Tuesday, August 31, 2010

CSA Update

I joined my first CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) this summer. I joined hopeful and excited to try new things and I haven't been let down!

Kale, collards, bok choy, and walla walla onions have been a few unexpected favorites. The fresh strawberries, blueberries, carrots, and tomatoes are fantastic. I think the one thing we've had trouble using up is the green onion.

It's been a fantastic experience. I want to say it's inspired me to hit the farmer's markets more, but I must admit I love just showing up and collecting my box. No decisions. No crowds. Just good food every time.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Daring Bakers: Ice Cream Petit Fours and Baked Alaska

The August 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Elissa of 17 and Baking. For the first time, The Daring Bakers partnered with Sugar High Fridays for a co-event and Elissa was the gracious hostess of both. Using the theme of beurre noisette, or browned butter, Elissa chose to challenge Daring Bakers to make a pound cake to be used in either a Baked Alaska or in Ice Cream Petit Fours. The sources for Elissa’s challenge were Gourmet magazine and David Lebovitz’s “The Perfect Scoop”.
What a fantastic challenge! I just couldn't decide between the petit fours and baked Alaska so I did both! First, I made the ice cream. I borrowed my dad's ice cream maker. I decided to follow the given recipe on Daring Kitchen instead of making our family's usual homemade ice cream recipe. Our family's recipe uses eggs but doesn't cook the ice cream before freezing it. I wanted to try a "cooked" ice cream recipe.
Yum! The browned butter cake was great!
My petit fours ended up with a pretty thick layer of ice cream. It was good and bad. Good because I loved the thick slab of ice cream in the middle. Bad because it made dipping in chocolate sauce a bit more complicated. I don't think I waited long enough for my chocolate sauce to cool so it melted the ice cream a bit.
They were fantastic!
I have been curious about baked Alaska since a very early age. Bonus points! What movie is the following dinner menu from? "I'm preparing his favorite. Texas grapefruit, Virginia ham, Idaho potatoes, Wisconsin cheese, Washington apples, and baked Alaska." I had no idea what it was... until this challenge!
The meringue piping was lots of fun.
My little baked Alaska porcupine.
I don't own a kitchen torch (yet) nor a blow torch (although, I really should get one for 4th of July fireworks), so I baked mine. 500 degrees for 5 minutes. I was nervous my ice cream would melt, but it didn't. The meringue turned golden and warmed, the cake warmed, and the ice cream stayed solid and cold. I cut into it meaning to just eat a little piece, but then yelled for my husband to grab a fork if he wanted any because I'd be eating the whole thing right then and there.

Did you guess the movie? It is Annie.
Ice Cream Petit Fours and Baked Alaska
From: Daring Kitchen

Printable Recipe

Vanilla Ice Cream
1 cup (250ml) whole milk
A pinch of salt
3/4 cup (165g) sugar
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise OR 2 teaspoons (10ml) pure vanilla extract
2 cups (500ml) heavy (approx 35% butterfat) cream
5 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon (5ml) pure vanilla extract
1. Heat the milk, salt, and sugar in a medium saucepan until the liquid steams. Scrape out the seeds of the vanilla bean with a paring knife and add to the milk, along with the bean pod. Cover, remove from heat, and let infuse for an hour. (If you do not have a vanilla bean, simply heat the milk, salt, and sugar in a medium saucepan until the liquid steams, then let cool to room temperature.)
2. Set up an ice bath by placing a 2-quart (2 litre) bowl inside a large bowl partially filled with water and ice. Put a strainer on top of the smaller bowl and pour in the cream.
3. In another bowl, lightly beat the egg yolks together. Reheat the milk in the medium saucepan until warmed, and then gradually pour ¼ cup warmed milk into the yolks, constantly whisking to keep the eggs from scrambling. Once the yolks are warmed, scrape the yolk and milk mixture back into the saucepan of warmed milk and cook over low heat. Stir constantly and scrape the bottom with a spatula until the mixture thickens into a custard which thinly coats the back of the spatula.
4. Strain the custard into the heavy cream and stir the mixture until cooled. Add the vanilla extract (1 teaspoon [5ml] if you are using a vanilla bean; 3 teaspoons [15ml] if you are not using a vanilla bean) and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, preferably overnight.
5. Remove the vanilla bean and freeze in an ice cream maker. If you don’t have an ice cream maker, you can make it without a machine. See instructions from David Lebovitz: http://www.davidlebovitz.com/archives/2007/07/making_ice_crea_1.html

Brown Butter Pound Cake
19 tablespoons (9.5 oz) (275g) unsalted (sweet) butter
2 cups (200g) sifted cake flour (not self-rising; sift before measuring) (See “Note” section for cake flour substitution)
1 teaspoon (5g) baking powder
1/2 teaspoon (3g) salt
1/2 cup (110g) packed light brown sugar
1/3 (75g) cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1. Preheat the oven to 325°F/160°C and put a rack in the center. Butter and flour a 9”x9” (23cmx23cm) square pan.
2. Place the butter in a 10” (25cm) skillet over medium heat. Brown the butter until the milk solids are a dark chocolate brown and the butter smells nutty. (Don’t take your eyes off the butter in case it burns.) Pour into a shallow bowl and chill in the freezer until just congealed, 15-30 minutes.
3. Whisk together cake flour, baking powder, and salt.
4. Beat the brown butter, light brown sugar, and granulated sugar in an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing well, and then the vanilla extract.
5. Stir in the flour mixture at low speed until just combined.
6. Scrape the batter into the greased and floured 9”x9” (23cmx23cm) square pan. Smooth the top with a rubber spatula and rap the pan on the counter. Bake until golden brown on top and when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 25 minutes.
7. Cool in the pan 10 minutes. Run a knife along the edge and invert right-side-up onto a cooling rack to cool completely.

Chocolate Glaze (For the Ice Cream Petit Fours)
9 ounces (250g) dark chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup (250 ml) heavy (approx 35% butterfat) cream
1 1/2 tablespoons (32g) light corn syrup, Golden syrup, or agave nectar
2 teaspoons (10ml) vanilla extract
Stir the heavy cream and light corn syrup in a small saucepan over medium heat until it comes to a boil. Remove from heat and add the dark chocolate. Let sit 30 seconds, then stir to completely melt the chocolate. Stir in the vanilla and let cool until tepid before glazing the petit fours.

Meringue (For the Baked Alaska)
8 large egg whites
½ teaspoon (3g) cream of tartar
½ teaspoon (3g) salt
1 cup (220g) sugar
Beat the egg whites, cream of tartar, and salt on high speed in an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Beat in the sugar gradually in a slow stream until stiff peaks form.

Assembly Instructions – Ice Cream Petit Fours
1. Line a 9”x9” (23cmx23cm) pan with plastic wrap, so that no sides of the pan are exposed and so there is some extra plastic wrap hanging off the sides. Spread 1 ¾ to 2 cups (450ml to 500ml) ice cream into the pan. Cover with more plastic wrap and freeze several hours.
2. Once the brown butter pound cake has completely cooled, level the top with a cake leveler or a serrated knife. Then split the cake in half horizontally to form two thin layers.
3. Unwrap the frozen ice cream. Flip out onto one of the layers of cake and top with the second layer of cake. Wrap well in plastic wrap and return to the freezer overnight.
4. Make the chocolate glaze (see above.)
5. While the glaze cools, trim ¾” (2cm) off each side of the ice cream cake to leave a perfectly square 7.5” (19cm) ice cream cake. Cut the cake into twenty five petit fours, each 1.5”x1.5” (4cmx4cm).

6. Glaze the petit fours one at a time: place a petit four on a fork and spoon chocolate glaze over it.

7. Place the petit fours on a parchment-lined baking sheet and return to the freezer for one hour.

Assembly Instructions – Baked Alaska
1. Line four 4” (10cm) diameter tea cups with plastic wrap, so that plastic wrap covers all the sides and hangs over the edge. Fill to the top with ice cream. Cover the top with the overhanging plastic wrap and freeze for several hours, or until solid.

2. Level the top of the brown butter pound cake with a serrated knife or with a cake leveler. Cut out four 4” (10cm) diameter circles from the cake. Discard the scraps or use for another purpose.
3. Make the meringue (see above.)
4. Unwrap the ice cream “cups” and invert on top of a cake round. Trim any extra cake if necessary.

5. Pipe the meringue over the ice cream and cake, or smooth it over with a spatula, so that none of the ice cream or cake is exposed. Freeze for one hour or up to a day.

6. Burn the tips of the meringue with a cooking blow torch. Or, bake the meringue-topped Baked Alaskas on a rimmed baking sheet in a 500°F/260°C oven for 5 minutes until lightly golden. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Wild Blackberry Cobbler

We picked blackberries!

I couldn't decide between a cobbler or a pie. I decided to make pie, but cobbler recipes are just so darn easy. No rolling out dough. Just mix, pour, top with berry mixture, and bake.
So delicious! Pie next time.
I was also able to freeze about 8 cups of berries for winter berry cobbler making! Thanks Dad and Sheila! It's an unexpected treat to berry pick with others and them have them give you ALL the berries!
Wild Blackberry Cobbler
Adapted From: Betty Crocker
Printable Recipe
2 1/2 c fresh (or frozen) berries
1 c sugar
1 c flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 c milk
1/2 c butter, melted

1. In a bowl, stir together blackberries and sugar. Let stand for 20 minutes.

2. Heat oven to 375. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, milk, and melted butter. Stir until blended. Spread in ungreased 8x8 pan. Spoon blackberry mixture over batter.

3. Bake 45-55 minutes or until dough rises and is golden.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

S'mores with No Campfire

  Graham Cracker, Chocolate, and Jumbo Marshmallow
Broil marshmallow 3 minutes.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

MSC: Triple Citrus Cupcakes

Marthe from Culinairy Delights chose Triple Citrus Cupcakes for August.
Like most of Martha's cupcakes, I made a half batch since I didn't need 36 cupcakes around the house.

The recipe calls for the the zests of oranges, lemons, and limes. The cake part was delicious all on it's own! The glaze uses confectioners sugar mixed with one of the citrus' of your choice. I chose lime because I'm a lime fanatic, but I imagine each glaze would be delicious.

Absolutely delicious! A perfect summer treat!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Daring Cooks: Pierogis

The August 2010 Daring Cooks’ Challenge was hosted by LizG of Bits n’ Bites and Anula of Anula’s Kitchen. They chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make pierogi from scratch and an optional challenge to provide one filling that best represents their locale.
I was so excited by August's Daring Cooks' Challenge! Pierogis! These have been on my own list of things I want to try from the start.

I began by making the filling. I unexpectedly had to omit the bacon. My bacon loving husband cooked it up for himself a couple of days before and in all fairness I didn't put a note on it so it was fair game. The dough was easy to mix together but very difficult to roll out. I couldn't get it as thin as I wanted. Instead of just spreading out like cookie dough or pie dough does, it has some kick back so I couldn't flatten it like I'd like.
I used a 10cm biscuit cutter, filled each round with a heaping teaspoon of filling and crimped the edges with a fork. Then, came the boiling.
I wasn't as careful with my pierogis as I should have been. I let them touch on the plate before the boiling. A lot of them ended up sticking and pulling them apart was a nightmare.
The boiling went well, except for those that fell apart in the water. I'm sure some of this was due to the sticking issue. Once a hole is made in the pierogi, you have to be very careful to close it back up or else all the filling will fall out during boiling.

My finished pierogis did not look pretty, but they were delicious! I'm so happy with my first attempt at making pierogis. I learned a lot and came away with a tasty dinner! 

Russian Style Pierogi
From: Anula's family recipe
(makes 4 generous servings, around 30 dumplings)
Printable Recipe

2 to 2 1/2 cups (300 to 375 g) all-purpose (plain) flour
1 large egg
1 teaspoon (5 ml) salt
About 1 cup (250 ml) lukewarm water
3 big potatoes, cooked & mashed (1 1/2 cup instant or leftover mashed potatoes is fine too)
1 cup (225 g) cottage cheese, drained    
1 onion, diced & sauteed in butter until clear
3 slices of streaky bacon, diced and fried till crispy (you can add more bacon if you like or omit that part completely if you’re vegetarian)
1 egg yolk (from medium egg)
1 tablespoon (15 g) butter, melted    
1/4 (1.25 ml) teaspoon salt    
pinch of pepper to taste

1. Combine all the ingredients for the filling (it’s best to use one’s hands to do that) put into the bowl, cover and set aside in the fridge until you have to use it.

2. Place 2 cups flour in a large bowl or on a work surface and make a well in the center. Break the egg into it, add the salt and a little lukewarm at a time (in my situation 1/2 cup was enough). Bring the dough together, kneading well and adding more flour or water as necessary. Cover the dough with a bowl or towel. You’re aiming for soft dough. Let it rest 20 minutes.

3. On a floured work surface, roll the dough out thinly (1/8” or about 3 millimeters) cut with a 2-inch (5 cm) round or glass (personally I used 4-inch/10 cm cutter as it makes nice size pierogi - this way I got around 30 of them and 1 full, heaped teaspoon of filling is perfect for that size). Spoon a portion (teaspoon will be the best) of the filling into the middle of each circle. Fold dough in half and pinch edges together. Gather scraps, re-roll and fill. Repeat with remaining dough.

4. Bring a large, low saucepan of salted water to boil. Drop in the pierogi, not too many, only single layer in the pan! Return to the boil and reduce heat. When the pierogi rise to the surface, continue to simmer a few minutes more ( usually about 5 minutes). Remove one dumpling with a slotted spoon and taste if ready. When satisfied, remove remaining pierogi from the water.

5. Serve immediately preferably with creme fraiche or fry. Cold pierogi can be fried.  Boiled Russian pierogi can be easily frozen and boiled taken out straight from the freezer.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

BBA: English Muffins

The twelfth bread of the BBA Challenge is English Muffins. I love English muffins and was really excited to try this recipe.
I'm still working on my dough mixing skills. As it mixed I realized it was too dry, I dribbled a little water in. My goodness a little water go a long way and Reinhart is right, it's a lot easier to add flour than water. I'll try to error on the side of wet earlier on because adding water in the later stages of mixing was very difficult. I had to add more flour to compensate, but I finally got to a dough feel I was happy with.
It was an unusually cool day for August and my dough took about two hours to double. I cut the pieces in 3oz balls and made my boules and let them rise. The cooking process was a lot smoother than I expected after reading the instructions. You each side the boules in a skillet and then finish them off in the oven. Reinhart explains that you flip the dough when the side cannot cook any longer without burning.
I cooked each side and then baked the English muffins. They were perfect and disappeared. My husband is already asking me to make these again. I loved them plain, with butter and jam, and peanut butter and jam!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Chocolate Ice Box Cake

If you want a dessert that lets you pile on the whip cream liberally, I have it for you right here! I remember my mom making this cake when I was a child. Most children seem to have a thing for whip cream. My two year old is already a huge fan.
It's easy enough. Take an angel food cake and cover it in chocolate whip cream followed by regular whip cream. Yes, it's that simple. I think next time I'll try a few things differently. First, I'll reduce the amount of chocolate mixture by adding less whip cream. I had a lot of chocolate whip cream and felt a need to use it all so things got a bit gloppy. Next time I'll use the chocolate mixture primarily as the filling between the layers and then add a thin layer to the top and sides.
I also think I should chill the chocolate mixture for a few hours before putting the whip cream on. I think that might help the spreading. Frosting white over chocolate can be nerve wracking if you don't want chocolate showing through.
The cake is fabulous, even my husband who hates whip cream liked it.
Hey! Who took a fork to the cake! Seriously! That's worse than drinking from the milk carton! Get a plate! Oh, oops, that was me. What can I say, it was a rough day.

Chocolate Ice Box Cake
From: Anne
Printable Recipe

2 bars German sweet chocolate (8 oz)
2 Tbs water
2 Tbs confectioner's sugar
4 eggs
2 1/2 pints whipping cream
Angel Food Cake

1. Melt chocolate, sugar, ans water in a double boiler. Beat in egg yolks.

2. Stiffly beat egg whites and fold into chocolate mixture. Let cool. If runny, put in freezer. Remove when thick enough to spread. (Best if it's cold, not just cool.)

3. When cool, add 1/2 pt stiffly beaten whipping cream.

4. Cut angel food cake in half horizontally. Cover the top of the bottom half and replace top half of cake. Cover top and sides with chocolate mixture. Cool in refrigerator.

5. Beat the remaining whipping cream until stiff. Cover cake. Refrigerate.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Lemon Squares

A simple lemony dessert.

I made these yummy bars for a get together with a group of friends. We all have toddlers who are 2 1/2 (all born within 6 weeks of each other) and we try to get together once every other month or so. We've been meeting since the kiddos were 3 months old. There's about 8 or 9 families and 4 of us even had our second babies within 4 months of each other.

The pan was just coming out of the oven when I realized our little toddler had a 103 fever. No park for us. Instead of chatting with friends I was catering to a cranky (and demanding) two year old. "I want milk. I want to watch a show. I want to cuddle. I'm very sick."
I always try to make lemonade out of lemons and these yummy bars sure brightened my spirits (and taste buds) as I perfected my "mommy makes it all better" magic.

(Another recipe box recipe. I'm almost done with goal #2!) 

Lemon Squares
From: Grandma Goodwin, credited to her friend Charlotte
Printable Recipe
2 1/2 c flour, divided
3/4 c sugar, divided
2 sticks butter
1/2 tsp baking powder
4 eggs
2 c sugar
1/3 c to 1/2 c lemon juice and some grated peel
powdered sugar

1. Combine 2 c flour and 1/2 c sugar. Cut butter into flour mixture with a pastry blender until it resembles corn meal. Spoon this mixture into a greased 13x9 pan. Press evenly and firmly with fingertips.

2. Bake at 350 for 20-25 min until lightly browned.

3. Combine 1/2 c flour and baking powder. Set aside.

4. Combine eggs, 2 c sugar, and lemon juice and rind. Beat well. Stir in dry ingredients into the egg mixture and pour over baked crust. Bake 350 for 25 min. Cool on rack. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Friday, August 6, 2010

12 Layer Cake

I have had this recipe in my box for almost 5 years. I couldn't wait to do it and what better time than right before my birthday! At least so I thought.....
Yes, there are 12 layers. I began by making a cake batter. I almost hit the max of my KitchenAid mixer. I used two 8 inch cake pans. I poured a cup of batter into each pan and baked them, let them cool slightly, flip them out of the cake pan, wash the pans and started over again until I created 12 layers. Yes, it takes a bit of time.
I couldn't get the frosting to thicken. I even reboiled it (after the incident below happened) and let it simmer for a small amount of time. It just wouldn't thicken up. It's supposed to be pourable, but I'm sure it's supposed to be thicker than mine once it cools completely. I'm not sure what I did wrong here.

The final cake. Disappointing. The cake wasn't that flavorful. It sort of tasted like a tall stack of pancakes with chocolate syrup. So, not a repeat in my house, but maybe someone else will have more luck. It's kind of pretty though.
This frosting was my nemesis. I began by lightly boiling the ingredients in a pan. Oops- over-boil situation. Chocolate sugar spilled all over my stovetop. Smoke began filling the kitchen. The toddler was crying and saying she was scared. The smoke was making it's way to the fire detector. I wiped out a kitchen towel and began fanning it away. Please don't wake the baby. Please don't wake the baby.
Luckily, no alarm and the smoke dissipated. Unfortunately, I learned that boiling sugar, if not cleaned up absolutely immediately, can create little divots or pits in a glass top stove top. Oh Sigh.

Yep, those aren't coming out.

So after this ringing endorsement, whose going to give this cake a try? Anyone??
12-Layer Cake 
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour , sifted
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter , at room temperature
2 1/2 cups sugar
6 large eggs , at room temperature
3 cups milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder , preferably Dutch process
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter , cut up
1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Pecan halves, for garnish
    1. Position racks in the center and bottom third of the oven and preheat to 375°. Lightly butter four 8 1/2- to 9-inch cake pans (you will bake the cakes in three batches) and line the bottoms with rounds of parchment paper. Flour the pans and tap out the excess.

    2. To make the layers, sift together the sifted flour, baking powder and salt. Sift the mixture one more time, and set aside.

    3. Beat the butter and sugar in the bowl of a heavy-duty electric mixer fitted with the paddle blade on high speed until light in color and texture, about 3 minutes. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Scrape down the bowl and be sure the mixture is well-blended. On low speed, add the flour in 3 additions, alternating with 2 additions of the milk, beginning and ending with the flour, and beat until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl often with a rubber spatula. Beat in the vanilla. Using a scant cup for each layer, spread the batter evenly in the pans. It will make a thin layer.

    4. Staggering the pans on the racks so they are at least 2 inches from each other and the sides of the oven and not directly over each other, bake the layers until they feel firm when pressed in the centers and are beginning to pull away from the sides of the pans, about 12 minutes. Cool in the pans for 5 minutes. Invert the layers onto cake racks, remove the parchment paper, and cool completely. Wash and prepare the pans. Repeat the procedure until all 12 layers have been baked and cooled.

    5. To make the icing, bring the sugar, cocoa, butter and evaporated milk to a full boil in a large saucepan. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until the icing has thickened slightly (it will resemble chocolate syrup but will thicken as it cools), about 3 minutes. Stir in the vanilla. Let the icing cool until thick enough to spread, but still pourable.

    6. Place a layer of cake on a wire rack set over a jelly-roll pan. Spread with a few tablespoons of the icing, letting the excess run down the sides. Stack the remaining cakes, icing each layer. Pour the remaining icing over the top of the cake. If you wish, smooth the icing on the edges to cover the sides. Place pecan halves around the top perimeter of the cake. Let stand until the glaze sets. (The cake is best served the day it is made. To store, cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 1 day.)
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