Tuesday, May 31, 2011

TWD: Caramel Pots de Creme

Slipped this into my schedule yesterday, in between work, yard work, and a dog walk. My daughter has been out of town for a few days, so I only made half a recipe in the hopes I could save two for her upon her return Monday evening. And if I didn't, well, better four than eight.

I found the caramel flavor to be on the mild side and the texture more grainy than I would like. However, making the caramel was easy, melting the sugar one tablespoon at a time, so it's likely I will try it again.

This week's hostess was Peggy of
Peggy the Baker.

I not sure how many people were able to make this dessert this week, but if you stop by the Tuesdays with Dorie blog, you can read their stories.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

BBD40: Bread with Curd

One of my favorite times of the month is when the theme for Bread Baking Day is announced. The next favorite time is when I find an appropriate recipe and make it happen.

I found just the right recipe for this challenge -- a bread made with cottage cheese (curds) and dill. While the original recipe called for dill seed, I used dill weed. It gave the bread a mild dill flavor, pleasant but not too crazy. The cottage cheese provided a lovely moistness and texture.

Here's the dough, resting before shaping. (Notice the bits of dill weed?)

Ready for the final rise. I put the loaf in the oven when it was about 3/4 inch above the top of the pan. I solemnly swear it was still symmetrical at that point.

However, that's not how it came out of the oven. Just what in the heck happened in there while the bread was baking? The oven fairies were out in force.

No matter. It may have looked funny, but it tasted delicious. I'm certain that I will make this again, only I will form it into rolls instead of a loaf. The dough just calls out for that kind of shape.

This month is the 40th Bread Baking Day, and it is being hosted by the beautiful and gracious founder, Zorra. This truly is one of my most favorite baking/bread events, so be sure to stop by Zorra's blog in several days to see the BBD40 Roundup.

Thanks, Zorra!

Dill Bread

1 cup cream-style cottage cheese
1/4 cup water
1 egg
2 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
3 cups bread flour
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons dill seed (I substituted dill weed)
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon active dry yeast

Place all the ingredients into a bread machine according to the manufacturer's directions. Select the manual cycle, then push the button.

When the dough is ready, remove from the bread machine, shape as desired, and let rise for about 45 to 60 minutes, depending on how cool the room is.

Bake at 375 degrees F. for 40 minutes, or until the internal temperature is about 190 degrees F. Cool before slicing or eating.

(adapted from the Better Homes and Gardens Best Bread Machine Recipes)

FFwD: Cardamom Rice Pilaf

Finally, I've made it to the current week. For May 27, we shared our experiences with Cardamom Rice Pilaf.

Well, we love rice and cardamom, but neither of us really cared for this recipe. The cardamom was overpowering. One pod would probably be fine, so sometime in the future I might try this again. Perhaps after my daughter leaves for university in late summer.

I suspect the other cooks at French Fridays with Dorie had different opinions.

FFwD: Catch-up post #5: Bacon, Egg, and Asparagus Salad

Another winner here!

Asparagus, cooked in a bit of water until tender.

Bacon, which I baked in the oven. Less splatter, flatter strips, the only way to cook it.

Eggs, which I poached instead of boiled. (It was an option.) We like runny yolks, so by poaching them, I could monitor how firm the eggs were and remove them at just the right moment.

Combine with a mustard vinaigrette, some young greens, and a sprinkle of toasted walnut bits, and there you have it, a most delicious salad. We had ours for a light dinner, but it would work well for lunch, too.

Once again, head over to French Fridays with Dorie for more eggy goodness.

FFwD: Catch-up post #4: Spinach Bacon Quiche

We're up to May 13 with this post. This is a delicious spinach bacon quiche. It's just perfect for this family, because we love quiche, we love spinach, and we love bacon.

The liquid to filling ratio is good, too -- lots of filling, minimal liquid.

The quiche makes a delightful meal, whether it's breakfast, lunch, dinner, or leftover snack.

At French Fridays with Dorie, you can read more about it.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

BBB: Stromboli

May's challenge from the Bread Baking Babes was Stromboli. This was an easy, delicious, and versatile challenge. Although I used the standard filling (for speediness), I can imagine other ingredients that would work perfectly.

The dough was a dream, silky and fragrant. My filling ingredients were Swiss cheese, prosciutto, pepperoni, basil, and chopped garlic.

All of that was rolled up, sprinkled with sea salt, pepper, and fresh rosemary, chopped finely.

I even remembered to poke holes in the loaf prior to baking. It came out looking like this.

And, when it was sliced open, it looked like this.

Can we say Yum?

There was enough for three dinners, and one lunch. My daughter took two slices for her train trip up north, so transportability is fine. Potlucks, picnics, road or train trips, a perfect companion.

This month's hostess was Elle from Feeding My Enthusiasms, who was inspired by Heather from girlichef. You can get the recipe from either website, so there is no excuse not to make this!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

TWD: Oatmeal Nutmeg Scones

Have I mentioned before that we are scone lovers? It's a good thing, too, because this is the second recipe in a row for some tasty scones.

As the name implies, these are chock full of oatmeal and nutmeg.

Saturday night I blended the dry ingredients and the butter together, so that on Sunday morning, I just had to add the wet ingredients and bake. Next time I will prepare them ahead and freeze them, so they can be popped into the oven at a moment's notice.

Before baking, I brushed them with buttermilk and sprinkled a bit of sugar on top.

Delicious for breakfasts or snacks!

This week's hostess was Patricia of
Life with a Whisk. You can find the recipe on her website.

Once you've baked these scones, you can settle back with a cup of tea and read the stories from the other Tuesdays with Dorie bakers.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

TWD: Maple Cornmeal Biscuits

Because of this recipe, I finally had to open this monster bottle. The only place it fits in the fridge is in the largest door shelf, with the handle turned a certain way. It's going to last a long, long time, so unless I decided to decant it into smaller bottles, I will just have to get used to losing the space.

When I was visiting my older daughter in Nebraska last summer, her husband, who is from New York, had remembered to bring me some maple syrup after a visit back home. While I didn't expect to receive such a huge bottle, I'm pleased because I don't have to ration syrup for a long while.

Science in action:

The biscuits came together easily and we ploughed through most of them for breakfast.

The remainder slowly disappeared throughout the day.

The touch of maple was just the right amount of sweetness. Definitely a repeat here.

This week's hostess was Lindsay of
A Little Something ... Sweet. She'll have the recipe posted on her blog.

While you're munching on one of these biscuits, stop by the Tuesdays with Dorie website to see what the other bakers thought.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Exercise/Quilt Update

Last July I began a virtual walk across the United States, motivated by Jacquie from Tallgrass Prairie Studios and fabric/quilting.

Over Mother's Day weekend I finally crossed the state line into Kentucky! It took awhile, but I haven't missed a day logging in my walking distance no matter how small that distance might be. I'll probably be in Kentucky for a few months, but that's ok. I know I will eventually cross another state line.

Meanwhile, my fabric purchases and quilt projects are piling up. Jury duty is behind me, so when I have my work projects under control, I'll be off to the drawing board and the sewing room.

Stop by Tallgrass Prairie Studio and the LBL exercise site to learn more about the walking project.

FFwD: Catch-up post #3: Bistrot Paul Bert Pepper Steak

I have a complaint to register regarding this recipe and these steaks.

The filets were too small and the sauce was too delicious.

However, the recipe is quick and easy, so I suppose there is no excuse not to make it again. Soon.

I had two beautiful filets that I crusted with freshly cracked black pepper, then sauteed.

In my liquor cabinet, I had a small bottle of Courvoisier cognac -- just perfect for this recipe.

My daughter jokes that I have a really excellent liquor collection for someone who doesn't drink very much. I mostly use my alcohol for cooking. Usually I forget I have it. It's a good thing that alcohol doesn't spoil!

We both loved this steak and the sauce. I might just have to buy a regular-sized bottle of cognac for future use.

Another winner from French Fridays with Dorie.

FFwD: Catch-up post #2: Mustard Batons

Keep these away from us. That's all I can say. These batons are super quick to make and super quick to disappear.

All that's required is a sheet of puff pastry, some mustard, and some poppy seeds.

Bake until golden and puffy, and the rest is history.

Another delicious treat from French Fridays with Dorie.

FFwD: Catch-up post #1: Scallops and Broccoli

Before the month of May gets away from me, I need to catch up on my posts for French Fridays with Dorie.

First up, the scallops with an caramel-orange sauce.

I used the juice from some of my blood oranges. Here's the beautiful juice

that became the orange-caramel sauce.

The scallops were tenderly dried,

then quickly cooked and sauced.

I definitely loved them, but, then, I love scallops. This recipe is a nice way to dress them up.

The bread crumb-covered broccoli was another hit. Even though I made it days before the scheduled posting date, it's taken me this long to actually make it public. No fault of the broccoli or the recipe!

So, now, it's one done, several more to go.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Daring Cooks: Chicken and Sausage Gumbo

Our May hostess, Denise, of There’s a Newf in My Soup!, challenged The Daring Cooks to make Gumbo! She provided us with all the recipes we’d need, from creole spices, homemade stock, and Louisiana white rice, to Drew’s Chicken & Smoked Sausage Gumbo and Seafood Gumbo from My New Orleans: The Cookbook, by John Besh.

This month's Daring Cook challenge was to make chicken gumbo the old-fashioned way. It took four hours to make the roux alone, but it was very dark and flavorful and well worth the time.

I used chicken thighs and andouille sausage along with the requisite okra, following a recipe I had by Chef Donald Link. I was also finally able to use some filé powder that I had in the pantry.

The gumbo was served over rice and topped with sliced scallions. Half a recipe provided two dinners and two lunches for both of us.

Stop by the Daring Kitchen to see the other gumbos and get the recipe.

Daring Cooks: Edible Savory Containers

I'm a month late posting this challenge, but better late than never, and better now before I post the latest Daring Cooks installment.

Renata of Testado, Provado & Aprovado! was the Daring Cooks’ April 2011 hostess. Renata challenged us to think “outside the plate” and create our own edible containers for a savory dish.

For this challenge, I made a container from a flour tortilla, brushing it with oil and baking it until crisp.

Then I made a layered filling, making refried black beans, roasted chicken, and a spicy vinegar-based cabbage slaw.

The completed container was topped with sour cream and sprinkled with ancho chili powder.

This is definitely an improvisational dish, so any combination of spicy flavors and ingredients would work.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

TWD: Basic Marbled Loaf Cake

I should be working, but it's too hot, so I'll take my mind off the heat by posting about this marbled cake.

I was out of town for several days, so my first opportunity to bake it was yesterday afternoon. I had fretted over which flavor to make. It all depended on who was going to consume it.

In the end, social plans evaporated and it was just me and my daughter, and she unequivocally demanded pure chocolate. Easy then.

The cake baked for about 1 hour and 20 minutes. It was a good solid cake, although a bit on the dry side. I have another recipe for a similar cake, pound-type, can be marbled, or not, and it has always turned out perfectly. I may just have to make it again to compare. One thing that I love about marbled cakes is the design -- it's such a surprise package finding out what the marbling actually looks like.

To meet this week's hostess and to find the recipe, head over to Carol of
The Bake More.

Then visit the Tuesdays with Dorie blog to drool over all the flavor variations.