Thursday, April 30, 2009

Springtime or Anytime Bread

Bread Baking Day #19 is being hosted by Cindy of Cindystar, and her choice this month is Spring Country Bread. With the advent of warmer weather, it's time to think about eating al fresco once again, although here in southern California, outdoor dining takes place nearly all year long.

One of our favorite foods is hamburgers, grilled to perfection and served on homemade buns.

Ready to rise:

Ready to bake:

Fresh from the oven:

I've been using a specific recipe for many years, shaping the dough into a variety of rolls and loaves, but it's original form was supposed to be hamburger buns. I've always liked its adaptability, and it doesn't hurt that it is easy and tastes great!

So, just in the nick of time, I'm sharing the bun recipe with all the BBD folks.

Thanks to Cindy and Zorra!

Moomie’s Buns

1 c water

2 tbsp butter

1 egg

3 1/4 c. flour

1/4 c. sugar

1 tsp salt

3 tsp instant yeast

Place all ingredients in your bread machine. Select manual dough cycle. Allow to run cycle.

Dump out onto lightly floured surface. Divide into 8 pieces. With each piece, slap into a bun shape. Usually 4 or 5 slaps will do it. Place on greased cookie sheets or your bun pans, cover; rise about 30 to 40 minutes.

Bake in preheated 375 degree oven for 12 to 15 minutes til golden. Cool on wire racks.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

TWD: Creamy Chocolate Tart

Because my second job has me working on weekends, my baking time has been severely impacted. I should have had this tart completely finished yesterday, but, alas, I ran out of time.

The crust was baked and ready.

The filling was prepared and cooling. At 9:30 pm.

I finally gave in, realizing the whole dessert wouldn't be ready until this morning, posting day.

This was an easy dessert to prepare. I used the food processor for the crust as instructed, and my patience was rewarded with a nice, dark chocolate dough. I used my Fair Trade Cocoa, which has a lovely flavor.

As usual, I prepared the creamy filling in my standard way, blending the sugar, salt, cornstarch, and eggs together, then whisking in the milk and cooking until thick.
Rather than melt the chocolate, I finely chopped it and stirred it in along with the butter bits. This morning, after whipping the cream topping, I used the beaters to whip up the filling, saving some dish-washing time.

Looks like we'll be having dessert for lunch today.

I guess we'll manage.

Thanks to Kim of
Scrumptious Photography for choosing Dorie's Chocolate Cream Tart. I will definitely make it again because it is truly a showpiece!

Check out the other TWD bloggers and see their chocolate pies.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Daring Bakers: Cheesecake of a Different Color

The April 2009 challenge is hosted by Jenny from Jenny Bakes. She has chosen Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake as the challenge.

At first glance, the April Daring Baker challenge appeared deceptively simple – just bake a cheesecake.

Ah, but this is the Daring Bakers, where there is always a twist.

The fine print stated that our challenge was to create a cheesecake with a personal spin, using the basic recipe as our foundation. If you happen to check out the cheesecake for the other Daring Bakers, you will find an infinite number of variations, both in size and flavors.

For my cheesecake, I chose to use the natural bounty of my backyard, which at this time of year is primarily citrus.

I created a Neapolitan Citrus Cheesecake with one layer each of blood orange, lime, and lemon. Instead of the usual graham cracker crust, I prepared one consisting of ground almonds. The topping was simply a glaze of Blood Orange Marmalade.

My goal was to make a light, fresh cheesecake instead of one heavy with darker ingredients, and I was pleased with the final result.

For the recipe, take a look at Jenny's blog.

Friday, April 24, 2009

BB: Monsieur but not Madame

Today we had homemade chicken soup for lunch, unlike yesterday, when Monsieur came to visit. Croque Monsieur, that is. Lunches are always a desert for me for some reason. I prefer to eat lunch out, because very few things are inspiring, and let's face it: sandwiches always taste better made by someone else. But yesterday, we stayed in and enjoyed this fancy grilled ham and cheese sandwich.

It was a winner.
I used whole wheat bread because that is what I had, and also used some cassis-flavored Dijon mustard. I also forgot to take photos of the work-in-progress, except for the bread. I get so caught up in the process that I forget until it is too late and everything is assembled.

The second Barefoot Blogger recipe of the month, brought to us by
Kathy of All Food Considered, was Croque Monsieur. Croque Madame stayed home, but would have been just as delicious had she visited as well.

BB: Breakfast alternative

Instead of eating a normal, boring breakfast this morning (aka cold cereal), I found myself snacking on this:

It meets all the basic requirements of dairy, fruit, and grain, right?

Thanks to Anne of
Anne Strawberry for choosing this Savory Coeur à la Crème for this month's Bonus Recipe. I happened to have all the necessary ingredients for this one (except time) including some Crosse and Blackwell Genuine Major Grey's Chutney.

Even though I let the mixture rest and supposedly drain overnight, only a minuscule amount of liquid appeared, so I'm wondering if it's really worth the extra time and dishes to do this step.

At any rate, this is a most delicious dish and worthy of being included at any event, any time of day. I should also add that it is good on toast if you happen to run out of crackers.

Take a look at the Barefoot Bloggers site to read other members' opinions.

(100% daughter and neighbor approved)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

TWD: Four Star Chocolate Bread Pudding

Lucky me. I chose the hottest day of the year to make bread pudding. The outside temperature was in the mid 90s today; the inside temperature, downstairs, is still in the mid 80s at 10 pm. I needed some room temperature butter for some cookies, but after an hour on the kitchen counter, it was melting. Did I really want to turn the oven on?


But I did.

This week's Dorie delight was Four Star Chocolate Bread Pudding, brought to us by
Lauren of Upper East Side Chronicle . It received a thumbs up from both of us.

For the bread part, I used some brioche that I found at Trader Joe's. I added a handful of dried sour cherries to complement the chocolate.
And, as usual, I combined the egg-sugar-milk mixture altogether, cooking until it reached the right temperature for a custard. I only made half a recipe, just the right amount for two people.

Brioche and dried cherries; chocolate custard:

Brioche soaking in chocolate custard:

I know we could have fancied it up a bit when served, but in this heat, any movement takes quite a bit of effort, so we just ate it plain. Maybe tomorrow will be cooler and we can play with some toppings.

Don't forget to take a look at the efforts of the other
TWD bakers today.

Looks like we'll be having thirds for a pre-bedtime snack.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Back of the House

The current selection in the Cook the Books Club is Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain. I have a first edition copy that I acquired second-hand several years ago and that was made more valuable (to me) by sporting an autograph from the chef, himself.

In June, 2006, several weeks before the infamous Lebanon trip, I managed to score a front row seat at a Santa Monica bookstore and listened to a wonderful presentation by Chef Bourdain. He is a most pleasant and gracious person.

In KC, his advice on becoming a chef is right on the mark. I would only add that it helps to be 20 when you start.

In honor of the chef, the book, and the event, I brought my Mongolian hot pot into daylight once again and polished it up. This has always been one of my favorite social meals, perfectly suited to conversation and entertaining. You can catch Tony's description of his meal towards the end of the Mission to Tokyo chapter.

I assembled a variety of meat and vegetables, homemade chicken broth, and udon noodles. Normally, I would prepare some charcoal briquettes for the fuel source, even though it is risky indoors. (It requires plenty of ventilation.) This time I chose Sterno, but I have to say that charcoal is the better fuel. Sterno will keep everything warm, but won't really get hot enough for actual cooking. I ended up cooking the main ingredients separately and put them back into the broth. Clearly, I need to purchase a barbecue and charcoal, then serve this meal again, properly.

Similar to fondue, the boiling broth goes into the main vessel, then each dinner puts in a selection of meat and veggies, letting them cook to desired doneness. Cooked items are scooped out with wire basket-spoon, the dipped into various condiments, such as Hoisin sauce, satay sauce, mustard sauce, teriyaki sauce. I use separate chopsticks to handle the raw meat so their is no cross contamination.

When the meat and veggies have been consumed, the noodles-of-choice are added to the broth. The meal finishes with a bowl of noodle soup, which wasn't photographed because we were so caught up in the social and eating part of the meal. The result is a leisurely meal where all participants enjoy cooking and conversing. I did invite my dear neighbor to join us, since she happened to be child-free and spouse-free that evening, a rare occasion indeed.

Thanks to Jo of Food Junkie not Junk Food for choosing one of my favorite books.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

TWD: Chocolate Amaretti Torte

This seems to be chocolate month at Tuesdays with Dorie. Except for the bananas last week, the remaining three recipes call for chocolate

Holly of PheMOMenon made an excellent choice this week. I believe this torte is one of our favorite recipes from BFMHTY. Rich and almond-flavored (one of my favorite flavors), it is easy to make and just keeps getting tastier the longer it sits.

Thursday evenings, my daughter goes to Knit Night at the local yarn shop and visits with her knitster sisters. She kindly ran an errand for me on the way last Thursday. Close to the yarn shop is a small Italian deli, and I figured it would be the best and closest possibility for amaretti. Luckily, my guess was correct, so my girl picked up a bag of cookies for me, to be used for Friday's torte baking operation.

I also had almond meal in the freezer which I substituted (by weight) for the whole almonds. Other than that, I followed the recipe exactly. I did have to bake it a few minutes longer than stated, but otherwise it came out perfectly.

I retrieved and saved the bits of glaze that came off the cake. It seemed such a waste to throw it away. I'm thinking it should taste really good over ice cream.

The almond flavored whipped cream was just the right accompaniment to the rich cake, although the cake does taste delicious all on its own.

For a quick, easy, and tasty dessert, I would highly recommend this amaretti torte. Be sure and check the TWD blogroll to see if the other bakers agreed.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Blood Orange Sorbet

With an abundance of blood oranges on my tree, I've been looking for ways to use them. After making some lemon gelato last week, I decided to do a blood orange sorbet next. I searched the Internet and beyond for an enticing recipe, but ended up combining several and creating my own version.

It is even more flavorful after curing for 24 hours, and it's all I can do not to eat all of it at one time.

I experimented with the gelatin, hoping to alter the texture, but one can omit it if desired. My version comes close to tasting like a commercial brand, but, in truth, I prefer mine. Perhaps you will, too.

Blood Orange Sorbet


1 ¼ cups water

¾ cup sugar

zest from 1 blood orange, 1 lemon, 1 lime

Blend ingredients in saucepan; bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar; boil for a few minutes; remove from heat and let cool.


Combine the juice of about 2 pounds of blood oranges (2 ¼ cups), one lime, and one lemon.

Soften one teaspoon gelatin in a small amount water for 5 minutes. Heat gently in microwave to dissolve the gelatin.

Combine the juice mixture, the syrup, and the dissolved gelatin. Place in ice cream freezer and freezer until a solid sorbet has formed.

Place in cold containers and then into the freezer until hard.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

BB: Chinese Chicken Salad

The first recipe for April's Barefoot Bloggers is a most delicious chicken salad using one of my favorite foods, peanut butter. I especially love peanut butter in savory foods, so I was really looking forward to making this recipe. I was not disappointed.

Well, actually, I was slightly.

There just wasn't enough of it!

I threw it together at the last minute, so opted to serve it with rice. With a bit more thought, I could probably come up with a more appropriate accompaniment, but it tasted good just the same.

hanks to McKenzie of Kenzie's Kitchen for a great recipe choice. You may find the recipe on McKenzie's blog. Check out the other Barefoot Bloggers for their variations as well.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

TWD: Not the Usual Banana Cream Pie

In this house, two things happen to bananas. They either get eaten right away or they rot. I feel bad when they rot, but sometimes were just not in a banana mood.

Then along came Dorie's variation on a banana cream pie. It has a lovely spiced brown sugar filling and a delicious sour cream/whipped cream topping. My daughter gave it two thumbs up. Definitely a winner.

Now there should be no reason for any bananas to over-ripen anymore.

I chose to make tarts this time, sort of like BCP on demand. It means you don't have to consume the whole pie at once since bananas are so perishable.

The cream filling and bananas are layered inside the tart/pie shell, then the topping is mounded on top. I probably skimped a bit on the first tarts, as I didn't want to prematurely run out of topping.

Round two tarts were overflowing. That's how it goes sometimes.

This dessert didn't last very long, a testament to its deliciousness. Even the mixing bowls were licked clean. By humans, not the dog. We come from a long line of private plate lickers. It's a shame to waste even a speck of something so tasty.

Thanks to
Amy of Sing for your Supper for choosing such a luscious dessert.

Feel free to drop by the TWD blogroll and see if the other bakers agreed.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Ice Cream with a Zing

Lemons have always been one of my favorite foods. Sometimes I have a hard time deciding between something chocolate and something lemon. Many times lemon wins.

It's not that I like chocolate less, but, have you ever seen a fantastic, delicious-looking chocolate dessert in a restaurant or bakery? And when you took those first few bites, how the appearance didn't match the taste? And how disappointing it is when that happens? Well, I've been burned too many times on chocolate desserts, but rarely on lemon ones.

When Zorra put out the call recently for lemon-based recipes, I went through my mental list to see what I would like to make.
Being an ice cream fan, and especially a lemon custard ice cream fan, I thought I would try a new recipe for lemon gelato that I had recently come across while perusing some old Gourmets from my stash.

Because I live in lemon country, the main ingredient was easy to find, and the recipe was quick to make.

I did let some of my co-workers do a taste test tonight. Thumbs up for this one. I hope you enjoy it too.

And, Zorra, you can add this to your list of lemon delights.

Gelato di Limone
(adapted from Gourmet, February 1998)

1 tablespoon finely grated fresh lemon zest (I used 1 1/2 lemons)
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1 cup sugar
pinch of salt
3 large eggs
2 cups half & half
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

In a saucepan whisk together the zest, lemon juice, sugar, salt, and eggs. Whisk in 1 cup half & half and vanilla, and cook custard over moderate heat, whisking constantly, until a thermometer reads 170 degrees F. Mixture will be slightly thick. Do not let it boil. Pour custard through a fine sieve into a bowl, the stir in the remaining cup of half & half.

Chill the custard thoroughly, covering the surface with a piece of plastic wrap, at leat 4 hours and up to 1 day.

Freeze the custard in an ice cream maker. Transfer to an airtight container and put in freezer to harden

Makes about 1 quart.

Disappearing Bread

Do you hear that?

Isn't it such a wonderful crackling sound?

That is my very first loaf of 5-minute artisan bread.

Even though I've had Jeff Hertzberg's and
Zoë François's book since October 2007, yesterday was the first time I managed to find the time to try it out.

Do you think the container might be overkill?

I only made half a recipe as a test to see whether it would really work out and how it would taste. Next time it will be the full recipe amount, because that bread turned out to be amazingly delicious. My daughter ate half the loaf while I was at work tonight. That should tell you something.

Now I will need to study the book some more and try out the many different flour combinations. This is such a quick method for making artisan style bread with great flavor.

And, not to worry. I'll still be making bread the "old fashioned" way, too. That's what is so great about bread making -- there are nearly an infinite number of ways to create such a perfect food.

Also, be sure to check out the artisan bread blog.