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. :)