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 :(