Monday, June 29, 2009

Anniversary Pizzas (BBD21)

This month we're celebrating a special anniversary: Bread Baking Day is two years old! Thank you, Zorra, for creating such a fun and delicious event. I always look forward to the challenges.

So, in honor of this great occasion, Zorra has invited us to a pizza party. I'm bringing two kinds of pizza this time, one chosen by me, and one by my daughter.

For the crust, I used the recipe from Artisan Bread in 5 minutes a Day. It seems I've been trying out quite a few different pizza dough recipes this year, and this is the latest endeavor. I really did like the flavor and texture of the crust, and because it's easy to make and handy as all get out, I envision more pizzas more often in our future.

For my first pizza, I was inspired by a recipe I found on Michael Ruhlman's blog. This is a terrific breakfast/brunch pizza, with bacon, asparagus, cheese, and eggs. While I followed the topping recipe pretty closely, I would suggest these changes: more asparagus, cut into edible sizes; more bacon, also cut into smaller pieces; and possibly more cheese. I loved this pizza a lot.

My daughter's topping was based on a pizza she had back in New York State on a recent visit. It consists of green peppers, mushrooms, bacon, and cheese. This also was a most delicious flavor combination.

It's a tie for the favorite, since we devoured them both.

For BBD#21, I'm sending along these two pizzas.

Happy Anniversary, Zorra! Happy Bread Baking Day! May there be many more.

Saturday, June 27, 2009


Apparently Blogger has become unreliable regarding autoposts.

All's Well That Bakes Well

The June Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Jasmine of Confessions of a Cardamom Addict and Annemarie of Ambrosia and Nectar. They chose a Traditional (UK) Bakewell Tart... er... pudding that was inspired by a rich baking history dating back to the 1800's in England. Bakewell tarts…er…puddings combine a number of dessert elements but still let you show off your area’s seasonal fruits.

I have to admit that I'd never heard of a Bakewell Tart before this challenge. Upon looking over the recipe, I realized it would be an easy challenge since I've made all the individual components before. So, to up the ante, I decided to make my own jam. It's been a long time since I've done that, but I still had all my equipment, and, much like riding a bicycle, all the steps were automatic. Even my friend, the canning table (alias the strudel table), was happy to help out.

I love how the jam turned out. It has become one of my all-time favorites -- freshly picked boysenberries from the Farmers Market and limes from my tree.

Yes, that huge yellow object is a lime. It's bigger than most lemons and has yellow skin when ripe. No seeds, either.

Remains of the jam-making process:

Fresh out of the water bath:

Leftover jam, to be used in the Bakewell Tart:

The tart itself consists of three parts: a shortbread crust and a jam layer,

and a frangipane layer, which is basically ground almonds, butter, sugar, and eggs. Personally, I can't get enough of almond flavor, and neither can my friends or family. I made sure to use the almond extract in both the crust and the frangipane layer, but it still wasn't as almondy as it could have been. I'll probably add more next time.

That top layer came right to the edge of the crust. As a result, it overflowed a bit during the baking process. Because I also had a fair amount of leftover crust, I will use a 10" tart pan the next time.

The final result was a lovely jam tart-pudding, that disappeared quickly. I took half of it to work one night, and only the tiniest of slivers remained.

Playing with various jam flavors and tart sizes would be fun, and I know some of the other Daring Bakers did just that. Be sure and check the blogroll for all the wonderful Bakewell creations.

You'll also find the recipe and a history of the Bakewell Tart on the hostesses' blogs.

Friday, June 26, 2009

BB: Gazpacho

The final June recipe for Barefoot Bloggers was chosen by Meryl of My Bit of Earth. She selected one of my favorite dishes, gazpacho.

I've been enjoying this cold soup since I was a child, and over the years, have created my own tasty version. Ina's recipe is similar to mine, except that I add some oregano and diced avocado. Also, I don't put everything in the food processor. I just finely chop the veggies.

For the tomatoes and cucumbers I dropped by the Wednesday Farmers Market and stopped in at my favorite local tomato stand. The growers have a wonderful selection of tomatoes from which to choose, as well as Persian cucumbers, one of my favorites.

Yesterday, however, the power company decided to shut off everyone's electricity here in our area, which meant a day where I could neither work nor bake. Frustrating at best. So, I made the gazpacho early in the morning, before the electricity disappeared, so it would be ready for a quick dinner when the power eventually came back on. It's the reason I'm also posting a day late.

While I thought this gazpacho was delicious, I think it would be improved by adding the oregano and avocado. There are so many versions of gazpacho in the culinary world, that it would be fun to try them all.

Stop by the other BB cooks to read about their experiences.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Cook the Books Club: The Little White Horse

The May/June selection for the Cook the Books Club was The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge. It is a lovely and mystical fantasy story that sends a message of hope and courage along with tasty culinary tidbits along the way.

Although it took me awhile to find the time to read this novel, once I made it past the first chapter, I couldn't put it down. It was such a nice change from the busy-ness of my current reality.

As I read, I kept part of my mind open for a culinary inspiration. The description of one meal caught my attention -- pork chops with onions and apples -- so that is what I made for dinner last night.

First, I caramelized the onions, then sauteed and lightly cooked the pork chops. While they were cooking, I made fresh applesauce, from Braeburn apples, as the accompaniment. I did add some mashed potatoes as a side dish.

For dessert, I made a Lemon Syllabub, which was mentioned several times throughout the story. It is a simple, quick, and light dessert. Instead of white wine, though, I used limoncello to accent the taste of the lemon. My daughter approved, saying it was like ice cream only better.

For the basic recipe for two, I combined 2 tablespoons of sugar, 1 healthy tablespoon of limoncello, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, and 1/2 teaspoon of lemon zest and let it sit while dinner was cooking. After dinner, I started whipping about 1/3 to 1/2 cup of whipping cream, and just as it began to thicken, I poured in the lemon mixture and continued beating. It immediately thickened, so I kept beating until it reached my desired thickness, then spooned it into chilled dishes. It was a perfect way to end the meal and to celebrate the story of Maria and the other characters.

Perhaps you can join us for the next good book.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

TWD: Coconut - Roasted Pineapple Dacquoise

There was a lesson to be learned with this week's Tuesdays with Dorie recipe.

Read the entire recipe through to the end.

More than once.

And then read it again.

Apparently, I totally missed the part about putting pineapple slices between the layers, not just on top.

You see, fresh pineapple is my absolute favorite fresh fruit. I could probably eat a whole pineapple in one sitting, I love it that much.

So, while assembling this lovely dessert, I kept munching on pineapple slices, not realizing that I actually, really, needed them. By the time I discovered my error, there were only a few slices left, so instead of eating them, I sacrificed and put them in the cake.

The dacquoise layers were easy. I made them the night before and let them sit over night in the oven.

Technically, they stayed in the oven for two days, since the power went out on Assembly Day. By the time all parts were put together, it was late evening. Reading the instructions yet again, I discovered the darling thing had to be refrigerated for at least six hours before serving.


Pineapple dacquoise for breakfast, anyone?

I also used unsweetened coconut for everything. I don't like the sweetened stuff -- it's too cloying. I figured the white chocolate ganache would be so super sweet that the unsweetened coconut would provide a nice balance, especially when toasted.

The final result was pretty tasty, although I believe I ended up eating most of it. Good thing I only made half a recipe. Thanks to Andrea of Andrea in the Kitchen for choosing a dessert that highlights one of my favorite fruits. As usual, stop by the other TWD blogs to read about their desserts.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

BBBs save the dinner

I had last night's dinner all planned. Then I discovered I was missing one key ingredient, so that particular meal had to be scrubbed.

Don't you just hate when that happens?

But, never fear, the Bread Baking Babes came to the rescue.

Yesterday, I also played Buddy again, and made this month's challenge, Asparagus Bread with Parmesan Cheese and Walnuts, thoughtfully chosen by Lien of Notitie van Lien.

Once again, on Wednesday morning, I drove over to the Farmer's Market to see what I could find for various food-related projects. Once again, I was successful and came away with a variety of ultra-fresh produce, including asparagus and arugula.

I blanched and squeezed and grated and chopped.

Then I kneaded in the asparagus, arugula, walnuts, and parmesan.

Let it ferment and rise.

Then let it rise again.


Along with a chicken caesar salad, it made a most delicious dinner.

This is one terrific bread! Mostly, we just tasted the cheese and the walnuts, but the asparagus and arugula added color and moistness. This is one bread I will definitely bake again.

Check out the Babes and the Buddies for their take on this loaf. It's great fun to play along, too.

I must add that I find it both amazing and satisfying that I can take such simple ingredients like flour, water, oil, and yeast, and transform them into an artistic object with such wonderful texture, color, flavor, and aroma. It's like magic.

Friday, June 19, 2009

My Kitchen, My World: Switzerland

Last week we went to Switzerland for dinner.

Our main meal was a Swiss fondue with an international twist.

The fondue was composed of Swiss gruyere, Dutch gouda, and Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout, with a dash of nutmeg thrown in for good measure.

Dippees were broccoli florettes, sweet red peppers, and yummy, freshly baked French bread chunks.

It was just one of those lazy, laid-back meals where everyone relaxes amidst good conversation. My daughter declared it heavenly. It was her beer, of course, so perhaps that's why.

Check out the MKMW blog for a variety of Swiss dishes.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

BB: Cranberry Orange Scones

Our BB Bonus recipe this month was Cranberry Orange Scones, a delicious choice by Em of The Repressed Pastry Chef.

I only made a quarter of the recipe for the two of us since scones are best consumed fresh. I also used one of my freshly picked blood oranges for the zest in the scones and for the juice in the icing. They are powerfully strong oranges, so these definitely were Orange-flavored scones!

The icing is also a bit pinkish due to the color of the blood orange juice.

I really loved the flakiness of the scones, but my daughter said she prefers the 'baking powder biscuit' texture. Well, even with that small criticism, she did manage to choke down gobble up her share of the scones. She did make me promise to make her kind of scones sometime soon, though.

Check the Barefoot Blogger site to see the opinions of the other bloggers.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Peachy keen

With summer on the doorstep, it was only fitting that this week's Tuesdays with Dorie selection featured luscious peaches. Honey Peach Ice Cream was a most appropriate recipe, chosen by Tommi of Brown Interior.

Blessed with an abundance of farmers markets in my area, I took myself over to the Wednesday morning market last week, in search of peaches and berries. It was a successful excursion. I ended up with 2 pounds of fresh, ripe peaches, that had the most wonderful fragrance.

I made the creme anglaise base in my usual fashion (all at once), then strained the cooked mixture to eliminate the bits of chalazae. After adding the pureed peach-honey mixture, I let it chill all day.

While the ice cream was churning, I finely chopped the remaining peaches (except for one half), then added them to the nearly finished ice cream.

My daughter, who apparently doesn't like peaches (crazy), did allow as how, for a peach dish, it was pretty tasty.

Well, that's more peach ice cream for me, then. The flavor of the honey was barely there, but that would probably vary with the kind of honey used, since some are stronger than others. I suspect the peaches, being as flavorful as they were, would outshine any other ingredient.

Stop by the other TWD blogs to read about their ice cream adventures.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Daring Cooks #2: Chinese Dumplings

Round Two of Daring Cooks was hosted by Jen of use real butter. (urb is one of the most scenic and sassy blogs around. I tune in regularly to read what Jen has to say, but I'm usually too shy to comment.)

Jen challenged us to make Chinese Dumplings from scratch. Not just the filling, mind you, but the wrapper as well. No cheating by using wonton wrappers!

Well, after making the wrappers, which was an easy process, I probably won't return to my wayward wonton wrapper ways. I used method 1, weighing the ingredients and mixing them in the food processor. The resulting dough was smooth and satiny.

For the filling, I combined ground pork, green onions, mushrooms, water chestnuts, soy sauce, sesame oil, and cornstarch.

I pre-shaped the meatballs, which made assembly much quicker.

Meatball on rolled-out wrapper.

Pleating was a breeze.

Step 1: place in hot oil for several minutes.

Step 2: pour in water, cover immediately, and steam-cook until liquid has evaporated.

Step 3: remove lid and cook until bottoms are brown and crusty.

Serve with a dipping sauce.

The potstickers disappeared before the camera could photograph the eating process. Way too delicious!

The dumplings can also be steamed or boiled. Check out the other Daring Cooks for some stupendous creations! And check Jen's blog for the recipe.