Saturday, June 28, 2008

Second Daring Bakers Challenge... Fruit and Chocolate Danishes!

So this is my second daring bakers challenge, and I have to say... I liked it! I thought MAKING it was the OKAY part... but the eating was way better! This is a yeast danish dough, and having made it, I am pretty sure all the danishes I have had have been made with puff pastry! WTF? I thought the finished danish was a good, homey treat that may not have been entirely worth the trouble. I can think of about 1000 shortcuts and getting the same result. It was good to do though, I have never made a laminated dough before. The apricot one was my fave and I didn't even the chocolate one (yes, a baker with an aversion to chocolate). Whatev... I am in a little time crunch right now, so I cant type a a bunch of clever stuff... but here's my post! I may add more later...

Danish Recipe via Daring Bakers (with my changes made)
DETREMPE (dough)
-- 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
-- 1/2 cup 1% milk
-- 1/3 cup sugar
-- 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
-- 2 large eggs, chilled
-- 1 teaspoon salt
-- 3-1/4 cups all-purpose flour

-- Bloom yeast in milk. Slowly add sugar, vanilla extract, salt and eggs. Mix well. Add sifted flour in 1/2 cup at a time, until dough forms. Knead dough on floured surface for about 5 mins.
BEURRAGE (butter block)
-- 1/2 pound cold unsalted butter (organic)
-- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour

-- Combine butter and flour in a bowl and beat until smooth and lump free. Set aside at room temperature.

--- After the detrempe has chilled 30 minutes, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough into a rectangle approximately 18 x 13 inches and ¼ inch thick. The dough may be sticky, so keep dusting it lightly with flour. Spread the butter evenly over the center and right thirds of the dough. Fold the left edge of the detrempe to the right, covering half of the butter. Fold the right third of the rectangle over the center third. The first turn has now been completed. Mark the dough by poking it with your finger to keep track of your turns, or use a sticky and keep a tally. Place the dough on a baking sheet, wrap it in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
--- Place the dough lengthwise on a floured work surface. The open ends should be to your right and left. Roll the dough into another approximately 13 x 18 inch, ¼-inch-thick rectangle. Again, fold the left third of the rectangle over the center third and the right third over the center third. No additional butter will be added as it is already in the dough. The second turn has now been completed. Refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes.
--- Roll out, turn, and refrigerate the dough two more times, for a total of four single turns. Make sure you are keeping track of your turns. Refrigerate the dough after the final turn for at least 5 hours or overnight. The Danish dough is now ready to be used.

Apricot filling: quarter fresh apricots and cook with a little sugar and water until soft and jam-like, cool then spread into braid.
Raspberry-cheese filling: add 2 T sugar to a block of cream cheese and combine. Spread raspberry jam onto braid, then dot with cream cheese mix.
Chocolate: make chocolate pastry cream, with extra sugar, and fill braid with that.

-- 1 recipe Danish Dough
-- 2 cups filling
-- Egg wash: large egg, plus 1 yolk

--- Line a baking sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper. On a lightly floured surface, roll the Danish Dough into a 15 x 20-inch rectangle, ¼ inch thick. If the dough seems elastic and shrinks back when rolled, let it rest for a few minutes, then roll again. Place the dough on the baking sheet.
--- Along one long side of the pastry make parallel, 5-inch-long cuts with a knife or rolling pastry wheel, each about 1 inch apart. Repeat on the opposite side, making sure to line up the cuts with those you’ve already made.
--- Spoon the filling you’ve chosen to fill your braid down the center of the rectangle. Starting with the top and bottom “flaps”, fold the top flap down over the filling to cover. Next, fold the bottom “flap” up to cover filling. This helps keep the braid neat and helps to hold in the filling. Now begin folding the cut side strips of dough over the filling, alternating first left, then right, left, right, until finished. Trim any excess dough and tuck in the ends.

--- Proof for 90 mins at 90F. Brush on egg wash. Bake at 400 degrees F for 10 minutes, then rotate the pan so that the side of the braid previously in the back of the oven is now in the front. Lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees F, and bake about 15-20 minutes more, or until golden brown. Cool and serve the braid either still warm from the oven or at room temperature. I glazed it with a powdered suagr and milk glaze...

Here's the braid after it bakes. The apricot was my fave, hands down!

<3 Tara

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Guinness beef stew.

So I know Guiness beef stew isnt very summery, but when you have a craving... you have a craving, huh? It also helps that I have a house guest who is a meat and potatoes guy and a SO that loves anything I make... food for all! This stew is super yummy and jam-packed with fresh veggies and basically has about 2 T of butter in the whole thing. Pretty healthy for beef stew at least... its also super easy to make and the beef is SO tender (crock pot what?)!

Guiness beef stew.
-- 1 lb CAB stew chunks (or any stew meat)
-- 1/2 white onion, chopped
-- Celery scraps, whole (tops or bottoms... you will be removing these)
-- Thyme, Sage and Rosemary stalks tied together with butchers twine (I just bought the poultry blend in the produce herb section, also save the leaves of the herbs for later!!!)
-- 1 can diced tomatoes
-- 1 bottle/ can Guinness Beer, 2-3 bottles worth of water

-----------------Put in crock on low in the morning... go to work/ school, come home then add:

-- 1 russet potato, diced
*also, remove the herb stems and the celery pieces.

----------------Turn crock up to high and cook for about 45 mins meanwhile make the veloute:

Make a roux from 2 T butter and some flour over med heat. Cook roux for a few mins, until light gold. Add a couple ladlefulls of the broth from the crock pot and whisk in. Add a couple more ladlefulls and whisk some more. You now have a veloute (yay!)... well a beef veloute, that isnt traditional... whatev, its tasty. Cook for a couple mins and add back into the crock pot. This will help thicken the stew.

----------------Then, add:

-- 2 zuchinni, chunked
-- A large handful fresh green beans, cut to about 1''
-- 1/2 bag mix of carrots, cauliflower and broccoli (or a handful of each)
-- 8 oz of baby bella mushrooms (or white buttons), quartered
-- 1 t each chopped rosemary, sage and thyme

----------------Cook until veggies are tender. Thats it! I served it with a little cream as a garnish, but you can leave that out. Also salt and pepper to taste. If you are really concerned you could use cornstarch instead of the roux to thicken it. I just like the roux. Serve with bread of some sort (I made cornbread) and enjoy. The leftovers are super yummy too!

<3 Tara

The popsicle post.

Hey all. I just wanted to do a quick update for a couple things really quick. Basically I have been cooking a lot and I need to post some stuff! Okay, here we go.

I have been making a lot of popsicles! I love them and they are perfect for this hot summer weather. I see popsicles of all sorts being a staple in the freezer all summer long. They are so easy an so scrumptious! Well, I made popsicle batch #2 (#1 was the Vietnamese coffee pops) and they were tart and tangy and PERFECT for a hot summer day.

#2: Pineapple-Peach Pops
--1 pineapple diced
--2 peaches washed and sliced
--1/2 c water (to thin & blend easier)
--Honey to taste
--1.5 c whole milk yogurt

- Blend all ingredients in blender untl smooth (add yogurt last). I use whole milk yogurt to help form small, melty ice crystals... non jagged tongue gashers. Put in pop trays and freeze! Yummy!

#3: Avocado pops
--2 medium avocados
--2/3 cup 1% milk (what I always use)
--Honey to taste
--Juice of one large lemon
--1.5 c lowfat yogurt

- Blend all again, adding yogurt last. I use lowfat here b/c the avos have enough fat to make nice, smooth pops. Usually if making fruit pops I use whole yogurt. I have to tell you all that these pops are sooooo tasty! I am a huge fan of avo ice cream, so the pops are like 10x easier to make... joy!

Well, I cant wait to show you what I have come up with next! Happy pop-making!

**** On a side note, here is the perfect s'more! OMG so good! Here's the key... long slow marmallow roasting, then catch it on fire and quickly put in out. Also, have a graham cracker with a reese cup on it warming/ melting by the fire (on a rock or the rim... whatav) while you are roasting aformentioned marshmallow. By the time they come together they will both be full of gooey luciousness and CALLING YOUR NAME. You will be happy to oblige!

<3 Tara

Monday, June 09, 2008

Thai-inspired dinner.

Hey all out there in blogland! I thought I would share with you a nice meal I made a few weeks ago.

Fish: Chilean Sea Bass, marinated in ginger, a little garlic, sesame oil and soy sauce the broiled.

Rice: Long grain wild rice, cooked as usual and then I added a small (6 oz?) can of coconut milk and some chopped up pineapple at the very end.

Salad: Spinach, mango, bamboo shoots, peppers, cilantro, basil, lime juice, EVOO and at the end add crunchy rice noodles.

Dessert: Bananas foster, but without the flambĂ© and Rum part (even though it isn’t very Thai…)!


Vietnamese coffee popsicles.

So its the last week of school and its been a blisteringly abrupt 90-something all week. This is OHIO, its not supposed to be like that until mid-July! We totally skipped straight from icky, wet 60-something weather to 90-something. Figures. Well, during this slightly hectic time I am in need of caffeine. But coffee is hot. Nooooo thanks.

I also become crazily obsessed with cool things... fruits that are in the fridge, ice cream, smoothies popsicles... you know. This is due to the 90 degree weather and me being a cheap ass and not wanting to turn on the AC. I have the solution! Cold coffee! Not like iced coffee that is about 32 degrees, but coffee that is frozen... colder that 32. This is when I vaguely remember a recipe I saw a few days ago in passing. Here it is: . After investigating for a few I can safely say that anyone interested in getting me foodie gifts can find a Vietnamese coffee maker. Thanks! Its super cute and Ill add it to the stove top espresso maker, the french press and the aeropress I already have. Now I need a chemex and life will be complete. That's only the stuff for coffee prep. Do not get me started on the tea stuff... though the french press is used quite a bit here too. Okay, back to the chilly delights of freezing coffee.

I don't have the cool, ice-stick things... just regular old popsicle molds. I don't think that my taste buds cared about the shape though, these things were awesome! Super simple and uber-tasty. They also wake me up for all this grading I now have to do as a TA. Here's a pic... as usual don't fault me for my mediocre camera!

<3 Tara

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Kumquat Marmalade.

So who doesn't love citrus of ANY kind? Not me! I crave anything fresh and juicy, with that tangy, tart, sweet feeling. Mmmmm. Grapefruit is my fave, kumquats are my second. Due to their limited availability they surpass grapefruit for about two weeks while I eat waaaay more kumquats than was ever intended! Sort of like the Pluto and Neptune for the 8th and 9th planets (I knooooow that analogy isnt technically applicable here, but I am sure Pluto feels lonely out there not being a planet anymore... like an outcast). Be nice to the little ex-planet people. Anyway, I made some quicky marmalade that will definitely satisfy my craving year round, and also adds to my arsenal of homemade Xmas goodies (homemade limocello is next)! The sweet, super-citrusy skin and the sour flesh... mmmmm.

I would also like to note that this was my FIRST ever canning adventure, and it was a little tedious b/c I dont have all the proper stuff, and my pot needs to be about 3 inches deeper, but I had success. Definitely next time, I will have acquired a better pot from the flea market and all will be well... look for that one later.

Here's how:

1. Basically take some kumquats, slice and de-seed (the tedious part) and throw about 75% of them into a blender and add a little water. Blend.

2. Slice the rest reallllly thin, and add all this to a pot with some water and sugar and a little sure gel or pectin.

3. Boil until thick, skimming the foam.

4. Put into cans, and commence the canning process of your choice.

Kumquats in the blender.

Boiling away.

Into the cans, chilling on the countertop.
Yummy on my scones... coming up!