Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Tuesdays with Dorie Number 15: Almost-Fudge Gateau

Poor Frodo, he has become bewitched by the power of the precious......yet again.....

This is not common knowledge, but Frodo has a serious chocolate addiction problem.

He can't seem to get enough of the stuff, and the Almost-Fudge Gateau sent him over the edge!
Technically, this week's recipe for Tuesday's with Dorie is Creme Brulee. The recipe calls for the use of a butane torch, and I do not own one. The option was given to make a previously done recipe, and so we rewind to the Almost-Fudge Gateau recipe featured on pages 218 and 219 of the baking mega-book, Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan. The recipe was originally chosen February 19, 2008, a bit before my time :)

This cake is scary good, and those who cannot handle serious chocolate desserts should only consume this confection with extreme caution.

Frodo was not careful, and in his chocolate induced haze failed to notice something sinister. Who will carry his burden? Who will ensure that the ring is destroyed? Methinks Sauron is behind the chocolate!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Daring Bakers Challenge Number 3: Lavash Crackers and Toppings

"We know of an ancient radiation
that haunts dismembered constellations;
a faintly glimmering radio station."
-Frank Sinatra, as sung by CAKE

I don't know if we are talking as ancient as the dinosaurs here, but lately things here have become like the land before time. I don't seem to be able to finish anything within the confines of a deadline anymore. Wasn't it Douglas Adams that said: "I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by" ?

Well, ahem. Now that we have established that I am late with this entry, I had better move on. I had tried to enlist the help of my assistant from the Dimply Plum Cake fiasco, but due to the dinosaurs reference above, he was somewhat overcome by Frank and Ethel and their powers of persuasion.

This month's culinary adventure brought to you by the Daring Bakers is Lavash Crackers and Toppings. I have had very few experiences with making crackers, so this recipe intrigued me. It wasn't nearly as difficult as I had imagined it to be, and it is a recipe that I may try again in the future.

Frank and Ethel were very useful when it came to rolling out the dough. I used diamond shaped cookie cutters to make the crackers into pieces, but I think if I try this again, I may move the sheet of dough over to the pan, and then cut it there. Once I had my diamonds cut out, I ended up having to move them individually as they kept separating from the pack.

Here is the finished product. I topped mine with pizza seasoning, salt and pepper. They smelled wonderful while they were baking!

Frank and Ethel agree that it's all good! They couldn't keep out of the dip!

The Recipes:

Makes 1 sheet pan of crackers*

1 1/2 cups (6.75 oz) unbleached bread flour or gluten free flour blend (If you use a blend without xanthan gum, add 1 tsp xanthan or guar gum to the recipe)*

1/2 tsp (.13 oz) salt*

1/2 tsp (.055 oz) instant yeast*

1 Tb (.75 oz) agave syrup or sugar*

1 Tb (.5 oz) vegetable oil*

1/3 to 1/2 cup + 2 Tb (3 to 4 oz) water, at room temperature*

Poppy seeds, sesame seeds, paprika, cumin seeds, caraway seeds, or kosher salt for toppings

1. In a mixing bowl, stir together the flour, salt yeast, agave, oil, and just enough water to bring everything together into a ball. You may not need the full 1/2 cup + 2 Tb of water, but be prepared to use it all if needed.

2. For Non Gluten Free Cracker Dough: Sprinkle some flour on the counter and transfer the dough to the counter. Knead for about 10 minutes, or until the ingredients are evenly distributed. The dough should pass the windowpane test (see http://www.wikihow.com/Determine-if-Bre … ong-Enough for a description of this) and register 77 degrees to 81 degrees Fahrenheit. The dough should be firmer than French bread dough, but not quite as firm as bagel dough (what I call medium-firm dough), satiny to the touch, not tacky, and supple enough to stretch when pulled. Lightly oil a bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it around to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.or

2. For Gluten Free Cracker Dough: The dough should be firmer than French bread dough, but not quite as firm as bagel dough (what I call medium-firm dough), and slightly tacky. Lightly oil a bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it around to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.

3. Ferment at room temperature for 90 minutes, or until the dough doubles in size. (You can also retard the dough overnight in the refrigerator immediately after kneading or mixing).

4. For Non Gluten Free Cracker Dough: Mist the counter lightly with spray oil and transfer the dough to the counter. Press the dough into a square with your hand and dust the top of the dough lightly with flour. Roll it out with a rolling pin into a paper thin sheet about 15 inches by 12 inches. You may have to stop from time to time so that the gluten can relax. At these times, lift the dough from the counter and wave it a little, and then lay it back down. Cover it with a towel or plastic wrap while it relaxes. When it is the desired thinness, let the dough relax for 5 minutes. Line a sheet pan with baking parchment. Carefully lift the sheet of dough and lay it on the parchment. If it overlaps the edge of the pan, snip off the excess with scissors. or

4. For Gluten Free Cracker Dough: Lay out two sheets of parchment paper. Divide the cracker dough in half and then sandwich the dough between the two sheets of parchment. Roll out the dough until it is a paper thin sheet about 15 inches by 12 inches. Slowly peel away the top layer of parchment paper. Then set the bottom layer of parchment paper with the cracker dough on it onto a baking sheet.

5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit with the oven rack on the middle shelf. Mist the top of the dough with water and sprinkle a covering of seeds or spices on the dough (such as alternating rows of poppy seeds, sesame seeds, paprika, cumin seeds, caraway seeds, kosher or pretzel salt, etc.) Be careful with spices and salt - a little goes a long way. If you want to precut the cracker, use a pizza cutter (rolling blade) and cut diamonds or rectangles in the dough. You do not need to separate the pieces, as they will snap apart after baking. If you want to make shards, bake the sheet of dough without cutting it first.

5. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the crackers begin to brown evenly across the top (the time will depend on how thinly and evenly you rolled the dough).

6. When the crackers are baked, remove the pan from the oven and let them cool in the pan for about 10 minutes. You can then snap them apart or snap off shards and serve.

Chunky Veggie Dip

Dice one tomato, 1/2 yellow pepper, 1/2 onion, 3 cloves of garlic and add to bowl. Stir in 1 Tablespoon olive oil, 1 teaspoon pizza seasoning, dash of salt and pepper. Mix well. Allow to sit in refrigerator for a couple of hours for flavors to blend.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Tuesdays with Dorie Number 14: Dimply Plum Cake

Cue Sappy Music.....Now....

* * * *
Ah, ladies and gentleman, please join me for another riveting session of "Can this Cake be Saved?" Today's session is brought to you by Butterbur's Butter, found in all major supermarkets across the country. Better Baking Begs for Butterbur Butter.
Today we visit with Rigby of "Butterbur's Bistro" and the "Dimply Plum Cake". The setting of the scenario is simple: a small kitchen, an iPOD playing the musical stylings of CAKE, and the massive book "Baking: From My Home to Yours" by Dorie Greenspan. It should have been an ideal afternoon.

Rigby: The recipe looked so ideal, so perfect. Mix a few ingredients here, add a few ingredients there. Perfect.
Dimply Plum Cake: Yes, but you were distracted. You never listen.
R: I do enjoy CAKE...
DPC: At my expense.
R: Honestly, I was sure that everything was included in the batter. I did wonder why the batter was so thick when I poured it into the pan though...
DPC: [sniffles]
R: At least I realized my mistake before you had been in the oven too long...I tried to make it right.
DPC: Imagine being all warm and cozy, tucked into your 350 degree paradise, when you are wrenched back into the loud frenzy of the kitchen and ripped apart.
R: You needed oil.
DPC: humph!

What do you think gentle readers? Can this cake be saved? Tune in next week for the conclusion of this session.

* * * *

This week's recipe was the Dimply Plum Cake, and was chosen by Michelle of Bake-En. As I am sure you have gathered by now, what should have been a fairly simple cake to throw together ended up being a panic moment (please refer to my stressed assistant above). I had the full cake assembled and in the toaster oven when I happened to glance over the recipe and realized that I had not added any oil. I had a moment of furious internal debate: should I leave the poor thing alone and hope for the best or try to correct the mistake? I opted for the latter choice, and had a mess on my hands as I removed plum halves from fudge-like cake batter. The oil didn't mix in as well as I hoped, but at least it was there. Back into the oven...fingers crossed, breath baited. The only excuse that I can offer is that my brain was so frazzled from running/walking a 10K race today, that there wasn't anything left for cognitive clarity.

"And there was much rejoicing."

The timer went off, and cautious jubilation! It appeared that I had a cake! Of course, there was a taste test involved, and the cake did indeed pass inspection. There was much rejoicing. Perhaps the next time I make this cake, I will follow the directions a little more closely.

* * * *

Here is the cake the next day as part of my breakfast with a good strong cup of coffee. I think the cake was even better for sitting overnight, and it was perfectly complimented by my coffee.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Tuesdays with Dorie Number 13: Chocolate Chunkers

Ah, I have found my precious!

I sense danger....it is all around...must protect....my preciousssss.....

Well, Frodo gives these cookies 2 thumbs up, and considering he is very limited in both movement and facial expression, that's saying something.

This week's recipe was chose by Claudia of Fool for Food and is the absolutely decadent cookie Chocolate Chunkers. What can one say about a cookie recipe that used 2 giant Hershey bars, 1-1/2 cups of peanuts and 1 cup of cranberries? The cookies are like candy loosely held together by cookie dough, and they make me very, very happy. It's the kind of happiness that makes me glad that I still have my membership at the YMCA, because I keep eating cookies.... If Frodo had packed chocolate chunkers along with his lembas bread for his epic journey across Mordor, he would have had little difficulty with his passage. How could anybody be cross with hobbit carrying pure gold in cookie form? Really, I want to know.

Monday, September 15, 2008

I Need to go to the Library More

1) Bold those you have read.

2) Put an asterisk next to those you started but didn't finish.

3) Italicize those you intend to read (or have started and intend to finish).

4) Red the books you LOVE

5) Reprint this list in your own blog.

* * * * *

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen

2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien

3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte

4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling

5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee

6 The Bible *

7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte

8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell

9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman

10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens

11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott

12 Tess of the D'Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy

13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller

14 Complete Works of Shakespeare

15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier

16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien

17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks

18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger

19 The Time Traveller's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger *

20 Middlemarch - George Eliot

21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell

22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald *

23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens

24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy

25 The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams

26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh

27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky *

28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck

29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll

30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame

31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy

32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens

33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis

34 Emma - Jane Austen

35 Persuasion - Jane Austen

36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis

37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini

38 Captain Corelli's Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres

39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden

40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne

41 Animal Farm - George Orwell

42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown

43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez

44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving

45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins

46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery

47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy

48 The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood

49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding

50 Atonement - Ian McEwan

51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel

52 Dune - Frank Herbert

53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons

54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen

55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth

56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon

57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens

58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley

59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon

60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marque

61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck

62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov

63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt

64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold

65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas

66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac

67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy

68 Bridget Jones's Diary - Helen Fielding

69 Midnight's Children - Salman Rushdie

70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville

71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens

72 Dracula - Bram Stoker

73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett

74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson

75 Ulysses - James Joyce

76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath

77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome

78 Germinal - Emile Zola

79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray

80 Possession - AS Byatt

81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens

82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell

83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker

84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro

85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert

86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry

87 Charlotte's Web - EB White

88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom

89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton

91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad

92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery

93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks

94 Watership Down - Richard Adams

95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole

96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute

97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas

98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare

99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl

100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Blogs I Love

I was so excited when I received an award earlier this week, and now I would like to pass it on to a couple of the blogs that I like to check in with:

Jon and MacDuff in Boston -- this blog is always an interesting read. I love both Jon and MacDuff's sense of humor and perspective on what they write about.

She's Becoming DoughMessTic--a good sense of humor, wonderful recipes and pictures that make me want to cook everything on the blog!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Soup Challenge Number One: Red Lentil Soup

I have been eating a lot of canned soups lately because they are low in calories and very filling, but I've been thinking-I really need to make some homemade soups and freeze them for quick use later. And so it begins: my personal soup challenge. I will make my own homemade soups, portion them and freeze them for future consumption. How can I go wrong? A little work here and there, a quick trip to the freezer, and presto: instant good for me food when I need it.

I don't know if this is anything anyone would be interested in doing....if so, let me know and I will structure it as a monthly or bi-monthly blogging challenge. I hope to make soups and continue to blog about my adventures.
Red Lentil Soup
Adapted from Today's Diet and Nutrition September/October 2008
Serves 4

3 Tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, finely diced
1 Tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
1 Tablespoon cumin, ground
2 carrots, peeled and grated
1 cup red lentils
4 cups water or vegetable stock
2 red onion, finely sliced

Put 1 Tablespoon of olive oil into a large saucepan and add the onion, ginger, and cumin. Cook over a medium heat until the onion is soft and transparent. Add the carrot, lentils and stock. Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce to simmer. Cook for 30 minutes, or until the lentils have completely disintegrated.

Meanwhile, heat the remaining olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat and add the red onions. Cook until the onions are caramelized. Cool, cover or refrigerate to reheat and serve later. Top with a spoonful of caramelized onions.

Note: Any lentils can be substituted for red lentils.

Calories: 312

Friday, September 12, 2008

Spicy Malted Hot Cocoa Mix

The Tuesdays with Dorie Recipe for this last Tuesday, Chocolate Malted Whopper Drops, called for Malted Milk Powder. I bought a jar especially for the recipe, but found myself looking at the remaining portion and wondering what on earth I was going to do with it. In the past, I've mixed it with ice cream to make an old-fashioned malt, but I'm trying to get away from eating a lot of treats like ice cream (especially with the weekly dessert delights of Tuesday with Dorie). Alas, what to do.....

I was saved by a recipe I found on mix, mix...stir, stir. The author of this blog found herself in the same quandry...and solved the problem by creating a hot chocolate delight.
Here is her recipe:

Spicy Malted Hot Cocoa Mix

1/2 cup malted milk powder
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup sugar
3 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons ancho chile powder
1-1/2 teaspoons allspice
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Combine all the ingredients together and mix well. Store in an airtight container. To make a spicy hot beverage, heat one cup of milk and whisk in 3 Tablespoons of Spicy Malted Hot Cocoa Mix. Relax and enjoy.

I did not add the ancho chile powder and cayenne pepper. Instead I added 1/2 teaspoon of regular chile pepper. I found that it added a nice heat to the hot chocolate. I also found when I made this that it was a little rich with just the 1 cup of milk, so I think the next time I make it I will try doubling the milk portion, or back off a little on the mix. It was delicious though.

I have lots of mix to play with :)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

An Award!!!!

I am so excited! Someone has given me an award! Sherry Trifle was kind enough to include me in her list of blogs to receive an award. Thank you!

I am looking forward to passing this along to some of my favorite blogs...hopefully when I get back from work today :)

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Tuesdays with Dorie Post Number 12: Chocolate Malted Whopper Drops

Well, I almost missed the Tuesday posting, but here I am at the very last minute getting my two cents in on this week's recipe. It was chosen by Rachel of Confessions of a Tangerine Tart, and the recipe is posted at her blog if you would like to see what goes into these wonderful cookies!
Let me break the cookie experience down into simple terms: chocolate, whoppers, chocolate, simple, delicious, wonderful. These cookies were wonderful warm out of the oven, and wonderful cooled. The dough was cake like and puffy, and the whoppers made for a nice chewiness. There is not a bad cookie recipe in the book! I am looking forward to eating what few cookies that remain with a nice hot cup of coffee and a good book. Hurray for chocolate! Hurray for whoppers! Hurray for cookies!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Mug 'O Pumpkin Creme

I no longer need to go to the coffee house to enjoy a creamy, rich, delicious beverage... and this one is low in calories too! How terrific is that! The recipe comes from "Hungry Girl", and I only made one change-- instead of using a no-calorie sweetener, I used a teaspoon of sugar. Enjoy!

8 ounces light vanilla soymilk
2 Tablespoons canned pumpkin
1/4 teaspoon cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon sugar

Combine all ingredients in a pot. Stir well with a whisk. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Once the mixture begins to froth, continue to boil for a minute. Remove from heat and pour into a mug. Allow to cool slightly, and enjoy!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Tuesdays with Dorie Post Number 11: Chunky Peanut Butter and Oatmeal Chocolate Chipsters

Talk about your last minute posts....I was beginning to think this one wouldn't make it in time! I am a huge fan of peanut butter, oatmeal and chocolate, so there was no way I was going to miss out on making "Peanut Butter and Oatmeal Chocolate Chipster Cookies", a recipe chosen by Stefany of Proceed with Caution.
Why so last minute? Well, school has started, cold season is alive and well, and I tried my hand at water skiing over the holiday weekend. Unfortunately I didn't find the time to actually stop and make cookies. I had my mind set on completing the recipe this evening, and had just finished mixing the dough when I was invited to have dinner with friends. Fortunately the dough chills well, and now I am enjoying a warm, melty dessert. :) I think that cookies help cure muscle soreness and sunburn.

Be sure to check out all the other fab cookies at Tuesdays with Dorie!