Whoo Hoo!

I signed up for Blake Makes Sooperz, periodicaly he has food items that companies want to get the word out about their products and he shares the goodies with others. This time it was You Bars, personalized protien bars. I got a sampler of 4 bars, two of their creations and two random extra's from someone elses order. All 4 were very good. They were heavy with big chunks of fruit and a rough homemade look to them. They were not to dry or greasy. infact they were so good I didn't share them as I had originaly intended. I also ate them too fast to get a good picture, darn I guess that means I need more. :)

Bedino Nero, or what to do with bad cake

Remember in my last post, failure #2? This is what I did with it. Bodino Nero from Richard Sax's Classic Home Desserts. With my own special touches of course.

Bodino Nero is Italian Chocolate Bread Pudding. So the first thing I did was use overcooked pecan gateau instead of bread. Then I tweaked the recipe a Little and added some blackberry / blueberry preserves to the bottom of my ramekins. The results make failed cake something to look forward to. Rich chocolate flavor an almost cheese cake like texture, a hint of nuttiness and the tart sweetness of the berries.

Bodino Nero [my version]

Ingredients for 4 servings
Fine dry bread crumbs, for coating the pan [didn't use]
3 1/2 ounce chocolate semisweet, chopped [2 oz chocolate]
1 cup Whole milk [3/4 cup heavy cream]
2 large eggs [1 large egg]
1/4 cup sugar [2 tblsp sugar]
4 cup (about 3 ounces) cubed (1/2 inch size), day-old French or Italian bread, crusts removed (semolina bread works well) [pecan gateau, 2 cups]
Confectioners' sugar, for serving
Softly whipped cream, for serving


Recipe Preparation
1. Preheat the oven to 350 F, with a rack in the center. Butter an 8-inch springform pan or a 6-cup ring or other mold; coat with bread crumbs, shaking out the excess. Wrap the exterior bottom and sides of the springform pan in foil, forming a tight seal where the sides join; set aside. [ 2 ramekins, well buttered with a tablespoon berry preserves on the bottom]

2. Combine the chocolate and milk in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir occasionally until the chocolate is partially melted. Remove from the heat and stir until completely smooth.

3. In a bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar until combined. Whisk in the chocolate mixture; fold in the bread cubes. If the bread is quite dry, let the mixture stand for 5 to 10 minutes, so the bread absorbs some of the liquid.

4. Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan. Cover the top with a buttered sheet of foil, buttered side down. Set the pan in a roasting pan and place in the oven. Pour in enough hot tap water to reach about halfway up the sides of the pan.

5. Bake until the pudding is nearly set, but still slightly wobbly, about 35 minutes (the timing can vary based on the size and depth of the pan; do not overbake). [I overbaked, it was delicious]

6. Carefully remove the pan from the water bath and cool to lukewarm on a wire rack. Run the tip of a knife around the edges of the pudding; remove the sides, if you are using a springform pan. Serve on a platter - without inverting. (If using a ring mold, invert the pudding and lift off the mold.) Sprinkle with confectioners' sugar, and serve warm, with softly whipped cream.



The Pecan Gateau is the one from this months Daring Bakers Challenge. It was my second try and terribly over cooked, which made it tough. It was still good though, and after I ran out of pecan buttercream and ganache to make little finger sandwiches with I still had a fair amount left.

Pecan Gateau
1 ½ cups pecans, toasted
2/3 cup cake flour, unsifted
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
7 large egg yolks
1 cup sugar, divided ¼ & ¾ cups
1 tsp. vanilla extract
½ tsp. grated lemon rind
5 lg. egg whites
¼ cup warm, clarified butter (100 – 110 degrees)

Position rack in the lower 3rd of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 10” X 2” inch round cake pan.

Using a food processor, process nuts, cake flour, and cornstarch for about 30 seconds. Then, pulse the mixture about 10 times to get a fine, powdery mixture. You’ll know the nuts are ready when they begin to gather together around the sides of the bowl. While you want to make sure there aren’t any large pieces, don’t over-process. Set aside.

Put the yolks in the bowl of an electric mixer, with the whisk attachment, and beat until thick and light in color, about 3-4 minutes on med-high speed. Slowly, add ¾ cup of sugar. It is best to do so by adding a tablespoon at a time, taking about 3 minutes for this step. When finished, the mixture should be ribbony. Blend in the vanilla and grated lemon rind. Remove and set aside.

Place egg whites in a large, clean bowl of the electric mixer with the whisk attachment and beat on medium speed, until soft peaks. Increase to med-high speed and slowly add the remaining ¼ cup of sugar, over 15-20 seconds or so. Continue to beat for another ½ minute.
Add the yolk mixture to the whites and whisk for 1 minute.

Pour the warm butter in a liquid measure cup (or a spouted container). * It must be a deep bottom bowl and work must be fast.* Put the nut meal in a mesh strainer (or use your hand – working quickly) and sprinkle it in about 2 tablespoons at a time – folding it carefully for about 40 folds. Be sure to exclude any large chunks/pieces of nuts. Again, work quickly and carefully as to not deflate the mixture. When all but about 2 Tbsp. of nut meal remain, quickly and steadily pour the warm butter over the batter. Then, with the remaining nut meal, fold the batter to incorporate, about 13 or so folds.

With a rubber spatula, transfer the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the surface with the spatula or back of a spoon. **If collected butter remains at the bottom of the bowl, do not add it to the batter! It will impede the cake rising while baking.

Tap the pan on the counter to remove air bubbles and bake in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes. You’ll know the cake is done when it is springy to the touch and it separates itself from the side of the pan. Remove from oven and allow to stand for 5 minutes. Invert onto a cake rack sprayed with nonstick coating, removing the pan. Cool the cake completely.


Tempers Notes:
This recipe is sooo good!, it was so rich the servings should be 8 instead of 4 and I needed smaller ramekins. It also cured any and all chocolate cravings I had for the day. I am thinking a white chocolate version with toasted pound cake and coconut would be wonderful too, if I ever kept pound cake around that long.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

DB: Pecan Gateau with Praline Buttercream

Chris of Mele Cotte chose Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream from Carole Walters’ Great Cakes for this months Daring Bakers challenge. I chose Pecan Gateau with Praline Buttercream because I am in Texas and what is more Texan than Pecan Pralines?

To put it bluntly I failed. I did this the same weekend as my R2R challenge with about the same amount of luck.

Try 1. I over processed the pecans and didn't add the sugar to the egg yolks slowly. This failure is in the fridge waiting to be 'rescued'

Try 2. Undercooked the gateau and then over cooked it in the microwave. It ended up tough and short and I cut it up and stuffed it in the freezer (see tomorrows post for the results of that).

Try 3. Over cooked the nuts, but hey a little smoke never hurt anyone right? and then the gateau went funky and the bottom 3/4 was inedible (I know I tried). At that point between the two challenges I was down about 2 dozen eggs. So with my 1/4th of a layer I made a mini cake.

I had originally wanted to make a mini cake, just not quite that mini (3 X 2), or at least not just one. Unlike alot of people my pralines came together beautifully and the buttercream was Divine.

This cake was alot of firsts for me, first gateau, first Swiss buttercream, first ganache, first caramelized sugar (I am from TX I am not calling what we did a praline), first mini cake.

The cake was surprisingly easy to assemble even if the instructions were a little long.
step 1, cut the cake in three layers (floss works great)
step 2, spread cut side with sugar syrup
step 3, spread praline buttercream 1/4 inch thick
step 4, spread whipped cream to 1/4 inch of edge
step 5, repeat steps 2 - 4
step 6, gently align layers and trim the sides
step 7, let sit in fridge 30 minutes
step 8, cover sides and tops with thinned Plum Jelly
step 9, let sit again
step 10, cover in ganache,
step 11, Sit again
step 12, decorate
step 13, sit again
step 14, EAT!

You can see the complete recipe on Chris's blog. It is simply too long for me to post here. I will be post select portions of the recipe as I reuse it in the future.

Tempers notes:
Every bit of this cake was good and the bite or two I managed to salvage of it all together was wonderful. I had to make a second batch of the caramelized pecans they were such a hit and keeping Indra away from the Buttercream was a loosing battle. Come fall when our pecans come in season (and it gets cooler inside) I will definitely be making this again. I am thinking for X-mas people may get a jar of ganache and some fancy nuts from me (with other homemade goodies), cause it was just that good.

here are some fellow DB bloggers I wanted to share. Evil Lemons is a riot, and it has one of the best walk thrus I have seen. I added him to my list of blogs to read regularly. PrettyTastyCakes got ambitious and made her cake a dome. And I will admit it I am a little jealous of the smooth finish and lovely circles. Ann of Redacted Recipes has my vote for best looking though. I love the organicness of the buttercream decoration, it reminds me of growing things.

PS: I am pretty sure from looking at other peoples challenges that my problem was i did not whip the eggs enough.

Friday, July 25, 2008

R2R, Thank George's Bank

I was really excited when we decided to do this recipe. Thank George's Bank, it is Cod cakes with Poached eggs and Hollendaise. I love hollendaise but have never made it so I was really looking forward to making it. I was less excited by the poached egg (I like crispy greasy eggs darn it) and the fish, (despite stereotypes to the contrary not all lesbians like fish). But I figured the hollendaise would make it all good.

I have never steamed fish before so I was surprised how easy it was and it smelled pretty darn good (I will admit I also tasted it an except for being over seasoned it tastes pretty good too). One step Down, so far so good. I had mashed potatoes left over from supper and I always have eggs so once the fish was cooled the patties were ready to go. I covered them and stuck them in the fridge overnight.

The next morning bright and early I started the cod cakes cooking (like the alliteration?) I had already read about the problems other people had and armed with my potato patty experience I started Frying them up. I expected the first batch to turn out a little scrambled. But so was the second... and the third, which left me with 12 scrambled patties that taste Great, I mean really really good, but look well horrible. Not to worry cover it with Hollendaise and will all be good.

I am sorry to report that the hollendaise was a disaster. I tried again, still a disaster. It was not the recipes fault. I blame the equipment. The recipe says to use your food processor, and the blades were just not low enough to really mix the two egg yolks and after adding the butter nothing happened. I waited and waited and still no emulsification. I might have tried a third time and used the cooked version but It had been a long weekend and between this and the DB challenge (also failed) I had already gone thru 2 dozen eggs so I decided to call it quits.

I skipped poaching the egg because with out the sauce it just wasn't worth the effort. I will try again to make hollendaise, though I will not use the food processor. And I will probably even try poaching an egg just so I can say I have. But the Cod cakes really stole the show for me and as someone who is ambivalent about fish that is saying alot, I will definitely be trying those again. And maybe next time I will have some photos.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Taste and Create: Spring Ramp Gnocchi

My partner for this months Taste and Create is Maybelle's Mom of Feeding Maybelle. Her blog is lovely and her food fresh and creative, a wonderful blend of her families Indian and Italian heritage. I am not vegan, and I hardly noticed that alot of her recipes were, glorious food does not need meat, there was no working around meat, there just was no meat. Someday I want a blog like hers. pictures, food, savory and sweet, you know things that make others drool.

She is yet another person who has access to an abundance of rhubarb and various other fresh ingredients (I am soo jealous of the rhubarb). It was very very hard to choose what to make and as much as I wanted to make the Rosewater Kulfi with Cherry Juice Steeped Noodles or the Strawberry Tomato Caprese Fusili, I decided to go with something Heartier and more Savory.

I had originally wanted to do the Marrow Bones she had done since they were a sure fire hit with My carnivore. But alas and alack, there were no morrow bones to be had. So I took another look and decided on the Spring Ramp Gnocchi, even though it wasn't spring and I didn't have any ramps (had to look Ramps up in Wikipedia to even know what they were).

According to Wikipedia ramps taste like a cross between onions and garlic and you can eat the whole thing. So I went with a mix of Onion, Garlic, Thyme and Italian Parsley.

Spring Ramp Gnocchi (my way)
2 servings

Combine:
8 oz whole-milk ricotta cheese (that has been drained)
1 egg
¼ C grated Parmesan cheese
½ cup finely chopped ramps (I substitute 1.5 tbls chopped garlic, 1.5 tbls chopped onion, 2 tbls fresh thyme, 3 tbls fresh Italian Parsley)

Add
¾ cup flour

Work gently until a dough is formed

Let rest, roll into long snakes and then cut into bite-sized pieces. You may roll it against a fork to get the characteristic indentations.

Boil until they come to the surface—watch not to over cook them.

Dress with bacon and sautéed ramp bulbs or if vegetarian with ramp bulbs and pecorino. (I used the bacon but felt that sauteed onions and garlic would be a little much so I went with chopped fresh tomato.)


Tempers Notes:
I discovered gnocchi after I moved to TX in the pasta aisle and was intrigued. I have played with it several times but never actually made my own. So I was very excited to try this recipe. It was so easy and soo good, a little bit of Pasta Heaven. It made two perfect portions. Indra even agreed to eat it and indicated she would be willing to have it again (and it wasn't just the bacon talking).

I need to learn the fork trick though. I also want to find out how to make them ahead and store them. I had a bit of a problem with the dough being very soft and the gnocchi sticking together, I am not sure if this is because I needed more flour or if it was their way of telling me to work faster.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Strawberries and Almond Custard.

This was a learning experience, a rich, delectable, lick the bowl learning experience, but still its not quite there.

I took the Almond Custard I made for the Danish Braid and some fresh strawberries and got creative. The strawberries were past their prime for eating (they had been snacked on for the last several days and were starting to dry up) but still good.

I dumped the strawberries in a sauce pan with a half a cup sugar and 1/4 cup apple juice and simmered till the strawberries were soft. And then stuck them in the fridge to cool down while the Almond Custard cooked. They smelled heavenly.

After the custard was brown around the edges I removed them from the oven and drizzled the juice from the strawberries over the top. It soaked in right away which I was not expecting (lesson #1) and made some cool crackly sounds. I let them cool a little and served.

I had forgotten how rich the custard was and the overly sweet strawberries just upped the anti, It really needed something to offset that (lesson #2). I also forgot that just because you take it out of the oven it doesn't stop cooking (lesson #3) and therefore the texture wasn't quite what I remembered.

So for next time here are some other lessons I learned... Fresh strawberries are better than whatever it is I did. If you use a syrup wait til the custard has cooled. Liquids added while hot soak it like a sponge (alcohol might be nice). Patience is a virtue, so make sure you have a good picture before eating.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Vanilla Sugar

One of the side effects of Daring Bakers is Real Vanilla to play with. So I did what any enterprising young baker would do and made Vanilla Sugar.

Let me first of talk of the Vanilla bean itself. It was leathery and oily and didn't smell as sweet / fresh / vanillaish / whatever as I had expected. But I am use to that, I learned the hard way not to taste my ingredients (this is a lesson i keep having to relearn) or judge the finished product by the raw taste.

So I followed directions and seeded the things. They were still oily and I think I ended up with almost as much on me as in the bowl. It was as bad as trying to get cling film to stop sticking to the wrong thing. I kept scraping it off one thing and trying to scrape it where I wanted it and it never quite worked right. I am sure with practice this procedure will get easier (meaning less messy) As a Bonus I smelled nummy!

The vanilla bean added pretty specks to everything and made some very nice whipped cream. I don't think however that the Danish Braid was really the best platform to showcase the vanilla bean. Which brings me to the Vanilla sugar.

The vanilla sugar certainly smells more like what I expected than the bean. But seeing the bean remnants poking up thru the pristine sugar is a little odd. And as much as I would like to tell you that the Kool-Aid I made with my vanilla sugar was raised to a whole new level of Kool-aidness, it was still just Kool Aid. It is possible I need more vanilla in my sugar and eventually as I use more vanilla beans there will be more vanilla in my sugar.

Monday, June 30, 2008

BBD: Sprouted Bread

For the Bread Baking Daily challenge this month we did sprouted bread. Not something I have ever done before and honestly the few examples I have tried were heavy things that I didn't really care for. Still a challenge is a challenge.

Just like when I was a child the thrill of growing sprouts is intoxicating, No sponge was involved this time (which was probably good since mine always dried up), but as you can see my sprouts flourished (they actually did a little too well, but I am not sure if that was a problem or not.) The half a cup of wheat berries I used made enough sprouts for two and half loafs with plenty of left overs for the bird and bunnies (all of whom loved the unexpected treat).
How to Sprout:
Sprout the wheat (takes about two days). Easiest way is to put the
wheat in a container with holes in the lid. Fill it with water and let
it set for a few minutes then drain the water. Repeat this process
several times a day. When the sprouts are about 1/2 to 3/4 the length
of the grain they are ready to use. If the sprouts are ready and you
are not store them in the fridge. If you do not change the water very
often it just takes them longer to sprout.

I did two versions of sprouted bread. The first was a failure and a waste of good dates (even the bird wasn't impressed), the second was a success of a limited nature. I was not at all disappointed though, just chalked it up to a learning experience.

The first loaf was Manna Bread from Barb Beck
Manna Bread

2 Cups of wheat sprouted
1 lb dates
1 Cup raisins
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cloves
OPTIONAL: 1 T chopped filberts

Drain the sprouted wheat well.
Place in food processor with the dates and buzz until a dough ball forms. You may need to add a little water.
Stir cinnamon and cloves. Note this version is not very spicy.
Stir in raisins.
Shape into two loaves.
Sprinkle the chopped nuts on the outside.

Bake for 2 - 3 hours at 300 degrees.
Note: If you have problems getting the dough because the mixture is too
wet add a little whole wheat flour.

I love dates I just don't care for 'date loafs' like this. I resented the use of my dates on this and will not be making it again, It did smell great while it was baking though.

For the second batch I used a recipe from the Sprout People, with a name like that they have to know what they are doing, right? (and they were the first link to come up on Google for sprout bread.)
Whole Grain Sprout Bread
Makes 2 - 3 loaves

To soften yeast - combine in a large bowl:
2 1/2 cups warm water
2 scant Tbs. active dry yeast
Allow the yeast to proof (bubble) for 5 minutes

Stir in:
1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup honey
1 Tbs. salt
2 Cups Sprouted Grains - whole or ground lightly
4 cups flour (any combo of wheat, rye and white you like) Beat well. Cover and let this “sponge” sit 45-60 minutes.
Stir down and gradually add:
3-4 cups flour (any combination)

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth.
Place dough into a greased bowl - turn it over and around to coat the whole of the dough.
Cover and let rise until doubled (60-90 minutes).
Knead dough down in the bowl, divide and shape into 2 - 3 oblong loaves. Place in well greased loaf pans and cover.
Let rise 60 minutes or until almost doubled.

Bake at 375º for 35 to 40 minutes.
Remove loaves from pans and cool on wire racks.

I used wheat sprouts and all purpose white flour for my loafs. The only change I made to the recipe is to assume that the 2 Tbsp of salt was a typo and use 2 tsp, cause that was a heck of alot of salt. In retrospect I may have been wrong.

My leavening action was outrageous. It may have been the salt thing, but then again it might have been me trying to do to many things giving the bread a longer time to expand. Or it could be my hot and humid kitchen making all those yeasts extra happy. Who knows.

The bread turned out beautiful, light and with the best crust I think I have ever had (I used leftover eggwash on it). The honey in the recipe really came through well and the whole loaf was very light. I liked the texture of the wheat berries and sprouts and I could definitely smell them while the bread was raising and baking.

Unfortunately I think the sprouts gave the bread a sort of raw flavor I really couldn't get over. Maybe if I didn't let the sprouts get so long in to tooth, or dried them out a little before use it would have been better. I am going to try some slices with honey and jam tonight and see if that covers the taste.

This is a bread I would make again, just not with the sprouts.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

R2R, Confit Byaldi

This is the first month Recipes to Rival has been around. Lori and I choose Confit Byaldi as the first challenge. Basically this is fancy Ratatouille, more specifically it is the Ratatouille from the movie of the same name. You can find the recipe we used (and assorted other information and links) on the Recipes to Rival June Challenge post.

I followed the recipe pretty closely, a first for me, and am very glad I did. The piperade was probably the most time consuming bit. Lots of chopping and peeling and then it is all sauteed in various steps. I had forgotten how much fun it can be to skin tomatoes, just dunk them in boiling water for a couple seconds and then douse them in ice water and the skin just slides off. Roasting the bell peppers did the same thing and made them much easier to chop (they smelled good too).

Fortunately for me the piperade could be made ahead and stored for a couple days. I was very tempted to make a second batch the first smelled and looked so good (ok I may have tasted it too). Everyone agreed the piperade was something we could see ourselves making for lots of other uses as well. Pizza, sandwiches and salads were just a few of the ideas, me, I thought it would make a good french type salsa dip thing (aren't I articulate?).

The actual Confit Byaldi went together easily thanks to my new slicer and dicer (it doesn't really dice but it sounded good) I got lots of extra thin veggie slices very fast. I had several problems with this step however, all of them concerning the ingredients. I could not find a Japanese eggplant and even the smallest eggplant I did find was considerably larger then the squash. One of my zucchini and two of my tomatoes went off before I could use them (I had to wait a week after buying them to use them) fortunately I had plenty left.

The balsamic vinaigrette was a great touch and allowed me to use some fresh herbs from my garden (about all that I can grow). I used thyme, bee's Balm (a mint) and oregano. I had never used balsamic vinegar before (expensive and I am not a big fan of vinegar) but boy was it good.

The end result was gorgeous and delectable. It stored well, heated up well and tastes good cold. It can be done in stages and even done ahead so it is a great dish to make for guests. Serve with some crusty bread, a salad and you have a light and satisfying meal. Unfortunately something caused Indra to have an allergic reaction so she couldn't eat any. We are not sure if it was the sausage I served with it, the Balsamic vinegar or the bee's balm. I however enjoyed it for lunch several days running.

Blackberry Danish

Saturday I went to a pick your own place and got Blackberries. Not as many as I would have liked because we got there late but enough. SO this morning at the Request of my one true Love I made blackberry danish. It is just a Danish Braid with sugar and Cinnamon sprinkled down the center and fresh blackberries piled on top. I placed on top of some stirred custard (also on Indra's request) and sprinkled a little cinnamon on it.

I would have just added this to the end of my DB post but I got some great photos and they deserve a post of their own. I think I may be finally figuring this photo thing out.


DB: Danish Braid

Here is the official recipe. I would have posted it here but it was way way to long. Let me start out by saying WEEEEEE I did it! The idea was lots more intimidating that reality. The recipe is actually pretty simple there is just alot of waiting for things to rechill up. I am thinking once I get a freezer I can make a batch once every several months and take it out as needed for a quick treat.

This is My first Daring Baker Challenge, I have been amazed by everyone's ideas and inspired by there results (not to mention stunning pictures). I was encouraged by what I achieved and it feels good to do this and have this experience (and goodies) to share. I grew up with everything made from scratch, we butchered our own pigs, goats, chicken, rabbits and deer. we grew our own veggies and fruits (we got a 5 gallon bucket of strawberries a day when they were in season). I had forgotten how good that was. So thanks DB for reminding me what a kitchen is for.

I actually made three braids and am making a 4th today. The top one is the Cherry Almond, in the middle is the Apple, and lastly is a savory Moroccan pork. The apple one if the first one I did and I had yet to master the braiding process but once you cut it up no one could tell.

I did the official apple one, with a honey caramel sauce and whipped cream sprinkled with cinnamon (Indra Loved it, Me I loved the sauce). I used my fancy new slicer and sliced my apples extra thin. they were beautiful and when done just melted in your mouth.

A cherry almond one (My favorite). I took a bag of frozen black cherries (sugar free) and simmered them, I added almond extract, cardamon, and lemon zest. then just simmered till it was thick and very tasty (I see cherry jam in my future). I made an almond custard to go with it (also easy and oh soo good). Unfortunately this braid suffered the same fate as many other people's and leaked, it still tasted Divine though. I think in future I will A. braid better, B. not fill so full, and C. find a nice sauce to cut the richness of this combo.

The Moroccan Pork one was a failure. It was pretty enough, with salt crusting the outside of a near perfect looking braid, but taste wise it sucked. Starting from the top, To much salt on the crust, to much Moroccan Rub on the meat, The meat needed something extra to up the impact, I am thinking dates and coconut if I do it again. To be honest the real failure was me using a filling I had absolutely no experience with. It sounded good in theory but didn't work out in practice.

Today I am making a Blackberry something for Indra (I have not decided if it will be braid shaped or not). We picked a bunch this morning and it sounds scrumptious. She is angling for more whipped cream but I am thinking a sour cream sauce of some kind will balance the sweetness of the berries just right. We will just have to see what happens. I am hoping for enough dough left over that I can do something with cinnamon, sugar nuts and raisins, something more winter / fall then spring tasting. That may wait another week or two though.