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.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Recipes to Rival: Ricotta

February's RtR challenge had us making our own cheese - Ricotta! Then we were to serve it as we pleased. I made mine into a gnocchi recipe I found on another RtR members blog with a bolognese, and some cheese on top. Yum! Please check out the other RtR members and past challenges at
Making the cheese was much easier than I ever would have realized... just heat up milk and buttermilk, strain it, and voila! Easy peasy.
The recipe, from our host Lauren at
Fresh Ricotta
you'll need:1 gallon milk (you can use 1 percent on up, remember that the more fat in the milk, the more cheese it will yeild.)
1 quart buttermilk
cheesecloth (a good, tightly woven one, not the kind you buy at the supermarket)
If you don't have one of these, you can get by with a slotted spoon, but you may lose some of the cheese.
-a thermometer (mine is for oil and candy)
Place buttermilk and milk in a pot, heat on med-low heat until it reaches 185 degrees. It will begin to separate into curds and whey. Be sure to stir occasionally to make sure no curds stick to the bottom and burn. You will see that as the temperature approaches 185, the whey becomes clearer as the curds coagulate more.Pour the curds into a cheesecloth lined collander. Tie the ends of the chesecloth together and hang for 10-15 minutes. Remove from cheesecloth and place in an airtight container. Voila! Cheese!
Here is a link to a post about making ricotta, with pictures:…%20-well.html
Some tips: use can use milk that has been pasteurized, but not ultra-pasteurized. Ultra pasteurization heats the milk too much, and de natures the proteins that form curds. You will not get cheese from ultra pasteurized milk. Sorry.
make sure your pots and other equiptment are very clean before starting
you can make any amount as long as you stick to a 4 parts milk to 1 part buttermilk ratio.

Apologies for the photo - my camera is still out of commission, and I forgot it anyhow so this was a failed attempt at a camera photo!
Bolognese Recipe can be found here. It was great! I followed the reviewers recommendations and cut the cinnamon and nutmeg to 1/8 tsp each, and I added the cream after reducing the wine, and reduced it some then too. I served it the next day... yum!
Gnocchi recipe here. LOVED this! I omitted the ramps (not avail here and I figured they would get overwhelmed by the Bolognese anyhow). Made a really light and fluffy gnocchi, and a great use for the cheese!

The cheese was SO easy to make! It was a bit denser than what you get in the store but tasted great... like ricotta! :) Thanks to our host!

Monday, February 2, 2009

RtR: Holopchi

Our hosts for January were KatBaro of A good Appetite and Giz & Psychgrad from Equal Opportunity Kitchen.
This month's challenge is a Ukrainian dish called Holopchi. It consists of a yeast dough wrapped in beet leaves (I subbed swiss chard) and served wtih a garlic cream sauce.
This wasnt a fav of ours. I am glad I quartered it - it still made a ton, and we didnt much care for it so that was good. I found it a bit too blah. The sauce was rich but needed something... some acid maybe? In any case, it wasnt something we liked that much and therefore wasnt worth the calories ;)
BUT it sure was different and unique to make and put together! Thanks for the challenge!
Here's the recipe along with some notes from GizBeet Leaf Holopchifrom The Keld Community Ladies Club in Ashville, Manitoba. The last publishing of this cookbook was 1976.
Bread Dough:
2 pkgs. yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1 tsp sugar
2 cups scalded milk
4 cups warm water
1/4 cup melted butter
8 cups flour
3 eggs, beaten
2 Tbsp salt
1 Tbsp Sugar
6 1/2 cups flour
a couple bunches of beet leaves
1. Dissolve 1 ts. sugar in 1/2 cup tepid water, sprinkle with yeast and let stand for 10 minutes.
2. To the milk-water liquid add the melted butter, dissolved yeast and 8 cups of flour. Let rise in a warm place until double in bulk (about 1 hour)
3. Add salt, beaten eggs, sugar and remaining flour.
4. Knead well until dough is smooth and top with melted butter or oil.
5. Place in a warm place and let rise until double in bulk. It will take about 2 hours. Punch down . When dough has risen to double in bulk, place a piece of dough, the size of a walnut on a beet leaf and roll up (leaving sides open)
6. Place holopchi loosely in a pot to allow for dough to rise to double in bulk again.
7. Arrange in layers, dotting each layer with butter.
8. Cover tightly, bake in a moderate oven of 350 F for 3/4 to 1 hour. Serve with dill sauce or cream and onion sauce. (I like to cook the holopchi with the sauce but you don't have to. You can add it later - just make sure you have enough butter in roasting pan before layering your beet leaf rolls.)
I made a 1/4 recipe and cooked half the sauce in the ovena nd saved the rest for serving.
1/2 cup butter
2 cups whipping cream
8 small onions
2 handfuls of chopped fresh dill (I omitted as we hate dill, instead doubled the garlic)
2-4 large cloves of garlic, chopped fine
Melt butter in saucepan. Add onions (chives) garlic, dill and cream.
Let it come to a boil and then turn down the heat.
I like to cook the holopchi with the sauce but you don't have to. You can add it later - just make sure you have enough butter in roasting pan before layering your beet leaf rolls.
This is not a 5 minute recipe. When you commit to making it - it's an adventure - most definitely a worthwhile one. This recipe filled an open roaster and a turkey sized roaster.

Friday, January 30, 2009

DB: Tuiles

This month's challenge is brought to us by Karen of Bake My Day and Zorra of 1x umruehren bitte aka Kochtopf. They have chosen Tuiles from The Chocolate Book by Angélique Schmeink and Nougatine and Chocolate Tuiles from Michel Roux.

We were challenged to make Tuiles and given a few different recipes to choose between. I wasnt really feeling the sweet ones this month after an overload of Christmas cookies and candy, so I went the savory route. And, for me at least, this was a mistake! They look pretty, dont get me wrong... but the taste... ohhh the taste! This was entirely my doing, not our hosts... The tuiles themselves were a definite challenge. I was able to get the batter made just fine, and made a stencil out of the back of a cereal box. I was able to get the dough on the pan fine.

Out of the 3 batches, two burned. One because I didnt watch it, and the other just kinda... happened. Luckily, we didnt like them anyhow so it was no big loss ;) Next, I couldnt get the tuiles to bend much at all - even after sacrificing my fingertips for the cause. They just... wouldnt move.

THe real problem was the filling though. I used the filling that goes along wtih the savory recipe - a salmon tartare wth creme fraiche. But... I changed it. See, I thought we had to use fruit so I thought "Hmmm fruit goes well with salmon" and saw some fresh coconut and pineapple to mix in. And... it just didnt work. Mango would have been a better choice. But I was seduced by the pina colada flavors!

We both gamely ate one and the rest hit the trash. This was definitely a challenge for me... one that I completed but failed at! Im sure the rest had much better results than I!

Savory tuile/cornet recipe
From Thomas Keller "the French Laundry Cookbook"

1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons (65 grams/2.1/4 ounces)
all purpose flour
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt (= 2/3 teaspoon table salt)
**8 tablespoons (114 grams/4 ounces) unsalted butter, softened but still cool to the touch
2 large egg whites, cold
2 tablespoons black sesame seeds

In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, sugar and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk the softened butter until it is completely smooth and mayonnaise-like in texture. Using a stiff spatula or spoon, beat the egg whites into the dry ingredients until completely incorporated and smooth. Whisk in the softened butter by thirds, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary and whisking until the batter is creamy and without any lumps. Transfer the batter to a smaller container, as it will be easier to work with.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Make a 4-inch hollow circular stencil. Place Silpat on the counter (it is easier to work on the Silpat before it is put on the sheet pan). Place the stencil in one corner of the sheet and, holding the stencil flat against the Silpat, scoop some of the batter onto the back of an offset spatula and spread it in an even layer over the stencil. Then run the spatula over the entire stencil to remove any excess batter. After baking the first batch of cornets, you will be able to judge the correct thickness. You may need a little more or less batter to adjust the thickness of the cornets.

There should not be any holes in the batter. Lift the stencil and repeat the process to make as many rounds as you have molds or to fill the Silpat, leaving about 1 1/2 inches between the cornets. Sprinkle each cornet with a pinch of black sesame seeds.

Place the Silpat on a heavy baking sheet and bake for 4 to 6 minutes, or until the batter is set and you see it rippling from the heat. The cornets may have browned in some areas, but they will not be evenly browned at this point.

Open the oven door and place the baking sheet on the door.*** This will help keep the cornets warm as you roll them and prevent them from becoming too stiff to roll. Flip a cornet over on the sheet pan, sesame seed side down and place 4-1/2 inch cornet mold at the bottom of the round. If you are right-handed, you will want the pointed end on your left and the open end on your right. The tip of the mold should touch the lower left edge (at about 7 o'clock on a clock face) of the cornet.

Fold the bottom of the cornet and around the mold; it should remain on the sheet pan as you roll. Leave the cornet wrapped around the mold and continue to roll the cornets around molds; as you proceed, arrange the rolled cornets, seams side down, on the sheet pan so they lean against each other, to prevent from rolling.

When all the cornets are rolled, return them to the oven shelf, close the door, and bake for an additional 3 to 4 minutes to set the seams and color the cornets a golden brown. If the color is uneven, stand the cornets on end for a minute or so more, until the color is even. Remove the cornets from the oven and allow to cool just slightly, 30 seconds or so.

Gently remove the cornets from the molds and cool for several minutes on paper towels. Remove the Silpat from the baking sheet, wipe the excess butter from it, and allow it to cool down before spreading the next batch. Store the cornets for up to 2 days (for maximum flavor) in an airtight container.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Shrimp with Corn Relish Salad

The original recipe for this was from Cooking Light magazine. I changed it up by throwing it on a salad (made this ages ago, back when we still had fresh local corn!!) The recipe was overall good, but had some major flaws that I will tweak next summer. The biggest issue was the saltiness. An entire Tablespoon of fish sauce really just overpowered the delicate flavor of the shrimp with saltiness. I would either cut back the fish sauce, or eliminate it altogether. Normally I love salted food, but I find that shrimp (and most fish too) really just dont need the salt. If you like plent of salt on your shrimp, then by all means, keep the fish sauce though!

4 servings (serving size: 1 cup)
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1/2 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 cup chopped shallots
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon minced jalapeño pepper (about 1 small)
1 1/2 pounds peeled and deveined medium shrimp (I used large/jumbo)
1 1/2 cups fresh corn kernels (about 3 ears)
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro


1. Whisk together Lime, fish sauce, and sugar and set aside.

2. Heat a medium wok over high heat until hot/smoking. Add oil and swirl to coat. Add next 3 ingredients and stir-fry until shallot begin to brown (approx 30 sec). Add shrimp and stir-fry 3 minutes or until shrimp are cooked through. Add corn and stir-fry until corn is just heated through (approx 1 min). Stir in lime mixture and serve topped with cilantro

Candy Cane Biscotti

I saw this recipe on Culinary in the Desert, and thought it looked great... and it was! The recipe called for dipping in white chocolate - I did dark as well, and next year I would do just the dark... because why use white chocolate when you can go dark??

Candy Cane Biscotti (Adapted from Land O Lakes)
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
2/3 cup finely crushed peppermint candy canes
14 ounces fine-quality white chocolate, melted
extra crushed candy canes to sprinkle on top

Preheat oven to 350
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.
In a large mixing bowl, beat together butter and sugar. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each. Add dry ingredients and mix until combined - stir in crushed candy.
Evenly divide dough into 4 pieces on a lightly floured surface. Shape each piece into 9" x 1 1/2" round log. Place logs 3 inches apart onto parchment-lined baking sheet.
Bake until tops are cracked and ends just start to turn light brown, about 18 to 20 minutes. Remove from oven and reduce temperature to 325. Cool logs 10 minutes on cookie sheet.
Cut each log diagonally into 1/2" slices with sharp serrated knife. [Discard ends]

Arrange pieces standing up back onto the baking sheet.
Bake until cookies are light golden brown and crisp on both sides, about 12 to 15 minutes. The centers may still be a little soft, but will firm up as they cool.. Place onto cool rack and cool completely.
Dip half of each biscotti into melted chocolate - shake off excess. Immediately sprinkle with additional crushed candy canes and set on a parchment or wax paper lined baking sheet until the chocolate has set.

Monday, January 5, 2009

R2R: Holiday Apps

This month's Recipes to Rival challenge was to make 2 of 3 given recipes. Oysters though yummy were not something I was 'daring' enough to attempt... plus I didnt have any real interest in deep frying. Ill stick with the 'healthy' cheese, cheese, and yes more cheese instead :)

The first recipe I made was the Gruyère Cheese Gougères. These were good and came together very easily (though my arm ached from the 2 minutes of beating!). However, they were altogether too salty for my taste. I think I would have prefered a different (less salty) cheese - they were great otherwise!

Gruyère Cheese Gougères

Copyright 'The French Laundry Cookbook' By Thomas Keller, November, 1999

Makes about 4 dozen gougères

Gougères are a classical preparation often served at wine tastings in France. The puffs are made from a savory pâte á choux, or cream puff dough-flavored here with Gruyère. They are best served hot out of the oven, offering that creamy-dough gratification. Don't add the cheese, and the puff is a base for a dessert.

1 cup water

7 tablespoons (3-1/2 ounces) unsalted butter

1 tablespoon kosher salt, or more to taste

Pinch of sugar

1-1/4 cups (5 ounces) all-purpose flour

4 to 5 large eggs

1-1/4 cups grated Gruyère (5 ounces)

Freshly ground white pepper

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with Silpats (see Sources) or parchment paper. In a medium saucepan, combine the water, butter, salt, and sugar and bring to a boil. Add all the flour at once, reduce the heat to medium, and stir with a wooden spoon for 2 minutes, or until the mixture forms a ball and the excess moisture has evaporated (if the ball forms more quickly, continue to cook and stir for a full 2 minutes). Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle and beat for about 30 seconds at medium speed to cool slightly. Add 4 eggs and continue to mix until completely combined and the batter has a smooth, silky texture. Stop the machine and lift up the beater to check the consistency of the batter. The batter in the mixing bowl should form a peak with a tip that falls over. If it is too stiff, beat in the white of the remaining egg. Check again and, if necessary, add the yolk. Finally, mix in 3/4 cup of the Gruyère and adjust the seasoning with salt and white pepper.

Fill a pastry bag fitted with a 3/8-inch plain pastry tip with the gougère batter. Pipe the batter into 1-tablespoon mounds on the baking sheets, leaving about 2 inches between the gougères as the mixture will spread during baking. Sprinkle the top of each gougère with about 1/2 teaspoon of the remaining grated cheese and bake for 7 to 8 minutes, or until they puff and hold their shape. Reduce the heat to 350 degrees F. And bake for an additional 20 to 25 minutes. When the gougères are done, they should be a light golden brown color. When you break one open, it should be hollow; the inside should be cooked but still slightly moist. Remove the pans from the oven and serve the gougères while hot.

The second appetizer I made was the Blue Cheese, Pear and Walnut Crostini... except I used apples since I somehow lost my pears! It was a fortuitous accident though since I and my family do not really care for pear and they were great with apples topping them! These were so so so good. I could have eaten them as my entire meal... yum. I will definitely make them again! I did use the marscapone, and I used gorgonzola. It seemed to mellow some in the cooking process as well. YUM!

Blue Cheese, Pear and Walnut Crostini:

a baguette, thinly sliced about ½ inch each

olive oil

mascarpone, for spreading (optional)

any type of bleu cheese (gorgonzola, Roquefort, stilton), thinly sliced, or crumbled

freshly hulled walnuts

a few pears, peeled and sliced into small cubes

1. Brush your bread slices with olive oil, line on a baking sheet, then toast in a hot oven for a few minutes until browned and crispy. You can broil them as well, if you prefer.

2. Remove from heat and spread each toast with some mascarpone.

3. Lay bleu cheese slices, or spread some crumbles, on each toast and add walnut pieces on top. Return to a 375-400°F oven for a few minutes, just until the cheese is melted.

4. When the cheese is nicely melted, take the crostinis out of the oven and top with a few cubes of pear. Serve soon after.

Friday, January 2, 2009

DB: French Buche de Noel

A few days late thanks to holiday travel and general busy-ness... I made this recipe as given for my sister's Christmas Eve birthday dessert. It was very yummy, less difficult than appearing, though time consuming.

This month's challenge is brought to us by the adventurous Hilda from Saffron and Blueberry and Marion from Il en Faut Peu Pour Etre Heureux.They have chosen a French Yule Log by Flore from Florilege Gourmand.

My only issue, which I think others had as well, was that the creme brulee layer did not thaw enough for serving and had an icy taste - not bad but not ideal either. Overall, a decadent and impressive dessert! Much fancier looking than it really was difficult. My chocoholic mother was in heaven :)

Please visit (one of our lovely hosts) for the complete recipe. I went with the dark chocolate mousse and ganache and frosting, hazelnut for the dacquoise, vanilla for the creme brulee and milk chocolate/hazelnut for the crisp (which I used rice crispies for the crunch).

Yum! Thanks and nice job to all the Daring Bakers!
PS excuse the ugly photos... my camera is kinda broken :(