Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
The August 2009 Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Angela of A Spoonful of Sugar and Lorraine of Not Quite Nigella. They chose the spectacular Dobos Torte based on a recipe from Rick Rodgers' cookbook Kaffeehaus: Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Caffés of Vienna, Budapest, and Prague.
Apologies for a late post. I actually made the challenge a couple of weeks ago, but I just haven't had time to upload the pictures and blog about it. The Dobos Torte is several thin sponge cake layers, all held together and smothered with a wonderful, rich, chocolate butter cream frosting, and a caramel topping.
The recipe was pretty straight forward, though the sponge cake technique was new to me. Rather than bake the cake in a pan, a template was drawn on parchment paper, and the batter was spread in the template. It was kind of fun to see this circle of batter turn into a cake layer.
For the most part, this recipe gave me little trouble. The only snag I had was the caramel. I didn't let it boil down enough (I ran into the Munchkin's bed time, and ran out of time for it), so my top layer was more of a simple syrup layer than a caramel layer. But other than that, everything went really smoothly. And...I have some left over butter cream in the freezer, perhaps for a future batch of cupcakes?
You can find the recipe on Lorraine's blog.
Monday, July 27, 2009
The July Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Nicole at Sweet Tooth. She chose Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies and Milan Cookies from pastry chef Gale Gand of the Food Network.
I was very excited to log in to the Daring Bakers forums this month to discover that the July challenge was cookies. I LOVE cookies. Although my intention was to make both cookie recipes, I was a little busy this month, and only got around to making one of them: the Milan cookies.
These cookies were fun to make, and they flew off the plate at the July 4th potluck I brought them to. The cookie part was nice and delicate, and the chocolate wonderfully rich! I loved the sophistication that the hint of orange in the chocolate lent to the cookies.
These cookies get their shape by piping the batter/dough onto cookie sheets and baking. Apparently my piping skills need work, because I had a hard time getting them all to be uniform in size and shape. So...when it came time to "sandwich" the cookies, it was kind of like a puzzle to find two cookies that would fit well together. But all in all, this was a fun challenge, and a great new cookie technique. I still do intend to make the marshmallow cookies too, but between these cookies, a test birthday cake, and a real birthday cake, I just ran out of time.
Thanks for a great challenge!
Sunday, July 26, 2009
Saturday, June 27, 2009
Sunday, May 31, 2009
The May Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Linda of make life sweeter! and Courtney of Coco Cooks. They chose Apple Strudel from the recipe book Kaffeehaus: Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Cafés of Vienna, Budapest and Prague by Rick Rodgers.
Monday, April 27, 2009
The April 2009 challenge is hosted by Jenny from Jenny Bakes. She has chosen Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake as the challenge.
It seems that life is getting increasingly complicated. The Munchkin is crawling and is getting into everything! I can't turn my back for a second, or he ends up playing with the DVD player or opening a window! He's eating solids and finger foods, so feeding time takes forever and makes a HUGE mess (especially when he eats blueberries). I've joined the YMCA and have been trying to get a workout in three times a week, on top of our play dates, errands, chores, etc. My stack of sewing and mending projects is growing faster than I can keep up. Throw in some traveling, weekly agility with Thea, Psycling's busy schedule -- it leaves my head spinning!
I was really excited when I saw that Jenny chose cheesecake for this month's challenge, and even more excited that we could get as creative as we wanted with it. I immediately started thinking about different options -- mocha cheesecake with chocolate graham cracker crust, mango cheesecake with gingersnap crust, lemon cheesecake, vanilla bean cheesecake...it seemed the options were endless! As I continued to ponder my cheesecake, I remembered the beautiful local organic strawberries that had just arrived in our CSA box. And I decided that the beauty of my cheesecake would be it's simplicity. A basic cheesecake topped with delicious fresh strawberries. Why make it any more complicated?
I (mostly) followed the recipe as written with only a couple of exceptions. When making my crust, I added about a cup of sliced almonds to the graham crackers, to give it a little extra flavor and texture. To complement the almonds in the crust, I used Amaretto as the liqueur in my cheesecake batter. After topping the cheesecake with strawberries, I brushed them with a glaze made by heating strawberry jam with a little bit of amaretto. The glaze was more for aesthetic purposes...it just added a little extra red and shine to the strawberries.
I took this cheesecake to an Easter potluck, and it disappeared so quickly, I barely managed to get a piece. In fact, some of my friends were late to the dessert table and missed out actually licked clean the server and the bottom of the springform pan. It was delicious. However, Psycling and I both agreed that it didn't quite compare to my "gold standard" cheesecake recipe (the one in this book). I've yet to find a cheesecake that is better, though I think this challenge is the closest yet. It's definitely worth a try!
Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake:
2 cups / 180 g graham cracker crumbs
1 stick / 4 oz butter, melted
2 tbsp. / 24 g sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3 sticks of cream cheese, 8 oz each (total of 24 oz) room temperature
1 cup / 210 g sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup / 8 oz heavy cream
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tbsp. vanilla extract (or the innards of a vanilla bean)
1 tbsp liqueur, optional, but choose what will work well with your cheesecake
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (Gas Mark 4 = 180C = Moderate heat). Begin to boil a large pot of water for the water bath.
2. Mix together the crust ingredients and press into your preferred pan. You can press the crust just into the bottom, or up the sides of the pan too - baker's choice. Set crust aside.
3. Combine cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of a stand-mixer (or in a large bowl if using a hand-mixer) and cream together until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, fully incorporating each before adding the next. Make sure to scrape down the bowl in between each egg. Add heavy cream, vanilla, lemon juice, and alcohol and blend until smooth and creamy.
4. Pour batter into prepared crust and tap the pan on the counter a few times to bring all air bubbles to the surface. Place pan into a larger pan and pour boiling water into the larger pan until halfway up the side of the cheesecake pan. If cheesecake pan is not airtight, cover bottom securely with foil before adding water.
5. Bake 45 to 55 minutes, until it is almost done - this can be hard to judge, but you're looking for the cake to hold together, but still have a lot of jiggle to it in the center. You don't want it to be completely firm at this stage. Close the oven door, turn the heat off, and let rest in the cooling oven for one hour. This lets the cake finish cooking and cool down gently enough so that it won't crack on the top. After one hour, remove cheesecake from oven and lift carefully out of water bath. Let it finish cooling on the counter, and then cover and put in the fridge to chill. Once fully chilled, it is ready to serve.
Pan note: The creator of this recipe used to use a springform pan, but no matter how well she wrapped the thing in tin foil, water would always seep in and make the crust soggy. Now she uses one of those 1-use foil "casserole" shaped pans from the grocery store. They're 8 or 9 inches wide and really deep, and best of all, water-tight. When it comes time to serve, just cut the foil away.
Friday, February 27, 2009
This month, our hosts pulled out all the stops for a wonderfully decadent dessert--a flourless chocolate cake.
The February 2009 challenge is hosted by Wendy of WMPE's blog and Dharm of Dad ~ Baker & Chef. We have chosen a Chocolate Valentino cake by Chef Wan; a Vanilla Ice Cream recipe from Dharm and a Vanilla Ice Cream recipe from Wendy as the challenge.
This recipe came together very quickly, and was easy for me to put together while the Munchkin was napping. There are only three ingredients -- chocolate, eggs, and butter -- so getting top quality ingredients was key. Especially the chocolate. I've always read that Valrhona chocolate is the preferred chocolate for many pastry chefs. But...it's kind of pricey. However, given the prominence of the chocolate in this recipe, I decided that if there was ever a recipe that warranted the splurge, this was it. I'm glad I went for it. The chocolate was wonderfully smooth and decadent and everything chocolate should be.
Ideally, the Chocolate Valentino should be baked in a heart shaped pan, but when I poured the batter in, I realized the pan was way too big. Rather than risking a too-thin, unevenly cooked cake, I ended up using an 8" cake pan instead. It was just the right size. But, even though the heart-shaped pan didn't work out for me, I kept the valentine's theme going in my decorative elements.
In addition to the cake, Wendy and Dharm presented us with an optional (but very much encouraged) challenge -- ice cream. But even if we didn't make the ice cream, we were required to make some sort of topping (the original recipe called for the cake to be served with whipped cream). I opted not to make ice cream. An ice cream maker is on the top of my list of must-get kitchen gadgets, I don't have one yet. And while it is possible to make ice cream without a machine, I didn't really have the time to be tied to the house to regularly stir the ice cream. So I went ahead and made the whipped cream suggested with the recipe. But to mae it a little more fun, I froze some of the whipped cream in my "hugs and kisses" silicon cake mold. In addition to the frozen whipped cream, I made some raspberry sauce, some of which I also made into Xs and Os, which I served with the cake.
This cake was wonderful! The whipped cream and raspberry were perfect with it, and our dinner guests raved about it. And the frozen whipped cream was a perfect addition to my coffee.
Head on over to Wendy's or Dharm's blog for the recipe and give this a try. You won't be sorry!!
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
I hadn't yet figured out what to make for dinner, when I came across this post. I've only recently discovered the Pioneer Woman (yeah, I realize I'm a little late on this one), and have been drooling over some of the recipes she posts. Since I had everything on hand to make this, I decided to give it a try.
This was really good. Psycling (who doesn't even like mayonaise) thought it was really good. It was also quite quick and easy to put together. I prepped it earlier in the day while the Munchkin was napping, and was able to just stick it in the oven at dinner time. With a green salad and roasted CSA sweet potatoes, this was a great weeknight meal.
Posted by ChefSara at Wednesday, February 18, 2009
One of the nice things about living in the south is the long growing season. Our CSA is able to deliver produce year-round. These days, we're getting lots of leafy greens and root vegetables. Recently, we got a nice big bunch of collards. Despite growing up in the South, I've never particularly liked collards. I think that's because all the collards I grew up with were boiled to the point of becoming mush. I figured there had to be another way to eat collards. I started playing around, and this is what I came up with.
Psycling and I both really liked this. It made for a nice one-dish meal, and was fairly quick and easy to pull together.
While it's actually more of a braise, I like the alliteration of "Southern Saute." This was really good. Turns out I like collards after all :-)
(makes about 3 servings)
5-6 strips of bacon
1 Onion, vertically sliced
1 Bunch collards, coarsely chopped
~3/4 c. chicken broth
1 c. soaked black eyed peas
2 c. hot cooked rice (I used brown rice)
Hotlanta Hot Sauce (or Tobasco)
1. Cook bacon inlarge skillet. Set aside to drain on paper towels. Crumble into bacon bits.
2. Pour off all but about 2-3 tsp. of bacon grease. Add onion, and saute until getting tender. Add collards, and sautee for a copule of minutes, until leaves are coated in bacon grease and just starting to wilt. Add chicken broth; cover and cook until broth is absorbed, about 4-5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
3. Add black eyed peas, and cook, stirring, until beans are warmed through.
To serve, put about 2/3 c. of rice in a bowl. Top with about 1/3 of collard mixture. Sprinkle with bacon bits and drizzle with hot sauce to taste.
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
To those of you who found your way here from Barbara's blog, Hi! As you can see, posting here is sparse these days, as I haven't quite figured out how to fit blogging back into my life since the arrival of the Munchkin. But, I'm hoping to get back to it soon.
Barbara launched the Taste of Yellow blog event as part of LIVESTRONG day in 2007. She is a cancer survivor, who was greatly inspired by the story of Lance Armstrong, and created this blog event to raise awareness for cancer, as well as promote the great work done by the Lance Armstrong Foundation.
I came up with the idea for this book a few months ago, after losing my mother-in-law to cancer. After surviving both melanoma and breast cancer, the melanoma returned, spreading to her lungs and brain. Despite their best efforts, it was too much, and she passed away in November. My mother-in-law was an amazing woman, and I feel very fortunate to have had her in my life, even if it was for just 7 short years.
To honor her memory, my husband and his brother decided to participate in the LIVESTRONG Challenge, and will be doing a 90 mile bike ride in Austin, TX this October. I will be doing the 5K run/walk with the Munckin. In brainstorming fundraising ideas for their team, I remembered reading the Taste of Yellow round up on Barbara's blog, and an idea was born. I thought that if we could publish a cookbook of the Taste of Yellow recipes, all proceeds from the sale of the book could go directly to the Lance Armstrong Foundation. While I'm not sure that this project will be completed in time to benefit Psycling's LIVESTRONG challenge ride, it is my hope that it will continue to bring in money for the work of the Lance Armstrong Foundation well into the future.
I honestly have no idea what the timeline for this project looks like. As of now, I am compiling the recipes, blogs, and contact information of all the Taste of Yellow submissions. Once I pull everything together, I'm not sure how long it will take to get the book put together and published. But Barbara and I will keep you posted on its progress. We really appreciate everyone who has already emailed or left comments giving us permission to use your recipes and photos. I'm realy looking forward to seeing this project come to fruition, and I hope that it will bring attention to and raise money for the amazing work being done by the Lance Armstrong Foundation. Until then, LIVESTRONG!
Posted by ChefSara at Wednesday, February 11, 2009