01
Nov
10

I’m Back Baby!

Well it’s been almost a year since I last posted.  I almost thought I wouldn’t get back to it, but I have been missing the Daring Baker experience the entire time and am making it a priority again.  I was so pumped when I read the challenge and completed it in time to post on the 27th, and then I tried to get online.  Biggest problem of living in Russia………shady internet.  So while “I’m Back”, the internet really determines my blog accuracy.  :)

The October 2010 Daring Bakers Challenge was hosted by Lori of Butter Me Up.  Lori chose to challenge DBers to make donuts.  She used several sources for her recipes including Alton Brown, Nancy Silverton, Kate Neumann and Epicurious.

Now let me preface this by saying I do not like donuts.  I didn’t grow up eating them, and I had one while I was pregnant and that did it for me.  The only donut I can tolerate is a KK hot glazed.  Doesn’t really taste like a donut and isn’t as heavy when it’s hot.  We happened to have an extra teenager staying with us, so I thought boy and his friend would like the treat. 

I wanted to try the yeast and the Bombolini, but the Bombolini needed an overnight rest so I just did the yeast donuts.  It was a fool-proof recipe.   Simple enough to be a quick put together, and basic enough to have all the ingredients on hand.  The only thing I changed was the addition of nutmeg to the dough.  I substituted cinnamon of course.  The dough was very soft and smooth.  I did not have a donut cutter so I used a biscuit cutter and a little plastic top from my cream whipper.  A little more laborious, but did the trick.  The dough was very light and easy to work with and proofed perfectly. 

I own a little fryer so I could only fry two at a time.  They cooked so evenly and so quickly that I didn’t even notice how long it took to fry them all.  The smell was fantastic and after I let one sit for a little bit I tasted it.  It was delicious!  Even with nothing on it.  So light and airy in the middle.  I tried to make a glaze, but it just tasted like wet powdered sugar.  It was horrible…..so I just did a cinnamon sugar sprinkling and they were fantastic. 

Boy and his friend ate them like they never had a donut in their life.  They were so easy and good I made them a second time.  This time for a kid Halloween party where they ate them off a string with no hands.  Cinnamon Sugar was everywhere….hilarious!  The best part of this challenge was learning to make something I can’t find very easily here.  They do have donuts in Russia, but they are a bit different and a little more dry.  Everyone is gonna love me……

It feels so good to be back…can’t wait for next month’s challenge!

24
Dec
09

Twas the day before Christmas…..

said I to my spouse, “I wonder who’ll come and look at my house?”  The shingles all hung in colors so fair,  in hopes that Audax and the Dee-Bees would be there.  A ton of ideas swirled around in my head, do I dare try to make a big- tall gingerbread?  So I in my socks with the comp on my lap, decided to go and look at some shacks.  Would it look like a house or something from Saturn?  I decided I needed a very good pattern.  Away to the bookstore I drove in a flash, and opened my pocket and pulled out some cash.   I was ready to begin so I mixed up the dough, put it into the fridge then painted my toes. :)  Time to move on I pulled out  my gear,  rolling the dough was nothing to fear.  I was too cocky and tried to be slick, and rolled out my dough so it wasn’t too thick.  What was I thinking my head hung in shame, the wall broke in half-there goes my frame.  Think Amber- a bit faster- no time for more mixing, I’ll make super stiff icing and begin all the fixing.  I said a few “words”, and went straight to work.  So many details but I would definitely not shirk.  With icing all over from my hands to my nose, I felt exhausted from the highs and the lows.  I took a step back and saw a great house,  even with mistakes it pleased me and my spouse.  With a huge smile on my face and with a voice of delight,  Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

The December 2009 Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to you by Anna of Very Small Anna and Y of Lemonpi. They chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ everywhere to bake and assemble a gingerbread house from scratch.

15
Dec
09

et tu, croute?

Oh yes….even you Croute.  The best part of being in the Daring Cooks is having  the opportunity to do things one would never attempt on their own. 

The 2009 Daring Cooks challenge was hosted by Simone of Junglefrog Cooking. Simone chose Salmon en Croute (or alternative recipes for Beef Wellington or Vegetable en Croute) from Good Food Online.

Now what is Salmon en Croute you say?  It is salmon cooked in pastry.  In theory it sounds a little odd, but in reality it is delicious.  There are various pastries one could use….shortcut, puff and the like.   We had the option to make a shortcut pastry if we had time…I have very little time but wanted to try the shortcut pastry.  Three ingredients is all it takes for the pastry and with a food processor it is done lickity split.   I found that the dough was almost like a clay……and as it cooked it didn’t really turn into what I imagined it would.  It was more like a crust…hard on the outside.  I didn’t have all the ingredients for the watercress mixture so I improvised with spinach, mushrooms, dill and cream cheese.  (it was such a good mixture I could have eaten it with crackers)  I steamed some broccoli and thought the meal needed one more thing so I made a lemon butter sauce.  The sauce was perfectly tart to go with the salmon and the broccoli. 

Having never tasted it before I wasn’t sure if my final product was correct.  Boy and Man loved the salmon…but didn’t like the pastry so much.  Man said the pastry had no flavor and he would have preferred a “crescent roll”  like pastry.  (apparently his advanced palate knows more than I….LOL)  I thought it was perfectly fine and how great was it that it was like an individual packaged dinner? 

Daring Cooks 2~Me 2

27
Nov
09

Holy Moley, it’s Cannoli!

So I’ve been noticeably absent the last couple of months, and to be honest I didn’t think I’d be able to continue…..but I finished some training and am now just doing language -so I freed up some time.  YAY!!!  (Just a heads up…trying to learn Russian, not so easy.)   I was excited to get a challenge that would take my mind off all the foreign words occupying my brain and when I read our challenge I was not very excited…but hey it was something new that I hadn’t done before so I jumped aboard. 

The November 2009 Daring Bakers Challenge was chosen and hosted by Lisa Michele of Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drives. She chose the Italian Pastry, Cannolo (Cannoli is plural), using the cookbooks Lidia’s Italian-American Kitchen by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich and The Sopranos Family Cookbook by Allen Rucker; recipes by Michelle Scicolone, as ingredient/direction guides. She added her own modifications/changes, so the recipe is not 100% verbatim from either book.

I’ve had Cannoli before and I’ve never liked it, so I went into it a little half hearted.  I did purchase the cannoli forms and I love having them, totally recommend everyone getting them.  Even if you NEVER use them.   There’s nothing like the feeling you get when you open the drawer and see them and think to yourself…I could totally make Cannoli right now if I wanted to.  :)  The dough was super easy to make and as I was working with it the smell was so light and delicious I started getting pretty excited about this little treat.  I used a pasta machine to get the dough thin enough which worked perfectly and made it a simple task.  I  worked my way down to the second to smallest setting and thought I should try them a little thicker.  I made 2 that were not as thin but I didn’t get the bubble effect and I didn’t think they looked as lovely.  (sorry there are no pics of the process, still trying to figure the lighting out in the apt.) 

I’ve never really fried before so I was a little scared, but as I went along and they were looking so pretty I forgot how scary it was.  I did taste one before I filled it and I did not like it very much….so I was a little bummed.  I was going to make two fillings…the pumpkin one that Lisa was generous enough to give us and a lemon mousse-like one.  I got all my ingredients out for the pumpkin one and my pumpkin was bad.  ARGH!!!!!  I love me the pumpkin but since we were going out of town I didn’t want to go out and purchase a new one to leave in the fridge for a week.  So I just stuck with the lemon.  Oh My Goodness!  Once I filled the cannoli shells and tried them….I LOVED them.  They were fantastic.  The filling made the flavors in the shell jump out.  I couldn’t stop eating them.  The crisp bite of the shell was perfect I was so proud of myself.   I will never purchase a cannoli again as it could never compete with the homemade one.  I can’t wait to try the pumpkin filling.   

Thanks Lisa for expanding my horizons….and giving us a great challenge. 

Easy Lemon Mousse

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons grated fresh lemon rind
  • 2/3 cup lemon juice
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 package unflavored gelatin
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 2 cups whipping cream

Bring sugar, lemon rind and juice to boil. In a bowl beat eggs; pour in hot lemon mixture and mix well. Pour back into pan and bring to just a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly.  Cook and stir constantly for 5 minutes, or until thickened.  Scrape into a bowl. Sprinkle gelatin over cold water in small saucepan; let stand 5 minutes.  Heat over low heat until dissolved; stir into lemon mixture, mixing well.  Place plastic wrap on surface of mousse and let cool, stirring once, gently,for 30 minutes or until no longer warm.  In another bowl, whip cream and fold into lemon mixture.  Refrigerate.

15
Sep
09

better late than never….

So we have finally settled in the VA area and are so glad to be unpacked.  Unfortunately I’m a bit behind on posting my challenges.  We have a few months of schooling to do before we head to Russia so I’m having a very hard time finding time to do the challenges.  I have to give some huge props to all of you who work and still manage to get them done…..I don’t know how you do it.  I’ll probably figure it out just in time to pack up again and head on out. 

The worst part of moving is having to give up the beautiful kitchen for a tiny kitchen apartment…..where there is no natural lighting to even dream of taking a somewhat attractive picture.  I apologize for the lack of talent and pictures that these post will have, but I promise I’ll start manipulating things till I have it down k? 

This month’s Daring Cooks challenge was hosted by Debyi from the Healthy Vegan Kitchen.   She challenged us to make Indian Dosas.  I was so excited for this challenge as I love Vegan food.  I grew up practically vegetarian and miss eating that way.  (so hard to live that lifestyle when living with a boy and man who say NO to twig and berry food)  TheIndian Dosas recipe comes from reFresh: Contemporary Vegan Recipes From the Award Winning Fresh Restaurants by Ruth Tal.  Lucky for me I didn’t have to purchase anything but the spelt flour to make this dish.  As I was cooking, it was smelling fantastic and I was salivating as I finished in the kitchen.  It took everything I had not to try the dish before I got all the components together.   Once I assembled the dosas I sat down to eat, and after the first bite my excitement fell.  I didn’t like it.  I was so disappointed.  I’m not even sure why I didn’t like it.  Maybe cause there was no fat to smooth and blend the flavor together.  Ghee definitely would have added to the dish, but I’m not sure that would have even fixed what my taste buds were missing.  The dosas pancakes were good and I can see using them with other fillings, and boy and man each ate one…..but so not what I was hoping for. 

Surely it can’t be the recipe…..it’s gotta be the kitchen. 

Daring Cooks 2~Me 1

27
Jul
09

Goodbye beautiful kitchen :(

marshmallow supremesThis last month has been crazy and a little stressful for myself.  I’m sure you’ve all been there.  Find out your moving to Russia after just purchasing a house and only living in it for 6 months, trying to show a house while relatives come to visit  and separate all your belongings into 3 separate shipments and then deal with an ulcer.  (okay…maybe it’s not an ulcer…but it sure feels like one…ooooooooh…maybe it’s anxiety)  Anyway, I was going to take a break from the Daring Bakers/Cooks for the month, but then I saw this month’s challenge and knew it was a sign to make one last treat in my lovely kitchen.   I do admit I did the bare minimum and only did half of the challenge and once I get settled I kitchenwill make the other half k?  Promise! 

To preface I just have to say my favorite treat in the whole world is the Marshmallow so I was thrilled to see that July’s Daring Bakers challenge was hosted by Nichole at Sweet Tooth.  She chose Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies and Milan Cookies from pastry chef Gale Gand of the Food Network.  This has got to be one of the easiest recipes where the result is impressive.  I halved the cookie recipe as word on the street was that it made a ton.  I then moved on toheaven the marshmallow  recipe and realized I used my last egg and a half on the cookie.  Since we’re moving I’m down to the bare minimum and had no intention of buying any more eggs so I almost gave up, but then I remembered that I had meringue powder and went to town.  My marshmallows took quite a while to get stiff so I’m not sure if it was the meringue powder or just how it works.  When I thought it was done it piped perfectly.  Stiff enough to hold it’s shape yet soft enough to be delicious. (I don’ t think they really even need the chocolate) 

The hardest part was the dipping of the cookie in the chocolate.  Apparently I can’t do that very well nor can I pour the chocolate over the cookie without getting chocolate everywhere.  I’m talking EVERYWHERE.  I definitely need to get me some cocoa butter cause I know it would give the chocolate that perfect bite.  My chocolate never solidified without being put in the fridge.  Not so easy to eat unless you can fit in the fridge.   The result was fantastic regardless of the chocolate melting in your hand before you could eat it and boy and man LOVED them.  yummy

27
Jun
09

heart to heart pudding or tart?

I can’t believe that it’s time to post another DB challenge.  For the first time EVER I completed my challenge way ahead of time.  YAY me!  The only problem with that is I mentally moved on and almost forgot to post about it.  Thank goodness I remembered because this month’s challenge is fan-freakin-tastic. delicious

 The June Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Jasmine of Confessions of a Cardamom Addict and Annemarie of Ambrosia and Nectar. They chose a Traditional (UK) Bakewell Tart… er… pudding that was inspired by a rich baking history dating back to the 1800’s in England.  The debate seems to be that no one’s quite sure if this is a tart or pudding and is this really a dessert.  I for one wouldn’t classify it as a “dessert” so much as a sweet course to have with tea. (except you can have it with anything at anytime…and trust me I did)  It’s absolutely delicious. crust puddingfrangipane

We had two mandatory elements….the pastry crust and the frangipane.  The crust was simple and very delicate and was just enough to fit in my glass tart pan.  I chose to blind bake the crust just in case so I wouldn’t end up with a soggy bottom.  The frangipane is what really makes this Bakewell tart.  It’s aroma of almond makes it an experience before it even hits your tastebuds.  There was a lot of talk about how the frangipane didn’t mix well, but I found that when the ingredients were room temp it was just fine.  Our lovely hostesses then gave us the freedom to use any homemade jam or curd to finish the tart/pudding.  I thought why not make this tart with pudding and then I shall have solved the dilemma of the tart/pudding debate.  It will be both.  I intended to make a blackberry pudding, but apparently I live in an area that is not palate adventurous and I could not find a blackberry.  I decided to then go with the blueberry and just as a word of caution……. berries stain.  

The feedback on this challenge was nothing but accolades…and according to boy….it was “a taste of heaven”.   Heperfect ended up eating 3/4 of it.  (teenage boys are amazingly able to eat a lot of food)  You really wouldn’t think that you could do much with this challenge but I definitely have to give a shout out to all my DB friends.  Their ability to make such creative pieces blow me away..you should definitely check them out and see how it really should be done.  One day I’ll get there….  :) 

Berry Pudding

2 qts fresh berries

1 c water

1 3/4 c sugar

1/2 c flour

1/4 butter

2  tsp vanilla

Bring berries and 1 c of water to boil.  Reduce heat, and simmer for 5 minutes till berries are soft.  Mash berries with a fork and pour through wire mesh strainer, using back of the spoon to squeeze out all the juice you can.  Boil at reduced heat to reduce juice volume to 2 cups.  Combine sugar and flour in a saucepan; gradually add the berry juice, whisking constantly until smooth.  Bring to boil over medium heat whisking constantly.  Reduce heat and simmer for 3 minutes  or until thickened. Remove from heat, stir in butter and vanilla




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