Thursday, July 9, 2009

June DB: Bakewell Tart

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.
Like many regional dishes there’s no “one way” to make a Bakewell Tart…er…Pudding, but most of today’s versions fall within one of two types. The first is the “pudding” where a layer of jam is covered by an almondy pastry cream and baked in puff pastry. The second is the “tart” where a rich shortcrust pastry holds jam and an almondy sponge cake-like filling.
The version we’re daring you to make is a combination of the two: a sweet almond-flavoured shortcrust pastry, frangipane and jam.

I am very late in posting this, though it was completely before the month was up! I made mine in 4 inch mini-tart pans, and made two using strawberry jam and two with cherry. I found the strawberry ones to be too sweet but the cherry was great! I also prefered them cold as opposed to warm as recommended in the recipe.

Interesting and different dish but a bit sweet overall for my taste! I guess this American Girl just prefers good ol American pie :)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Chicken Thighs with Artichoke

I found this recipe in Better Homes and Garden... love it! I omit the mushrooms since neither of us are fans, and up the qty of artichokes. This meal is hearty and so so good... I have done it with both frozen artichokes and canned (when I couldnt find the frozen ones) and both ways worked just fine. Leftovers are yummy too! The tarragon gives it a nice punch, but isnt overwhelming either. Highly recommend!
From the BHG website (linked above):

2 tsp. plus 1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 oz. prosciutto, cut in thin strips
1-1/2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 9-oz. pkg. frozen artichoke hearts, thawed and drained
1 6-oz. pkg. cremini mushrooms, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. snipped fresh tarragon
2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 14-oz. can reduced sodium chicken broth
1 Tbsp. white balsamic vinegar
Fresh tarragon sprigs (optional)
1. In large skillet cook prosciutto in the 2 teaspoons hot oil over medium-high heat 2 minutes or until crisp. Remove. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Cook in same skillet 8 to 10 minutes or until browned, turning once. Transfer to bowl; set aside.
2. Add remaining olive oil and artichokes to skillet. Cook and stir 3 minutes until golden brown. Transfer to bowl with chicken. Add mushrooms to skillet. Cook 3 minutes, stirring up browned bits, until golden. Stir in garlic and tarragon; cook 1 minute.
3. In second bowl whisk together flour, broth, and vinegar. Remove skillet from heat. Add broth mixture. Add chicken and artichokes. Return to heat. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, until thickened. Top with prosciutto and tarragon. Serves 4 to 6.
Nutrition Facts
Calories 346,
Total Fat (g) 14,
Saturated Fat (g) 3,
Monounsaturated Fat (g) 7,
Polyunsaturated Fat (g) 2,
Cholesterol (mg) 151,
Sodium (mg) 955,
Carbohydrate (g) 11,
Total Sugar (g) 2,
Fiber (g) 4,
Protein (g) 42,
Vitamin C (DV%) 12,
Calcium (DV%) 6,
Iron (DV%) 15,
Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet

Root Vegetable Chicken Pot Pie

What a great find this recipe was! A healthy and easy chicken pot pie... I only regret finding it at the END of the winter, but it will (and already IS!) be a staple in our house going forward... yum!

From the Cooking Light website (linke above):

In the magazine's early days, we shied away from indulgent ingredients like puff pastry. Now, though, we understand that these items can fit into a healthful diet. This dish registers at just 30 percent calories from fat--root vegetables help balance the fat from the flaky topping. You can also bake in individual (10-ounce) ramekins or crocks for the same amount of time.

Yield 8 servings
3 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 cups frozen green peas, thawed
1 cup (1/2-inch) cubed peeled baking potato
1 cup (1/2-inch) cubed peeled sweet potato
1 cup (1/2-inch) cubed peeled celeriac (celery root) I omit this since - YUCK! - I use extra sweet potato and parsnips to make up for it
1 cup (1/2-inch-thick) slices parsnip
1 (10-ounce) package frozen pearl onions
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
2/3 cup all-purpose flour (about 3 ounces), divided
1 1/2 cups fat-free milk
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley I omit - again, yuck to parsley! blech!
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Cooking spray
1 sheet frozen puff pastry dough, thawed
Preheat oven to 400°.
Bring broth to a boil in a large Dutch oven. Add peas and next 5 ingredients (through onions) to pan; cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 6 minutes. Add chicken; cook for 5 minutes or until chicken is done. Remove chicken and vegetables from broth with a slotted spoon; place in a large bowl.
Increase heat to medium. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Place all but 1 tablespoon flour in a medium bowl; gradually add milk to bowl, stirring with a whisk until well blended. Add milk mixture to broth; cook for 5 minutes or until thickened, stirring frequently. Stir in chicken mixture, parsley, thyme, salt, and pepper. Spoon mixture into an 11 x 7-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray.
Sprinkle remaining 1 tablespoon flour on a work surface; roll dough into a 13 x 9-inch rectangle. Place dough over chicken mixture, pressing to seal at edges of dish. Cut small slits into dough to allow steam to escape; coat dough lightly with cooking spray. Place dish on a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake at 400° for 16 minutes or until pastry is browned and filling is bubbly.

Nutritional Information
Calories: 388 (30% from fat)
Fat: 13g (sat 2g,mono 3g,poly 7.1g)
Protein: 21.9g
Carbohydrate: 45.7g
Fiber: 4.4g
Cholesterol: 34mg
Iron: 3mg
Sodium: 790mg
Calcium: 115mg
Maureen Callahan, Cooking Light, SEPTEMBER 2007

RtR: Chickpea Fries

This month's Recipes to Rival challenge was to either make chickpea fries or falafel. I chose the fries and they were GREAT! So easy, too. I made half my batch in a frrying pan with some olive oil but they because a mess, and fell apart. I baked the second half and those ones came out GREAT! I sprinkled them with shredded parmesan before baking, and that was a nice extra flavor. And baking is healthier to boot! We will definitely have these again (especially since I still have a ton of the flour left) but I think in the future I would make them a bit thinner to hopefully get more of a crispness. My dipping sauce was a mix of roasted garlic, dijon mustard, and ketchup... yum!

I am currently without a camera and, PSA, those disposable digital cameras from CVS etc? um yeah they suck. So... no pics :( I need to remedy this, I know....

Check us out at !!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

DB: Strudel - not one of my favorite things!!!!

The May Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Linda of make life sweeter! and Courtney of CoCo Cooks. They chose Apple Strudel from the recipe book Kaffeehaus: Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Cafe's of Vienna, Budapest and Prague by Rick Rodgers.

Sadly, my camera is broken and the disposable one I used to capture my attempt... well, stunk. So no pics! The result for me was ok... it looked great and came together easily. I let my dough rest for a full 2 hours so it stretched out very thin, very easily. I made mine with yummy raspberry and rhubarb filling - the filling was great! But the strudel itself... ehhh. I just didnt think it tasted that great. The butter that was melted and spread everywhere didnt really come through with the buttery flavor I love in pastries, and there was no sweetness (even though I sprinkled mine with vanilla sugar!) It tasted sort of cardboard ish and I didnt love the texture of the bread crumbs at all :( Disappointing! I guess crisp (apple) strudel ISNT one of my favorite things, and I had high hopes!

Paste function isnt working in dumb blogger right now for some reason, so no recipe here!!!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

DB: Cheesecake!

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

This was a great challenge! We were given a basic (fabulous) cheesecake recipe and then were free to get creative! And some of the DBers sure did get creative!!

My initial idea was to do something a little different using one of my favorite flavors... balsamic vinegar. I have a bottle of good quality thich sweet balsamic that I use exclusively for dessert (usually macerate strawberries.... over vanilla ice cream... yummm) so I hoped it would work in this! I reduced the balsamic so I could get more flavor out of it without messing with the consistency of the cheesecake, and I added chopped strawberries to the batter. I used vanilla wafer cookies instead of graham for the crust. They were GREAT! Different, but they worked!

Because I was not sure how that would turn out, I decided to make them in cupcake form and split the batter into thirds. I omitted the lemon juice from all three so I could play with more liquid flavoring

My other two flavors were:

espresso-vanilla (with vanilla crust). I made fresh espresso and reduced it for the same reason as above... this allowed it to haev a really nice strong coffee flavor!

Vanilla Mint-chocolate. I added mint extract and kept teh vanilla to the batter, and I made the crust with chocolate wafer cookies. I added broken chunks of ghiradelli 70% chocolate bar to the batter. This I think was my favorite! The taste and texture was reminiscent of a Peppermint Patty - only better ;)

These came together quickly and easily, and cooked much faster thanks to the smaller size (about 25 minutes). Also, cooking in a cupcake pan with liners meant that it was foolproof to use a water bath.

Thanks for a great April challenge!

Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake:

2 cups / 180 g graham cracker crumbs

1 stick / 4 oz butter, melted

2 tbsp. / 24 g sugar

1 tsp. vanilla extract

3 sticks of cream cheese, 8 oz each (total of 24 oz) room temperature

1 cup / 210 g sugar

3 large eggs

1 cup / 8 oz heavy cream

1 tbsp. lemon juice

1 tbsp. vanilla extract (or the innards of a vanilla bean)

1 tbsp liqueur, optional, but choose what will work well with your cheesecake

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (Gas Mark 4 = 180C = Moderate heat). Begin to boil a large pot of water for the water bath.
2. Mix together the crust ingredients and press into your preferred pan. You can press the crust just into the bottom, or up the sides of the pan too - baker's choice. Set crust aside.
3. Combine cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of a stand-mixer (or in a large bowl if using a hand-mixer) and cream together until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, fully incorporating each before adding the next. Make sure to scrape down the bowl in between each egg. Add heavy cream, vanilla, lemon juice, and alcohol and blend until smooth and creamy.
4. Pour batter into prepared crust and tap the pan on the counter a few times to bring all air bubbles to the surface. Place pan into a larger pan and pour boiling water into the larger pan until halfway up the side of the cheesecake pan. If cheesecake pan is not airtight, cover bottom securely with foil before adding water.
5. Bake 45 to 55 minutes, until it is almost done - this can be hard to judge, but you're looking for the cake to hold together, but still have a lot of jiggle to it in the center. You don't want it to be completely firm at this stage. Close the oven door, turn the heat off, and let rest in the cooling oven for one hour. This lets the cake finish cooking and cool down gently enough so that it won't crack on the top. After one hour, remove cheesecake from oven and lift carefully out of water bath. Let it finish cooling on the counter, and then cover and put in the fridge to chill. Once fully chilled, it is ready to serve.
Pan note: The creator of this recipe used to use a springform pan, but no matter how well she wrapped the thing in tin foil, water would always seep in and make the crust soggy. Now she uses one of those 1-use foil "casserole" shaped pans from the grocery store. They're 8 or 9 inches wide and really deep, and best of all, water-tight. When it comes time to serve, just cut the foil away.
Prep notes: While the actual making of this cheesecake is a minimal time commitment, it does need to bake for almost an hour, cool in the oven for an hour, and chill overnight before it is served. Please plan accordingly!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Daring Bakers: Flourless Chocolate Cake and Ice Cream

The February 2009 challenge is hosted by Wendy of WMPE's blog and Dharm of Dad ~ Baker & Chef.

We have chosen a Chocolate Valentino cake by Chef Wan; a Vanilla Ice Cream recipe from Dharm and a Vanilla Ice Cream recipe from Wendy as the challenge.

Well, except that we could make whatever we wanted for the ice cream so I deviated. I made a fabulous really dark and deep salted caramel ice cream (link to David Liebowitz recipe here) and an espresso ice cream with frangelico (link to Ice Cream Ireland recipe here - made without the chocolate and with Frangelico in lieu of Kahlua). YUM.
I think both came out well (after my first attempt was a flop, it wouoldnt freeze up... and actually the caramel would not freeze up either until late in the game I added a cup of heavy cream, whipped.) I dont think I would bother with ice cream again unless/until I have an ice cream maker... it is labor intense without!
The cake was good...I used 70% chocolate (the brand from whole foods.... I forget...) but it came out a bit dry... I didnt overwhip my whites so Im not sure if it just needed less bake time? I was looking forward to the gooey truffle-y texture but it was just... dry. Sad.
Chocolate Valentino
Preparation Time: 20 minutes
16 ounces (1 pound) (454 grams) of semisweet chocolate, roughly chopped
½ cup (1 stick) plus 2 tablespoons (146 grams total) of unsalted butter
5 large eggs separated
1. Put chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl and set over a pan of simmering water (the bottom of the bowl should not touch the water) and melt, stirring often.
2. While your chocolate butter mixture is cooling. Butter your pan and line with a parchment circle then butter the parchment.
3. Separate the egg yolks from the egg whites and put into two medium/large bowls.
4. Whip the egg whites in a medium/large grease free bowl until stiff peaks are formed (do not over-whip or the cake will be dry).
5. With the same beater beat the egg yolks together.
6. Add the egg yolks to the cooled chocolate.
7. Fold in 1/3 of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture and follow with remaining 2/3rds. Fold until no white remains without deflating the batter.
8. Pour batter into prepared pan, the batter should fill the pan 3/4 of the way full, and bake at 375F/190C
9. Bake for 25 minutes until an instant read thermometer reads 140F/60C. Note – If you do not have an instant read thermometer, the top of the cake will look similar to a brownie and a cake tester will appear wet. (NOTE: I recommend a much shorter bake time)
10. Cool cake on a rack for 10 minutes then unmold

Excuse the awful camera pic. I forgot my camera, plus it is broken anyhow.