Thursday, February 28, 2008

French Bread..Julia's Way!!

The Challenge this month ..Was Julia Child's French bread. I must say, When I saw bread I was a bit hesitant..after the Potato Bread, I wasn't sure I ever wanted to bake bread again. But I am a huge fan of Julia Child, I have 3-4 of her books, and remember watching her on tv often. I remember being very jealous of my Aunt when she got to meet her and have lunch in her home. And to top it off, owns her whisk..grr It should so be mine ha-ha. She was a wonderfully talented woman. So How could I not at least give it a try?? I owe it to Julia!! And then...that flu..that evil infectious thing that is getting us all, made a home in me. For a week and a bed and miserable. I had 1 day and 1 day only to attempt to do it. Luckily it was a day I actually felt ok. So I cleaned the kitchen and busted out the Kitchen Aid. OMG!! It was so very easy. IT came together wonderfully, this smooth elastic wonderful dough. I was proud just watching it knead. This is how bread dough should look, no longer worried at all. This time I was smart and took pics through all the process ..since I had all day to do it ha-ha. So its Dough at its finest, kneading in the bowl, the various stages of rising and its shaping. I Loved this bread and challenge!!
So, I must say, the pages were scary, but I refused to look at it as an actual 9 hr process, when at least 7 .5 of them the dough spent rising unattended in a bowl ha-ha. Though, I will say my house was a bit cold that day, and I couldn't begin baking the bread until about 8 - 8:30pm. I really don't like doing things that late, but..its bread and I wanted it!! So, I shaped the round loaf and the Batard. The round loaf I did first, I will say, it was not fun to transfer it to its baking pan, deflated a bit, and was annoying. So for the Batard, I did the final rise on the baking sheet it was going to bake on. Came out much easier!! I also read the whole steaming thing wrong for the first one, and didn't quite get my color right, but I was still happy over all. Man did the house smell awesome!! There really is nothing like the smell of Fresh baked bread!
So, there I was staring at these 2 wonderful loafs of bread, determined that in the week to come I would use it all in various things, and I succeeded finishing it all off Thursday, the day before the post!! And what do you ask did I make with my Plethora of bread? You get to see!!! I had to have a wonderful hunk, 3 hrs later smothered in butter...mmm. Then the next day I sliced a couple thin pieces and toasted it with some eggs and potatoes for breakfast (made the BEST toast). I had to work late, so Dinner was home made chicken salad between 2 wonderful slices of french bread! The next day, I took the batard, cut it in 2 perfect 6 in sub buns!! Can someone say Steak subs?? thats right, I first, made them into garlic bread (butter, fresh garlic and some spicy garlic bread seasoning) it was very hard NOT to eat the garlic bread it looked and smelled amazing!! I then took some thin sliced london broil steak and piled it high, some sauted mushrooms toped it and then slices of provolone cheese, open faced they went under the broiler until melted and golden yumminess! They were aweosme. For desert ..yes I have a desert !! I remember seeing Strawberry Bruschetta on Everyday Italian, so in attempt to recreated it, I took 2 this slices and toasted them, a thin layer of butter sliced strawberries and a coating of sugar, and right under the broiler until was wonderful, I am so going to try it with other fruits. Perfect end to the night!! and the last 2 pieces were Lunch on Thursday. Two pieces taken 1 side buttered, the other side smeared with peanut butter, then topped with sliced banana's and a light drizzle of honey. The other piece buttered on one side, and the other side with strawberry jam, place on top of the other piece. Grill until golden brown and gooey...delicious!!

Another great Challenge done!! Thanks for a great experience this month, through the sick I am glad I went on and made the Bread, it was truly a treat and an Ode to the Wonderful Julia Child!!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Blogging By Mail!!!

So, this is my first Blogging By Mail experience, and I have to say its AWESOME!! Though I have not shipped mine yet (soon this week =) ) I received my box today. Woot!! soo excited I was!! Worst part, it showed up on my way to work, so I had to wait til I got home to rip it open. It was like Christmas, I love a package in the mail, shoot I get excited over a letter or card in the mail that isn't a bill or Trash, so a package is fantastic!!
The first thing I see when I open it, is a cute Striped card. I grab it to read and see whats instore. Info on this stranger shipping from afar. Not only did she write a wonderful little list but a note as well. Welcoming me to Not only the Daring Bakers but the Food Blogging world as well. A tid bit about herself as well as a hope of Enjoyment. My Box came from Katie at LittleSpatula.
It was a wonderful box, I don't even know where to begin to describe it, so how about another pic to get us going lol. The first shot of the box opened!! How exciting, it took so much for me to not just rip open everything. But after reading the note, I know there is breakables, so Patience Tina..Patience...
The first thing I see is all these lovely little pennies..ohh Chocolate, the joy!! yea, I toss one to the hubby and grab the next thing I see lol. A cute bag of little bamboo Tooth Pics, How could I not enjoy them?? Her little one likes to use them to eat dinner, I think I will take his idea and go with that this week =). We are so going to put those to use!!! And to go with the little toothpics, are little drink Napkins. Adorable Green and Cream cloth napkins. I love Green and they are fantastic. Next was a great little tin of Earl Gray Tea, Apparently they drink alot of tea, and woohoo so do we, and Earl Gray is one of my faves! I love tea, definitely my favorite drink, hot or Iced. Next on the list..a beautiful mini glass carafe, perfect of juice, wine or hmm iced tea?? I think so!! As I moved things around, I felt this little heavy bit of paper, I picked it up and there were 2 adorable little spoons, with little swirls on top. Ohh I thought wonderful tea spoons, I have perfect cups for them, then I remembered the next item in my note, 2 mini martini glasses!! Omg how lucky am I?? I am not sure, but a box of treats like this says I am very lucky. I am so going to have another post soon, with some kinda of Mouse or mini trifles for those fantastic little glasses, and some kind of appitizer party for my pics, and man, I am so excited!!! So, that is my wonderful package. I love it!! I want to thank Katie for such an awesome box, I love everything in it, and can't wait to put it all to use. And thanks to Stephanie at TheHappySorceress for a wonderful idea. This has been my favorite Blog experience yet, and I would never have known about this event or had the chance to enjoy it so I thank Angel at Angel's Bento Blog . I hope everyone enjoys theirs as much as I enjoyed getting mine!!! Thanks again!!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Did someone say Chicken Soup??

So, I am sick, very sick, and its going on about 1 1/2 weeks now. That evil flu or whatever is going around found a home in me. Miserable and not leaving bed is how the last few days have been. Craving Chicken noodle soup I ventured to the store. In sweats and sniffling my way through, I thought how hard can it be?? Some veggies, chicken broth, noodles done. I wander produce and pick up some veggies. Head and get my broth and noodles. Yea for convenience foods, no way am I up to making my own stock today ha-ha. Walking past the Deli, I see those no..I smell those Rotisserie chickens. How perfect. Chicken soup in like 30 min!! I grab a Garlic one, mmm Garlic.
I feed the hubby some of the chicken and a quick salad for dinner (sad he doesn't like soup). And get the veggies going. Saute til onions soft, add my broth. While that comes to simmer, shred the Chicken. Bring to boil taste to season add noodles..Tada..mmm Chicken Soup for me =).

My Semi Home Made Chicken soup:

1 lb Diced Veggies ( I used a mix of onions, celery, carrots, leeks, yellow squash and zucchini) diced
about 1 lb shredded or diced chicken (OK I approximated ha ha I looked added said yea that looks right)
Chicken stock or Broth, enough for your pot, (OK so I am not that great at paying attention to what I put in, but I am sick remember :P)
8-10 oz dried pasta, I used egg noodles, I love egg noodles lol
seasoning as preferred.

In large soup pot, saute veggies in a tid bit of butter till onions are soft and starting to become clear, salt and pepper. Add your stock and bring to a simmer. Add chicken, taste to adjust seasoning. Bring to a boil. Add Noodles. Boil until noodles are to taste. Taste for seasoning and enjoy.
I know its not much of a recipe, but its soup =) we get to make it our own, so there is tons to work with!!

OK, now that I have pics up of my soup, its time to go eat it ha ha. How can that bowl not make me feel a smidge bit better???

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

CupCake Hero!

Woohoo, another Cupcake. This event is probably my favorite so far, I love making cupcakes and trying to be creative, and as creative as I think I am, man so people out there just blow me out of the water. And Quirky Cupcake comes up with some great ingredients to utilize!! I was so bummed I didn't get to do last months, but I went looking and found this months, and jumped on it so I knew it would get done!. What is the ingredient you wonder, Liquor. He-he woot for a chance to get sloshed!! Either me or the Cupcake. So I chose to do the first thing that came to mind, Tiramisu. See I have a cake I do that is amazing, and super liquored up, But I have never done any type of cupcake. So I went on a hunt. I decided I could do this, I can make this happen. And I did, and it was yummy! The hubby took them to work, were they were ravished and loved. So I knew I had some sort of a success. I got pics of them whole, and when I went to take one for myself they were gone =(. So I didn't get to even try it myself, but I figured if they loved them that much, then it was good enough for my entry.
So with no further ado, I give you
The Tiramisu Cupcake:
For the cake:
3 cups sifted all purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temp, cut up
2 cups granulated sugar
4 lg eggs, at room temp
1 tsp vanilla liquor
1 cup milk

The Syrup:
1 cup (8 oz) hot espresso or very strong brewed coffee
2 tbsp sugar
4-5 tbsp Brandy

The Filling/topping (this is piped in and pulled out to the top of the cupcake) :
1 container (16-17 1/2 oz) mascarpone cheese
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tsp vanilla Liquor
*Cocoa powder for dusting, Grated Chocolate for garnish.

The cups:
Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat it to 350. line 2 cupcake pans with desired cupcake papers.
In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.
In a large bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until well blended. Add the eggs and vanilla liquor and beat well. Scrape down the bowl and beater.
With the mixer on lowest speed, alternately add the flour mixture and milk. Scrape down the bowl and beater again and beat until thoroughly incorporated.
Fill the cups a little more than 3/4 full. Bake cupcakes at 350 for about 20 min or until risen and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.

When the cupcakes are on the last few minutes prepare the syrup to have it ready.
For Syrup:
In a small bowl, stir together espresso, 2 tbsp sugar and Brandy. I do the 5tbsp cause I like the taste of the Brandy, you can go less if you like. (the syrup also makes them very soft once soaked, so use care when handling them.)

When cupcakes come out, use a fork to pierce the top a couple times. (this will help the syrup soak into the cupcake and not just on top.) Use a Tbsp and slowly drizzle 1.5 -2 Tbsp of the syrup on to each cupcake. You want to do it slowly so that the cupcake gets the syrup and it does not run over over the top and spill off. Take your time. Once all the syrup has been used on all the cupcakes, set aside to let them finish cooling.
While cooling, make the filling.

For the Filling:
In a large bowl, with mixer at high speed, beat mascarpone, milk and 1/2 cup sugar 3 minutes or until very light and fluffy. In a small bowl, with the same beaters, beat the cream and vanilla liquor to soft to medium peaks. With a rubber spatula, gently fold whipped cream into the mascarpone mixture.
When Cupcakes are cool. Dust the top of each with a shake of cocoa powder. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a small star tip with the filling mixture. Push the tip into the center of the cupcake and fill the cupcake pulling up as you fill the cake. When you reach the top of the cake swirl to make a Decorative Design. I left Part of the cake visible so you see the cocoa under it. Once all are filled. Chill in the refrigerator for about an hour.
Just before serving, Grate chocolate over the top of the cupcakes. And enjoy.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

A Hear for Your Valentine!!

And for the Next even, A Heart for My Valentine. The event was brought to us by Kiersten of Mis En Place, and you can check it out here for the round up, a continuous progression as entries are submitted you can go here . It is a great idea, and I must say my mind was reeling with ideas. I was thinking dinner. Heart shaped pizza, Heart shaped calzone, Heart shaped Ravioli, Heart shaped steaks, ohh the possibilities of what I can make my man shaped like a heart. Then the other night we are talking, and he says "you know its been awhile since you have made Biscotti, I could really go for some good almond Biscotti". Oh my gosh, I can make Heart shaped Biscotti, YeS!! So I pull out my little Biscotti book, and find my almond recipe. Then I think, omg how do I make shaped Biscotti?? Traditionally, its shaped into a log, baked, then cooled for a few min, sliced and baked again. Baked Twice, how the Heck am I to make hearts?? SO I posted on the blog for thoughts on it, and was talking it over. Both people came up with the same idea. Shape it into a heart shaped log, then slice little hearts! So I think, ok maybe I test this, I make the dough, mmm dough its so tasty hehe. And I think Ok we are going to make a heart loaf. I get it shaped (and I so have to learn to take pics of the process, but sticky fingers tend to make me forget the camera ha-ha). SO Biscotti log is in the oven, I check it about 15 min into the baking process, and OMG its a log, not shape what so ever, it reformed itself into log shape. sigh.. that didnt work, apparently as it heats and bakes it expands and just feels in the spots. So now, I have wonderful almond Biscotti, yes its not heart shaped, but I made these and am posting them here to haha. So those would be my first batch of wonderful Chocolate covered Almond Biscotii. So Back to the Drawing board.
I went back and thought ok, the kind person to answer me also suggested instead doing Unscotti and cutting the dough before baking. I pulled out my trusty heart shaped cookie cutter. I made my dough. I pressed it out and began cutting wonderful little hearts out of the dough. I get them in the oven and set my timer. I check them 15min in to the process again, for fear of round shapes, and YEA!! they are still wonderful little hearts well not little but still wonderful!
And coated in Chocolate. (and of course Almonds and Chocolate are Aphrodisiacs ;) the hubby was well over powered last night thanks to DB teehee). Wonderful heart shaped Unscotti, crisp as they should be and oh so tasty!!
I will post the original recipe and the difference I did for the shape.

Almond Biscotti:

3/4 cup whole almonds
3 eggs
1 tsp almond extract
1/4 tsp vanilla
2 cups all purpose flour
7/8 cup sugar
1 tsp baking soda
dash of salt

Place nuts in a shallow pan and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 8-10 min. or until golden brown. Let cool. In a small bowl beat eggs, vanilla and almost extract with a wire whisk. In a mixing bowl combine flour, sugar, baking soda and salt. Add egg mixture and mix until blended, about 1 min. Cut nuts into half or 3rds ( I coarsely chop mine). Divide dough in half*. On parchment covered baking sheet, pat out dough into two logs about 1/2 inch thick 1 1/2 inches wide, and 12 inches long, spacing them at least 2 inches apart. Bake in the middle of a preheated 300 degree oven for 50 min or until golden brown. Transfer from baking sheet to a rack. Let cool 5 min. Place on cutting board. With a serrated knife slice diagonally at a 45 degree angle about 1/2 inch thick. Lay the slices flat on the baking sheet and return to a 275 degree oven for 20-25 min or until toasted, turning the over once to dry the other side. Store in a tightly covered container.

*Once dough is mixed, pat dough to about 1/4 inch thickness, cut out desired shapes and place on parchment covered baking sheet. Bake at 300 degrees for about 30 min. Watch time, they baked quicker than the logs. Remove and cool completely.

At this point, once either preferred style is completely cooled you can coat in melted chocolate. I did half semi sweet/ half dark chocolate.

Enjoy your Hearts!!

Kitchen Of Love!!!

What a Month February is. There were so many great events to jump on top of. And I tackled 2 in one night =). Both having to do with Love and my Hubby reaping the benefits of Both!. So Mele Cotte of Kitchen of love put together an event on Aphrodisiacs. How fun could that be, food to set you up for love. So I put my thinking hat on and hit up Google. I decided that if I was gonna do this, the WHOLE meal was gonna be full of Aphrodisiacs. I do have the one item which will be my side dish, that I will name Honey Spiced Carrots.
So the Menu for last night was:

Broiled Flat Iron steak (I found a site that gave info on various aphrodisiacs and I copied the ones I was going to use for my dinner) : Beef: One of our favorites. When Michael has a steak there's no stopping him. It brings out his inner caveman. Meat works wonders on your libido and brain. After a high protein meal, your blood stream is flooded with the amino acid tyrosine. The chemicals made from tyrosine, dopamine and norepinephrine, trigger brain cells that enhance mental alertness and concentration. ( I think Beef was a good choice hehe)
My honey spiced carrots:Carrots: This popular root vegetable, with its phallic shape and sweet flavor, was used to seduce lovers by Middle Eastern royalty. Our question is: "Why does royalty needed to depend on carrots?"
I have the info on all the spices I used, but why make this that long?? lol. In those wonderful carrots were Honey, Brown sugar, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, ginger, cloves (all listed in the search as Aphrodisiac's) and a tid bit of butter. Now seeing that carrots are not a dessert I was confident that their sweet flavor would be excepted. They reminded us of Thanksgiving actually which I adore.
Mushroom Risotto was the 3rd accompaniment to my Dinner of love. I got lazy here and since am a bit strapped for cash, found a great box version that worked and was damn tasty. But I found that both Rice and Mushrooms were also considered an aphrodisiac, so why not include it.So My carrots. I love carrots, really I love almost all veggies, and it was a toss up which to use. When I searched for the items, Artichokes came up, and let me tell you the reason they were considered aphrodisiacs put them at the top of my list. But they aren't always easy to find, and good and I wanted this a great meal. So I chose my Carrots. So here is the recipe I came up with. Now keep in mind, I am not the best at just creating, I am much better with a base recipe and then I tweak or change stuff. So I had to go a little easy lol.

Honey Spice Carrots

1/4 tsp each cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg,
1/8 tsp ginger
1 tbls honey
1/4 cup brown sugar
1lb bag baby carrots
salt and pepper to taste

Cook the carrots until still crisp. (I have a wonderful little pan that I use in the microwave. I hate microwave cooking, but for veggies it steams them wonderfully). In a sauce pan put all ingredients except carrots. Heat until sugar and butter are melted and all items are well blended and starting to bubble. Pore in the carrots, add the liquid left in it if you steamed them. It should just be a little be of water, but its their juice. If you boiled them, just strain and add to the mixture. Stir to coat and bring to a boil. The sauce will get slightly syrupy and will coat your carrots.
They are sweet to taste, and I like my carrots with a crunch. You have the wonderful blend of spices in your mouth and nose. They were wonderful.
A shot of the set up, no flowers, sigh I cant believe I forgot flowers for that lovely vase I found. But that book is called "Inter Course" a book of Aphrodisiac Recipes. So I was really happy to have this event, got to bust it out, but none had a steak and the man was begging for steak the last couple of weeks hehe. And that bear, its soo cute, I got him in the mail yesterday from my Darling Princess!! Bandit of Love he is and had to be in the picture. Enjoy the carrots any who make them, we had a wonderful meal, and a hmm...fantastic dessert!

Saturday, February 2, 2008

DoughNuts or Donuts??

So I saw this and couldn't pass up the attempt. So I went looking for a recipe. I found one on Williams-Sonoma. For Black and White Donuts. It looked nice and easy and well for a first attempt at making donuts I wanted something easy. The dough was very soft, but it ended up working out pretty well. I woke up early, well early for me and thought, oh I should do doughtnuts and then just go back to bed haha. SO there I am in the kitchen. They were to chill for 2 hrs or overnight. SO I get them cut out, 8 actual doughtnuts and about 3 doz holes. So they don't look that great, but they taste pretty good and I am happy for my first attempt at doughnuts.

Williams-Sonoma's Black and White Doughnut holes. (so the black and white was cocoa powder and powdered sugar, both of which I didn't do ha-ha)
also..I cut this in half.

3 1/2 cups all purpose flour, plus more as needed
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
pinch of ground mace
pinch of ground cardamom
pinch of salt
2 eggs
1 cup granulate sugar
1 cup buttermilk
2 tbs unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
1 tsp. lemon extract
oil for frying
decorations of choice. (I made a simple glaze for mine)

In a large bowl, sift the 3 1/2 cups flour. Then sift the flour again with the baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, mace, cardamom and salt.
In a bowl, using an electric mixer set on medium speed, beat the eggs until frothy. Gradually add the sugar, beating until light and lemon colored, about 4 minutes. Add the buttermilk, melted butter and extract. The dough will be very soft; add an additional sprinkle of flour if necessary to form a soft dough.
Dust a marble pastry board or other work surface generously with flour. Scrape the dough onto the surface and dust the top with flour. Roll out the dough to 1/3 inch thickness. dip cutter into flour and cut holes (hehe I did little hearts and holes, and 8 actual donuts!) lift with icing spatula to ungreased baking sheet. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hrs or for up to 1 day.
to fry the doughnuts, in a deep fat fryer or deep saucepan, pour in oil to a depth of 3 inches and heat to 380 on a deep frying thermometer. ( I did have some trouble, i had a pan of oil and it was super hot, I kept heat very low but it kept going well up above the temp.) cook til golden about 2 min. Transfer to paper towels to drain. Glaze or dust in various powders and sprinkles lol.

So they don't look like Duncan Donuts or Crispy Creme's but hey they are mine =).