May 28th, 2012

Naan Problems

Update: I forgot there were three weeks in May and the naan recipe isn’t due until June! Ugh! Maybe I’ll get my chance to try it again.

On Sunday, we had a few friends over for a cookout. College day, more specifically. This is the one time each year my friends and I like to pretend we are still in college and drink, eat and play games all day in the backyard. We always make and consume crazy amounts of food. I made the french strawberry cake that the TWD crew will post in two weeks (so good without a ton of sugar), chicken satay, and naan. Well, I meant to make the naan.

I had the dough all prepped and ready for the grill but some how it got lost in all the food and never made it to actually being cooked. So today, I tried to salvage it and bake it up. Yeah, not so much.  It had dried out and no amount of spritzing with water could salvage it. I didn’t even bother taking a picture. I figured a picture of Toby lounging in the yard would be much better.

So, how did everyone like the naan? Should I make another attempt?

xx

Spike

May 15th, 2012

Sticky Buns

I’d like to rename these butter buns. Or maybe butter buns are just what I have after eating one. Butter in the dough, more butter folded into the layers, even more butter to make the topping. So one would logically conclude that these would be both rich and delicious.

And they were. I made half the batch (freezing the second half of brioche for another day). I skipped pecans and mix both brown and white sugar with the cinnamon for the filling. And, a confession, I reduced the butter that you fold into the dough by about a third. These were enjoyed at a mother’s day brunch. I only wish that the desserts I had baked for  the second mother’s day event had been half as good (sorry mom, I’ll make you some sticky buns soon to make up for it). 

This is a project and a half but if you’re up for it, check out the recipe on our hosts’ sites: Lynn of Eat Drink Man Woman Dogs Cat and Nicole of Cookies on Friday

xx

Spike

May 1st, 2012

Hungarian Shortbread

I’m committing to sticking with the Tuesdays with Dorie schedule for this book. So, despite a crazy day and evening, I fit in this Hungarian shortbread tonight.

It was raining all day, which meant traffic was bad. I got home half an hour later than usual, which gave me about 20 minutes to say hi to my boys, stuff a slice of piece in my face, get the cookie dough together and refrigerate, then change into my spinning clothes.  Then I was off to teach spinning. Home again, I de-spinned myself, ate another slice of pizza, finished up the cookies, photographed, and now here we are. I’m tired. 

I quartered the recipe and baked the shortbread in a cupcake tin. Altogether I had 7 individual cookies, 4 with orange marmalade and 3 with a chocolate chip filling. Surprisingly, I liked the orange better that the chocolate. I think the rhubarb jam that was part of the recipe would be even better, you know given the time to make it. 

Find the recipe with Lynette of 1smallkitchen or Cher of The not so exciting adventures of a dabbler…

xx

Spike

April 17th, 2012

Orange Chocolate Pound Cake

I made this week’s TWD recipe awhile ago, subbing orange for lemon and adding (of course) chunks of bittersweet chocolate.  There are a few pieces still left in the freezer and I might have to pull one out soon to refresh my memory of the recipe.  I remember being a little unimpressed by the recipe.  Maybe I’ve made one too many pound cakes in my life? I think the Cooks Illustrated lemon pound cake is my favorite.  I think maybe I stirred this cake too many times and it came out a little too dense and dry.

Hope the other TWDers had more success (find the recipe with Truc of Treats and Michelle of The Beauty of Life). I did have some success with a hummingbird cake which I’ll post on Thursday.  I’m looking for a good bar cookie recipe for later this week.  Anyone have any favorites to share?

xx

Spike

April 3rd, 2012

Pizza Rustica

"pizza" in the title may be a little misleading for some.  Sure, this is dough and cheese baked together, but it really is more of a quiche than anything.  Don’t take that as complaining.  As much as I love pizza (and could eat it everyday), this was a really great recipe.  It is adaptable to almost any filling.  I had a vegetarian coming over for brunch, so I skipped adding prosciutto to the filling.  In it’s place, I roasted and chopped some fennel and mixed it in.  I’ve been a little obsessed with roasted fennel this winter and I tend to try to add it to everything.  Roasted fennel brownies were not a success. 

This week’s recipe was hosted by Emily of Capital Region Dining and Raelynn of The Place They Call Home, they will have the recipe on their blogs.  Oh! and before I forget, I decreased the sugar in the crust down to a tablespoon.  I try to decrease sugar in most recipes, and after reading the other bakers notes, extra sugar really isn’t necessary here.

xx

Spike

March 20th, 2012

Irish Soda Bread (fail)

I’m pretty Irish.  My grandparents moved to Boston from Ireland, met and married here. I have red hair hair, freckles, and Maguire as a last name. My soda bread (albeit an Americanized version more like dessert- plenty of butter, sugar, and caraway) has even taken top prize at the BC soda bread contest.  But then I went and failed this recipe.  

I read the recipe and thought, well that is more of a brown bread recipe.  I love brown bread, lived on the stuff when I did a semester in Galway.  Well, lived on brown bread, chocolate, and pints.  I gained a few pounds (or stone).  

I put this off until after St. Paddy’s, fitting it in tonight in the short time between getting home from work and running off to teach spinning.  I used half whole wheat and half white flour.  Obviously I over kneaded the bread or something and wound up with a dense boring bread.  Nothing at all like the kick ass brown bread my mom made this week.  I’m getting the recipe from her; expect a do-over posted by the end of the week.  

If you’d like to see how the other bakers did, check out TWD. Thanks Carla and Cathy for hosting!

xx

spike

March 6th, 2012

Rugelach

When I lived in Brookline, probably the Jewish capital of Massachusetts, one of the bakeries made their rugelach rolled up in a long roll and cut into rectangles.  I’d always had it rolled like a crescent roll before, but I appreciate how much more efficient this design is.  More filling stays in instead of all over the kitchen and I don’t need any help making a mess in the kitchen.  

I almost didn’t bake these cookies because the dough was so delicious raw.  I just wanted to eat all of it.  No wonder, the dough contains mostly cream cheese and butter.  For filling, I did half with raspberry preserves and bittersweet chocolate and the other half just brown sugar and cinnamon.  Hands down, the best rugelach I’ve made (and I’ve tried quite a few recipes).  Buttery, flaky and rich.  

I baked half of them cut side down, as the recipe instructs, and the other half with the dough covered end down which I preferred.  Our hosts, Margaret of The Urban Hiker and Jessica of My Baking Heart have the recipe on their blogs, book mark it now!

It seems that my new laptop may have gone missing with fed ex, but I’m hoping to track it down soon so I can be blogging and commenting much more often. Forgive me if I’m late in getting to your blog this week!

xx

spike

February 21st, 2012

Chocolate Truffle Tartlets

Well hurray for more chocolate in the month of Februray.  No snow in the Northeast but plenty of rich chocolate desserts.  I am happy to be co-hosting this week with the lovely Steph of a Whisk and a Spoon, Jessica of Cookbookhabit and Jaime of Good Eats n’ Sweet Treats.  

These tartlets can also be baked as one large tart, which was good because I am not allowing myself to buy any more bakingware.  No more room in the cabinets! I used amaretti instead of biscotti in the tart and I’m glad I did.  The amaretto taste really came through. I left most of the tart at my brother’s house and he proclaimed that the tart made his week, and noting that the amaretto made it.

The day I baked this, I cut into the tart while it was a little too warm (although waiting the recipe’s prescribed 20 minutes) and it looked less than perfect. That night the amaretti has a soft crunch which was a nice contrast to the rich and creamy filling.  I have to say, though, that I really enjoyed the tart the next day after some time in the fridge.  I love how the cold makes chocolate taste somehow richer and softer at the same time.  

Take a look at Julia in action and some of the wonderful recipes to come (I can’t wait to make the recipe Julia cries over, that has to be amazing!).

Chocolate Truffle Tartlets
recipe by David Ogonowski

1 recipe Chocolate Dough (recipe below), well chilled

5 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into 10 pieces
6 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
8 large egg yolks
1 tsp. vanilla extract
¼ cup sugar
2 oz. white chocolate, cut into small dice
2 oz. milk chocolate, cut into small dice
4 biscotti, homemade or store-bought (you can use amaretti di Saronno), chopped

Line a jelly-roll pan with parchment paper and keep at hand. Remove the bottoms from six 4 ½-inch fluted tartlet pans (or use pans with permanent bottoms and just plan to pop the tartlet out once they’re filled, baked, and cooled); spray the pans with vegetable oil or brush with melted butter.

Cut the dough into 6 even pieces. Working with one piece at a time, shape the dough into a rough circle, then tamp it down with a rolling pin. Flour the work surface and the top of the dough and roll it into a circle about 1/8 to ¼- inch thick. As you roll, lift the dough with the help of a dough scraper to keep it from sticking. If the dough breaks (as it sometimes does), press it back together and keep going-it will be fine once it’s baked. Fit the dough into a tartlet ring, pressing it into the fluted edges and cutting the top level with the edges of the pan. Again, patch as you go. Use a pastry brush to dust off any excess flour and place the lined tartlet ring on the prepared baking pan.

Chilling the Crusts: When all of the shells are rolled out, chill them for at least 20 minutes.

Baking the Crusts: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Prick the bottoms of the crusts all over with the tines of a fork and bake for 12 to 15 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time, until the crusts are dry, blistery, and firm. Transfer the baking pan to a rack so that the crusts can cool while you make the filling. Reduce the oven temperature to 300°F.

Making the Filling: Bring an inch of water to the simmer in a saucepan. Put the butter and bittersweet chocolate in a large metal bowl and place the bowl over the saucepan-don’t let the metal bowl touch the water. Allow the chocolate and butter to melt slowly, stirring from time to time, as you work on the rest of the filling. Remove the chocolate from the heat when it is melted and allow it to cool until it is just slightly warmer than room temperature.

Put the yolks and vanilla extract in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or in a large mixing bowl. Using the whisk or a hand-held mixer, start beating the yolks at medium speed and them, when they are broken up, reduce the speed to low and gradually add the sugar. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat the yolks and sugar until the yolks thicken and form a slowly dissolving ribbon when the beater is lifted.

Spoon about one third of the yolks onto the cooled chocolate mixture and fold them in with a rubber spatula. Don’t worry about being too thorough. Pour the chocolate into the beaten yolks and gently fold the two mixtures together until they are almost completely blended. Add the cubed chocolates and biscotti, folding to incorporate the chunky pieces.

Baking the Tartlets: Using an ice cream scoop or ¼ cup measure, divide the filling evenly among the cooled shells. Smooth the filling with a small offset spatula, working it into the nooks and crannies as you circle the tops of the tarts. Bake the tarts for 10 to 12 minutes, until the tops look dry and the filling is just set. Remove to a rack to cool for about 20 minutes before serving.

Storing: Best the day they’re made, these are still terrific after they’ve been refrigerated—they lose their textual finesse, but the taste is still very much there. For longer keeping, wrap the tartlets airtight and freeze them for up to a month. Thaw, still wrapped, at room temperature.

February 7th, 2012

White Bread

Hooray for Tuesdays with Dorie 2.0! For those you not up on all of the internet baking nerdom, Tuesdays with Dorie was a group that baked its way through Baking from My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan.  Once we finished that group (several years in the baking), we moved on to a new book, Baking with Julia.  The book features recipes from many chefs who baked with Julia Child on her tv show.  

We start our group off with the simple white bread recipe.  This recipe is really pretty flawless.  I worked in a bread bakery way back in high school so I’ve got mad bread baking skills (or so I tell myself).  Even for the first time bread baker, this recipe is straightforward and produces some of the best home kitchen bread I’ve made.  The rise is nice and high, great crumb and very versatile.  The recipe makes two loaves and I’ve already made it twice. In those four loaves, I’ve made two plain white, one cinnamon and brown sugar swirl (best french toast), and one stinky cheese bread (my fav).  So, no it isn’t moldy bread you see.  Just a swirl of Gorgonzola mixed with Parmesan.  So good as toast or with even more cheese for an over the top grilled cheese.

If you’d like to try the recipe, our leaders Laurie and Jules have it posted for you. If you’d like to join the group, check out the details.

xx

Spike

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December 27th, 2011

Kid’s Thumbprints

First, the cookies: Peanut buttery dough filled with jam or chocolate (chocolate was an easy choice for me).  The dough is rolled in chopped peanuts for some crunchy goodness.  I made them extra big so I could use my bigger than kid sized thumbs to make the imprint.  So good, even after a week filled with treats.  As fitting with my typical M.O., I ate one for breakfast. Dorie has the recipe posted on her blog.

And with that, our little baking group has finished every recipe in Baking from My Home to Yours.  I missed a week here and there, but I’d say I have most of the book completed.  And many of recipes are now go to recipes.  I’ve made the tall and creamy cheesecake 4 times in the last year alone (including for Christmas eve), the carrot cake is requested for many birthdays, the rhubarb crisp is my summery favorite…  There are too many to mention.  In addition to honing some baking skills and getting pretty comfortable putting my own twist on a recipe, this group has provided great friendship more than anything. I even found that one of the bakers lived less than a mile down the street from me (Hi Jennifer!) The internet and good people can make some pretty good stuff happen. 

The other week, bakers were emailing me their photos so we could get a gift for Dorie, Laurie, and Jules together and it was so great to see the pictures as they came in.  I loved seeing everyone with their much loved books. Thank you to the bakers for sharing your successes and screw ups every week, and for providing sweet encouraging comments.  Thanks to Laurie and Jules for keeping us going- no easy task.  And thanks for Dorie for writing a recipe full of the best recipes- definitely worthy of four years of baking! Love you all so much!

xx

Spike/Elizabeth