Sunday, August 31, 2008

Daring Bakers Debut -- Chocolate Eclairs

I'm so excited to be posting my first Daring Bakers challenge results! For the month of August, the Daring Bakers tackled Pierre Herme's Chocolate Eclairs chosen by Meeta from
What’s For Lunch, Honey? and Tony Tahhan

Where's my chocolate middle? I just went with a plain cream filling...I hope that's okay. Sorry! I have to admit I've been super busy this past month and actually did the Eclairs yesterday morning! Yikes! Talk about waiting until the last minute. Will not be making that mistake next month, if the Daring Bakers will still have me...

It was a fun challenge, I've never made eclairs before, and I think I underbaked my cream puff dough -- it puffed up beautifully and looked done, but after leaving the oven it deflated a bit. I had no trouble making it, it was actually kind of fun and came together really nicely, I love the thick shiny dough before piping, it looked exactly like what I expected it to look like based on Pierre's description in the recipe.

For the chocolate glaze I had to sneak in some Nutella! I love Nutella but hadn't had in a long time, and this was the first time my kids have had Nutella as well, I think they are fans, yay! The kids had fun decorating with the nonpareils as well, of course!

I can't wait to see what challenging treat September with the Daring Bakers will bring :)

A special note to any My Kitchen My World friends viewing my blog, I'm so sorry I did not get my British selection up yesterday, I had trouble getting ingredients, and hopefully I will be able to make my meal soon and post it later this week!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Lemon Rosemary "Butterflied" Tofu -- Barefoot Bloggers

Ha! I knew I should probably just skip this selection since, well, how can you butterfly tofu? I don't know, but lemon and rosemary sounded nice together along with some garlic and sea salt and olive oil, why not try it with tofu?

This didn't really turn out, I pretty much expected it wouldn't so I only used half a block of tofu. Oh-well. I'm glad I tried! I think I should have made some lemon rosemary pasta instead.

Butterflied Chicken was the original recipe chosen by Stefany of Proceed with Caution for Barefoot Bloggers this week, which I'm sure is an amazing choice if you eat chicken. I pretty much took Ina's flavors from the recipe and tried it with broiled tofu. I hope everyone else in our group had a great meal :)

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Chocolate Banded Peanut Butter Hearts of Love -- Tuesdays with Dorie

I struggled with what to call this 'creation' -- chocolate banded ice cream torte just didn't do it justice, at least not in my mind. Is the title kind if corny? Yeah, maybe a little, or if you are not in love with peanut butter and chocolate that is! Now to be completely honest I do like the peanut butter chocolate combination but it's not my favorite thing ever, and I would probably order carrot cake instead, but I do enjoy a good peanut butter and chocolate mingling every now and then. If you are a peanut butter chocolate maniac than this is certainly the dessert for you!

The minute I started thinking about Dorie's Chocolate Banded Ice Cream Torte, chosen by Amy of Food, Family and Fun , I wondered what ice cream to use with the chocolate ganache I just had to throw peanut butter in the mix. How could you not? My other idea was to do a chocolate orange ice cream torte which sounded amazing, but it didn't materialize.

If you read my TWD chocolate pudding post you may remember that I don't like eggs. Don't know why, never have, I'm not a vegan (I am a lifelong vegetarian though), and I'll gladly eat eggs baked into pancakes or cookies or carrot cake (hmmm, am I craving carrot cake?) but I just don't like anything eggy...the smell, the texture, whatever it is just really turns me off, ever since I was a child. So imagine my surprise when I read that Dorie's ganache had 8 - yelp - yes, that's an eight there, eggs! Uck. Sorry sorry sorry! I really do feel bad changing the recipe so much, but there was no way eight eggs were going into anything in this house. Shudder. I've made ganache many times and never used eggs so I just went with my regular heavy cream/chocolate ganache recipe. It worked, yay! Egg battle OVER! At least in this recipe.

I could never ever "make" an ice cream dessert without homemade ice cream, so I made some super yummy egg free peanut butter ice cream that was so rich and creamy, perfect pairing with my ganache.

I was thinking of how I was going to present my ice cream torte, muffin cups sounded great, I didn't want to dig out the springform pan, maybe if I had a special event to bring this too, but really I made this 'just for fun' and didn't want a huge amount of it sitting in the freezer for who knows how long. While racking my brain somehow hearts came to mind, I was going to use my silicon heart pan, and the I remembered my coeur a la creme molds that I recently purchased for a Barefoot Bloggers recipe. I had neatly packed them away, thinking it would be years, or atleast until Valentine's Day until I retrieved them, but no, they were not done with their service yet. They would be just perfect for this weeks Tuesdays with Dorie!

Unmold and here's what I had...not gorgeous, but not bad.

But that was not all, oh no, that was not all...

had to add some chopped up Reece's Cups, not the minis, which while fun, do not give the proper peanut butter to chocolate ratio as seen in full sized Reece's Cups, at least not in my book.

And why-oh-why not add some melty chocolate ganache, it was just sitting there anyway, beckoning to be used...use me it called, use me...

Ahhh, mountains of chocolate peanut butter ice cream goodness, all in the shape of hearts. The romantic in me came out while making this dessert, I imagined a madly in love couple, esacping to a bed and breakfast for the night, the Chocolate Banded Peanut Butter Hearts of Love waiting on a little table under a silver dome... then feeding this dessert to each other, on a bed of silk sheets with rose petals around...

Did this dessert get me whisked away to a bed and breakfast? In my mind maybe, but in real life nope. Oh-well. Maybe next time. I honestly don't think I've ever made anything so romantic before though, maybe it's all in my head and this is just some ice cream with too much chocolate on it, either way it was fun :)

Monday, August 25, 2008

Rival Electric Wok -- Maker Monday

I haven't done 'maker Monday' in a while but thought I'd pick it up again and introduce you to my Rival Electric Wok, it's not really a 'maker' unless you want to call it a stir fry maker, but goes with my 'plug it in kitchen appliance' stash and I wanted to share. One of the reasons I love using my electric wok is because when I am making an Asian style meal I am usually making quite a few different dishes so my stove top is packed and I can plug this wok on any available counterspace and start a stir fry.

I really enjoy my electric wok! It's so versatile, you can boil, steam (it came with a steamer rack that I have lost, oops), sautee, and even deep fry thanks to an adjustable thermostat. It's quite big and can hold a ton of food, perfect for clean out the fridge stir fries! I got mine for Christmas a few years ago, and if this one ever stopped working I would buy another electric wok right away, but this time around I would go for a stainless model. I have had no trouble with the nonstick surface of this wok, it works like a dream, none has flaked off or anything scary like that, but I've been getting away from nonstick surfaces because they scare me a little bit.
Last night I made some homemade eggrolls and fried them in the wok. My husband and I were having a "duck sauce" taste off :) When I made eggrolls last for the Olympic opening ceremony dinner we didn't have any duck sauce to dip the eggrolls in and we both were craving some. Of course they didn't have it at the grocery store so I ordered two different kinds on netgrocer, I didn't really look at the size and we were surprised to have a huge jar of Dai Day Duck Sauce arrive in our netgrocer package. Oh-well. I'm sure it will keep for a while in the fridge, unfortunately we both preferred the Ka Me Duck Sauce flavor over Dai Day...although neither were quite as good as the kind they give you in the Chinese restaurant, either at the table or in those little packets with take-out. Anyone know what brand of duck sauce those are? I think I will have to try to make my own duck sauce at some point. Until then we have plenty so if you want to come over for an eggroll party, please, just let me know :)

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Jamaican Coco Breads

I had never heard of Coco Breads until I started searching for Jamaican recipes last week and had no idea what to expect, their name would lead you to believe they were either chocolate or had some form of coconut in them, but nope, not these babies. I found a lot of recipes for coco breads and decided to blindly try this recipe Jamaican Coco Bread Recipe Recipezaar -- but I changed it up a bit and came up with this that you can start in the bread machine (or just knead with your KA dough hook)...

Jamaican Coco Breads

(adapted for the bread machine dough cycle -- 2 lb machine -- by me)

3 teaspoons bread machine yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup warm water
3/4 cup warm milk
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 egg
3 cups bread machine flour
1/2 cup
butter, melted

Put the ingredients into your bread maker in the order suggested by your manufacturer, for mine it is liquids, flours, other dry ingredients, yeast.

With floured hands turn your dough out onto a work surface, lightly dust with flour and divide in two, the slightly roll each dough ball into two logs.

Cut into 10 portions (5 pieces per log)

Roll each portion into an approx 6 inch across circle

Brush with melted butter then fold in 1/2.

Brush with more butter and fold in 1/2 again.

Set breads on a oiled baking sheet and let them rise for 15 minutes

Bake for about 12 minutes at 400 F on middle rack or until golden brown.

Remove to cooling rack and let cool a few minutes but not too long, these are best served warm.

While doing my "research" about Coco breads I read that they are often used as a 'bun' for a Jamaican patty, which is kind of like a pasty...yeah, it seemed a little odd to me, double crust, but why not? If you google image search coco bread and patty you will see lots of pictures of how these are served in Jamaica or at Jamaican style restaurants. Kind of neat! I definitely want to try to make some vegetarian Jamaican patties in the future, they sound interesting and delicious!

These breads were amazing and everyone in my family loved them, they taste almost like a buttery dinner roll, and while I'm sure they are awesome filled with a 'patty' they would also be wonderful with jam and butter, or stuffed with just about anything... I slipped some jerk tofu in to one and it was delicious :)

Jamaican Dinner

Making a Jamaican dinner was so much fun! I made jerk tofu, rice and peas (really rice and beans but they call it rice and peas), Jamaican "coco" breads, and cinnamon sugar fried plantains!

I don't have time to do a whole write up with recipes now but I will add some more later, can't wait to see what everyone else came up with for My Kitchen My World Jamaica week :)

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Personalized Pizza Night

I was so looking forward to making my first batch of pizzas on the grill but that did not happen :( We were having trouble with our grill that evening, but I had already made Ina's pizza crust and gotten some toppings ready to go so we just did these pizzas in the oven, and they turned out perfectly!

I'll let you know how to do them in the oven if you are having grill difficulties or you just want an easy version for homemade pizzas...

Grilled California Pizzas
Ina Garten

For the dough:

1 1/4 cups warm (100 to 110 degrees F) water
2 packages dry yeast (3 teaspoons bread machine yeast if using bread machine dough cycle!)
1 tablespoon honey
3 tablespoons good olive oil
4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for kneading
2 teaspoons kosher salt

Topping Suggestions:

1 red onion, thinly sliced
1 pound fresh mozzarella, grated
1/2 pound Italian Fontina, grated
1/2 pound mild goat cheese, such as Montrachet, sliced
1 red or yellow bell pepper, cored, seeded, and julienned
6 plum tomatoes, sliced
1 bunch basil leaves, cleaned and dried
4 garlic cloves, roasted
Crushed red pepper flakes
how about mushrooms too?

For prep: 1/2 cup good olive oil Cornmeal

*Below is the 'by hand' and 'grilled' method -- bread machine dough cycle and oven baked method is mentioned later :)

For the dough, combine the water, yeast, honey, and olive oil in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add 3 cups flour, then the salt, and mix. While mixing, add 1 more cup of flour, or enough to make a soft dough. Knead the dough on low to medium speed for about 10 minutes until smooth, sprinkling it with flour, if necessary, to keep it from sticking to the bowl.

When the dough is ready, turn it out onto a floured board and knead by hand a dozen times. It should be smooth and elastic. Place the dough in a well-oiled bowl and turn it several times to cover it lightly with oil. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel. Allow the dough to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Divide the dough into 6 equal parts and roll each one into a smooth ball. Place the balls on a baking sheet and cover them with a damp towel. Allow the dough to rest for 10 minutes. Use immediately, or refrigerate for up to 4 hours.

If you've chilled the dough, take it out of the refrigerator approximately 30 minutes ahead to let it come to room temperature. Roll and stretch each ball into a rough 8-inch circle and place them all on baking sheets sprinkled with cornmeal. (You will be able to fit 2 pizzas on each 18 by 13-inch baking sheet.)

Light your grill and wait until it's hot.

Place the pizzas directly onto the grill and cook on 1 side for 1 minute. Turn the pizzas over and brush with olive oil or garlic oil.

Top the pizzas with any toppings you wish, piling them high. Drizzle each pizza with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Put the lid on your grill and cook for 5 minutes more, until the crust is crisp and the toppings are cooked.


This dough is easily made in the bread machine on dough cycle, just follow the order you use for ingredients in your machine -- with mine it is liquids on the bottom, then flour, and then yeast and other dry ingredients on top. The only change to the above ingredients is instead of using two packets of yeast use 3 teaspoons of bread machine yeast. Use your dough cycle and these personal pizza crusts could not be any easier, plus kids absolutely love shaping their own crusts, how fun! All you need to do it take it out after the dough cycle, divide it up until 5 or 6 pizzas, and shape your crusts, the thinner the better, about 1/2 inch thick, they will rise plenty in the oven! Then top and bake, no second rise required.

Oh, what fun!

If you like sauce go ahead and add some, I love a saucy pizza, and for these pizzas we used a slow cooked marinara sauce (secret ingredient cinnamon) that I had made for lasagna -- the leftovers were a perfect sauce for these pizzas!

If you decide to do these in the oven bake them at 375 for about 10 minutes, you should be 'babysitting' the oven, lift up the bottoms with an ovensafe spatula and check for doneness if you are not sure, you want the bottoms golden brown. If your bottoms brown up for just broil the cheese for about 45 seconds for that golden brown top.

The above pizza was baked in an 8 inch square pan to make it 'deep dish' -- and it turned out perfectly! The rest were baked on regular baking sheets.

My whole family had so much fun with this recipe, I love the topping suggestions, I didn't use them all, but I did buy some goat cheese especially for these pizzas, amazing! It we eat out pizza at a gourmet place I always get goat cheese, but never thought to buy it for homemade pizzas. It made them melt-in-your-mouth smooth and delicious, yum! Thank you so much Rebecca of Ezra Pound Cake who picked this recipe as our bonus Barefoot Bloggers August recipe.

I can't wait until I get to try these on the grill as Ina intended, but until then, these will be happily made by our family and baked in the oven :)

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Chocolate Chip Granola Grabbers -- Tuesdays with Dorie

It's time for Tuesdays with Dorie, yay! This week Michelle of Bad Girl Baking chose Granola Grabbers, great choice Michelle! The recipe calls for a few cups of granola and I decided that there was no better time to try to make my own. I browsed some recipes on allrecipes and came up with Cinnamon-Raisin Granola -- a Taste of Home recipe. Although I would have to change the title to Honey Coconut Granola since those were the predominant flavors for me.

Cinnamon-Raisin Granola AKA Honey Coconut Granola

4 cups old-fashioned oats
1 cup shredded coconut
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup raisins

In a large bowl, combine oats and coconut; set aside. In a saucepan, combine brown sugar, oil, honey and cinnamon; bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and stir in vanilla. Pour over oat mixture; stir to coat. Spread in a large shallow baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees F for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cool. Add raisins. Store in an airtight container.

So easy, so delicious! It smelled amazing, honey, cinnamon, vanilla, coconut -- a favorite of mine, all of those scents mingling together. Wish I had a candle that smelled that good.

On to the cookies, I followed the recipe almost exactly except for the wheat germ. When I went to the store they were out, and I did not have time to place an online order so I found an equal substitute, Hershey's Milk Chocolate Chips, of course. Leave it to me to omit something healthy for milk chocolate. Sorry. Honestly, the only reason I added them was because I had a little bit of a bag left from making something and it was kicking around in my cupboard so I figured why not toss them in, these cookies have just about everything else anyway. I was going to toss in some white chocolate chips as well, but after adding the milk chocolate ones I decided I didn't want to overload these cookies with chips. I will have to find another use for that 1/2ish cup of white chocolate chips left over from something that I can't even remember making...

This cookie dough was THICK! It came together nicely, I kind of shaped it a touch, then put it on my new matfer exopat cheapie version of a silpat. This was my first time using the thing. I don't even know why I bought it other than I wanted to get something to reach my 4-for-3 amazon kitchen gear promotion... Anyway, I'm not that impressed. It worked fine but I did one sheet of cookies on my reynolds release aluminum foil and they held up better, the exopat ones spread too much, and yes, my pan was cool, it was the first batch in the oven. Oh-well. I was trying to get away from using aluminum to bake on because of the negative press regarding dementia and aluminum but I'm still clinging to my tin foil. I just can't stop using it. Sorry, went off on a tangent there, back to Granola Grabbers.
These were great, just what I expected from the recipe, although I wish they were just a touch softer. I like my cookies soft, dh likes his crispy. He said these tasted like a granola bar. I was surprised he had more than one bite because these had almonds and coconut in them, two things he hates! I had a nice time making them my family enjoyed them. Plus they got me to make granola for the first time, which turned out amazing, and I love granola so I see myself making a ton of homemade granola from now on. Successful TWD :)

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Macaroni & Cheese and Apple Pie -- My Kitchen My World Home

I picked macaroni and cheese and apple pie for our American dishes for My Kitchen My World this week. Everyone has their own favorite macaroni and cheese, I like just about all of them, but my husband not so much. I've tried tons of macaroni and cheese recipes in the five years we've been married and he either likes them a little or not at all. I knew I wanted to make a nice bubbly casserole of macaroni and cheese for my main dish of "home" foods. What recipe I used would be a toss up. Honestly I just wanted to make something, hope it turned out halfway decent, and take a picture to post. I had no idea that I would stumble across the recipe for macaroni and cheese that my husband would love. I went browsing recipes, checked out all recipes, and then remembering I had a loaf of velveeta cheese I wanted to use up went to the kraft website looking for a half velveeta half cheddar recipe. I had made this a few times, it was okay but not outstanding. As I checked the macaroni and cheese recipes on the kraft website I came across this one...

Old Fashioned Macaroni and Cheese

3 Tbsp. butter or margarine (butter of course)
2 Tbsp. flour
1/2 tsp. salt (I used my new Kosher salt that I bought for the panzanella)
2 cups milk (I used skim)
2 cups KRAFT Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese, divided (I shredded some from my huge block of sharp cheddar a la Sam's Club)
1 pkg. (7 oz.) elbow macaroni (1-3/4 cups), cooked, drained (I used Barilla)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Melt butter in large saucepan on low heat. Add flour and salt; mix well. Cook 2 minutes or until bubbly. Gradually add milk, stirring until well blended. Cook on medium heat until mixture boils and thickens, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to low; simmer 3 to 5 minutes or until thickened. Add 1-1/2 cups of the cheese; cook until melted, stirring constantly. Add macaroni; mix lightly.

Spoon into 1-1/2-quart casserole; sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup cheese.
Bake 20 minutes or until heated through.

What a simple recipe, a roux based cheese sauce, one cheese, couldn't get any easier.
We all sat down for a little macaroni and cheese lunch and I gave dh a bowl thinking he would probably eat it and say it was 'okay' and that would be all, we were all looking forward to some apple pie for dessert anyway and no one really cared about this basic macaroni and cheese.
My husband loved it! He said this was the best macaroni and cheese ever. Amazing. So there you go, easy and delicious. The kids and I also liked it, and while I prefer a more 'decked out' mac and cheese with provolone and maybe fontina and maybe some sun dried tomatoes and a crumb topping, this one is a definite repeat recipe for easy family meals.

And of course apple pie, what food is more American than that? I used my old stand by recipe, the one where the filling is cooked on the stove for about 10 minutes and the apples get softened a bit, but not mushy. It's my husband's favorite and I aim to please. I'm not great at lattice tops but I always try my best :)

Thumbs up all around for this "USA" meal!

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