Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Dorie (on the downlow)

It's not tuesday, but I have some Dorie recipes. Since I didn't join the club until August, there are more than thirty recipes that I've missed out on making. I'm going to try to slowly catch up. Whenever I make something that's already been made by the group, I'll post it as "Dorie (on the downlow)".

I chose not to make all of the December recipes for Tuesdays with Dorie. I didn't want to add anything more to my to do list during the holiday season. But I did make two recipes for our Christmas dinner.

The Cranberry Spice Bundt Cake wasn't from the cookbook, but from the November issue of Bon Appetit Magazine.

The dry ingredients called for ground almonds which I conveniently had left over from the linzer cookies made earlier in the month. This recipe intrigued me because it calls for Chinese Five-Spice powder. I've never heard of it used in baking.

Mix the dry ingredients with the wet, fold in cranberries and nuts, and you have a very tasty batter. Yum.

This cake is good. It isn't too sweet and has perfect balance of spices.

It's good for breakfast too!

I also made The Most Extraordinary French Lemon Cream Tart, which is on page 331 in the book.

I loved the smell that came from rubbing the sugar and lemon zest together. That's the real thing. Better than any scented spray or cleaner you can buy. I wish my kitchen could smell like that all of the time.

This tart is delicious! It's a little more involved than the bundt cake, but way worth the effort. I had made the tart shell in advance which made it quicker to put together. I love lemon, so I'll be making this whenever I need a lemon fix. It's rich, creamy and packs a punch of lemony goodness.

I'm looking forward to getting back on my baking schedule starting next week. Dorie, herself, chose the recipe for next week!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

TWD: Grandma's All-Occasion Sugar Cookies

I knew I was going to like this week's selection, no if's, and's or but's. Give me butter, sugar, flour with a splash of can it go wrong? Well, my friend Wendy who's also my accupuncturist/nutritionist, could and would list more things than we could imagine. But we won't think about that now.

For now, we're just going to think about the sweet, simple goodness of a sugar cookie. This was an easy, straightforward recipe.

After mixing the dough, Dorie gives you the option of forming it into a disc which can be rolled out for cutout cookies, or rolled into a log which can then be sliced into cookies after it's chilled. I decided to go the log route and discovered my log rolling skills are, um, somewhat lacking. They looked like fat tapered cigars.

See how small the ones in the top left corner are compared to the ones in the middle? How do others get a more even log? Dorie suggested using the tube from the middle of a roll of paper towls, but I didn't have one handy. Work on improving log rolling skills - check.

I sprinkled blue sanding sugar on them before baking. They're delicious, even though they are shaped funny. Or, as Dorie would say, they're rustic. They're sweet and buttery, like a good sugar cookie should be.

Ulrike of K├╝chenlatein chose this week's recipe. You can find the recipe in Baking From My Home to Yours. You can also find it at Ulrike's site. Check out the TWD blogroll to see hundreds of different versions of these cookies!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

TWD: Linzer Sables

This week's recipe is Linzer Sables chosen by Dennis of Living the Life.

I have to say, these are my favorite cookies that we've made so far. I'm surprised because they're so simple to make. The flavors compliment each other perfectly.

The recipe gives you the option of using finely chopped almonds, hazelnuts or walnuts. I wanted to try hazelnuts, but Trader Joes didn't have them, so I used almonds.

Of course, I had to try the batter as a preview of how the cookie will taste. It was good. It has ground cloves and cinnamon which adds a hint of spice. Very mellow, but it gives it a nice flavor.

I used a two inch cookie cutter as Dorie suggested and made 27 sandwich cookies. Added some raspberry jam and a sprinkle of powdered sugar and, voila...

They taste as good as they look. Jeff gave them a thumbs up too. I want to make these again using hazelnuts with a chocolate filling. Yum.
For the recipe, you can check out Dennis' blog with the link above or buy the book if you don't already have it. It's totally worth having. See what other TWD members are doing here. Thanks Dennis! You picked a winner. :)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

TWD: Arborio Rice Pudding

This week's recipe was chosen by Isabelle of Les Gourmandises d'Isa. As always, you can find the recipe listed on her site and you can see what other TWD bloggers did here.

I'm a huge fan of pudding, so I looked forward to this week. I've never made rice pudding and I've eaten it only a couple of times. I like it! The arborio rice adds substantial texture to the pudding compared to other rice puddings I've had.

Thanks to the P&Q section of the website, I learned from other bloggers that the pudding takes longer to cook than the recipe states. Dorie herself commented that there was an error in the printed recipe and it was actually supposed to cook for 55 min., not 30. Thanks Dorie! Mine only took 45 minutes.

This was a simple recipe with only four ingredients. The end result - delicious!

Next week is Thanksgiving. There's going to be a whole lot of baking going on. Our next TWD recipe is the Thanksgiving Twofer Pie - pumpkin and pecan combined, oh my!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

TWD: Kugelhopf

Kugelhopf is from the Alsace region of France. It's part bread, part cake. Similar to brioche, but not as rich.

I waited until the last minute on this one. I thought I would whip it up Tuesday morning as I often do....until I read the recipe. Oops. This is one that requires planning ahead. Having missed the last 2 weeks I forged ahead anyway.

What takes so much time in this recipe is all of the rising of the dough that needs to happen. I got a nice rise the first time around. I used the oven trick for a little insurance that other members had suggested. I heated it on it's lowest setting for 10 minutes then turned it off and put the dough inside. Worked like a charm.

I wasn't so lucky once the dough went into the pan and was supposed to rise to the top. I used a bundt pan since I don't have a kugelhopf pan. I skipped refridgerating it overnight as the recipe suggested. No time for that and in hindsight, I don't think it would have made a difference in getting a better rise. I could be wrong. I used the oven trick again and it did rise some, just not as much as I think it was supposed to. I left it in there for four hours. I don't think anything more was going to happen with more time so onto the baking I went. That's the easy part!

When it's done, you brush it all over with melted butter and dust it with sugar. And then, powdered sugar. Yum.

I had it for breakfast this morning. I added extra powdered sugar because I don't think it's sweet enough. I like the texture and the delicate crust. I'm not sure if I will make it again, but I'm glad I tried it. I had never even heard of kugelhopf before. I might try making some french toast with the rest of it.

This week's recipe was chosen by Yolanda of The All Purpose Girl. You can get the recipe from her site. Click here to see what other TWD bloggers had to say about this recipe.

Part of my absence was because Jeff and I went to NYC for a week. He ran in the NY Marathon which was the reason for the trip. We had a great time. We ate at Bobby Flay's Mesa Grill which did not disappoint. I have an extensive cookbook collection and I was happy to discover when I got home that I have this cookbook! Now I can make this delicious food at home.

We also ate at a small restaurant in the village called The Spotted Pig for lunch. And being the pizza lover that I am, we ate at Lombardi's. Twice. Check out what I found in the dining room downstairs.

How's that for a mixer?!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

My BFF in the Kitchen

*Note - This weeks TWD recipe is Chocolate, Chocolate Cupcakes chosen by Clara at I Heart Food 4 Thought. I'm skipping this week because we're leaving for NYC for a few days and won't be home to eat them. You can visit Clara's site for the recipe and you can check out the other TWD bakers here. I'll definitely make these cupcakes in the future!

Bar Keepers Friend, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways....

~I love how you make cleaning the kitchen so much easier than before you came into my life.
~I love how I can sprinkle you inside a pot that has food stuck on it and when I add a little water and rub you around, then let you sit for 5-10 minutes, the food comes right off.
~I love how you remove discolored spots that cooking and boiling water sometimes leave behind in my stainless steel pots and pans. Soap and water doesn't cut it, but you always leave them looking shiny and new.
~I love how you clean the cooktop leaving it spotless.
~I love that I can buy you at Target or Williams-Sonoma whenever I find my supply getting low. I always keep a can for backup.
~I love you most of all for coming to the rescue when my mom burned baked beans in her beloved Le Creuset pot. It took five overnight soaks and scrubbings, but you came through and the pot looks brand new.

You are a magician in the kitchen. No other cleaners compare. I can't and won't live without you!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

TWD: Pumpkin Muffins

This week's Tuesdays with Dorie recipe was chosen by Kelly of Sounding My Barbaric Gulp.

I was looking forward to making these because my husband, Jeff, loves pumpkin. Pumpkin pie and pumpkin bread are his favorites. I made them first thing this morning so we could eat them while they were still warm from the oven.

I made these exactly as the recipe was written, using pecans, golden raisins and sunflower seeds. Other bloggers substituted dried cranberries and chocolate chips for the raisins. I had thought about using cranberries, but I wanted to try Dorie's version first since I happen to like golden raisins.

I decided to try out my silicone muffin cups that I bought last year at Williams-Sonoma, but have never used. Plus they're orange and black in the spirit of Halloween.

The verdict: These are great! The cups allow you to handle each muffin individually, they bake evenly and the muffins slip out easily when they're done leaving no stuck on pieces or residue behind. This makes cleanup easy-peezy.


Sorry for the fuzzy picture. I was dizzy from pumpkin fumes filling my kitchen.

These are delicious. Jeff gave them a thumbs up too. They would make a nice addition to any breakfast or brunch. Or a simple cup of coffe or tea. I enjoyed mine with a cup of chai tea. The flavors of the chai complemented the muffins perfectly.

I will definitely make these again and again! And I might try adding cranberries or chocolate chips in the future. Thanks Kelly for this week's recipe. Even though it's forcasted to be 89 degrees here today, it smells and tastes like fall inside at least.

Edited to add: A lot of TWD members mentioned that baking for 25 minutes was too long and it only took them 17 minutes. So I set my timer for 17 minutes just to be safe. Mine weren't done yet, so I baked them for another 5 min. for a total baking time of 22 min.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

TWD: Lenox Almond Biscotti

This week's recipe was chosen by Gretchen of Canela & Comino.

Lenox Almond Biscotti = YUM!!!

This was my first time making biscotti. The cookies are twice-baked to get that famous crunch biscotti is known for. For the first baking, the dough is formed into two logs. The dimension of the logs should be 1.5 inches wide by 12 inches long. Well, I don't think I made mine narrow enough. They might have been 2 inches wide, maybe 2.5 (yikes). I didn't measure and I didn't think it would be a problem because I didn't understand that the dough was going to spread. And spread and spread. I even thought as I was forming my logs that these were going to be some short biscotti cookies. Then I shrugged my shoulders and told myself that they'll still taste good.

See how flat it came out? The logs actually came together in the middle. Next time I will pay more attention to detail. I was going to bake another batch yesterday to attempt to get closer to the traditional biscotti shape, but I had some shopping to do and there wasn't enough time when I got back. Take #2 will happen soon though. I'm thinking that if I put the logs into the fridge for 30 min. before baking, it will help control the spreading in addition to making them narrow enough.

After baking the logs for 15 min., you take them out and let them cool for 30 min. Then you cut them into individual cookies and bake for another 15 min. For the full recipe, go visit Gretchen's blog or buy Dorie's book Baking: From my Home to Yours.

These were light, crunchy and flavorful. I followed the original almond recipe with these, but I can't wait to try other variations. Like black pepper for one, adding pumpkin spices for another, and dried cranberries and pecans. The possibilities are endless! You can see what other creative TWD bloggers did by clicking here.

These are great by themselves and even better with tea or coffee. I gave mine to my brother-in-law (it was his b-day). I did manage to keep a few for myself, which are long gone. So another batch is definitely necessary!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

TWD: Caramel-Peanut-Topped Brownie Cake

Well, it's Wednesday with Dorie for me this week. I made this on Tuesday with every intention of posting on the same day. And then, the day got away from me.

This week's recipe is the Caramel-Peanut-Topped Brownie Cake chosen by Tammy at Wee Treats by Tammy. Click on the link for the recipe.

It starts with a smooth as satin chocolate batter.

Baked in a springform pan.

To create a cake that tastes like a brownie but is light and fluffy in texture.

Then you make the caramel by boiling water, sugar and light corn syrup together.

Until it turns amber in color. Mine took about 15 minutes versus 10 in the recipe.

Then you add cream and butter.

Add peanuts and spoon onto the cooled cake in the springform pan. Let set for 20 minutes before serving. I let mine set for over 30 minutes and when I cut into it a pool of caramel filled the space where I removed the first piece. I guess I needed to wait longer, but I couldn't wait to try it. This was probably due to the fact that my cake sunk a little in the middle so I put extra caramel to even it out on top. No harm there. The more caramel the better! I just need to be more patient before cutting into it.

I thought I would like it more than I did. Don't get me wrong. I liked it. I just thought I would love it and be entering chocolate-caramel heaven. I think it was the peanuts that I didn't love. I really liked the cake and the caramel. How could you not? Especially together. I think it would be good with coconut sprinkled on top.

My parents came over and they liked it. My dad said he disagrees with the nuts. He thinks they should be pecans or walnuts. Hmm. He didn't turn down taking home what was left though!

I'd like to thank Tammy for choosing this recipe. It was the first time I made caramel, but it won't be my last. :)

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

TWD: Creme Brulee

This week's recipe is Creme Brulee chosen by Mari at Mevrouw Cupcake. I was excited for 3 reasons.

1. I luuuuuv creme brulee.
2. I have never made it.
3. I get to use the kitchen torch we received as a wedding gift (five. years. ago.) and have never used.

So last night, home alone, I decided to stir things up. I was surprised by the simplicity of the recipe. It came together very quickly. I strained the liquid into ramekins and into the oven they went. Since I used ramekins that are smaller and taller in size than the recipe suggests, I did have to adjust my baking time. It took 1hr. 15 min. rather than the 50-60 min. as stated in the recipe. These need to chill for 3 hours or more, so I left them in the fridge overnight.

After lunch, I brought out my kitchen torch to finish off my dessert. Delicious! If I had known how easy it is to make something this good, I would have done it, oh, say, five years ago. I will definitely be making this for company. Simple, impressive and delicious.

Want some?

You can get the recipe over at Mari's bloglink at the beginning of this post or buy the book Baking: From my Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan. It's worth having in your kitchen!

Next week: Caramel-Peanut-Topped Brownie Cake

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

TWD: Dimply Plum Cake

This week's TWD recipe was Dimply Plum Cake. I have to admit I was a little concerned as to whether I would like it. I like plums by themselves, but not so much as an added recipe ingredient.

I gave it a try anyway because 1) I want to participate in making as many recipes in the Baking cookbook as possible, and 2) I wanted to see if my instinct were right, that I would not like this cake. I was wrong. It is gooood! Thinking about this now, it's hard to believe that I wouldn't like it because I love cake. Especially homemade cake.

The subtle sweetness of the cake counters the tartness of the plums nicely. I used the Italian Prune Plums as Dorie suggested, since they're currently in season. This is a quick and easy recipe. I'd like to try it with apricots. Raspberries would be good too.

This recipe was chosen by Michelle from Bake-en. You can get the recipe over at her site, or page 41 of the cookbook. Thanks for choosing a winner Michelle!

Next week: Creme Brulee. I'm excited!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

TWD: Chocolate Chunkers

OMG! That was my first reaction after biting into this cookie. And my second, and third, and....

This week, Claudia from Fool for Food chose Chocolate Chunkers (p. 70 in Baking: From my Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan).

These cookies are decadent! Chunky, chocolatey, chewy, melt in your mouth good. They definitely fulfill any chocolate fix you might need. I was a little concerned about adding raisins to such a chocolatey cookie. I used pecans and golden raisins in mine. After seeing how chunky the batter was, I was more concerned that the cookies weren't going to hold together. No need to worry. That Dorie knows what she's doing. Probably the best cookie I've ever made.

Now I must leave the house and run some errands before that plate of cookies looks like this:

Being alone in the house with these as company is a dangerous situation!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

TWD: Chunky Peanut Butter and Oatmeal Chocolate Chipsters

Last week I joined the baking club called Tuesdays with Dorie. Each week the club is going to bake our way through the cookbook, Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan. This week's recipe (my first) was the Chunky Peanut Butter and Oatmeal Chocolate Chipsters chosen by Stefany of Proceed with Caution.

This was a super fast and easy dough to put together. I had all of the ingredients in my pantry, which was even better. I did make one modification though. Since I only had creamy peanut butter on hand and the recipe called for chunky, I added a half cup chopped roasted peanuts to the mix. The cookies came out great and are delicious. The oatmeal and the peanuts give them a great crunch, and yet they're chewy at the same time. They would be great with a glass of milk. Sadly, I have no milk in the house. note to self: buy milk tomorrow

I chilled the dough for about three hours before baking as recommended. Some bakers didn't chill their dough and their cookies came out flat. Others who didn't chill the dough said theirs came out fine. I wanted to make sure I didn't end up with flat cookies, so into the chiller it went.

I will definitely be making these cookies again!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Pizza delivery!

I've been playing with the idea of starting a food blog for awhile now. My friend Maria told me about Tuesdays with Dorie, which seemed to be the impetus I needed. That and the fact that I recently quit my job, which means more time in the kitchen!

I was having a hard time finding the "right" name. When a friend suggested "bun in the oven", it made us laugh because it is rarely used in the literal sense. I love to bake and cook. I love reading cookbooks, food magazines and watching the Food Network. Getting together with friends and family over a great meal is a good time in my book. I'm married to Jeff and have two kittens, Cooper and Milo.

Now, let's talk about food, shall we....

I've been on a pizza making frenzy the past couple weeks. Ever since I took my friend Sharon's pizza class. So I bought a baking stone and a pizza peel and I see no signs of stopping. Seriously. I've made three in the past week.

It's easy. It's fun to try different combinations of ingredients. And, above all, it's way better than anything delivered. Once you get the hang of making the dough, the rest is easy as pie. Pizza pie, that is.

I've been using my friend Sharon's recipe for dough. I'll probably try others in the future, just for comparison, but hers is very good. It's light and gets a nice crunchy crust on the bottom. It's a wet dough, not one that you roll out. This one you have to press out with your hands onto parchment paper. Lather your hands with olive oil so the dough doesn't stick.

Sharon's Pizza Dough Recipe

2 c. bread flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp instant dry yeast (same as active dry yeast)
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp olive oil
1 c. warm water

I used a stand mixer with the dough hook, but if you don't have one it can easily be made in a bowl with a dough whisk or even your hands (messy, but effective). Put dry ingredients in bowl first, mix together. Add olive oil and then honey. tip: adding the olive oil first allows the honey to easily slide off the spoon. Slowly add water to rest of ingredients while mixing on low speed. Cover with plastic and rest 1-1 1/2 hours until it doubles in size. The dough can be made ahead and refridgerated up to 2-3 days until you're ready to use.

Preheat oven with stone at highest temperature for 30 minutes. Mine goes up to 500 degrees. Press dough out on parchment paper. Drizzle with olive oil and par-bake for 3 minutes. Remove from oven and add toppings, then bake for another 5-9 minutes. Periodically check pizza to see if it's done. I baked mine for another 7 minutes, but it will depend on your oven and size of your pizza.

For this pizza I made a sauce out of canned San Marzano tomatoes*, garlic, olive oil and salt. Added a combination of grated mozzarella and fontina cheese, red onion and pepperoni. Delicious goodness!

*The tomatoes can be found at Williams-Sonoma, your local italian market or online.

I love good food. Pizza is one of my favorites and I'm always in search of a great pizza place. I never have to look again. What can be better than choosing your own quality ingredients , smelling it bake and pulling your masterpiece out of your own oven?! Go ahead, try it. You'll love it.