Tuesday, December 30, 2008

TWD: Grandma's All-Occasion (Chai) Sugar Cookies

Recipe chosen by: Ulrike of K├╝chenlatein
Link to TWD Group: Tuesdays With Dorie

I Got Nothing
Ulrike picked these cookies for the Dec 9th Tuesdays With Dorie recipe. I chose to do the spiced slice and bake version of the cookie since the spices sounded good and I have a hard time rolling cookies out.

I found a chai spice combination that sounded good. 1 tsp Cardamon, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, and 1/4 tsp clove.

The spices gave the dough a speckled appearance, and made the whole house smell amazing.

I thought the cookies needed a little something when I took them out of the oven, so I made a lemon juice and powdered sugar glaze. I couldn't decide the next day which cookie I liked better. The lemon glaze was tasty, but the cookies by themselves were amazing with a cup of tea.

I'll be using this (slice and bake) sugar cookie recipe from now on. Thanks Ulrike!

Cookie LogPre Baking


Look at those Spice Flecks

TWD: Buttery Jam Cookies

Ready for Work

Recipe chosen by: Heather of Randomosity and the Girl
Link to TWD Group: Tuesdays With Dorie

I made these back before Heather's week (Dec 16th) but couldn't get the pictures downloaded. I hope it's okay to post them now.

I loved these cookies. I used some strawberry jam I'd bought for another of the Dorie recipes since it was thick and really tasty. I love ginger, so I chunked up some crystallized ginger to add a little punch.

They turned out a lovely light pink color, had a hint of strawberry, and the ginger chunks were a nice surprise.

If I changed anything, I'd try making them into thumbprint cookies with a dollop of the jam. I think that extra bit of jam would give them a little more oomph. Oh, and I had the same experience as everyone else - the cookies didn't spread much. I used my large cookie scoop, and they came out lovely domes. They also were even better the second day (they didn't last a third).

Thank you Heather for picking a recipe that I loved and probably wouldn't have looked at twice!

Prep

Oy, we get it, it's pink

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Barefoot Bloggers: Pappa Al Pomidoro

Soup's On

Recipe chosen by: Me!
Link to Recipe: Pappa Al Pomidoro

My turn to pick a recipe! I wasn't really sure what this one would be like, but it sounded interesting.

To make things even more challenging, I left this until I was back in Ohio over the holidays. My mom's kitchen, all new equipment, completely new recipe, and two grocery store trips (the tiny one that had the pancetta didn't have the fennel bulb - figures :) made this one a three day affair. On the plus side, I finally got to cook for my parents. They've been salivating over the pictures for months without any way of tasting things.

Mom's Pot/Oven


I'd say reviews were mixed. Everyone loved the topping (because how can you go wrong with bread and pancetta?). Mom and hubby loved the soup. Dad was polite and finished his bowl, but that was about it. I'm still on the fence.

The soup went together easily, and the topping was just plain amazing. I liked how the ciabatta melted into the soup after simmering and gave it a lovely texture. The tomatoes were just a bit too acidic for me. It might have been the brand I chose, so I'll definitely give it another shot when I'm back in my kitchen.

Here's the hubby "helping":

Presented Prep


Again, I think Ina gave another winner. This is something I would have never chosen to make on my own, but it was a fantastic experience.

I hope everyone enjoyed it!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Sorry!

I've been having technical issues for quite awhile, so things have been at a stand still.

Long story short, I put the camera cable away someplace "safe". Yeah - I still can't find it. Mom's computer is new enough that it can take my camera memory stick, so I'm at least good to go for the pictures up to the end of December. Wheee!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

TWD: Aborio Rice Pudding

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Recipe chosen by: Isabelle of Les gourmandises d’Isa
Link to TWD Group: Tuesdays With Dorie

Pictures to come! Sorry! (You'd think since I did this recipe ahead of time that I'd have it all ready to go on the day. But, nooooo.)

Short and sweet: I really liked it, but nobody else even tried it.

Rice pudding is just a really hard sell with my usual taste testers. It's a shame really, because this recipe was a great change from the usual.

I split mine in half, or tried to. I ended up with vanilla soup due to not cooking it for long enough combined with a smaller than half portion of rice to too much extract. I made this several weeks in advance, so I didn't get the note from Dorie about the increase in cooking time (55 minutes instead of 30). I cooked mine for approximately 40, but thought it would thicken up after chilling. The taste was good, but the texture was lacking.

Which was fine, because I really loved the chocolate portion and it thickened up just fine. I traded out semisweet for bittersweet. But next time, I may do half and half of the chocolate. I think that would satisfy my chocolate tooth but not be overkill.

Thanks to Isabelle for picking an interesting recipe!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Barefoot Bloggers: Vegetable Pot Pie

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Recipe chosen by: Deb of Kahakai Kitchen
Link to Recipe: Vegetable Pot Pie

Wooo, this is some rich pot pie. Awesome and tasty and filling, but rich.

I wasn't sure about the fennel bulb, and I've never used saffron threads. But I decided to trust Ina, and do the recipe with no (okay, a few small) modifications.

I opted for ready made pie crust on one big pie (my very deep dish cassarole dish, actually). I also skipped the asparagus tips. I went trolling the produce aisle for a replacement, but green beans just didn't look like a good replacement.

I also roasted the veggies instead of boiling. Almost forgot that...

Mosaic


DSC01792The sauce was rich and complex, and I loved the butternut squash and the fennel bulb.

As good as it was though, I'm not sure I'll make this again. It seemed like it took forever. Although since I roasted the veggies, it probably wasn't as long as it seemed. (I just had a problem finding a couple of hours to make dinner. Working late, etc left me making this half-way one night and finishing it the next.)

I might pull this one out for a homey and yet fancy dinner for guests. Add some chicken and the asparagus tips, and bake in the individual bowls - that would be pretty nice. (But I think I'd really, really have to like the guests.)

So, one more recipe where Ina hit it out of the park. A big thanks to Deb for picking a great recipe! Don't forget to check out the rest of the Barefoot Bloggers to see how they liked it.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

TWD: Pumpkin Muffins

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Recipe chosen by: Kelly of Sounding My Barbaric Gulp
Link to TWD Group: Tuesdays With Dorie

I thought they were a little plain, but all the rest of the folks loved them.

For the recipe, visit Kelly - but I made a few mods. I thought mini muffins would be cute and would go over well at the office. The recipe made almost four dozen minis (12 minute baking time).

I ran out of all purpose flour (who forgets to check the flour?) so I ended up using a cup of wheat flour. I forgot the sunflower seeds on the second batch, but I'm not sure they added much to the mini muffins. And, I couldn't find the allspice in the spice cabinet (sheesh, it was just one of those days).

After I taste tested a few, it seemed like they needed a little pizzaz so I whipped up a maple syrup glaze to drizzle on the top. Hubs and the taste testers thought the glaze gave them the kick they needed.

All in all, this is a keeper. I'll have to try them normal size with all the right flour and spices to see how they turn out.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

TWD: Lenox Almond Biscotti

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Recipe chosen by: Gretchen of Canela and Comino
Link to TWD Group: Tuesdays With Dorie

I don't even like biscotti. It's usually too dry and not so much with the taste. But that was store bought (usually coffee shops)... If I'd known how easy and tasty home made would be, I'd have been baking these a long time ago.

Biscotti Mosaic

I'll be trying some of the other flavors (I'm thinking of some chai ones and maybe dipping an end in white chocolate, mmmm), and maybe even adding some of these to my Christmas rotation. They'd make a nice change of pace from some of the usual suspects. And since these have kept for over a week, they'd make a great longer lasting cookie.

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Thursday, October 9, 2008

Barefoot Bloggers: Butternut Squash Risotto

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Recipe chosen by: Rachel of Rachel Likes to Cook
Link to Recipe: Butternut Squash Risotto

RisottoNext time, I spring for the Saffron. Don't get me wrong, this was awesome even without it. But I'll bet the saffron would have kicked it even further into the stratosphere.

I've wanted to try a butternut squash risotto for quite a while, but hadn't gotten around to it. Risotto is a pretty high maintenance dish to take a chance with, and the hubs isn't quite as enamored with squash as I am. Luckily for me, Rachel chose this recipe.

I made a few other shortcuts making the recipe. I used canned chicken broth (unfortunately, I forgot to get the low sodium one) and the already grated parmesan cheese. (Not the green can stuff - I went with the deli version.) I also used slightly more pancetta since the package was 3 ounces and had no use for the remainder. I think the combination of the extra pancetta and the full sodium broth made it a little too salty.

Risotto MosaicRisotto Mosaic 2


I'm not sure if it was the Contessa's recipe or the new arborio rice I used, but the texture of the risotto came out perfectly. I've had some trouble in the past with the rice not cooking completely. So all in all, this is a winner recipe. It's worth the time and effort - and roasting the squash only takes a few extra minutes since it cooks while you're putting the risotto together.

Honestly, the worst part about it was peeling the squash. That hard skin always gives me fits - I think I need a sharper knife. I'll be using that method of baking/roasting squash from now on though - it came out so tasty that I kept stealing chunks as I stirred the risotto.

A big thanks to Rachel for picking another great Barefoot Contessa recipe!

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(Oh yeah, that picture? I just liked the way the green beans came out. The hubs is becoming a master of throwing together oriental green beans. Tasty and good for you!)

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

TWD Rewind: Dimply Plum Cake

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Dimply Plum Cake recipe chosen by: Michelle of Bake-En
Link to TWD group: Tuesdays With Dorie homepage

Note: The recipe for this week was Creme Brulee chosen by Mari of Mevrouw Cupcakes. I'd like to claim I didn't do it because I didn't have the tools, but the truth is that I didn't want to be tempted to eat every stinking one of them. :D

Disaster, disaster, disaster. My plums weren't ripe enough, and I took the cake out of the oven too soon. Darnitall.

I tried one of the plums as I was halving them, and the one I tried had a lovely ripe flavor. But the skin was still way too tart and I noticed that the rest of the 6 (that's all that would fit in the pan) were much firmer. I sort of shrugged my shoulders and pushed on, hoping Dorie's magic would fix the whole thing. (I don't know - maybe the magic of baking would sweeten the plums up some? The tart would be awesome against the sweetness of the cake? Heh, I'm nothing if not optimistic. And still pretty clueless when baking something for the first time.)

After the full baking time, the cake was on that edge. You know? Juuuust done enough that you think it will be firm but still moist. Unfortunately, it was on the other side of the edge. The cake bits on the edge were done, but there was a section in the middle that oozed out the bottom as it cooled.

The plums were still insanely tart. The flesh didn't sweeten up at all - mostly just became bland. I think I may just not be a fan of plums in baked goods. I'm reserving my opinion on the Cardamom though. I didn't really care for the flavor of the bits of plain cake, but I'm betting it would taste phenomenal with a better selection of fruit. My bad, completely. When Michelle posted her Dimply Plum Cake pictures, I wanted to lick the screen so I'm thinking I need to give this another go. Maybe with some nice ripe peaches next time. Thanks for picking a great recipe, Michelle!

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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

TWD: Chocolate Chunkers

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Recipe chosen by: Claudia of Fool for Food
Link to TWD group: Tuesdays With Dorie homepage

Oy - anybody else tired of chocolate? :P (That's really not going to be the popular opinion, is it?)

No pictures and late post because I was out yesterday and just plain forgot it was Tuesday. (It's virtual Monday to me, man!)

These turned out to be easy to make, and easy to bake (no chilling for these guys - and I'd suggest lying out all your parchment paper and scooping all these bad boys as soon as possible). The first group was lovely and smooth, producing a very pretty cookie. Every other pan looked like doodie. Tasty mega-chocolate doodie, but doodie nonetheless.

The tasters thought they were awesome (even though only a few got a cookie right out of the oven - those were the best in my opinion). Most didn't mind the raisins and one thought they were a fantastic part of the cookie.

My final verdict? These would make a great Christmas cookie addition (providing I scoop them all at once when the chocolate base was still smooth) and a great change of pace cookie, but it's not going to be my tried and true standby.

Thanks for a fun recipe pick Claudia! (But a huge thanks coming up to Michelle and Mari for some non-chocolate, non-cookie picks!!)

TWD Chocolate Chunker Mosaic

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Barefoot Bloggers: Grown Up Mac and Cheese

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Recipe chosen by: Heather of Randomosity and the Girl
Link to Recipe: Grown Up Mac and Cheese

When I saw the Barefoot Blogger recipe for this week (Grown Up Mac and Cheese), I was a little scared. Blue cheese? Gruyere? Uh...

I figured that I'd just do the recipe as is (except I added a little more bacon) and see how it went. From the start of grating the Gruyere, it was touch and go. The smell was awful. I thought the blue cheese would be the kicker for me, but the one I picked had a pretty mild scent. The Gruyere though - that one was like feet.

The good news? The Mac and Cheese tasted awesome. The smell faded out towards the end, and the flavors were wonderful. The basil on top really added a kick, and the cheeses all blended into a tasty, cheesy sauce. And I think the husband liked it even more than I did.

We did eat it more as a side dish than a main course though. All in all, I gotta say thanks to Heather for picking a great recipe!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

TWD: Chocolate Whopper Malted Drops

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Recipe chosen by: Rachel of Confessions of a Tangerine Tart
Link to TWD group: Tuesdays With Dorie homepage

Now those are some awesome cookies! Almost too sweet, but fantastic with a glass of milk. The first bite was like eating a chocolate malt.

That's all I got tonight - bad on call weekend plus an overdue dinner with friends meant another last minute baking session.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

TWD: Chunky Peanut Butter and Oatmeal Chocolate Chipsters

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Recipe chosen by: Stefany of Proceed with Caution
Link to TWD group: Tuesdays With Dorie homepage

I got one tray of these guys baked off before rushing out to the third BBQ/event this weekend.

I only made two changes (for the full recipe, go visit Stefany). I went with extra large eggs instead of large. I've found that the extra liquid helps keep cookies from being too dry at altitude. The other change from the recipe was to use a baking stone and bake the cookies for the full 15 minutes. I didn't rotate pans partway through since I only had time for one (no-fuss) pan.

The cookies went together in a snap. They chilled for a half hour before baking so the dough was too warm to do anything but drop. About the only problem was my KitchenAid Mixer seems close to giving up the ghost. The hubs did some quick emergency repairs, but we'll have to see if it'll last through another round of, well anything.

As for the taste, I'm on the fence. I liked these better than the Granola Grabbers from a few weeks ago, no question about that. They just seem like they're missing something. Maybe more peanut butter... Maybe sub dried fruit for some or all of the chocolate... That's probably what's throwing me off. I could handle peanut butter in my oatmeal cookies (the nutmeg was awesome - I'll have to add some to my regular oatmeal cookie recipe) or peanut butter in my chocolate chip cookies (mmm, peanut butter and chocolate), but the the oatmeal and chocolate chip is just weird. Now, some raisins or oooooh, some white chocolate chips with craisins. Mmmmm.....

Anyway, don't forget to go see how the other TWDers liked this week's recipe! And thanks for another great pick, Stefany!

Edited to add: Okay, so letting the dough chill for the 24 hours is the key. I baked off the rest, and it's a pretty good cookie after chilling. The spices mellowed and the peanut butter becomes just a hint. I still would change out the chocolate for fruit (or white chocolate with the fruit, oooh, or peanut butter chips!) but the dough makes a very pretty cookie. The edges are crisp and the middle is chewy.

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chipsters

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

TWD: Granola Grabbers

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Recipe chosen by: Michelle of Bad Girl Baking
Link to TWD group: Tuesdays With Dorie homepage

Good cookie, but I don't think I'd call it great. It's probably a great after school snack like Dorie describes in the preword, but I don't have a need for that. When I want a cookie, I want a chocolate chip or oatmeal cookie, ya know?

Maybe a little bit of spice would oomph it up a little more - although that could have been a result of the granola I chose?

I don't think I'll experiment with these either - it just calls for too many things that I don't regularly keep stocked in the pantry.

Interesting choice though, thanks Michelle! Head to Bad Girl Baking for the recipe and don't forget to check out the rest of the TWD crew to see how they liked this week's recipe.

(Sorry for the brief post, on vacation :)

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

TWD: Blueberry Sour Cream Ice Cream

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Recipe chosen by: Dolores of Chronicles in Culinary Curiosity
Link to TWD group: Tuesdays With Dorie homepage

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When I saw this week's recipe, I was excited. We bought a Cuisinart ice cream maker a couple of years ago, but haven't really gotten much use out of it so far. I tried a few of the recipes from the book, but nothing that really gave up that "Wooo!" - know what I mean?

I wasn't entirely sure about the blueberry part of it though. I was completely surprised back a few weeks ago when I turned out to love the Double Crusted Blueberry Pie, but I thought that might be a fluke. Turns out, I loved the blueberry part of it and I'm not too sure about the sour cream. The syrup tasted like the pie, and I loved it. The tang from the sour cream seems to almost overpower the berries.

But I'm going to love trying different sour cream recipes and maybe tweaking this blueberry recipe a bit later. A big thanks to Dolores for picking a great recipe, and don't forget to check out the rest of the TWD crew.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

TWD: The Black and White Banana Bread

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Recipe chosen by: Ashlee of A Year in the Kitchen
Link to TWD group: Tuesdays With Dorie homepage

Alternate title of this post: How to Do Absolutely Everything Wrong and Still Succeed (Thank You Dorie!)

Okay now, here's how it goes:

Completely forget to buy bananas early enough that they're ripe when you want to make banana bread. CHECK!


DSC00944One of the tips on line to rapidly ripen bananas was a brown paper bag with ventilation holes placed on top of the fridge.


(Didn't work...)

DSC00940But I found another tip to put the bananas in the oven as it preheats - for about 15 minutes. Something about the skins blackening and the flavors and sugars concentrating.

(That one totally worked. Wasn't as great as a so-ripe-it's-black-on-the-outside banana, but it'll work in a pinch.)

Next on the bungle the recipe plan? Forget to put the butter out to soften until juuuuust about the time you need to start it. CHECK!


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One of the best parts of a 23 day record heat wave? Insta-butter softening!

(Okay, so not quite instant. But by the time I'd measured and chopped everything else, the butter was almost too soft. Way to provide the assist Mother Nature!)

Right, so this is just going swimmingly, huh? So what's next? I know, I know! How about burning yourself on the napalm hot banana as you're trying to get it out of the skin and dropping it into the bowl splattering rum and lemon juice all over everything? CHECK!

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This one is so totally my favorite. Check out the splatters up the side of the bowl - and on the measuring cup. Now imagine that over the rest of the counter and even the book. Awesome - lemony yet rummy at the same time!

After that, things worked out a little better. Mash and mix and melt and fold.

Banana Bread Mosaic


DSC00957And that's right about when I got all confident and let my guard down.

(Bad, bad idea. *sigh*)

I didn't get the whole "drop alternating spoonfuls" instruction so I went with something part way between that and the other technique with rows.

DSC00958All was good until I got to that second row. I was worried about making the chocolate portion stretch since I'd messed up dividing the batter.

So next? Next, drop a spoonful of the chocolate smack dab on top of the "white" spoonful you just dropped, then try to fix it and manage to glop everything up until it starts to look like mud. CHECK!


And for the crowning achievement? How about missing a huge section of the pan when you're greasing it so the bread breaks all to pieces when it's removed? CHECK!

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For all the messups and ugly result, this is one amazing recipe. The flavors are fantastic, and the marbling (on the good side at least) was sharp and attractive. If it came out this great when I was mucking about at the helm, I can only imagine how everyone else managed. Check out A Year in the Kitchen for the recipe and the TWD group to see the other results.

Thanks Ashlee for picking an awesome recipe!