Thursday, January 29, 2009
First, the housekeeping: This month's challenge is brought to us by Karen of Bake My Day! and Zorra of 1x umrühren bitte aka Kochtopf. They have chosen Tuiles from The Chocolate Book by Angélique Schmeink and Nougatine and Chocolate Tuiles from Michel Roux.
Now to the challenge.
I had only one BIG problem this time.
But, it's not what you think.
These crispy tuiles were so delicious that they barely survived to be photographed. They are a fragile lot, so, of course, when one breaks, what does the smart baker do? Eat it, without hesitation. Oops. Broke another. Must eat that, too.
Well, that behavior just had to stop, or there would be nothing left.
Tuiles bring out the creativity in a baker and they are one of the most easy treats to bake. Just take a look at all the variations from the Daring Bakers!
I probably shouldn't admit this, but I made them Wednesday night, last minute, while I was making dinner. The filling was already prepared and waiting, so the final dessert required only minimal assembly.
For the stencil, I cut up a cereal box and used a stencil knife to cut the shapes. (It's helpful being a quilter, because cutting mats, rulers, and sharp instruments are always at the ready.) Just for fun, I added some beet powder along with the flour to color the tuiles a delicate pink. It coordinated well with the Blueberry-Lingonberry Soup filling.
I began with a triangle shape,
but I quickly changed my mind and did circles that ended up being more bowl shaped.
With the tiny bit of remaining batter, I did free-form swooshes on some foil with my handy-dandy small off-set spatula. I decided those were fair game to devour.
Then I filled the cooled tuiles with some of the chilled soup.
Here's the basic recipe all the Daring Bakers used. For more variations, please visit Karen's or Zorra's blogs.
Following is a recipe taken from a book called “The Chocolate Book”, written by female Dutch Master chef Angélique Schmeinck.
Yields: 20 small butterflies/6 large (butterflies are just an example)
Preparation time batter 10 minutes, waiting time 30 minutes, baking time: 5-10 minutes per batch
65 grams / ¼ cup / 2.3 ounces softened butter (not melted but soft)
60 grams / ½ cup / 2.1 ounces sifted confectioner’s sugar
1 sachet vanilla sugar (7 grams or substitute with a dash of vanilla extract)
2 large egg whites (slightly whisked with a fork)
65 grams / 1/2 cup / 2.1/4 ounces sifted all purpose flour
1 table spoon cocoa powder/or food coloring of choice (I used some beet powder for a delicate pink color.)
Butter/spray to grease baking sheet
Oven: 180C / 350F
Using a hand whisk or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle (low speed) and cream butter, sugar and vanilla to a paste. Keep stirring while you gradually add the egg whites. Continue to add the flour in small batches and stir to achieve a homogeneous and smooth batter/paste. Be careful to not overmix.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to firm up. (This batter will keep in the fridge for up to a week, take it out 30 minutes before you plan to use it).
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or grease with either butter/spray and chill in the fridge for at least 15 minutes. This will help spread the batter more easily if using a stencil/cardboard template such as the butterfly. Press the stencil on the baking sheet and use an off sided spatula to spread batter. Leave some room in between your shapes. Mix a small part of the batter with the cocoa and a few drops of warm water until evenly colored. Use this colored batter in a paper piping bag and proceed to pipe decorations on the wings and body of the butterfly.
Bake butterflies in a preheated oven (180C/350F) for about 5-10 minutes or until the edges turn golden brown. Immediately release from baking sheet and proceed to shape/bend the cookies in the desired shape. These cookies have to be shaped when still warm, you might want to bake a small amount at a time or maybe put them in the oven to warm them up again. (Haven’t tried that). Or: place a baking sheet toward the front of the warm oven, leaving the door half open. The warmth will keep the cookies malleable.
If you don’t want to do stencil shapes, you might want to transfer the batter into a piping bag fitted with a small plain tip. Pipe the desired shapes and bake. Shape immediately after baking using for instance a rolling pin, a broom handle, cups, cones….
Traditionally, on Christmas day, I serve Blueberry-Lingonberry Soup, along with a sweet bread, eggs, and fruit. Everyone expects it, and fortunately, everyone loves chilled soups. I had some left over from Christmas, and when I read the challenge in early January, I knew that I would use the tuiles and soup together, so I set some soup aside.
(Sunset Breakfast and Brunch, 1980)
2 cups water
3 tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 sticks cinnamon, each about 1 1/2 inches long
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (I used lime peel and juice this year)
1 1/2 cups frozen unsweetened blueberries
1 jar (14 ounces) lingonberries
Sour cream for garnish
In a saucepan, combine water, tapioca, sugar, salt, cinnamon, lemon peel, lemon juice, and blueberries. Over medium-high heat bring the mixture to a boil, stirring constantly; reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in lingonberries and their liquid until blended. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled. Remove cinnamon sticks before serving. Serve cold, with a garnish of sour cream.
Makes 6 servings.
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Have I mentioned before how much I love baking bread? How I live in anticipation each month for the various bread challenges to appear? Of course, in general, I love baking and cooking, but baking bread is something I find too difficult to pass up.
Last week the Bread Baking Babes announced their latest endeavor: croissants. Luscious, yummy croissants. I made them before quite a few times, but I'm always ready to try a new recipe. These did not disappoint.
I prepared the butter and the dough on Sunday, but had to wait until today to actually construct and bake them. That dough was so satiny! I like tactile projects.
My biggest cooking board is only 22 inches long, so when it came time to do the final roll out, I decided to clear off the granite counter and use it. Believe me, I thought it would never reach the specified dimensions! But I persevered and ended up with 25 delicious croissants. I may use the trimmings for some experiments, because I hate to throw it away.
So, thanks to the Bread Baking Babes, and to Katie of Thyme for Cooking, for another delicious challenge, and to Mary for her helpful suggestions.
The basic recipe went off as planned with a few minor exceptions. I did replace the stem ginger with crystallized ginger, and I found that after 40 minutes in the oven, the center was still liquid, so I let it stay in for an additional 20 minutes. The final result was perfect.
Also, I wasn’t sure whether I would approve of a chocolate-coffee frosting on my gingerbread, but, I have to say, it made the whole dessert very tasty, so I have been converted.
I like my gingerbread spicy. Last fall I wrote about my go-to recipe. In comparison, Dorie’s gingerbread is on the mild side, relatively speaking, but because of the addition of chocolate to the batter and the icing on top, I can truthfully say I have two favorite gingerbread recipes now.
Be sure and visit the other TWD blogs to read about their adventures in spicy gingerbread.
Sunday, January 25, 2009
The next country on our MKMW tour of the world was Azerbaijan, suggested by Elra. I thought that it might be more difficult to find recipes this time, but search results led me to a great blog: Farida's Azerbaijani Cookbook. Besides showcasing delicious Azerbaijani cuisine, Farida is also a Daring Baker.
The most recent entry on Farida's blog sounded too terrific to pass up, so that is what I chose to represent my worldly excursion: Chicken with Eggs (Toyug Chighirtmasi). This is a tasty, easy, and eye-pleasing dish that I would highly recommend.
Thanks also goes to Lauren for hosting, and Susan for creating My Kitchen My World.
Serves 4 to 6
3 tablesspoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, peeled and thinly sliced
2 pounds / 900g boneless or bone-in chicken parts, cut into about 10 serving pieces (I used boneless chicken thighs)
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon, or more, to taste, ground black pepper
4 medium ripe tomatoes, finely chopped, with their juices
3 eggs, lightly beaten
chopped cilantro (coriander) or parsley, to garnish
NOTE 1: If your tomatoes are not ripe and juicy, dissolve 1 tablespoon tomato paste in 1/2 cup hot water and add it to the chicken along with chopped tomatoes.
NOTE 2: You can also bake this dish in the oven at the last stage. Transfer the chicken to a baking dish then pour the eggs over it. Bake in the 400F (200C) degree oven until the eggs are set. It makes for a beuatiful presentation if you serve this dish straight from your baking dish.
1. In a medium frying pan, heat 2 tablespoons of oil over medium heat. Add the onion and saute, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes, or until it is light brown. Transfer the onion to a bowl and put aside.
2. Add the remaining oil and the butter to the same frying pan and heat over medium heat (Note: butter alone tends to brown when you melt it. Adding some fluid oil to the pan along with butter will prevent that). Add the chicken pieces and fry for about 20 minutes, or until they are brown, turning them once to cook on both sides.
3. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Add the cooked onions and chopped tomatoes with juices to the pan. Cover and turning only occasionally, simmer over medium heat for about 25 minutes, or until the chicken is tender.
4. Pour the beaten eggs over the chicken, slightly tilting the pan to distribute the eggs evenly. Cover the pan and let cook for about 5-7 minutes (do not stir!) or until the eggs are set. Serve immediatley, garnished with fresh chopped cilantro or parsley. Chicken with Eggs is delicious with bread or rice
Friday, January 23, 2009
This was another 3:30 am morning. No, wait. The dog woke me up at 3:00 am. Half an hour later I was up again, getting ready to take my daughter to the airport shuttle, which was scheduled to leave at 4:30 am.
At that time of morning, traffic is virtually non-existent. So, why do the traffic lights still cycle on their regular, high-traffic timer? What an agonizing wait at 4 am! And, you can't run the red light, because all the intersections have these traffic cameras that photograph your license plate so the police can ticket you irregardless.
Anyway, when I returned home, I debated whether to go back to bed or not. Since I felt wide awake, I decided to do the only decent thing at that early hour, and bake Easy Sticky Buns, the Barefoot Blogger selection, courtesy of Melissa of Made by Melissa.
They truly were easy to make and didn't take very long and they hit the spot at 6 am. The only substitution I made was swapping out raisins for cinnamon chips. I'm sure the raisins are delicious, but not at 6 am. For a quick, but elegant, breakfast dish, these are just right.
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
January is nearly over and the TWD bakers are down to their last two recipes for the month. This week, Mary Ann of Meet Me in the Kitchen, chose Berry Surprise Cake, a simple genoise filled with cream cheese, whipped cream, and fresh berries. Since this isn't fresh berry season here in California, I substituted frozen blueberries, which I always have on hand. My daughter said it was the first time she's eaten something containing blueberries that she liked, so I presume it was successful.
I made this rather at the last minute, since life has been somewhat dramatic lately, and I did half the recipe so it wouldn't double me.
At first, I thought the genoise would bake up just fine, but in the last 10 minutes, I observed a huge crater had formed in the middle of the cake. Well, sometimes holes happen. Upon re-reading the instructions, I realized that we were going to remove the middle anyway, so it wasn't a big deal.
For carving out the center, I used a grapefruit knife. The slight curve made it easier to create the bowl-like center that would hold the filling and berries.
The cake went together very nicely and tasted just fine. I didn't change any of the ingredient amounts, and, while some people thought it wasn't quite sweet enough, we felt it was just perfect.
I would bet that fresh strawberries would be just the right berry for this cake, so when late spring comes, and the berries show up in the farmers market, I'll be giving this recipe another try.
For now, I'll be checking out how the other TWD bakers fared with their cakes.
Monday, January 19, 2009
I shouldn't be allowed to bake bread on only 3 hours sleep. Since I knew I had a long day yesterday, I had decided to get started early baking bread. The plan was to get up at 3:30 am, drive to LAX, pick up my daughter, and drive home. The Los Angeles freeways are a dream to drive on at that time of day, so it only took me 65 minutes each way. We were home just as the sun was rising.
After breakfast, I was ready to begin the bread-making process, and a simple one it was. One of my favorite breads is Casatiello, and it is the only recipe I have actually tagged in my BBA book. I was thrilled to have an excuse to bake this again, thanks to Temperance of High on the Hog, who is this month's hostess for Bread Baking Day #16. Her choice was Bread with Cheese. Throw in some bacon, and it's a winner.
I had some leftover Gruyere, bacon, butter, buttermilk, and bread flour. Isn't that all a girl needs?
And, everything went according to plan. I have two loaves of Casatiello sitting on my counter. I chose to bake it in a traditional loaf form with the thought of using it for sandwiches, should it last that long.
My only issue was the final shape. I can only attribute my lack of timing to my lack of sleep, since I felt sort of zombie-like all day. Throw in some uncharacteristically warm weather, and the end result was questionable. By the time the loaves hit the oven, the poor things were a bit overproofed, so they flattened a bit rather than sprung. Grrrr. While not perfect looking, they still tasted fine. I debated whether to consume them entirely on the spot, but decided against it. Who else would really know or care? I could just say they were meant to look that way.
The recipe I used is from Peter Reinhart's Bread Baker's Apprentice, one of my favorite bread books.
(adapted from Bread Baker's Apprentice by Peter Reinhart)
½ cup( 2.25 ounces) bread flour
1 tablespoon (.33 ounce) instant yeast
1 cup (8 ounces) whole milk or buttermilk, lukewarm
4 ounces Italian salami, pepperoni, chorizo, bacon (or other similar meat) 3 ½ cups (16 ounces) bread flour 1 teaspoon (.25 ounce) Salt 1 tablespoon (.5 ounce) Sugar 2 large eggs, slightly beaten ¾ cup (6 ounces) unsalted butter, room temperature ¾ cup coarsely shredded or grated provolone, Swiss, cheddar, or other cheese that melts well
To make the sponge, stir together the flour and yeast in a bowl. Whisk in the milk to make a pancake-like batter. Cover with plastic wrap and ferment at room temperature for 1 hour.
While the sponge is fermenting, dice the meat into small cubes and saute it lightly in a frying pan to crisp it slightly.
Stir together the flour, salt, and sugar with a spoon. Add the eggs and the sponge and mix until the ingredients form a coarse ball. If there is any loose flour, dribble in a small amount of water or milk to gather it into the dough. Mix for about 1 minute longer, then let the dough rest for 10 minutes. Divide the butter into small pieces and work into dough, a few pieces at a time while mixing with the paddle attachment of the mixer. Switch to the dough hook and mix and additional 4 minutes. The dough will change from sticky to tacky and eventually come off the sides of the bowl. If not, sprinkle in more flour.
When the dough is smooth, add the meat pieces and mix until they are evenly distributed. Then gently mix in the cheese until it, too, is evenly distributed. Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it around to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
Ferment at room temperature for about 90 minutes, or until the dough increases in size by at least 1 1/2 times.
Remove the dough from the bowl and leave as 1 piece for 1 large loaf or divide into 2 pieces for smaller loaves. Shape and place in 1 large or 2 small loaf pans that have been lightly greased. Mist the top of the dough with spray oil and cover.
Proof for 60-90 minutes, or until the dough just reaches the top of the pans.
Place pans in a 350 degree F oven and bake for 40-50 minutes until the center of the loaves registers 185-190′F. Rotate the pans after the first 20 minutes. The dough will be golden brown on top and on the sides, and the cheese will ooze out into crisp little brown pockets.
When the bread is done, remove the bread from the oven and from the pans and cool on a rack for at least 1 hour before slicing or serving.
Thanks, also, to Zorra for creating BBD.
Saturday, January 17, 2009
Only this time it's Moros y Cristianos -- a black bean and rice soup from Cuba, which is my entry in this week's My Kitchen, My World.
I always have black beans in the pantry, and I also happened to have a container of cooked brown rice in the refrigerator, so I decided to adapt and combine several recipes to create this soup. I made it on Friday, so it had a day to blend flavors before I served it for dinner tonight. It was definitely a quick and delicious meal.
For 2 servings:
Saute half an onion, chopped, and half a green pepper, chopped, in a tablespoon of oil, until softened. Add one garlic clove, finely chopped, and saute for another minute. Add one can black beans, including liquid, along with 1/2 teaspoon cumin, 1/2 teaspoon oregano, 1 small bay leaf, and 1 cup chicken broth. Season with salt and pepper, and simmer for 5-10 minutes. Add 1 cup cooked rice, and simmer until the soup is heated through. Remove bay leaf before serving. Season to taste.
Friday, January 16, 2009
It's time, again, for another Cookie Bake-Along (CBA), hosted by Megan and Nic. Martha Stewart's Mini Black and White Cookies was the chosen task. They were surprisingly easy to make -- I did it while fixing dinner, but my scoop must have been a bit larger than 1/2 ounce, because I only got 30 from the full recipe. No matter. They tasted good just the same. I frosted half of them, and will freeze the unfrosted cookies for a future date.
I'm looking forward to seeing which cookies are next on the CBA challenge. For the recipe, head over to Megan's blog.
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
I can do it with 3 ingredients.
For this meal, I chose a main course and two sides. (I left dessert for another time.)
The main dish is a polenta lasagna with smoked mozzarella cheese.
The first side is an eggplant stuffed with garlic and sun-dried tomatoes.
The second side is a mixture of roasted green beans and Kalamata olives.
The combination is really delicious and filling.
All the recipes come from one of my favorite cookbooks: Recipes 1-2-3 Menu Cookbook: Morning, Noon, and Night by Rozanne Gold. I also have her Recipes 1-2-3 cookbook, which I highly recommend, as it is loaded with delicious recipes.
So, thanks to Sara and Lynn for a fun challenge. I'll be interested in seeing what others came up with when the roundup is posted in early February.
Polenta "Lasagne" with Smoked Mozzarella
(adapted from Recipes 1-2-3 Menu Cookbook)
12 ounces smoked mozzarella
2 cups stone-ground yellow cornmeal
28-ounce can or 2 14-ounce cans dice tomatoes in puree
Cut a third of the cheese into small pieces. Cut the remainder into slices.
In a large, heavy saucepan, bring 7 cups of water to a boil. Add 2 teaspoons salt, 1/8 teaspoon white pepper, and cornmeal in a slow, steady stream, whisking until smooth. Break up lumps, if necessary. Lower heat to medium.
Stir constantly until the polenta begins to pull away from the sides of the pan. Add the small pieces of cheese and stir until melted. Continue stirring until the polenta is very thick.
Spray an 11 by 14-inch baking pan with nonstick spray, or line with release foil. Pour hot polenta into the pan, making an even layer. Let cool at least 2 hours at room temperature to let polenta harden.
Preheat broiler. Cut polenta, while still in pan, into 12 equal pieces. Place under broiler until the tops are lightly browned and crisp. Remove.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Place tomatoes with their liquid into a saucepan. Puree with a stick blender. (Or puree with a food processor before pouring into pan.) Add freshly ground black pepper to taste. Bring to a boil and simmer over low heat for 5 minutes.
Assembly: put 6 pieces of polenta, touching, side by side, into a 10-by10-inch or 9-by-11-inch pan. Spoon on half the tomato sauce to cover. Place half the cheese slices over the tomato sauce. Top with another layer of polenta, sauce, and cheese.
Bake for 10 to 15 minutes. Serve hot. (Serves at least 6.)
Japanese Eggplants with Roasted Garlic and Sun-Dried Tomatoes
4 long slender Japanese eggplants
10 pieces sun-dried tomatoes in oil
20 thin slices of fresh garlic
Preheat over to 375 degrees F.
Cut 5 slits across the width of each eggplant, approximately 1 inch apart. Cut sun-dried tomatoes in half, reserving oil. Slip a piece of sun-dried tomato and a slice of garlic into each slit.
Place eggplants on foil. Drizzle with some of the reserved oil. Sprinkle with Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Fold foil to enclose eggplants in a sealed package. Put on baking sheet and bake 40 minutes, or until eggplants are soft.
Serve hot or at room temperature. Serves 4.
(Note: I used pre-sliced sun-dried tomatoes, not preserved in oil. I drizzled the eggplants with olive oil.)
Roasted Green Beans with Kalamata Olives
1 pound tender green beans
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives, halved
Preheat oven to 500 degrees F.
Wash and trim green beans, removing strings if necessary.
Place beans in a shallow baking pan. Drizzle with olive oil and mix well to coat. Add olives. Sprinkle with a little Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Place pan in oven. Roast 6 minutes, then stir mixture and roast for another 5-6 minutes. Serve immediately. Serves 4.
Good cold or hot.
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
To bring in the New Year, I made my traditional Curried Black-eyed Pea soup. This year, however, I decided to increase my chances of good fortune by adding some cornbread. Not just any cornbread, mind you, but Savory Corn and Pepper Muffins from BFMHTY. This recipe was chosen by Rebecca of Ezra Pound Cake, and in my book, it's a winner.
I loved the colors and the flavors in these muffins, and they were delicious with or without a slab of butter. They were the perfect accompaniment to the soup, too. I understand many of the other TWD bakers paired the muffins with chili, which is another good choice.
There were no baking issues with these muffins, and although were still tasty a few days later, they tended to fall apart quickly. The other TWD bakers will be sharing their efforts and opinions today, so stop by and read all about it.
Friday, January 9, 2009
This has been such a busy week! I finally was able to make these delicious pancakes for breakfast this morning. Karen of Something Sweet by Karen chose this year's first Barefoot Bloggers recipe, Banana Sour Cream Pancakes.
Of course, wouldn't you know that I had used my last banana right before the recipe was announced, so on my next trip to the grocery, I had to buy some more bananas and let them ripen. The wait was worth it, though. I loved the tangy taste of the sour cream and the hint of citrus. I used lime zest, since my lemon tree doesn't have any ripe lemons at the moment.
Everyone else's pancakes looked really delicious, so I would recommend giving this recipe a try. When my daughter comes back from Hawaii, I will definitely makes these for her, since she loves pancakes. Both the batter and the pancakes are similar to the ones I normally make, so they should be a hit.
Monday, January 5, 2009
A number of years ago, while I was living in a residence hotel between houses, I had nothing better to do all day than quilt and watch the Food Network. In one respect, this was a good thing, because I learned the trick for making a beautiful and delicious apple tart by watching Sara Moulton. The key was how to thinly slice the apples and skillfully place them in the tart shell. Even family members that didn't like cooked apples or Delicious apples, liked this tart.
Fast forward to now. This week's recipe for Tuesdays with Dorie is very special. First, it marks the one-year anniversary of the TWD Blog (thank you, Laurie!), and, second, our recipe selector du semaine is none other than Dorie herself. What a terrific way to begin the year!
I love pears, so on New Year's Eve, I braved the grocery store for a few last-minute items, and remembered to buy some pears for the tart. My plan was to bake the tart, section by section, over the holiday weekend, and I wanted to make sure the pears were at the perfect stage of ripeness when I began.
Friday afternoon I poached the pears. I used lime juice, since my lemon tree had no available fruit. It was all I could do not to eat the pears right then and there. Next time, I might try cutting them in half and coring them first, before poaching, as they are slippery little beggars.
While the pears were poaching, I made the crust, putting it in the freezer until baking time.
Saturday afternoon I made the almond filling. I used ground almond meal from Trader Joe's. It's not made from blanched almonds, but I wasn't concerned about the appearance, and I figured the taste would be just fine. I had used all my blanched almond meal for a previous baking project.
Sunday morning, I pre-baked the crust,
then proceeded to assemble the tart. Although I tried to photograph each step, I got so caught up in construction, that I forgot.
And, would you believe, one of those pesky pears decided to escape to freedom by sliding off the spatula and adhering its thinly-sliced pieces to the counter top, the cupboard, and the floor!
Not so fast, my fine friend!
Except for two tiny slices, I successfully reassembled the wayward pear and deposited it into the almond filling. (Only I know which one it was, and for revenge, I ate it first. Ha Ha So there!)
Although I really wanted to eat this whole tart at one sitting, I restrained myself. It does taste just as delicious the next day, but I don't think it will last long enough to test the two-day theory. I might just have to make another one very soon. Even my pear-hating daughter would like this tart (it's a texture thing).
So, a million thank-yous to Dorie for such a great choice and for playing along with us. Don't miss anyone's blog entry today -- it should be fun just