Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Coconut-Roasted Pineapple Dacquoise

Posted a week late...again. Last week's Tuesdays with Dorie recipe was selected by Andrea of Andrea In The Kitchen. Not being a fan of pineapple, I thought this dessert might not be my type, but it all turned out fine with the mixture of white chocolate, coconut, and almond.

This was a bit too sweet for my tastes on the whole, though. All that icing has a lot of sugar packed into it, not to mention what goes into the meringues. However, I really did like how the overall presentation ended up, with the meringue cutting (not breaking) nicely. The layers are nice, and the pineapple gives it good coloring.

I keep having a bit of trouble whenever I make a white chocolate icing in this manner. This is the second time I've over-beat it (though this time wasn't nearly as bad), and end up with something that curdles with some of the liquid escaping. I'm sure a few more tries and I'll have it down, but I need to remind myself not to take my eyes of the stand mixer when it's going.

Recipe: Baking: From My Home to Yours, by Dorie Greenspan, pp 293-295.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Bakewell Tart...er...Pudding

The June Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Jasmine of Confessions of a Cardamom Addict and Annemarie of Ambrosia and Nectar. They chose a Traditional (UK) Bakewell Tart... er... pudding that was inspired by a rich baking history dating back to the 1800's in England.

This tart, or pudding depending on who you ask, is made using a sweet shortcrust pastry tart shell, topping it traditionally with jam, and covering it with frangipane - similar to an almond pastry cream. I decided to move away from the fruity jam (I had just made a pineapple cake, and felt like something a little more chocolatey) and simply layered the bottom with some melted chocolate.


Sweet shortcrust pastry:
225 grams all-purpose flour
30 grams sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
110 grams butter, very cold or frozen, cut into medium pieces
2 large egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1-2 tablespoons cold water

Combine flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse a few times to bring together. Add the butter chunks and pulse until all the large pieces have been broken up, and you have remaining a mixture of small pieces of butter with some the size of a split pea. Turn the processor on, and add the egg yolks, followed by almond extract, and 1 tablespoon of water. Add half-teaspoons of the remaining water until the dough begins to come together, forming a slightly sticky dough. Wrap in cling wrap and store in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

125 grams butter, room temperature
125 grams icing sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
125 grams finely ground almonds
30 grams flour

Cream together the butter and icing sugar in a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, medium speed, until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, scraping the sides of the bowl to bring everything together. Add the almond extract, and continue to stir. At this point, the mixture will look curdled. Mix almonds with flour and add in one portion to the stand mixer, then mix on low speed until combined.

Remove tart dough from the refrigerator and roll to 1/4-inch thickness. Butter a tart pan and press the tart dough into place, saving any leftover dough for cracks that may form. Freeze the tart for 15 minutes. In the meantime, preheat oven to 400ºF and melt 3.5 ounces of high-quality bittersweet chocolate (I use Valrhona). Pour this chocolate into the frozen tart dough and spread with a spatula until it evenly coats the bottom. Place in the freezer for an additional 2 minutes to let it set in place. Remove from freezer and top with frangipane, spreading the top until even. Bake 30 minutes, or until fluffy, golden brown, and springy to the touch. Allow to cool 15 minutes before slicing, or enjoy at room temperature if you want to wait longer.

The dessert is that easy to put together, but immensily enjoyable for anyone who is a fan of almonds. It's not overly sweet like many desserts, and I feel that the chocolate pairs nicely with the almond, though you could easily make this a more spring- or summer-themed dessert by using some strawberry preserves or some other tasty jam. When you use the jam, you can use anywhere from 1/4 cup to 1 cup of it, depending on how thick you want that layer.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Honey-Peach Ice Cream

Last week's Tuesdays with Dorie recipe was selected by Tommi of Brown Interior. I actually made this recipe with plenty of time to post, but just haven't gotten around to doing it - been too busy with other things. Anyways, this light ice cream is delicious, made with peach puree, as well as small chunks of peach to give it texture.

I kept it fairly simple when it came to serve - a drizzle of honey and a sprinkling of nutmeg gave it a little added flavor, as well as a nice presentation.

This post is going to be pretty short, and I'm going to be late posting up this current week's Tuesdays with Dorie recipe. Again, just too busy, but that's a good thing, right? I'd rather have it this way than not having anything to do.

Recipe: Baking: From My Home to Yours, by Dorie Greenspan, p. 437

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Mahi-Mahi Potstickers

This month's Daring Cooks challenge was to make Chinese dumplings or potstickers. The challenge is hosted by Jen from use real butter. The choice of filling and method of cooking were up to the individual cook (steaming makes dumplings, frying makes potstickers). Having seen recipes including shrimp and other fish before, I decided to make my potstickers using leftover Mahi-Mahi fillets tossed in with some other assorted ingredients.

As important as the filling is the dough itself. It's a simple flour and water dough, allowed to rest and rolled thin. After loading some filling into the dough, the dumplings are pinched and pleated together to seal them for baking.

Potsticker Dough:
2 cups flour
1/2 cup warm water, divided, plus more as needed

Pour the flour into a large bowl and add 1/4 cup warm water. Using your hands, mix together the water and flour. Add the remaining 1/4 cup of water a teaspoon at a time, continuing to mix and add until there are no longer any dry patches or cracks in the dough, and it's slightly sticky to the touch. Roll into a ball and flatten slightly to form a dome, then allow to rest for 30 minutes.

Mahi-Mahi filling:
1 lb. Mahi-Mahi, about 3 medium fillets
3 green onion stalks
2 medium carrots
4 oz. Gruyère cheese
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
1 egg, room temperature
Salt and pepper to taste

Slice the mahi-mahi fillets thinly, then mince it until fine. Slice the onion stalks very finely, make sure there aren't any large pieces remaining. Using a vegetable peeler, first peel the outside off of the carrots, and then continue peeling so you get long, thin strips of carrots. Gather these strips together and chop finely. Shred the cheese with the fine side of a shredder, then run your knife through it to break up any additional pieces. Combine the ingredients and add lemon, egg, then salt and pepper to taste. Take a teaspoon of this and fry on the stove-top, then taste to see if it needs additional seasoning.

Cut the rested dough into 1-inch ribbons, then cut each ribbon into 3/4-inch slices. Press each slice down, then roll thin (about 1/16th of an inch).

Place about 1 tablespoon of the filling in the center of each dumpling.

Press and seal the center portion, wedging the filling in the middle.

Begin to pleat the sides of the dough to form a seal.

Continue pleating until you reach the end.

Repeat with the other side. In a large skillet, add 3 tablespoons oil (something with a high smoke point) and arrange potstickers closely together, as many as you can fit on the bottom of the pan.

Place over high heat and fry the potstickers for about 3 minutes, then add 1/2 cup of water and cover. Boil until all the water has evaporated, then reduce heat to medium-low and uncover. Continue cooking an additional 2-3 minutes, then remove from pan. Serve fried-side up, with sauce of your choice on the side.

I couldn't find any soy sauce handy at the house (I was cooking at my brother's place without him there, and didn't want to venture off to the grocery) so I just had some fish cocktail sauce on the side. The potstickers can be filled with any ingredients of your liking, and many other cooks at the Daring Kitchen have made these, so make sure you check them out. You're sure to find a filling to your liking.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Parisian Apple Tartelette

This week's (very delayed) Tuesdays with Dorie recipe was hosted by Jessica of My Baking Heart. It's a small and easily transportable dessert, made simply with puff pastry, apples, butter, and brown sugar. Its relatively fast baking time, combined with the ease of preparation makes this handheld treat a breeze to make.

This post is delayed mostly because I travelled to Chicago for a wedding, then have just been busy since returning home. Wanting to bring something relatively inventive on the plane, I decided it'd be a treat to bake up a couple of these tartelettes. I baked them the morning of my flight and wrapped them up in parchment paper, like Dorie suggested. No problems getting this tartelette through TSA.

The dessert was pleasantly light and sweet. The recipe allows you to decide for yourself how much brown sugar you want to add, or what type of fruit you might want to bake with. On one note, make sure you do skin the apples before halving and quartering them - my first batch, I felt lazy and left the skins on. Because of that, the quarters weren't bitten through as easily, so a large chunk would come off of the tartelette at a time. The next time I baked these, I skinned them and that easily solved the problem.

Recipe: Baking: From My Home to Yours, by Dorie Greenspan, p. 319

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Chocolate Crunched Caramel Tart

This delicious two-layered tart comes from Dorie Greenspan's collection. This isn't a Tuesdays with Dorie recipe (yet), but I decided to make it after a friend of mine came over for a visit. My friend wanted to bake something, but I couldn't come up with anything off the top of my head, so I tossed my Dorie baking book to her and told her to pick something out. She saw the pictures of this delicious tart and decided, without pause, that we'd make it that night.

The tart uses Dorie's sweet tart shell as a crust. This is always a good route to go with these tarts - it's delicious all on its own, like a big, but subtle, sugar cookie. The dessert is layered first by salty peanuts smothered with homemade caramel sauce. Next time, I'd smash them up with a mallet a bit, or give them a few pulses in a food processor to break them up, but the addition of the nuts to the caramel gooey goodness is great.

Finally, the dish is topped with a smooth bittersweet chocolate ganache. Every bite of the dessert has the delicious mixture of sugar crust, chocolate, nuts, and caramel. It's sort of like biting into a Snickers bar, but the texture is much softer, and it's not overly sweet.

Recipe: Baking: From My Home to Yours, by Dorie Greenspan, pp. 355-357

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Sausage and Egg Casserole

This basic breakfast casserole has been a staple dish for as long as I can remember. Either that, or due to its simplistic nature, a lot of other casseroles were so similar to it that I always thought they were variations of the same thing. This sausage and egg casserole can be made the night before you want to eat it, then baked up in about an hour the next morning. You can always count on a casserole like this when you're feeling like a warm and delicious breakfast, without having to get up early to make it.

With a recipe like this, it's very easy to adapt it and make it your own. If you want some spice, add some jalapenos or chili powder. If you want to make it vegetarian, maybe substitute some mushrooms and spinach instead of the sausage. Play around with cheese choices, add in some onions and tomatoes. The recipe I'm sharing is one at its most bare form, so feel free to add to it and make it your own.

1 lb. bulk pork sausage
6 eggs
2 cups milk (I prefer whole)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground mustard
6 slices bread (I prefer sourdough), cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 cup (4 oz.) shredded cheddar cheese

Butter a 9x13-inch baking dish. In a large skillet over medium heat, brown the sausage and stir until crumbled and cooked through. Drain and set aside on top of paper towels to wick away excess grease. In a large bowl, beat together the eggs, milk, salt, and mustard powder. Stir in the bread crumbs, cheese, then cooled sausage. Mix until incorporated and pour into the baking dish. Cover with foil and refrigerate for at least 8 hours, or overnight. Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before baking, and preheat oven to 350ºF. Bake, uncovered, for 35-40 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean. Serves 8-10.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Cinnamon Squares

This week's Tuesdays with Dorie recipe was selected by Tracey of Tracey’s Culinary Adventures. These tasty squares have cinnamon and sugar mixed into the batter, as well as a layer of chocolate, with even more cinnamon and sugar added to it. This dessert (breakfast?) is pleasantly light, and easy to put together.

I opted not to add the espresso powder, nor the chocolate icing at the end. I stole a bite from a corner after the squares had cooled, and felt that there was a nicely subtle chocolate background to the dish, and decided adding more icing might overdo it.

I'm assuming that this treat was initially created as a dessert, as it is fairly sweet and has a lot of chocolate, but I don't see a reason why it couldn't be a decadent breakfast. It's fairly light, and the strong cinnamon flavor is definitely reminiscent of cinnamon rolls.

Recipe: Baking: From My Home to Yours, by Dorie Greenspan, pp. 210-211

Monday, June 1, 2009

Simple Steakside Mushrooms

I originally copied this recipe down from one of my mom's collections of things to make before leaving for college. It's been about 6 years since then, and this is my first time finally getting around to making these steakside mushrooms. As the name implies, these mushrooms go wonderfully served with a juicy steak, but they can be applied to other things as well; I made mine with some hot sausage, and eventually took those leftovers and made sandwiches.

The sandwiches were easy enough to put together - I just used whatever I had lying around, since I was short on time and didn't want to make a trip to the store. I layered some thinly cut spicy chicken sausage on sourdough, then covered with some of these delicious mushrooms. Topped with slices of cheese and toasted, the sandwich was a surprisingly delicious treat. Funny how sometimes things exceed your expectations in such a way as to surprise you.

1 1/2 lb. Crimini mushrooms, sliced lengthwise
8 tablespoons unsalted butter
Seasoning salt of choice(I used Lawry's)
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup water

In a large skillet over medium heat, sweat mushrooms until almost all the liquid had been evaporated from them. Add the butter and increase heat to medium-high. Saute mushrooms until brown, then sprinkle liberally with salt to taste. Add Worcestershire sauce and simmer until almost all the sauce is absorbed. Add water and bring to a simmer. Continue to simmer until mushrooms are tender. Serves 8.
Don't be afraid to be very liberal when adding the salt in this recipe. The mushrooms will thrive in the seasoning. I still haven't gotten around to trying these mushrooms as they were intended to be made - served with a slab of beef. However, seeing how well this recipe turned out, it will be on the top of my list of sides next time the urge to cook steak comes along.