Wednesday, September 29, 2010

CEiMB - Almond French Toast Bake

Craving Ellie in My Belly is packed full of all things fresh and wonderful. This week Heide of Chez Zero hosted and my husband and I enjoyed every bite of the Blueberry Almond French Toast bake.

I actually baked the breakfast treat for dinner with Breakfast sausage links.

I used 1 1/2 multi-grain whole wheat baguettes. 1 was not enough to cover the bottom of my 9 x 13 dish.

I made several other changes according to several people commenting on the recipe at the Food Network Site (you can find the recipe by clicking on Food Network.)
To keep this from being too moist, I used 6 large eggs and 6 egg whites, cut the milk down to 1 1/2 cups and added 1/2 cup of maple syrup. I also omitted ALL the dark brown sugar; by accident. I was hurrying and totally spaced!

Thank you Heide for another great Ellie recipe choice! I just know Heide will have the recipe posted on her site as well. Go check it out! =)

Monday, September 27, 2010

TWD - Tarte Fine; Finale for HCB and Paul Newman's Tortellini with Chicken

Leslie of Lethally Delicious decided on the Tarte Fine on page 315 of Dorie Greenspan's Baking, From My Home to Yours for this week. Leslie chose this week's dessert out of the kindness of her heart for what her friends here on Tuesdays with Dorie could easily purchase on a budget, no matter where he or she lives. I always enjoy reading her blog because of the sweet lady she is. Today, you even get to meet her co-author Pearl, so click on over to see Dorie's recipe posted on Leslie's site along with Leslie's own Tarte Fine.

I horde Whole Food's Dufour puff pastry and have been known to pet the frozen pastry without taking it out of the freezer for several months. We never use this pastry on just any recipe . . . especially at $9 + a package. I really enjoy the buttery perfection Dufour creates in this little one sheet of pastry package.
Dorie's section to the right on "Playing Around" was put into effect when creating my apple Tarte Fine. We enjoyed the extra butter and sugar sprinkled throughout, especially since my Golden Delicious apples still had a slightly tart taste to them.

In my Heavenly Cake Baker's group, I learned to use a melon baller to scoop out the seeds in an apple. The ease, precision, and no waste has me hooked on the scoop method and I have never looked back.
I used my mandolin for slicing the apples into thin pieces; of course, I forgot to take a picture to show off the ease and efficiency when using a mandolin. Another piece of kitchen equipment I could not see myself living without.

Would you believe I added aluminum foil for the edges?

Thank you Leslie for picking out a beautiful Fall treat, centered on ease and baked with love.

For my Heavenly Cake Baker's group finale, the cake slicing and tasting. First word to come to mind is "rich", followed by "deep chocolate", then "crumbly". My step-son enjoyed his 18th year birthday cake as breakfast but what an adrenaline rush after one slice plus a cup of coffee. My slice was half of the one you see in the picture above and I could just "feel" my heart speeding along.

I did have a few air pockets in the cake. The chocolate ganache is rich and delicious too. Only half of the cake was eaten; the rest is in the freezer, waiting to be broken down into chunks and added into a freshly made container of vanilla ice cream.

For dinner we made Paul Newman's tortellini with chicken. I received Paul Newman's cookbook as a freebie when I ordered Dom Deluise's original Italian cookbook. I assumed the cookbooks would be full of cliche' recipes. I was wrong, in fact, I have been enjoying not only the recipes but the stories going along with to introduce each section or individual recipe.

The tortellini with chicken was the first recipe we have tried so far, AND I have many marked to be tried soon.

I thought I would share:
Tortellini with Chicken
(Paul Newman's Own Cookbook)

1 medium onion, chopped
2 T. butter
3 skinned and boned chicken breast halves, cut into 2-inch pieces
salt and pepper
1 T. dried tarragon or thyme or 2 T. fresh tarragon or thyme
Flour for dredging
2 - 3 cups Newman's Own spaghetti sauce or homemade spaghetti sauce
10 ounces cheese or meat tortellini, prepared according to package directions
Chopped parsley for garnish

Saute onion in butter until limp and set aside. Season chicken with salt and pepper to taste and tarragon if desired. Dredge in flour and saute in pan used to saute onion for about 5 - 7 minutes. Add onions, spaghetti sauce, and tortellini. Stir together, heating thoroughly for 5 - 10 minutes. Garnish with parsley.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Sweet Melissa Sundays & Heavenly Cake Bakers

I learned to can from my Grandma, scared out of my shoes. We didn't have much money at the time and my daughter Ashley was maybe 3 years old. I found the hot produce spots to hit from my old neighbor, Walt (who has canned for years), had $100 to our name, a Ford pick-up tank full of gas (Grandpa filled the tank) and off we went to Eastern Washington to get peaches, pears, tomatoes and whatever else I could get a hold of. I was so excited.

I have been known to be exuberant, spontaneous and over-enthused. We came home with 250+ pounds of produce. At one stop, I paid for (2) 35 pound boxes of peaches at $7.50 a box. Picked the largest looking boxes and loaded them into the truck. Went back to look at pears. In the meantime, hubby also loaded (2) 35 pound boxes of peaches into the truck. We did not figure this out until we were back home.

We get home and unload and unload and unload the truck. My kitchen and washroom was covered in boxes, stacked two high, and none of the fruit was ripe enough to can . . . except for the tomatoes (all 75 pounds of them!).

Grandma called (from 1 mile away . . . she knew a LOT of work when she saw it) to tell me that I did not save money if all the fruit spoiled instead of being canned AND that my fruit WAS going to all spoil!

I inherited her stubborn streak . . . and it was GAME ON! I lost a total of 6 peaches. I had to wait for the fruit to get ripe but when the fruit "did" get ripe . . . ALL of the fruit was ripe! I did not sleep for 3 days. It was horrible and THAT is how I learned to can.

I now know how to enjoy making a single small batch and I always laugh when I pull out "ol Faithful" my canning pot.

Sweet Melissa Sundays brought Plum Raspberry Preserves, chosen by Margo of Effort to Deliciousness, and was a breeze to assemble and using Granny Smith apples for natural pectin was a nice change of pace. I stuck to the recipe because raspberries, plums, and apples cooked down has a delicious sweet, tart flavor. I did cut my sugar down by 1/2.

The jam thickened up to a consistency where you do not have syrup and you are not cutting the jam out of the jar . . . spreadable.

I canned miniature jars (hold 4 ounces each) for Christmas presents and the rest is for hubby and I to enjoy.

The color turned out bright red with the right amount of soft chunks of fruit. Just how I like my preserves.

Thank you Margo for the wonderful run down memory lane and a delicious choice to be enjoyed now and later! You can find the jam recipe at Margo's blog or you can buy Melissa's cookbook and have ALL the recipes at your fingertips!

Chocolate Tomato Cake with Mystery Ganache

I dreaded this cake, I know Rose would NEVER put a sub-standard cake in her cookbook but the IDEA of tomato soup in the cake batter AND in the ganache had me worried. Especially since this was going to be my step-son's 18th year birthday cake.

Whipping the chocolate cake batter together was a rather quick session, especially after completing a 7 page dessert last week. I tasted the chocolate batter and could not detect any tomato flavor. Unfortunately, I told Larry (hubby) about the tomato part of this recipe last week and he has had the dreading look on his face since. So when I asked him to try the batter, he ~ of course ~ said he could taste the tomato but just slightly. Yeesh!

The cake baked up fluffy and had just a slight crack in the middle when removed from the oven. The layers were allowed to cool overnight and the ganache was made in the morning.

I had just as much trouble telling myself to put tomato soup in the ganache as I did the cake batter. I would now like to state for the record how the tomato soup was NOT discernible in the cake batter nor the ganache. I was relieved and excited. We have not cut into the cake yet because we took Dustin to an all-you-can-eat Asian buffet (what he asked for) and now he is too full to squeak. I will return in the morning with cut cake pictures!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

TWD ~ Coffee Break Muffins, a TWD Catch-Up: Mango Bread + Pierre Herme'

Tuesdays with Dorie is here and I was so prepared and yet here I am, typing this up late. I have been looking forward to this post all week, especially since I made BOTH Dorie's Coffee Break Muffins, chosen by Rhiani of Chocoholic Anonymous (recipe found on her blog), AND a catch-up recipe on page 46: Fresh Mango Bread. I could not find whose choice this recipe was but kudos for a wonderful pick.

I baked the coffee break muffins last week. I halved the recipe and added semi-sweet and white chocolate chips to the batter.

The recipe made 7 muffins. My first time using the silicon muffin/cupcake cups. Loved them; just have to remember to let the muffins fully cool in the cups for easy removal.

Terrible photo above, a little bummed because the presentation was so much fun. You'll never guess what I tried out with the muffins . . . . I can hardly type:

I tried Pierre Hermes (out of the Chocolate Desserts cookbook written with Dorie):

Hot Chocolate with Coffee and a Dollop of Homemade Heavy Cream
Served the Coffee Break Muffins Toasted with Vanilla Pear Butter
We are talking some serious caffeine between the two.

I love making the coffee hot chocolate. You take whole milk with a dash of water and bring to a boil. Add 5 T. espresso ground coffee and stir around for a few seconds then strain through a double cheese clothe layer inside a strainer to catch all the grounds.

Return the mixture to the stove top and mix in a quarter cup of sugar with 4 ounces of Valrhona bittersweet chocolate. After the ingredients are combined, I was to use a hand-held immersion blender for 1 minute. I added a dollop of whipped cream on top and wa laa! Delicious, rich hot chocolate. The kind where the chocolaty aroma wafts throughout the house along with coffee and brings everyone into the kitchen, excited, smiling and impatiently waiting for a cup. A new favorite in my home.

I really enjoyed the coffee hot chocolate as a treat. I just wish Pierre had come up with a fancier name =). His accent is wonderful to listen to and I can almost hear him explaining the recipe. (To get the exact recipe, buying the Chocolate Desserts cookbook through Amazon is really worth it!)

Now moving on to my catch-up recipe:

Dorie's Fresh Mango Bread.

I was scared to death baking this recipe because Larry looked at it and asked: "Can't you just say you baked this?". A traumatic moment when the only people to be eating the mango bread would be myself and Larry (to go in his lunches for work).

I omitted the raisins and used lemon zest instead of lime zest because lemon was all I had on hand.

Baking with such a juicy fruit had me worried the loaf would not bake all the way through without burning. I covered the top of the loaf half way through the baking with foil and just as Dorie stated in her recipe, the loaf was done in 1 1/2 hours.

Larry (Hubby for those who do not know): Are you sure this is the bread we were looking at in the cookbook? I mean, this is "really" GOOD and moist. It is not soggy, I like it. (sigh of Relief on my part)
Me: LOVED it! I really enjoyed the spices and mango, the moisture and flavor all combined into a quick bread I can see myself baking again.

The local produce men: Oodles of thanking me for bringing them more goodies, looking suspiciously at the mango bread, trying, and looking relieved they could honestly say how much they liked it. I was laughing to myself all the way back to my car.

Dorie, I am really enjoying baking my way through your cookbook. I feel like we are friends because we are sharing food experiences week after week.

Monday, September 20, 2010

HCB ~ Apple Caramel Charlotte

Heavenly Cake Bakers is causing a serious eye twitch. No, that is not it. The recipe for the Apple Caramel Charlotte is causing the eye twitch. No, not true either.

6 pages of directions did almost make me run the other direction out of sheer panic but the measuring of cake pieces and assembly appeals to my love of mathematics.

The eye twitch came from being 2/3'rds the way through the project and having a disagreement with my other half (I may call him the better half when I am over it), anyways the wind fell out of my sails and that is when issues with the recipe started.

(Click) Next photo:

My half sheet pan was 16 x 12 1/4 x 2 - inch (Not the 17 1/4 x 12 1/4 x 1 - inch needed) so I calculated my measurements out to fit an 8 - inch springform pan. Made my templates and used a serrated knife to cut my pieces (except for the circle; I used kitchen cutting shears).

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Jonathan apples were used in the recipe and I added peel to the liquid, as mentioned as an alternative per Rose.

(Later, the seeds were scraped into the apple poaching syrup and the pod was rinsed, dried, and added to a container of powdered sugar.)

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The layers were assembled with strained apricot preserves, frozen, then sliced 3/8 - inch thick.
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Still smooth waters, assembling my spring form pan circumference.

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ALL Hell breaks loose. I'm huffy, frustrated and windless (I am pretty sure that is a word.).

I am cooling my gelatin laden caramel Bavarian cream filling (with my edge gone, I did not see this coming) my caramel went from a LITTLE to warm to BAM!!! solid gel caramel. Instead of warming slightly, I panicked. I know, I know! In the kitchen, you take a breath . . . think about the situation . . . THEN you make a smart decision.

I was NOT suppose to panic and dump in the 2 T. of Calvados, mixing like a mad person and HOPING For a miracle. Oh wait, there is more.

I mix in the Italian meringue AND whipped cream, still hoping for a miracle. What "doesssss" happen?

I have little floating, gelled pieces of apple caramel floating in my "suppose to be" Bavarian perfection.

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I REALLY LOVED my pretty, slightly pink apple petals. LOVE them!

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I cut the charlotte and the cake stays assembled and cuts with ease.

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BUT we have floating caramel gems floating throughout. 3 days of work and I am not happy. I was aiming for Rose's photo in her cookbook. Honestly, I enjoyed the flavor but do not see myself making this again to rectify (1) bad move. =) We are smiling, see? =)

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Before glaze and . . .

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After Glaze.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Sweet Melissa Sundays ~ Lemon Blueberry Buttermilk Pie

Good morning! Actually, as I type in front of my monitor, it is night out and I have two furious cats on my hands. Even with kitty treats and an alloted amount of soft kitty food with REAL turkey, I have been given the tail. You see, both kitties received baths and had her (both are girls) nails clipped. The goodies have been scarfed and I am looked at with both ears straight back. I do not even WANT to know what this means in cat language.
I am currently sipping a well deserved Frozen Fuzzy Navel (recipe below) as I type away while being stared at. I am pretending to not notice. The pie looks right doesn't it? I see more of a tart look going on.

The Sweet Melissa Sunday's lemon blueberry buttermilk pie was chosen by Melissa of Lulu the Baker (you can find the recipe here at her blog). I read the title of the recipe several times and the title never changed. I was dreading making this pie. I am sorry Melissa for saying such a blatant statement but there IS a positive ending.

I need to add how I always have buttermilk on hand EXCEPT for now. I used the last of my buttermilk making something, I am sure of it (and no, I have not been drinking yet). I wanted to say onion rings but onion slices soak in plain milk to rid the onions of that strong bite before dipping in batter to fry. I decided to use powdered buttermilk, shown above, for the first time. I actually lost the container I bought earlier and purchased another along the way. To my shock (I really never intended on using this but thought someday there may be a buttermilk emergency) this product tastes just like real buttermilk.
I used my own flaky pastry pie crust recipe (for some reason when I use Melissa's, I end up with the melting glob in a pie plate). The lemon really stands out and tossing fresh blueberries with apricot preserves gives the berries a shiny coating. I just never thought of adding fresh, uncooked blueberries to the top of a pie before. You REALLY taste the lemon and blueberries without either flavor getting lost. My final thought (I swore I would work on typing LESS in my posts, really) is the pie tastes and looks more like a tart but maybe I am the only one with this issue. I can not wait to see everyone else's pies. Melissa at Lulu the Baker Always has amazing pictures so get your mouse over here and click HERE to check her pie out. Thank you Melissa for hosting!

Fluffy finely dry and still pretending to be indifferent.

The well deserved Frozen Fuzzy Navel:
1 fresh peach with no peel. I would take out the pit too =)
3 ounces Peach Schnapps
3 ounces frozen orange juice concentrate
about 2 cups of ice
Combine ingredients and pour into blender. Process until slushy. Pour into chilled glasses (2). Serve with long handled spoons.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

CEiMB - Whole Wheat Pancakes and a Breakfast Burrito

Whole wheat flour and a light and fluffy texture are a contradiction in terms from what I have experienced in past cooking. A mixture of whole wheat pastry flour with all-purpose flour created a pancake, not heavy with a strong wheat flavor, but airy with a slightly nutty flavor. Coupled with the fresh strawberry sauce and sprinkling of powdered sugar, breakfast went from being dreaded by several this weekend too Wow, these are pretty good! CEiMB is a hit again!

A back-up plan was already in progress the same morning and there may have been a verbal slippage of said back-up plan. Breakfast burritos filled with sliced ham, sharp cheddar cheese, avocado slices, black bean and corn salsa, two dollops of sour cream and a heaping spoonful of scrambled eggs ended up being served with Ellie's breakfast, chosen and hosted by Melissa of It's Melissa's Kitchen.

Ellie's recipe was easy to assemble. As shown above, the dry ingredients are in one bowl and the wet are in another; quickly combining the two without over mixing and start your skillet.

Two small piles of fluffy pancakes were side-by-side on a plate in the oven. The pancake edges no longer laid flat so the pictures show curled up, non-perfect plates of pancakes. Tummies never knew the difference. =)
Thank you Melissa for hosting this week and choosing another great Ellie recipe. The recipe can be found in Ellie's "The Food You Crave" cookbook, on Melissa's blog, and on the Food Network recipe site. Craving Ellie in My Belly will be back next week with Energy Bars. I have read great success stories about this recipe already!