Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Daring Bakers Challenge Number Two!

This month's challenge recipe was chosen by Chris of Mele Cotte. The recipe was Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream. I have not made an actual layer cake in, well, longer then I can remember. When I looked at this recipe, I was a little worried because there were so many steps, and most of them were processes I was unfamiliar with. However, there is a reason that it is called a Daring Baker's Challenge, so, onward ho!

My very first step was waiting for my hazelnuts to arrive, via an order through E-bay (they really do have everything). I didn't order them as early as I should have, and they took awhile to get to me (according to package tracking, the hazelnuts had an extended stay in Chicago....) so it pushed my timetable for baking a little closer to the end of the month....which made me nervous.
The first interesting moment for me was with the cake. I baked mine in an 8-1/2 by 1-1/2 pan, but realized when I had most of the batter in the pan that perhaps I should have opted for something a little larger. I was so freaked out about the batter that in my panic, I reached for a loaf pan and dumped the excess in there. So then I had a round cake, and a rectangle cake. Now, I had the foresight to flour and line the round pan, but the loaf pan had been a moment of desperation, so when I tried to remove the hazelnut loaf, it wouldn't come out. Too make an already long story short....I ended up accidentally dropping the loaf cake in the sink. That should have been a sign for me. I did end up with a round cake, but the middle seemed a little less then satisfactory (stupid oven).

By the way, if you drop a measuring spoon in the mixing bowl while it's running, it will eventually spin back out. It is a little messy though.
I don't know if any of you had trouble when you went to make your hazelnut praline, but for some reason, I am unable to melt sugar. I used two different pans, and lots of time (and a little patience), but I never could get my sugar to melt nice and slow like the recipe said. I ended up cranking up the heat considerably, but then instead of melting on the outside first and then the middle, mine melted in the middle first, but not on the outside. I, of course, stirred. Don't stir. It is not pretty. The hazelnuts did find their way in and were coated, and it did make a brittle in the end.

Assembling the cake was a hoot as the cake was not very tall. The top layer was the nicest because it actually came off in a nice coherent pieces. The middle and bottom layers were not so nice. My praline buttercream ended up becoming a "glue" that conveniently helped to shape and hold these layers of cake together.
I loved making the Ganache. It was the best part of the recipe, and something I will definitely try again. This was my first time working with this kind of technique, and I loved the way it looked and tasted. My form is very sloppy, so the top of the cake looked nice, but the sides, well at least they taste good.
I topped the cake with lots of hazelnuts. Eating a slice is like eating pure sugar....which is a bit much for me. It reminds me of the fancy cakes you see in the expensive bakeries that cost lots of $$$ and you only get a very tiny sliver. Well, there is a reason that the sliver is so tiny. If you ate anything larger you might enter a sugar induced coma!
I enjoyed making the cake and learning the processes, but I think I will be more apt to make last months Danish Braid again before I would attempt this dessert.

Be sure to check out all the other Daring Bakers creations! Visit the blogroll!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Tuesdays with Dorie Post Number 7: Summer Fruit Galette

This weeks recipe was "Summer Fruit Galette" and was chosen by Michelle of Michelle in Colorado Springs. If you would like to see the full recipe, visit her site as it will be available there.

When I saw the recipe for this week, I though "what on earth is a galette"? So far with TWD I've made cobblers, pies and scones....all things familiar to me. Even the puff pastry (which I had never attempted) was something I had eaten before. But the word galette was mystifying. This week proved to be opportunity for personal culinary growth. You can't get much better then that.

Here is what Wikipedia had to say "Galette is a general term used in French to designate different types of round and flat crusty cakes."

After reading through the directions a few times and referring to another recipe in the book, I realized that essentially a galette is a pie with no pie plate, and the crust end folded up over the filling. Ah! It was equally exciting to realize that I got to use that fabulous pie crust recipe again!!!
One important lesson I learned through galette making is when using plums, spend a little more time selecting ripe participants to play in the pastry. Evidently some of the fruit was a little on the tart side....
As usual, I decided to make mini versions of the recipe. I cut the dough recipe in half, and rolled it out on my counter. Using a berry bowl, I made 4 circles in the dough and went from there. I was really worried because the dough looked a little thin (like perhaps I should have only made 3 mini-galettes), but when baked, everything held together really well! I didn't use very much of the custard filling at all...makes me wonder if next time I shouldn't cut the plums into small pieces...
These were delicious! I've never baked with plums before!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

5 min Chocolate Cake

This may be the most diabolical thing known to man....chocolate cake that you can make in your microwave in 5 minutes!!! Ah, the madness!!! Ah, the insanity!!! Ah, the convenience!!! Once again, there is a reason for exercise....must work off all the mugs of chocolate cake....hmmmm....

Anywho, I found the recipe from Dizzy Dee. There are many fantastic pictures to guide you through the process. I didn't want to consume quite that much flour and sugar, so I halved the recipe as follows:

2 Tablespoons flour (I used whole wheat, gotta sneak healthy in there somewhere)
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 Tablespoon cocoa powder
1/4 tsp baking powder (I wanted to lighten the cake up a bit)
1 egg white
1 Tablespoon oil (again with the healthy, I went with olive oil)

I mixed the dry, then added the wet and microwaved for 1 minute 30 seconds. You can get away with a smaller cup with this half recipe. Yum!!


Snickerdoodle cookies are a childhood favorite...and something I haven't made in ages. This recipe creates a chewy, wonderful cookie. I don't think I will go through this long separation again...

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup margarine
1-1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla
3 cups flour
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 Tablespoons sugar

In a large mixing bowl, cream butter, margarine and 1-1/2 cups sugar. Blend in eggs and vanilla. In another bowl, sift flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt. Stir dry mixture into sugar mixture. Form dough into balls. Blend cinnamon with 2 Tablespoons of sugar. Roll the dough balls into the cinnamon-sugar. Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes on an ungreased cookie sheet. Do not overbake. Cookies should be chewy in the center.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Tuesdays with Dorie Post Number 6: Cherry Rhubarb Cobbler

This weeks recipe was "Cherry Rhubarb Cobbler" and was chosen by Amanda of Like Sprinkles on a Cupcake.

I cut the recipe in half, and made 4 individual cobblers.
I've not had too many foods that incorporate rhubarb, but was pleasantly surprised by how well the cherries and rhubarb worked together in the filling portion. They truly compliment each other. This is yet another fantastic recipe!
To see other cobblers, be sure to check out the blog roll on Tuesdays with Dorie.

On a happy side note...I had lots of leftover cherries that I enjoyed in yogurt and in oatmeal.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Cookie Monster

My Weird Lunch

Today I had an odd assortment for lunch. Here is what was on my plate:

Mashed Potato with Sauerkraut
Boiled Yellow Summer Squash
Banana with Peanut Butter
Cup of Tea

Hmmm...odds and ends. This begs the question...what did you have for lunch today?
On a related topic, I'm desperate for sauerkraut recipes (beyond Reuben's and hot dogs). Does anyone have any good ideas for sauerkraut?

Friday, July 18, 2008

Seasoned Flour

Happiness is a cast-iron skillet full of chicken, bubbling and frying away. So, if you have 3 of them going, it must be happiness beyond all reasoning....well, anyway, I fried some chicken (lots) and made seasoned flour to coat it.
1 cup flour
2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 tsp garlic salt
dash of paprika

No Bake Cookies in Bar Fashion

Today I wondered what would happen if I made no-bake cookies as a bar instead of drop cookies. After I made the cookie, I spread it in a jelly roll pan on top of wax paper and let it cool. Once it was cool, I cut it into diamonds and bars. It worked really well and made thin, chocolaty-oatmeal pieces of goodness!
1-3/4 cups white sugar
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup butter
4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup crunchy peanut butter
3 cups quick-cooking oats
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a medium saucepan, combine sugar, milk, butter, and cocoa. Bring to a boil, and cook for 1 1/2 minutes. Remove from heat, and stir in peanut butter, oats, and vanilla. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto wax paper. Let cool until hardened.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Tropical Truffles

I love chocolate, and I love truffles, so this seemed like a worthwhile recipe to try. I have rationalized eating them, because after all they are full of dried fruit and fruit is good for me..... Anyway, they are very delicious.
Adapted from a recipe from Chocolate Step-by-Step.

1/2 cup (80 g) macadamia nuts, finely chopped
2 Tablespoons finely chopped dried pineapple, mango & papaya
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 Tablespoons cream
3 oz white chocolate chips
1/2 cup coconut

1. Spread macadamia nuts on flat oven tray and toast in preheated moderate (350 degree) oven for 3-5 minutes or until golden.
2. Combine dried fruits in a small bowl. Add lemon juice and allow to stand for 10 minutes.
3. Heat cream in a small pan until boiling. Add chocolate chips, remove from heat, and stir until smooth. Move mixture to a small bowl.
4. Add fruit mixture to chocolate mixture and mix well. Refrigerate for about 20 minutes or until firm enough to work with.
5. Roll heaping teaspoons of the mixture into balls, then roll into coconut. Place in an airtight container between sheets of wax paper.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Chicken Parmasen

I guess technically I should call this Chicken "Mozzarella", as the chicken pieces are topped with mozzarella instead of Parmesan, but you could sub it around so that it was the other way if you wanted to. This was wonderful, and I will make this again.

Chicken Tenders
Italian Style Bread Crumbs
Spaghetti Sauce

1. Dredge chicken pieces in flour.
2. In a medium sized bowl, beat egg with a little water. Dip each of the chicken pieces in the egg, then coat the chicken pieces with bread crumbs.
3. Melt a little margarine in a skillet. When the margarine is melted, add the chicken pieces. Allow to brown fully before turning and browning other side.
4. Transfer chicken pieces to a baking pan. Top each piece with a generous amount of spaghetti sauce. Bake in oven at 375 degrees about 15 - 20 minutes. Toward the end of the time in the oven, top with mozzarella cheese.
5. Cook spaghetti according to package directions. Add spaghetti sauce and stir until heated through.
6. Serve chicken with pasta.

Eat Here Now! The Colonel's Pancake House

I have recently returned from a road trip, and had the fortune of stopping at Colonel's Pancake House in Joplin, Missouri for lunch. This place has the best pancakes, and you can order just about any variety that you can think of. You have to eat here if you are ever in Joplin! The pancake house is located at 842 S Rangeline Road, and is well worth the stop.

The Colonel's Pancake House was built 50 years ago (1958). It started out as a candy store that was in business for 2 years, and then became the pancake house. They have been serving up delicious pancakes for the last 48 years!

The inside of the pancake house is charming and homey. They have booths as well as tables.
This is a picture of blueberry pancakes. As you can see, the pancakes are huge! If you order 3 of them, be prepared to be stuffed!
I ordered the peanut butter pancakes. I requested the addition of chocolate chips, so I ended up with peanut butter and chocolate chip pancakes. I was so excited!
This is the peach fold over. The pancake house has all different varieties of pancakes...pretty much if you can think it, it's there. They also have sandwiches and other breakfast foods.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


Paulawy of 52 Recipes has tagged me to participate in a meme. I've never done this before, but here goes....

The Rules:
1. Link to the person who tagged you.
2. Post the rules on the blog.
3. Write six random things about yourself.
4. Tag six people at the end of your post.
5. Let each person know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.
6. Let the tagger know when your entry is up.

Six Random Things About Me:
1. At one time, I had a representative of every major animal group: fish (beta), mammal (cat), amphibian (salamander), reptile (gecko), and bird (parakeet). Now I'm down to only cats, and no, they didn't eat everything else...but it was interesting finding places for everybody.

2. I love peanut butter...on bread, in pancakes or straight out of the jar.

3. Speaking of pancakes....I eat them most Saturdays and I am constantly playing with my ingredient list. I love Swedish pancakes with lingonberries when I have them.

4. I love Target. I could shop there everyday.

5. One of my favorite authors is J.R.R. Tolkien. I love The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. Butterbur is named after a character in Tolkien's stories.

6. I enjoy listening to the band "Cake".

Here are the bloggers I have tagged:

Jade of (cup)caketastrophe!

Ruth of Adventures in Amateur Baking and Cooking

Heather B of Randomosity and the Girl

MacDuff of Jon and MacDuff in Boston

Susie Homemaker of She's Becoming DoughMessTic

LikeSprinkles of Like Sprinkles on a Cupcake

Tuesdays with Dorie Post Number 5: Chocolate Pudding

This week's recipe is Chocolate Pudding chosen by Melissa of Its Melissa's Kitchen. I am away from my home kitchen this week, so I was a little nervous about preparing this recipe. There was no food processor available, and many of the kitchen amenities that I am accustomed to were no where to be found. I ended up using a whisk and lots of elbow grease. This, of course, gave me an excuse to buy a new whisk which I happily did.
Here is my new whisk (silicone). This is a picture of my "food processor".
The pudding is absolutely decadent! It came together beautifully and was fairly set up when I put it in the refrigerator. This may become my go to pudding recipe when I prepare pudding.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Tuesdays with Dorie Post Number 4: Double-Crusted Blueberry Pie

This week's recipe for "Double-Crusted Blueberry Pie" was chosen by Amy of South in Your Mouth. If you would like to see the full recipe, it will be posted on Amy's page. What a wonderful pick, because what would the 4th of July be without a blueberry pie?

Let me begin by saying that I am a one pie crust person. This will probably horrify some of you, but I have found success with the Crisco Pie Crust recipe, and after being traumatized by other pie doughs that did not cooperate....well....if it ain't broke, don't fix it. So, knowing that we have to use the recipe from the book, I was a little nervous. This pie dough recipe takes a staggering amount of butter, but it is absolutely wonderful to work with. I am in love with the flavor of the dough, and it rolled out nicely. Chilling it makes all the difference. I haven't made a full top crust in forever because I like the ease of making lattice tops....but the top crust for this came together really well.
Notice all the festive sprinkles :) Here is my pie pre-baking, when it was still pretty. I even tried to cut a star in the center.
This is what it looked like after it baked. My pie shield squished the outside crust a bit, and the blueberry happily bubbled up on the top of the crust. I was calling it "the ugliest blueberry pie ever" because of its lack luster appearance.
The pie tasted absolutely delicious! I will make this again!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Oatmeal Pancakes

Saturday = Pancakes
Okay, today I was creative. I made my own oat flour by taking quick oats and grinding them in my blender. The pancakes were not as light and fluffy as when you use white flour, but they were just pretty good!

1/4 cup oat flour (1/4 oats ground in the blender)
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
dash salt
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 egg white
1/8 cup water
1/8 cup skim milk

Mix all ingredients and fry on hot griddle. Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Daring Bakers Challenge One (and a half)

Well, today I got into the frozen half of my pastry dough from the Daring Bakers Challenge: Danish Braid. The dough is wonderful, but I was a little worried about it after it had been hanging out in the freezer for awhile.
As you can see, I had nothing to worry about. After sitting in the fridge overnight, the dough was easily rolled out and cut into small squares to make pinwheels. I baked these for about 12 minutes at 400 degrees, and again was treated to the wonderful smell of the pastry dough as it baked. Definitely worth the wait!

Bread Baking!

I have a bread machine. It is a good little machine, and I have used it to make bread before, but I don't like the way the bread comes out when it's finished. For some reason, even though the machine does all the work and I measure the ingredients carefully, my bread never comes out the way I think it should. So, I prefer to make bread the old fashioned way: with my hands. Today I tried a very basic bread recipe from The James Beard Cook Book. The dough was beautiful and it was nice to work with. And, the top didn't sink in.
I halved the recipe so it would only make 1 loaf. The full recipe was for 2 loaves.

Basic White Bread (makes 1 loaf)
1-1/4 teaspoons yeast
1/2 cup lukewarm water + 1/2 cup lukewarm milk
1 Tablespoon sugar
1-1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups flour
2 Tablespoons butter

Put the lukewarm liquid in a large bowl and add yeast. Add sugar and salt and stir well (until yeast dissolves).
Add the flour 1 cup at a time and stir in with a wooden spoon. As soon as you have a smooth dough, melt the butter and mix it into the dough. Then add the rest of the flour. Continue stirring or mixing until the dough is blended.
Turn the dough out onto a floured board, cover it with an inverted bowl and let it rest 10 minutes. Knead until smooth and satiny.
Allow the bread to rise in a bowl until doubled (1-1/2 to 2 hours). Then punch the dough 2 or 3 times to deflate the dough. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for about 3 minutes. Shape into a loaf and put into a well greased loaf pan. Cover and let rise until doubled. Bake in a 375 degree oven until nicely browned and done (40 - 45 minutes).

I just discovered

Between cooking, baking and playing with the website...oye!

Cinnamon Buttermilk Pancakes

Well, it's not Saturday, but it's pancakes nonetheless. To enjoy these, you really have to like cinnamon, as they are very spicy. You can't tell very well from the picture, but the pancakes are a nice brown color from the cinnamon.
1/4 cup wheat flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
dash of salt
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 Tablespoon cinnamon
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 egg white
1 teaspoon olive oil

Mix all ingredients and fry on hot griddle.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Tuesdays with Dorie Post Number 3: Apple Cheddar Scones

This week's recipe for Tuesdays with Dorie was chosen by Karina of The Floured Apron. The recipe is Apple Cheddar Scones, which made me happy because there are many wonderful scone recipes in Baking: From My Home to Yours and I have been eager to try them.
This recipe was also perfect for another reason. A good friend of mine recently returned from a trip to England, and brought me a scone cutter from Greenwich, England. I was so excited about the scone cutter, and then when the next recipe ended up being scones....well...the happy dance was in order.
The dough came together very well, and the scones baked up nicely. I loved the flavors from the apples and cheese, and the cornmeal in the recipe gave the scones a nice crunch. I made these over the weekend, and had a wonderful lunch and breakfast.
I do think I will need to go back to cutting the recipes in half again though....I made the full batch and ate too many of them :)