Sunday, October 25, 2009

Sweet Potato Biscuits, TWD

I have never really gotten the hang of making biscuits. Or basically anything that requires cutting the butter and flour together. I remember my mother-in-law trying to teach me how to cut butter and flour for pie crusts using a knife and fork. Maybe it isn't just the butter thing. I worked in a fast food restaurant for awhile as a biscuit maker. They had a mix I would pour in a giant bowl and all I had to do was add buttermilk and mix and cut. Even those were not turning out right and rather than demanding some retraining, I quit. (That was also with a three month old baby and getting up at 4:00 a.m. to go make the biscuits. Maybe that is why I quit.)

I felt a little intimidated by this week's Tuesdays with Dori recipe, Sweet Potato Biscuits, chosen by Erin at Prudence Pennywise. It actually was a very easy recipe and I did a decent job getting the butter cut in. It may have been too floury still, but next time I am going to try grating the butter in and see if that helps. I mashed canned sweet potatoes with a fork and left them a little lumpy. I really liked the little sweet potato bits in the biscuits. These were really delicious and simple. I think mine did not rise much because I scraped baking powder out of the bottom of the can. It was pretty old.

I am going to get some new baking powder, grate the butter, and try these again soon. You can get the recipe on Prudence Pennywise or on page 26 of Baking, From My Home to Yours, by Dorie Greenspan.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Two Tuesdays with Dorie

I have been trying to get caught up on my Tuesdays with Dorie baking. I have actually only missed one recipe since I joined in January, the chocolate souffle. But my baking and posting has been late for many other recipes. Last week, I finally made the Chocolate-Crunched Caramel Tart, chosen by Carla of Chocolate Moosey, on Thursday. We had a our house and I didn't use my kitchen for several days. My brother knew we weren't using our kitchen and invited us over for dinner the day our situation was resolved. I decided to try to whip this tart up really quickly, and I did! I threw the dough in the food processor, pressed it in the pan, put it in the freezer, ran a kid on an errand, called home to have the other kid preheat the oven, came back and baked it while microwaving cream for both the caramel and the ganache and just threw this baby together to be chilled during dinner. The ganache was still a little runny, but I thought it was really great and even better the next day when it had set up nicely.

This week, I also made some super speedy split level pudding this afternoon and I am going to get my post posted today...on TUESDAY, god willing. I got called to substitute teach today and had a marching thing to do this evening. I came home from school, read P & Q, and decided to use Romaine's suggestion of using the microwave again. I had leftover ganache from last week's tart and made the vanilla pudding in the microwave. It was so simple. I also took someone else's suggestion of putting it in wine glasses to see the split levels. So thank you fellow TWDers whom I don't have time to link to for the great ideas!

And thanks to Garrett of Flavor of Vanilla for this week's pick, which can be found on pages 384- 385 of Baking, From My Home to Yours.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Cottage Cheese Pufflets; TWD

Or as we called them, just "Pufflets" (so cute). I knew that my family would not like them (probably not even try them) if I called them anything with cottage cheese in the title. Jaques, of Daisy Lane Cakes, picked this interesting recipe, found on pages 148 and 149 of Baking, From My Home to Yours.

The cottage cheese is pureed in the dough, giving it a nice tanginess. I wish I had strained the cottage cheese, due to the stickiness of the dough. I know problems could have been overcome by repeated chilling, but I was too impatient and just kind of scooped and mangled some when I needed to. I also wish I had put more preserves in the middles. I think I will make these again soon. My family really liked them and I know I can do them better.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Flaky Apple Turnovers: TWD

Apples mean fall. Fall means back to school. Back to school means I am super busy, especially this year. I have just started substitute teaching. For so many years,my main job has been caring for my kids and my grandma. I have worked slinging drinks a few nights a week. It feels so weird to have a real job.

I am excited and loving it though. My grandma's sister is helping me take care of her. This is a huge help, but it is also a huge stress because her sister isn't as able to care for her as I had hoped. My life is a whirlwind right now.

This week, I did make the apple turnovers. The dough gave me fits. I don't know what I did but it was a big crumbly mess. Well, I do know one thing I did, not cut the butter fine enough. I was afraid of overworking it I guess. But when it came to rolling it out, I may have overworked it a bit as I tortured it (and myself) with a marble rolling pin. I hated working with this dough. When the option came in the recipe to gather the scraps to re-chill and re-roll to make more, I quickly and emphatically gathered the scraps and threw them in the trash.

All in all though, I guess it was kind of like childbirth; the pain was forgotten once I had that delicious little turnover. I think I undercooked mine a bit (unlike childbirth with my late, 10 and 11 lb. babies). They turned out tasting better than I thought they would after fighting with the dough.

Thanks to Julie of Someone's in the Kitchen for picking this recipe which can be found on pages 317 and 317 of Baking, From My Home to Yours, by Dorie Greenspan.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Espresso Cheesecake Brownies

I don't even know what to say. It is Monday night and I am writing last week's post. I shouldn't even post at all probably. But once again, I *did* make the TWD project. I just didn't post about it. So nothing like the last last minute, I wanted to say I did it; I loved them, and here they are:

Melissa of Life in a Peanut Shell chose Espresso Cheesecake Brownies, pages 104 and 105 of Baking From My Home To Yours.

Up for tomorrow: Find a suitable souffle pan or substitute, take Grandma to aqua aerobics class, bake souffle, shampoo carpet in three bedrooms, take Little E to music lesson, Chaperone Big E's evening marching band practice for 3 hours, and write a post about the souffle, assuming it even turns out. Right.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Creamiest Lime Cream Meringue Pie, TWD

This was quite a pie. (With quite a lot of butter.) I got excited about making this when Jennifer brought it to book club. Our host provided a wonderful citrus themed dinner, including dessert, but Jennifer provided another dessert, serendipitously citrusy as well. (And Ms. PH brought an incredible pesto dip, which complimented the citrus theme too!)

The lime cream for the pie has a hint of ginger. I stole a page from Romaine's book and made my cream in the microwave. I have done curds in the microwave before, and it is so simple and getting it to 180 degrees just took a few minutes. Then I strained it into the blender and slowly added the two and a half sticks of butter. The cream was nice and thick, so I think the microwave cheat was fine.

One advantage to procrastinating when making the TWD recipes, is I can learn from Jennifer's suggestions. She felt her crust was too dry and crumbly and suggested doubling the butter. As if this pie did not already have enough butter? But I followed her advice and the crust turned out fine.

I was worried about burning the meringue and may have pulled it out a tad to soon. Next time I will be braver and toast that top a little more.

Thanks to Linda at Tender Crumb for choosing this pie. She made tartlets from this recipe that are the most beautiful I have seen. You can get the recipe on her blog or on pgs. 337-339 of Baking, From my Home to Yours, by Dorie Greenspan.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Peoria Dining Tour Books

Big E is a junior this year in the Washington Community High School band. He actually has a (4 note) solo in the song "Going to California" by Led Zeppelin. Yes, the marching band is doing The Music of Led Zeppelin for their show this year. I'm sure later in the season I will post a video of their show, showing all their hard work (and Big E's 4 note solo).

One of their fundraisers is selling Peoria Dining Tour books. This is a book full of Buy 1 Get 1 Free coupons for area restaurants. These are really nice to have. I am happy to have purchased my own this year. The past few years, I have had a relative who bought one of these to our family Christmas gathering and we all passed it around and shared the coupons. (These make great gifts!) Using it just a few times recoups the cost of the book. The book costs $30. You can buy them other places, but if you purchase one from the WCHS band, the band gets $10 of that.

I am listing all the businesses included here. If anyone would like to purchase one of these from the band, please call Scott or Vickie Williams at 309-745-5020 or you can email me at and I will hook you up.

Fine Dining, Casual Dining & Theater
Aachis Indian cuisine
Adams Street Café
Angie’s Family Restaurant & Buffet
Bananas Ale House
Bar Louie
Beef ‘O’ Brady’s
Burger Barge
Butler’s Chicken
Café Evergreen
Carnegie’s 501
The Chateau
CiCi’s Pizza Buffet
Club Lacon
Cornerstone Family Restaurant
Cracklin Jake’s
Dairy King
Davis Brothers Pizza
Double A’s Pizza Pub
Eamon Patrick’s Public House
Eastlight Theater
El Sombrerito
Firehouse Bar & Grill
Firehouse Pizza
The Galley
Geo’s Pizza
Germantwon Grille
Godfather’s Pizza
Good Tequila
Hickory River Barbecue
Jane’s Ice Box
Kelleher’s Irish Pub
Khoury’s Cuisine Knickerbockers
Kobe Japanese Steakhouse
Kouri’s Bar & Grill
Lian Wang
Los Jimadores
Maid Rite
Michael’s Italian Feast
Nick & Willy’s
Par-a-dice Hotel Casino
Peoria Pizza Works
Peoria Players Theatre
Pita’s Mediterranean Wraps
Pizza Inn
Pleasant Hill Antique Mall
Ponte Vecchio
Rhythm Kitchen
Richard’s on Main Street
River Beach Grill
Second Street Bar & Grill
Sizzling India
Star Struck Hollywood Grill
Tailgaters Sports Bar
Taj of India
Thanh Linh
Village Inn
Water Street Café
Yesterday’s Bar & Grill
Youssef’s Deli
Zim’s Diner @ Campustown

On The Lighter Side
Auntie Anne’s Pretzels
Baskin Robbins
Burger King
Charley’s Grilled Subs
Chicago Hut
Chicago Pizza & Grill
Cold Stone Creamery
Cookies By Design
Dairy Queen
Domino’s Pizza
Dunkin Donuts
Dunkin Donuts & Baskin Robbins
Garner’s Pizza & Wings
Kentucky Fried Chicken Lou’s Drive Inn
Mister G’s Chicago Style Hotdogs
Nut House
Papa John’s Pizza
Roly Poly Rolled Sandwiches
Smoothie King
Spotted Cow
Sweet Treats
Taco John’s
Trefzger’s Bakery
Udder’s Ice Cream
Velvet Freeze

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Applesauce Spice Bars

Look! I'm here. I didn't fall off the face of the earth. Or in a hole. And I have been baking my TWD assignments. (I just haven't been posting about them the past two weeks.) But I made the Banana Bundt Cake.

And the Brownie Buttons.

But summer has just gotten busy. And now it is over. The kids went back to school today and the Applesauce Spice Bars made a perfect after school snack (and a mid-morning snack for me while they were gone.)

This recipe was chosen by Karen and the recipe is on her blog, Something Sweet by Karen. Or you can find it on pages 117 & 118 of Baking, From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan.

I loved this simple recipe. I substituted walnuts for the pecans and since I didn't have heavy cream, I doubled the glaze recipe and used half sour cream and half half and half. That was weird to write. But this cake was great, and hopefully I will be blogging more frequently (but maybe changing the name from Secret Server to Secret Substitute.)

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Memories of Vanilla Ice Cream; Tuesdays with Dorie

Remember when we made the Perfect Party Cake? With eight egg whites (which I doubled, ending up with 16 egg yolks)? In June? I decided to use my egg yolks to make a double batch of Dorie's Vanilla Ice Cream (pg. 428, 429 of Baking, From My Home To Yours). I "played around" and made a mint chocolate chip version and a chocolate swirl version.

Chocolate Swirl Ice Cream With Katharine Hepburn Brownies

I didn't really take any notes or any pictures because I figured it was a dry run for this week's Tuesdays With Dorie, in which Vanilla Ice Cream was chosen by Lynne of Cafe LynnyLu. I figured in the month's time since then, I would make the ice cream again for real and take some great pictures. And write a great post.

Ooops. A month has flown by quickly, and it is Vanilla Ice Cream Tuesday, and I sit before you empty handed. No ice cream, no pictures, no post. I am sitting here on a cold, rainy summer night being challenged by my teenager to take him to the Ice Cream Shack to make good on a bet I lost today. I'd rather be visiting the TWD blogs and eating some rich creamy homemade vanilla ice cream.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Blackberry Blanc-Manger, (TWD), a post including crushed bones, wobbly breasts, seaweed, rocks, and a delicious dessert

What an interesting Tuesdays With Dorie recipe this week. Susan, of Sticky, Gooey, Creamy, Chewy chose Dorie's Raspberry Blanc-Manger. I found this to be such an and intriguing recipe. First, I needed to learn to pronounce blanc-manger. I failed French I in high school. "Blah-mahn-jhay". Répètes. "Blah-mahn-jhay". Très bien!

Next, I needed to learn what the heck it was. It looks to me like a panna cotta. Only with ground almonds in it. In fact, Dorie calls it the kissing cousin of panna cotta. This wasn't extremely helpful to me either, since I don't have a lot of experience to with panna cotta, except one near successful attempt at a coconut milk panna cotta made with agar agar. But I did learn something about panna cotta last week. According to Jay Rayner, on last week's Top Chef Masters, "A good panna cotta, if it's set right, is meant to wobble like a woman's breasts." Just thought I'd share that, in case you missed it.

So the blanc-manger may have been around for a couple thousand years. Today's version uses gelatin instead of crushed bones. That's great, unless you are a vegetarian who doesn't use gelatin because it is made of crushed bones. (Me!) So I decided to use agar agar as my gelling agent. Agar Agar is "a gelatinlike product of certain seaweeds, used for solidifying certain culture media, as a thickening agent for ice cream and other foods, as a substitute for gelatin, in adhesives, as an emulsifier, etc.". I substituted agar agar powder 1:1 for the gelatin in the recipe and followed the recipe instructions.

I questioned my judgment on that after I microwaved the agar powder with three tablespoons of water for 15 seconds. I ended up with a glob of what looked like an eraser.

Once I added it to the milk/almond/sugar mixture, it dissipated and was OK, but in the future, I might try just adding the agar powder directly to the milk on the stove. When I started to cool my mixture in the ice bath, the agar started to jell really quickly. My almonds were not ground very finely, and I was really worried because at this point, this recipe looked like Malt-o-Meal.

I quickly mixed in whipped cream and blackberries and was pleasantly surprised that it turned out really well. I made a blackberry coulis and was very pleased with the result.

The only aspect that maybe wasn't quite right was the texture of my almonds. I had whole almonds that I blanched and ground in the food processor. I have had trouble getting the skins off before, but this time followed these easy instructions from Amanda. I recruited my grandma to help with the almonds, but I couldn't get them ground very fine and the texture in the final blanc-manger was like rice pudding.

Speaking of pudding, this is really off topic, but it was a great "ah ha" moment for me. I am a rock hound and every year I assist with a class at a summer camp that teaches kids about rocks and fossils. The instructor has a PHD in geology and oceanography and is a great mentor, but sometimes explains things in really technical terms and doesn't show examples of what he is talking about. One of the rocks I have yet to find is a puddingstone, a "metaconglomerate of large dark crystals in a lighter fine grained matrix, that looks like a pudding". What? With that description I have never really been able to picture what I am looking for. However, when Jennifer brought her blanc-manger to book club, and cut it, as soon as I saw the way the berries were suspended in her "pudding", I immediately pictured the elusive puddingstone!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Peach Blackberry Brioche Tart, TWD

I did not do justice to this weeks's TWD recipe, Plum Brioche Tart, chosen by Denise, of Chez Us. I wimped out on making the Dorie's "poor" brioche. I don't have a stand mixer, and I didn't think I could do it by hand. I had a pound of Brioche dough from Artisan bread in Five Minutes a Day in the freezer, so I used that for my dough. I didn't have plums, but I did have peaches and blackberries.

I pressed the brioche dough into the tart pan and covered the bottom with seedless blackberry jam. I arranged some peaches and blackberries to look pretty. (I may have used a few too many.) I finished it off with some almonds and sugar.

After baking for the recommended time, my tart looked like fruit soup in a bread bowl. (Which might not be a bad idea.)

I removed some of the liquid and baked it longer. It turned out very good, but my brioche did not puff very tall. I don't know if it was because I did not let it rise much, since ABin5 bread does not usually need rising time, or if I had too much fruit and juice weighing the whole thing down.

I'd really like to try this again and attempt Dorie's brioche and use plums. My version was pretty tasty and made a good breakfast, but I have a feeling it wasn't as good as it was supposed to be.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Tribute To Katharine Hepburn Brownies; TWD

This week, we had a guest host who chose our recipe, Tribute to Katharine Hepburn Brownies. Lisa, from Surviving Oz, is not a regular Tuesday With Dorie baker. In fact, I don't think she is a regular baker at all, but she did a spectacular job of making these brownies and writing an entertaining post about her experience with it.

How did she get the honor of choosing the recipe, when I have to wait about 100 more weeks for my turn? She designed our new TWD logo! (To the right.) It is beautiful and I am glad she got to slip into our rotation schedule and pick this fabulous recipe.

These were the *best* *brownies* *EVER*! They have cinnamon, a kick of coffee, and advice from Katharine Hepburn, "never put too much flour in your brownies".

I told KPOW I would bring these to her house on the fourth of July, but I couldn't get them out of the pan because they were so gooey. I know she had an abundance of desserts anyway, so I put them in the refrigerator and headed to her house without them. (More brownies for me Mwa Haa Haa.)

When I got home, they had firmed up and I was able to get them out of the pan. My whole family loved them. We put all arguments about cakey brownies vs. fudgey brownies behind us. These were definitely the fudgey type, but were so well liked, they bought peace into our home and made happy tummies.

When I had lots of egg yolks left over from perfect party cake, I made a double batch of Dorie's vanilla ice cream. This one was swirled with fudge and made the perfect accompaniment for the brownie.

My kids are already asking me to make them again and I cannot resist the simple requests of my sweet little children. As soon as I get more chocolate, I am making more of these brownies!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Perfect Party, and a cake; TWD

My grandma (who has Alzheimer's and lives with us) is 88 years old. She has a sister, Helen, who is 89 years old. They have always been the closest of sisters, even though for the past 48 years, Helen has lived in Arizona. My grandma used to spend several months of the year in Arizona with her sister, but hasn't been out there for about three years. It had become clear within the last year that she would not be traveling out there, definitely not alone, and even if I took her, I think it may have been stressful and disorienting. Helen's husband had been chronically ill and she was unable to travel here. I was worried these sisters would never see each other again.

Earlier this year, Helen's husband passed away, and just last week, Helen came back here. For good! She is moving back here. She has been to see my grandma every day and I am soooooo happy to see them together again. Of course, I had to have a party so all the family members could get together and see welcome Helen back. Of course, I had to make a cake to celebrate. I was thrilled that this week's Tuesdays With Dorie recipe was The Perfect Party cake, chosen by Carol of mix, mix...stir, stir.

I baked my cake Saturday and figured I would fill, frost, and assemble it Sunday morning. One of my layers turned out really lopsided though. I wanted it to be perfect. (No pressure from the name of the recipe, right?) Sunday morning, I decided to bake another one. Both layers turned out perfect. I decided to shave the lopsided part off the one cake and use the rest. Seven cake layers would make a spectacular cake. I also had some lime curd needing to be used, so I alternated the layers with blackberry preserves and lime curd.

I hadn't actually started frosting the cake when my guests started arriving. One uncle brought his own cooler of Budweiser he started drinking out of. (He actually does this every time he comes to my house, regardless of whether there is a party going on.) Another uncle put some Moosehead beer in the refrigerator and offered me one. I accepted and drank a Moosehead while I was beating the buttercream with a hand mixer. Yes, it takes that long to make this buttercream. I started feeling a little tipsy and commented to my husband that it must be strong beer. He asked what I had eaten so far that day, and I realized I had only had about 8 cups of coffee.

I put wax paper strips down on the plate, got another beer, and proceeded to assemble/ fill/ frost the cake. I would bet that spreading buttercream over jam and/or lime curd is not easy sober. It was sloppy fun being a little tipsy and I finally got all seven layers stacked. When I pulled the wax paper from underneath on one side, part of the bottom layer came with it, so my cake ended up lopsided after all!

We had a great time visiting and catching up. Someone else bought some Heineken and some Miller Chill, and my cousin kept offering me some Jack Daniels from a bottle he was pulling from his pocket. I declined the Jack, but someone headed out for more beer. We finally cut the cake and it was delicious. Cousin J decided to stabilize it with a knife.

That worked for that side, but part of the cake ended up on the stove, and for some reason, that seemed really hysterical to everyone and we laughed and laughed. And had more cake of course! And beer of course!

For some reason, these pictures are fuzzy and unclear. I thought it was just my perspective at the time, but I guess I am about as good at drunken photography as I am drunken frosting. I loved this cake and loved having the family together laughing and eating and reconnecting.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Summer Days In Da Club

During my shifts at work, business has been painfully slow. Summer is a slow season for us anyway. This summer, the economic climate has brought a harsh drought to the money of the club. (I learned the phrase "make it rain" recently from Little E. He was with me somewhere when I pulled out my stack of dollar bills to pay my bill in singles. [Hey, at least I wasn't writing a check.] Little E asked why I carry around large amounts of dollar bills and I told him because I am a server, I make most of my money I take home in dollar bill tips. He said "you always look like you're getting ready to make it rain." I asked him what "make it rain" means and from behind us in line my husband laughed and said "You don't know what 'make it rain' means? Remind us where you work again." So I guess I have seen it many a time, but never knew it was called that.) Anyway, there hasn't been much rain in the club lately. Everyone gets irritable. I usually try to keep good spirits and do my job well, even when I am making very little money to do it.

The dancers have been getting a bit mouthy with the customers for not tipping and I have been becoming increasingly uncomfortable about it. I understand their frustration. They PAY to work there. Not only do they not make an hourly wage, they pay a fee everyday to be able to come into work. So they start out their day in the hole and it would be infuriating to go on stage after stage to dance and not have anyone coming up and tipping them. But they are not allowed to solicit tips. They definitely are not allowed to DEMAND tips, which is what one woman has been doing.

Last Wednesday (my day shift), a regular customer said "M has been getting really bad and driving away customers." I wasn't sure what I was supposed to do about it. There is usually no manager there during the day. I'm just a bartender. They are independent contractors. I'm not their boss. But I do represent the club and it is important to me that we make our customers comfortable. So I had been pondering it and decided to talk to her yesterday morning.

I told M that I know it is upsetting when people don't tip, but I would hope she would not try to embarrass them or make them feel uncomfortable. That didn't go well since she pointed out that it makes her uncomfortable and embarrassed to have to dance naked for free. I pointed out sometimes customers don't tip her if they are waiting for another dancer to go spend money on. (I had noticed that last week, her calling a customer a cheap ass because he wasn't coming up to her stage and he was waiting for another dancer to come out, whom he spent $100 on.) She countered that even if a customer is waiting for another dancer, he should show her respect while he is waiting.

These are good points, but customers are not obligated to tip. I also asked her to consider that sometimes, customers spend money on dancers, but don't tip the bartender and sometimes it works the other way. Sometimes I am making money off of people even if the dancers are not. So could she please consider that before harassing them?

It turned out that was exactly the situation yesterday. The first part of the day, several customers got drinks from me without tipping, but were tipping dancers on stage and getting private dances. My tip jar sat completely empty while the dancers made some good money. In the afternoon, a group of three guys came in and tipped me $5 for their first round of drinks. Whoo hoo! Not spectacular, but better than the $0 I had gotten from most of the other customers. They sat and talked while M went on stage. Another round, another $5 tip. M yelled "I'm not getting naked for free here!" Grrr. Whatever. Fine, I understand her not wanting to get naked. She seemed to think that the guys were watching TV and sat on the couch onstage saying "OK, well, I can watch TV too." They looked a little confused. M asked, "Are you so cheap you can't even give me a dollar?" A couple of them reluctantly approached the stage. I walked by and told her to cut it out and went to the table and they ordered another round and gave me another $5 tip. M yelled to the table, "You know those beers are cheaper somewhere else." The next time she got on stage, they got up and left.

We had the same argument we had earlier and she really feels she is right in acting this way. I feel it makes the club look bad. When a manager came for the evening shift, I told him about it and he said he and the house mom would talk to her about it. Great. Now I am going to be considered the tattletale. Once, I told the (same)house mom when I saw a dancer giving a blow job in the couch dance area and was chastised as being the tattletale for years.

On a more humorous, weirdo factor note, the other day a guy came in with a flier rolled up and I could see the top said "wanted". He didn't want to buy a drink, but I told him when there is no cover charge, he has to buy a drink and he reluctantly ordered a cranberry juice. As dancers approached his table, he kept showing them the flier. It turns out he was hoping he could post it in the stripper dressing room. It said "Wanted. Roommate."

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Roasted Pineapple Dacquoise; Tuesdays with Dorie

I made this week's TWD recipe on Sunday. I knew it would not get done in time for Father's Day dinner dessert, but hoped it would be done on Father's Day. This recipe just had several steps that took a lot of time. "Bake for three hours, chill for three hours, once assembled, chill for four to six hours."

I had everything I needed for this, except for a pineapple and parchment paper. I even had some white chocolate that I had been thinking would never get used. So I bought a pineapple, decided to use silicone mats, and decided to follow the recipe and make the white chocolate ganache, even though I had a feeling I would like this more with a whipped cream. I decided to just take my time and work on the recipe throughout the day.

I baked the meringue sheets on silicone sheets, so I didn't exactly make neat 6'X 12" rectangles. My camera batteries died, so I couldn't take pics of my steps, but knew that they would be charged by the time this recipe got done.

I made the ganache, and roasted the pineapple and had them chilling, when my brother called wanting to know if I would babysit my 18 month old niece for a few hours. Baby E came over and shortly thereafter was scratched by a cat and started crying. And crying and crying. I knew she was tired and would be more comfortable at her house so I had my husband hold her while I threw the dacquoise together so it could be chilling while I took her home and got her a bath and in bed.

He calmed her for a few minutes by getting a Yo Gabba Gabba song on Youtube. I decided to try to trim my meringues to make them more neat and even, but they cracked. Baby E started crying harder in the other room. Knowing this needed to chill for a few hours, I wanted to get it assembled, but it was hard to piece the meringues together attractively with the crying baby wailing and I felt hurried.

Wah Wah Wah Wah! I hurried and made a layer of meringue. Wah Wah Wah Wah! I pulled the ganache and pineapple out of the refrigerator and made layers. Wah Wah Wah Wah. More meringue, ganache, pineapple. Wah Wah Wah Wah! Finished it off by pouring the rest of the ganache on top and slapping on the rest of the pineapple.

I looked at it, wondering if it was supposed to be sitting in a lake of ganache? Threw it in the fridge and the baby in the stroller and headed to her house. Her cries subsided as soon as we were out the door.

We went to her house and she got a bath and a snack and we read some stories and she went right to sleep. It's been a long time since I have taken care of a little baby. I sat down in the quiet house, and just then it hit me; I forgot to whip the ganache! When I got home around midnight, My dacquoise had been chilled long enough, so I pulled it out and realized it was more of a floating island than a dacquoise.

It was really too sweet too. I think I would have liked this with whipped cream. I liked the meringue (eating my left over chipped pieces) and the pineapple. Maybe whipped, the ganache wouldn't have been so overpowering. I'll have to try this again. Thanks to Andrea in the Kitchen for this pick!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Honey- Nectarine Ice cream; TWD

This was summer on a spoon. We all loved this refreshing treat. This week's Tuesdays With Dorie recipe, Honey-Peach Ice Cream, was chosen by Tommi, of Brown Interior. The recipe can be found on her blog, or on page 437 of Baking, from My Home To Yours, by Dorie Greenspan.

I had an exhausting week, volunteering at a summer camp, for a class that teaches kids about fossils and rocks. It is my favorite week of the year, but it is more physically demanding than my regular job, which mostly consists of sitting on a cooler, waiting for a customer, or occasionally having to lift an ice scoop and pour a Captain and Coke.

At camp we walk for a half a mile to a creek. Then we walk though the creek looking for rocks. Then the kids collect too many rocks. And their five gallon buckets get too heavy. Then the instructor wants to go farther down the creek. And I realize, "Hey this water is higher than some of the kids' heads and there is a pretty strong current, so I can barely stand and the water is only up to my thighs." So I yell to the instructor who is way ahead but he can't hear me. And the little kids start crying because of the cold current. So I end up carrying small children and heavy buckets of rocks through a rushing stream until I am almost crying too. Then we go back and do the same thing the next day. Actually, it is more fun than it sounds, but I am just trying to describe my level of physical exhaustion.

So I didn't even know if I would have the energy to make the ice cream. I went to the store and they had only five shriveled, bruised peaches. I remembered that Dorie says you can use nectarines, but I had nectarines all week for lunch and the nectarines at the store were hard and not very appealing. I bought them anyway and hoped for the best.

You don't need to peel nectarines, so that was nice. I just diced them up and boiled them with honey. (I did not notice that I was only supposed to chop half, and save the other half for when the ice cream gets frozen, so all my nectarines went in.)

Then the nectarines get pureed and a simple custard base gets made.

When the custard and the fruit combined, it tasted like peach baby food. Yum. My favorite. Seriously. At this point, I substituted Absolut Peach Vodka for the vanilla.

After being chilled overnight, I poured it in the ice cream maker, froze it a little more, and we had this lovely nectarine ice cream.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Parisian Apple Tartlet; TWD

I really liked this week's recipe for Parisian Apple Tartlets, chosen by Jessica of My Baking Heart. The recipe was sooo simple, but sooo tasty. It would make such an elegant little dessert for a party.

I showed the recipe and picture to little E, and he said, "It just makes one?"

So I explained that the recipe was so simple; apple, a dab of butter, a sprinkle of sugar, and some puff pastry, I could easily make however many I wanted.

I asked how many he thought I should make and he quickly replied, "Twenty-five. There are five of us and we could probably eat about five each." Little E is a thirteen year old boy going through a growth spurt.

I am sure these would be great with store bought puff pastry, but I had never made puff pastry dough and wanted to give it a try. I used this recipe. It didn't turn out perfect, but it was my first time so I did not stress about it. My husband came in and asked if I was making a relief map of Iceland.

Also, that is white thing is a Countrytime lemonade canister lid, about 3 3/4", used to cut the circles. My apple chunks were really too big, but rather than cut them again, I just stacked them a little haphazardly.

I may have wanted to make my apple slices thinner, and/or my circles bigger, because the butter and brown sugar overflowed quite a bit and kept the pastry from puffing in places, and the apples toppled a bit. (Note- I only made ten.)

But they tasted really really good. Even though Dorie says they should be eaten soon after being made, certainly the same day, I had one two days later and it was still good. I wish I had made twenty-five. A couple were almost picture perfect.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Cinnamon Squares; Tuesdays With Dorie

It's a picture game. What is this?

Did you guess tents in a sandstorm? Or chunks of Starbucks Mocha Dark Chocolate, dusted with cinnamon, sugar, and espresso powder? If you guessed the latter, you are correct!

I wish I could give you a cinnamon square as a prize.

Cinnamon, chocolate, and espresso, all bold flavors, play nicely together in this week's Tuesdays With Dorie recipe, Cinnamon Squares, on pages 210 & 211 of Baking, From My Home To Yours, by Dorie Greenspan. This simple, but elegant snack cake was chosen by Tracey, of Tracey's Culinary Adventures.

This recipe came together so easily. The batter is mixed by hand, and half is poured in an 8" X 8" pan. Then It is topped with chopped chocolate, cinnamon, and espresso powder.

The rest of the batter goes on top, and it is ready to go in the oven.

The recipe included a chocolate frosting, which looked delicious, but it was very hot and humid in my house, and the frosting seemed too heavy. I just dusted it with powdered sugar and cocoa.

(My cake had a couple of stab wounds from testing.)

I served this to the kids as an after school snack. Big E said "If you want to make this again, you can." It is always nice to have to have the sixteen year old's permission to make him snacks. I was glad they liked it though. I thought is was great and I'm sure I will make it again.