Sunday, October 31, 2010

Pumpkin Soup

I've promised to share my failures as they come along.

This pumpkin soup I made for my daughter's first birthday went perfectly with our Pumpkin Patch birthday theme. And, it's served in a carved out pumpkin which is super cute!
I found two recipes and took from each to create this soup. I tasted it. Yuck. It tasted like pumpkin puree. I added more spices and tried again. Nope. Not good.

There's not much I could do as people were arriving in 5 minutes, so I poured it into the pumpkin and asked the guests (all family and friends who are up for an adventure) to taste it and tell me what I did wrong or what it needs.

And, the verdict- just salt. People liked the soup in fact. I got out the salt, pepper, and cinnamon and people doctored up their bowls and ate it up. I tasted it again later with more salt and still didn't like it.

I'm not sure I like pumpkin soup. Maybe I just need a fancier pumpkin soup. The recipe I tried was pretty basic. Nicole at PinchMySalt just posted a Spicy Pumpkin Soup with Cilantro Pepita Pesto. Maybe I need to try that one!
Happy Halloween Everyone!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Pumpkin Pie (Cooking with Kids)

Pumpkin Pie. Yum!
My good friend Sarah suggested we bake pumpkin pies with our girls! We opted for a easy mix with water crust and had the girls help us roll out the dough. I had to do some dough patchwork but we covered the whole pie pan.
 Then, we mixed the ingredients.
 And, poured them into the crust.
 Charlotte and Cecelia with their finished pies!

 The girls had a great time and the pie was delicious!!

Pumpkin Pie
Adpated from: Joy of Cooking
Printable Recipe
Pie shell
1 1/2 cups of cooked pumpkin
1 1/2 cups of undiluted evaporated milk or rich cream
3 slightly beaten eggs
6 Tbs brown sugar
2 Tbs white sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cloves

Cooking pumpkin: Cut pumpkin in half. Remove seeds. Cut pumpkin into large wedges. Steam in a large pot for 20 minutes until pumpkin is soft. Remove pumpkin from skin and puree.

Mix pumpkin and other ingredients in a large bowl and pour mixture into the pie shell. Bake.

My Kitchen, My World: [Japan] Miso Soup

Globe Trotting continues!
My Kitchen, My World Travels to Japan.
When I first heard we were headed to Japan I immediately thought sushi! I love sushi and have made it twice at sushi making parties. I thought it might be fun to give it a go on my own. However, it's quite labor intensive and as the season turned to "soup weather" I thought about my second favorite thing to order when I got out for sushi.... miso soup. 

It's such a simple broth soup and I thought I might enjoy it as an alternative soup to chicken noodle when the inevitable colds hit. I bought some miso, followed the directions and in 10 minutes had miso soup. 

I didn't like it at all. I took two spoonfuls and gave the rest to my husband who happily ate mine. I don't know enough about miso to know if it's simply the brand I bought or the style (I bought brown miso and they also had red and white miso), or if I just don't like it outside of a sushi restaurant. My husband loved it.

A failure for me, but a good experience.

Miso Soup
2 c water
2 Tbs miso paste
2 green onions
1/2 onion
1/2 c firm tofu
Other vegetables optional

Saute onion. In a pot add all ingredients and bring to a simmer. Make sure miso paste dissolves. Serve.

Friday, October 29, 2010

{FFwD} Marie-Helene's Apple Cake

Those that have been reading my blog for awhile know that I have a thing about fruit in my bread (I don't like it) and I wondered if that applied to cake as well. Apple cake doesn't jump out at me as something I must eat, however, I wanted to give this French Fridays with Dorie recipe a shot. Dorie herself picked it out as one for us to try.

The ingredients were all very simple which I liked. I already had everything on hand, except the rum. Living in Oregon I had to go to an actual liquor store to get the rum. I only wanted a little bottle and all he had was a spiced rum in that size so my rum had some spice to it.

I undercooked the cake just slightly, but it was still quite good. I even had a second piece. The rum was really the key ingredient. I don't always like alcohol in baked goods, but I thought it went great with the apples. I did a combination of apples in the cake, but preferred the tarter apples. All in all, a simple delicious cake.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

MSC: Pumpkin Patch Cupcakes

Recently I threw a Pumpkin Patch birthday party for my daughter's first birthday. These cupcakes out of the Martha Stewart's Cupcakes book were the perfect addition to the party.

In fact, most people opted for another cupcake over a piece of birthday cake!

I don't take offense. I know the birthday cake was good, but it was basic birthday cake. These cupcakes, however, were amazing. They use cake flour, nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, lots of brown sugar!, pumpkin puree, and are topped with a cream cheese frosting
These are last October's pick for MSC Cupcake Club. I'm finally getting around to them.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

BBA: Lavash Crackers

The seventeenth bread of the Bread Baker's Apprentice Challenge is lavash crackers.

After a number of two day more complicated breads, I was happy to have a simple one day cracker to try. Lavash crackers are an Armenian-style cracker and are typically paper thin. Often times you simple snap the finished large baked cracker into pieces and serve as shards.

The dough was easy to mix using bread flour, salt, instant yeast, honey, oil, and water. My dough rose for about double the time because of an unexpected trip to the park. I rolled out the dough on a board but getting it paper thin proved to be a lot harder than I anticipated. The dough often sprung back on me. I tried for awhile and let it rest in between trials, but never got it as thin as I would have liked. The edges were thinner so I got a sense of what a true cracker would be like. I'll try again next time. Any tips on getting them paper thin?
The crackers bake in about 20 minutes. My crackers were thicker than instructed, but I sure enjoyed them nonetheless. I topped them with poppy seeds, sesame seeds, and kosher salt. By far, the kosher salt was my favorite. I had meant to cut the crackers diagonally with a little of each seed on each cracker, but my "no touching" organized brain took over while cutting and I separated each seed on the crackers. So silly.

Hummus here I come!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Penelope's ONE Birthday Cake

One little candle placed on the cake
One first birthday wish to make!
It's been a year how time has flown
We can't believe how much she's grown.
She's full of smiles and so much fun
Our little Penelope Jane is turning ONE!
 Happy 1st Birthday Penelope!
First birthdays deserve a super special cake! A cake you can only make one time ever! (See her older sister's #1 cake.)

What fun to make! What fun to decorate! What fun to have this darling girl in my life for a whole year!

And, because this is a food blog, I'll share my new favorite buttercream icing! It uses butter flavoring, vanilla and almond extract! 

Buttercream Icing
Adapted From: Peggy Weaver's Baking Corner
Printable Recipe
2 sticks (1 cup) butter, room temperature
2 cups Crisco shortening
1 teaspoon butter flavoring

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2 pounds powdered confectioners' sugar, divided
1 tablespoon meringue powder
Water or milk (About 2 tablespoons, if needed)
Combine butter and shortening on low. Add butter flavoring, vanilla extract, and almond extract. Mix together well. Add about 1 pound (4 to 4 1/2 cups) powdered sugar and the meringue powder; mix until incorporated. Add the remaining powdered sugar, 1/2 cup of powdered sugar at a time, and mix until you get the consistency you want. (You may not need to use all the powdered sugar.) Add a little water or milk, a teaspoon at a time, if necessary to thin the frosting. Blend well on low for several minutes. Use immediately or cover and refrigerate. NOTE: Buttercream Icing will last for weeks as long as it is well sealed.

Friday, October 22, 2010

{FFwD} Hachis Parmentier

The next French Fridays with Dorie recipe is hachis parmentier. It's basically a potato casserole pie. To be honest, I wasn't that jazzed about this recipe. These kinds of dishes and not my favorites and I'm finding casserole's hard for the toddler right now. I don't think she likes her food to touch. If she's like her mom, it'll take awhile for her to grow out of it.

I chose the simpler route and used ground beef and beef broth. I also kept the vegetables in. Even though this isn't my kind of dish, I thoroughly enjoyed this meal. The flavor was great. I think in particular, the beef broth and Gruyere cheese really made the dish so delicious. I can only imagine if you went to all the work of cooking the beef the long way how great it would be. I probably won't do this dish again, even though it sure was tasty.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Butternut Squash Soup

A delicious soup for a rainy fall day. A definite repeat in our house.

Butternut Squash Soup
Adapted From: Food Network
Printable Recipe
6 cups (2 large squash), seeded
Butter or olive oil for brushing
1 T Kosher salt
1 tsp pepper
3 c chicken or vegetable stock
4 T honey
1 tsp ginger
4 oz heavy cream

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Brush the flesh of squash with olive oil or butter. Season with salt and pepper. Lay squash on a sheet pan flesh side up. Roast for 35 minutes or until flesh is soft.

Scoop the flesh from the skin into a pot and add stock, honey, and ginger. Simmer and puree with immersion blender. Stir in cream. Simmer. Garnish with nutmeg, salt, and pepper.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Modern Baker: Marbled Chocolate Brioche Loaf

What could improve brioche? Chocolate! The next recipe from the Modern Baker book is a marbled chocolate brioche loaf.

One question for my fellow Modern Bakers. Malgieri has a couple of recipes where you heat milk, whisk it with yeast and then mix in 1 cup of flour. It always says the mixture should get bubbly and rise after 20 minutes. Bubbly makes me think the mixture is liquidy. Mine is always looks like dough. Am I doing something wrong? Or just not understanding him?
Malgieri loves his food processor. I probably would too if I had a big enough one to accommodate everything he wants me to put in it! I mixed the dough partway in my mini processor and then moved it to my standup mixer. In a few more months I have a sneaky feeling Santa will be resolving my food processor issues.

Making the chocolate dough was a big difficult in my little mini food processor too so I did a final hand kneading to get it combined well.
I've never made a marbled loaf before. I stacked the doughs so the chocolate was in the middle. Sliced them up and then formed all the slices into a loaf.
I overbaked the bread and it was dry. It was good, but you know how you can taste that it would have been that much better had you not overbaked it.

Friday, October 15, 2010

MSC: Snickerdoodle Cupcakes

Katie from Katie's Cakes chose the October cupcake from our Martha Stewart's Cupcake book. These snickerdoodle cupcakes are pretty darn close the cookie. The billowy seven-minute frosting that tops them was light and fluffy and was finished off with a sprinkle of cinnamon sugar. I loved these cupcakes!! Yum!!! They were approved of by my husband too who is a snickerdoodle cookie lover.

I could use a bit more practice on my piping. The picture in Martha's book is so pretty and I just couldn't quite replicate it. Oh well, more practice means more cupcakes!

{FFwD} Spicy Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup

This French Fridays with Dorie recipe was a great experience for me. I did two things I've never done before. One, is pictured below. Dorie has you put cilantro stems, coriander seeds, star anise, and peppercorns in a cheesecloth in the stockpot. I liked how this added flavor the soup. I could see using this concept on other soups. I always lose those darn bay leaves you're supposed to remove before serving and there was that one time I pureed the darn bay leave into the pot of soup.
I must say the second new thing I did made me very very nervous. I have never cooked chicken by poaching it in a pot of soup. In my world, raw chicken stays far away from all other things and having never done this before it felt a bit icky. Would it really cook fully? Was it contaminating the soup pot with raw chicken juice?

I thought the soup was okay. There was a flavor in it that wasn't wild about and I'm not sure what it was. I think maybe it was the anise, although I normally like that flavor. My husband loved the soup and was delighted to have all the leftovers to himself. The toddler and baby both liked the soup too.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Modern Baker: Pecan Stickiest Buns

Prepare for a sugar and butter explosion. These sticky buns go all the way and I'm sure glad they do!
The sweet yeast dough came together easily in my mixer, although again I think the editor missed something. The dough recipe is on the Bakery Crumb Buns page and it says to prepare through step 5. However, step 5 is the beginning of making the crumb topping. I'm assuming he meant through step 4.

My dough mixed together easily but took forever to rise. Again. What is going on? When I tested the active dry yeast, it was good, but in every recipe I used it in it takes forever for my dough to rise. This recipe has made an instant yeast user out of me! I will now be using Phyl's yeast equivalents and substituting instant yeast.

I rolled the dough out on a floured board and spread my butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, and pecan filling on top. I was supposed to spread the pecans on top, but I absentmindedly added them to the filling bowl. I am such a distracted baker! I'm amazed anything turns out.
I jelly-rolled the dough and cut the buns.
I lined my pan with foil (very important especially if you want an easy clean up) and spread the sticky bun mixture on the bottom. The mixture includes butter, brown sugar, corn syrup, and pecans. Be kind to your guest, just don't tell them how much sugar and butter go into these buns. Let them just enjoy without worrying about calories.
I lined the buns up and let them rise. Again it took, forever! I was finally fed up after 2 hours and popped them in the oven.
Here they are still bubbling fresh out of the oven. I let them cool for 10 minutes and then flipped them over onto a cutting board.
Wow. These were fantastic. Mine were more dense as I know my dough didn't rise as much as it should have, but the flavor was great and they were eaten up in no time. Be sure to make these when you have guests, you don't want a whole pan around with just yourself in the house. They're just too tempting.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

BBA: Kaiser Rolls

The sixteenth bread of the Bread Baker's Apprentice Challenge is kaiser rolls.
The dough came together easily with the pre fermente from the day before. I didn't have a kaiser roll cutter so I tied them in knots and my two year old even helped! She liked to roll "nasks" (snakes).
I was pleased with how they rose and then turned them over and sprinkled them with poppyseeds. Unfortunately, they didn't stick! I sprayed them beforehand, but after they baked the seeds slid off much too easily. I like poppyseeds on my bread, not all over my counter!
This batch made 7 large rolls and they were a huge hit!! My husband loved them and happily took sandwiches to work for two days. He said it beats a plain piece of bread any day. I liked them for sandwiches too, but they were a tad big for me. Next time I'll make some smaller ones for me-sized sandwiches. My husband has already asked me to make them again. Success!!

Friday, October 8, 2010

{FFwD} Gerard's Mustard Tart

The next French Friday's with Dorie recipe was a savory tart. I realized part way through making the recipe that I didn't own a tart pan yet! So, as the dough chilled I ran to the store and bought one. When I got home I realized I bought an 11'' pan and the recipe calls for a 9'' pan. Since my Modern Baker group will do a section on savory tarts I checked that cookbook. It calls for an 11'' pan. So, I kept it and just stretched my dough thin in the tart pan.

The dough wasn't necessarily pretty and it wasn't until I poured the egg mixture into the pan that it occured to me why a strong crust side is important (yes, there were a number of wall breaches), but the crust tasted great! I can't wait to use it again.
The tart itself was pretty easy, except that I know very little about mustard. This recipe calls for two kinds of mustard. I bought dijon mustard, but I was stumped on the "grainy french mustard". You can't find this description on the label and I assumed Dorie didn't mean French's. There were a few mustards there might have fit the bill but they were quite expensive! In the end I used Dijon and a spicy brown mustard I already owned.
I liked the tart, but think I wold prefer the tomato-mustard tart. I sort of felt it was missing a little something and I'm not a huge mustard person so just mustard was a bit much for me. It got eaten up quickly.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Resolution Completed!

At the beginning of the year I set the following new year's resolution for myself. 

1. To cook at least one new recipe a week. That's at least 52 recipes. 
2. To try all recipes in my recipe box that have never been tried before.
3. To cook a complete Thanksgiving and Christmas meal sometime this year.
I quickly completed goal 1. Goal 2 took a good part of the year to complete. Most of the recipes in the box were my grandma's and most were sweets. I'm sure I gained a few pounds this year with all the goodies constantly baking in the oven!

And, then there is goal 3. The direction of this blog has changed immensely since I began. I've joined other cooking and baking groups (heck, I've discovered that they even exist!) and I'm finding them a lot of fun. Goal 3 was stressing me out. I'd changed my mind. I didn't want to be tied to that goal anymore. I wanted to just discard it. But, then I thought about it. Cooking a turkey had really been the intention for that goal. I wrapped it all into making a whole dinner (two whole dinners) and working on my dinner timing issues, but the turkey had really been point. So....
I made a turkey! Okay, in full disclosure, it was only the turkey breast, but I did cook it and I did carve it. (I need to be more observant at the store. I thought I was buying a whole turkey.) I used my new Julia Child's The Way To Cook book to help me prepare the turkey. I was cooking for someone post surgery so I kept it very simple and only seasoned it with olive oil and a little salt and pepper.

My carving skills could sure use some work, but I think I did a great job for the first time. I'm eager to try another turkey- maybe even this year! One thing is for sure- I got a ton of meals out of this one bird!

I am so excited these goals are officially done!
1. To cook at least one new recipe a week. That's at least 52 recipes. 
2. To try all recipes in my recipe box that have never been tried before.
3. To cook a complete Thanksgiving and Christmas meal sometime this year. Altered to: Cook a turkey.

Along the way to these goals, I joined - eek! - 7 cooking groups!
The Daring Kitchen (Daring Cooks and Daring Bakers)
Bread Baker's Apprentice
Modern Baker
Martha Stewart's Cupcakes
My Kitchen, My World
French Fridays with Dorie

Now that I'm done with my goals I'm happy to not set anymore. I needed goals at the beginning to keep me motivated this year, but now I just want to take a break and cook and bake a little here and there and see where it all takes me.
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