I must try this as soon as possible!!!
I must try this as soon as possible!!!
Roasted fennel is one of those things that smells so good, and tastes even better. How to make it even more tasty?
Roast it in rendered lamb fat.
Red onion can be substituted for shallots if need be. The leg of lamb can be deboned before roasting to make it easier to slice. If you do, the cooking time will be reduced so, be careful not to dry out the meat.
Blackberry season is upon us up here in the Pacific Northwest. The blackberries are at their prime and might last another week or two! I love this time of year. You can feel fall in the air but it’s still warm during the day and the blackberries are bursting out everywhere! The blackberry bush is considered a weed and a pest to some. It will definitely take over a space if left unchecked and that is one of the things I like about living here. I can find blackberries most everywhere. The trail I take my dogs walking on….blackberries, the empty lot across the street, blackberries, the walk around our block….you got it…blackberries!
I use this recipe every year (this is my second one this year so far) and diet be damned, I will eat this and enjoy it mightily! Oh and why is this recipe different from other cobblers I’ve seen? The biscuit starts out on the bottom, the fruit on top and then a whole lot of water is poured over everything. It looks like it will be a disaster but it has worked every time.
Blackberry Cobbler (You could probably use other fruit as well but I’ve only ever done it with blackberries)
Cream the butter & sugar together. Sif the flour, salt & baking powder together and add to the butter mix alternately with milk. The batter will be stiff, spoon into a greased 2 qt baking dish. Preheat oven to 375F.
Spoon the berries over the biscuit dough. Sprinkle with sugar, cinnamon and the tapioca powder. Pour the water into the baking dish. Bake for 45-50 mins. Fruit will sink, the biscuit will rise. It’s done when golden brown on top.
A few months ago I saw a recipe by Alan of TravellingFoodies for a Pandan Chiffon cake and I knew I had to make it. I had recently come across the pandan flavor in a cookie, but there the flavor was called screw-pine…and I loved it. It’s taken me this long to finally make it! Now if you’ve been reading along with me you will know that I recently started a new way of eating which does NOT include alot of cake. Fortunately I picked a way that allows one “free” day a week where you can eat ANYTHING you want. (Love it!) The rest of the time you eat really “clean” with a balance of protien to carb to fat (40-40-20 if you really want to know….yawn…..boring).
Now Alan uses fresh pandan leaves to start out with, but I don’t have easy access to that, so these little bottles will have to do. You can check his site in the link above if you’d like to use that method which is probably better. So we start off by creaming together:
Cream until the yolks get pale and creamy.
Combine well and then add in 130 g cake flour and 1 tsp baking powder and 1/4 tsp salt.
Now we make a meringue using:
Whisk until stiff peaks are just obtained (I think I went too far).
Fold 1/3 of the meringue into the pandan mixture until well combined, then add in the rest of the meringue in two parts folding gently. Because I beat the merengue too much I had to fold more vigorously to make sure there were no clumps of egg white. You want to keep as much of the meringue texture and air as you can.
What else did I get to eat on my free day? Well pancakes and burgers and mac and cheese! Oh and chocolate of course!
I love lemon. I love lemon curd and lemon tarts. I especially love these things made from Meyer lemons. Last year I made a lemon lavender ice cream and I really liked the combination of flavors. I haven’t pulled the ice cream maker out of the closet yet because although spring is definitely here now, it’s still cold and rainy most days. I read an Epicurious recipe for a sabayon style lemon tart and the best part was the crust was made with pine nuts! As I read through the comments someone had added lavender and rosemary to the crust….I knew that I had to try both but individually. Lavender first. I will make one with rosemary soon but I think I will use a different nut in the crust or use a flour crust recipe as pine nuts are really expensive right now. I will caution you that the recipe in the link makes enought crust for three (3?!) tarts. I did math and reduced it to one crust although the egg was a problem. What I did was beat the egg, weigh it and divide by three.
Unfortunately I just realized that I didn’t take enough pictures and I don’t think I have any of the finished tart and it’s long gone now…. sorry!
Grind the pine nuts in a food processor, add the sugar, flour and lavender and pulse until finely ground and combined. Put in a bowl and add the butter and egg and mix together into a dough. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 10 mins.
Preheat the oven to 350. Butter and flour a tart pan with removable bottom. I don’t have one so I used a cheesecake pan with removable bottom. Next time I will use a tart pan. Press the dough into the bottom and sides of the pan. Bake for 10-15 minutes, rotate and bake another 10-15 minutes until crust is golden. Remove and let cool.
You will need a bowl that will fit over a pot of water without the water touching the bottom of the bowl. Bring the water to a boil. Meanwhile whisk the eggs, yolks and sugar in the bowl until the sugar is dissolved (about 1 minute).
Set the bowl over the pot and whisk the mixture while turning the bowl. (I used an electric mixer) When the eggs are foamy and have thinckened add 1/3 of the lemon juice. Keep whisking until mixture thickens again and add another 1/3, whisk again until mix thickens and add the final 1/3 and the zest. Continue whisking until the mixture lightens and the mix leaves a ribbon on itself.
Turn off the heat leaving the bowl over the water. Whisk in the butter, one piece at a time. The sabayon may loosen but will thicken and set as it cools. Pour it into the tart crust and place on a baking sheet.
Place the tart under the broiler and brown the top. Be careful it browns very quickly! Let sit for an hour before serving. Can be served at room tempurature or cold. My tart didn’t seem to set as well as I would have liked. I’m used to using a lemon curd type of filling for tarte so this seemed a bit loose. The flavor was wonderful though, very tart and the lavender was subtle and not overpowering. The pine nuts were almost an aftertaste and an enjoyable one at that. I can’t wait to try rosemary in the crust but I think I will go back to my usual lemon tart filling.
I’ve been wanting to make this cake for awhile and decided I would make it for the Aspiring Bakers #18 Layers of Love challenge hosted by Sam over at Sweet Samsations. She has such an inspiring blog with wonderful recipes and gorgeous pictures of said recipes! The challenge is for a layer cake that must have at least three layers. Cake is not my favorite dessert, I do enjoy it every so often but I haven’t baked one in a long time. What to do? I want to join the challenge but I don’t want to bake a traditional flour cake with overly sweet frosting. Hmmmmm……
I recently found a Williams Sonoma cake book at a thrift store. I can’t remember which recipe caught my eye, but all of them were classic recipes and I needed a good cake book to add to my collection. This is where the original idea for this dacquoise came from. What is dacquoise? It is usually almond or hazelnut meringue ”cake” layered traditionally with buttercream or whipped cream. This recipe called for toasted walnuts! Why not? I also didn’t want to use buttercream because again, I don’t really like it. I can usually taste too much of the butter.
Then I remembered the caramel marscapone frosting I made for the Pierre Hermes Apricot Lime Financier Cake. That was not too sweet, had a little burnt sugar taste and would go well with toasted walnuts. As I was making it the thought of dates went through my head, their sweetness, the deep subtle flavor they would add, why not?
The Recipe adapted from the Williams Sonoma Cakes, Cupcakes & Cheesecakes book.
Toast the walnuts in a 350 oven for about 10 minutes, and put 75 g in a food processor with 60 g of the sugar and the cornstarch. Process to a fine grind.
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Draw three 8 inch circles onto the parchment in pencil. One 8 inch circle on one sheet and two on the other. Make sure to turn the parchment over so the circles are visible but so you won’t get pencil transfered onto your meringue. Preheat the oven to 250. Combine the egg whites and cream of tartar in a mixer and mix on med until soft peak form. Add in the remaining 120 g of sugar and continue beating until stiff, glossy peaks form. Gently fold in the nut mixture. Divide the mixture onto the three circles. (you can pipe the circles if you want). Bake for 1 hour 20 mins until crisp and golden. Let cool on the baking sheets for 10 minutes, remove from parchment and then let cool on racks.
Meanwhile I made the caramel marscapone frosting. This cake has to sit in the refrigerator overnight to let the meringues soften and my cake plate is too large to fit in the refrigerator with everything else in there. I decided to cover a piece of cardboard with aluminum foil and transfer the cake to the fancy plate in the morning. Bad idea, the cake stuck to the foil….because I put some frosting on the foil to anchor the meringue.
Frost the first meringue and sprinkle with the chopped dates. There’s no correct amount to use, whatever your taste likes. I thought the amount I used was perfect, it added an unrecogniseable flavor that was not overpowering or oversweet.
Add the final meringue and frost the top and sides. Press chopped walnuts on the sides of the cake and decorate with walnut halves on the top. Cover and refrigeratove overnight. Bring to room tempurature before serving.
The taste and texture are wonderful. It has a smooth creamyness with just a little crunch. The carmel marscapone frosting has a slight bitter edge which is offset nicely by the sweetness of the dates and the toasted walnut flavor tops it off perfectly.
The foil not only made the cake stick to it, it also ripped and stuck to the piece I cut. I hope this qualifies as a layer cake! If I find the time and, more importantly, the inspiration, I will try a completely different, more traditional layer cake and submit that as well.
So……….I’ve been dieting. UGH. All my life I’ve been able to eat whatever, and yes I am aware that I’ve been lucky that way. I’m not a skinny person by any means, just regular. But lately…well I’ll put this in the order I believe it should be in….1. I haven’t really exercised in about 3 years and 2. I’m getting older. And I don’t like it. About 3 years ago I stopped taking Tae Kwan Do or going to the gym, or going hiking and kinda stuck around home more….and possibly started baking more. My sister thinks the weight gain is mostly due to age but I’m fighting against that. So I’ve gained about 20 pounds if I’m being honest. The first 10 were no big deal, this last 10 however are another story altogether!!! I can see them! I can feel them in my clothes! So diet it is. Here is the problem, it’s not easy to change years of eating habits! I don’t eat badly, just probably too much for my current metabolism. So I went low carb. Thinking that way I can still eat sweets on the weekends! Low carb all week, dessert on weekends. Logical eh? A friend gave me fresh eggs from his chickens and pheasants. I can eat all I want of eggs on this damned diet.
Except after about a week and a half on this damned diet nothing seemed to be coming off. I’m not going to starve myself (hardly) if it doesn’t even work. Last night was my breaking point. I found a recipe for Kasutera Cake (a Japanese sponge cake) and decided what the hell, it’s a small recipe, it’s not too sweet, I have matcha powder and it uses eggs! I can eat eggs….green tea cake it is!
Jason only chuckled, diet over already? Well, no, just a break. Besides a light, not too sweet little tea scented cake couldn’t really hurt that much right?
There are many Kasutera also known as Castella, recipes out there. I chose this one because I thought it would be small enough that I wouldn’t completely blow the damned diet. You can make it in many flavors and Matcha is a green tea powder that can be used to flavor many things including ice cream, cake etc.
Prepare a small 9 inch rectangular pan with parchment paper. Combine the honey and the milk and warm it up. Sift together the flour & matcha powder in a bowl and set aside. Whisk the eggs and slowly add the sugar, place this bowl over a simmering pot of water, (very low simmer) and continue to whisk (I used a hand mixer.) The mixture will grow in size, get thick and get very light colored, it takes at least 10 minutes.
You want to reach a point where the mixture is very thick and reaches what is called the “ribbon stage”. See the picture below, when you take the whips out, the mixture will form what look like ribbons on top and slowly melt back into the rest of the mixture. If you’ve ever made Zabaglione, this is the stage you are looking for.
So far so good, right? It sure seems to be going great. Stir in the milk/honey mixture and preheat the oven to 360 F. Sift the flour/matcha into the batter and fold with a spatula, you want to fold gently so that you keep the light fluffiness of the egg mixture. Pour the batter into the pan and tap lightly on the counter to get any big air bubbles out. Bake for 10 minutes at 360 then reduce the temperature to 300 and bake a further 40 minutes. If a toothpick inserted comes out clean, it’s done! Then remove from pan, cool and blah blah blah.
My cake was doing fine, it had risen and looked good. When I checked it about 20 minutes after I had lowered the tempurature….disaster! The middle had collapsed! What in the world? I started racking my brain, did I beat it too much/hard? Oh I added food coloring paste at the end and it may not have blended that well, was that it? Ugh, this is what happens when your stomach has no carbs and takes over in a panic demanding cake. I did an internet search with the query “Why did my sponge cake collapse?” The very first hint made me realize my mistake….I had opened the oven door when I reduced the tempurate, thinking that would help get rid of some of the heat. WRONG MOVE. I guess sending in a rush of cold air causes sponge cakes to collapse, unless it’s more than 3/4 of the way done. I’ll never make that mistake again. The more I learn, the more I realize how much I don’t know. This may be an elementary mistake to all you sponge cake makers but I’ve never been a big fan of cake until I discovered sponge cakes. When I was little we mostly had box cakes, or bought cakes with waaaaay too much super sweet frosting. Here’s another example of one more thing I will conquer! My next attempt will be a Pandan Chiffon cake, similar I believe to a sponge. So… I definitely won’t be opening the oven door.
We let it cool a little bit and then cut a piece. It tasted delicious with crispy edges. Jason loved it and kept eating. I told him I knew how to replicate this exact cake now! I’ll just never be taking it anywhere! Oh and when I got on the scale this morning I had lost two pounds! It’s working!!!!!
I’ve started reading the Piere Hermes book and something struck me so much that I had to write it here….In the introduction, the author says two wonderful things. “Yet the simplest of desserst has a story behind it, one that is often distorted or erased over time.” And later on “…it becomes clear that patisserie works in the same was as painting or literature – through imitation. Or, rather, through assimilation.”
I adore desserts and baking. It thrills me to know when I bake bread that people have been doing this for centuries. To get my hands in the dough and feel that I’m part of a tradition. To make a dessert that has been passed on through my family, your family, the internet…is a fabulous thing. You can feel the love of creating something sweet to share. Then you add your own twist….it may not always work out but it’s fun to try. This is what I enjoy so much about reading blogs. People love to share food. When I have traveled to other countries and someone asks if I’ve eaten, I know it’s a form of welcome and my acceptance of their food, (whether I recognize what I’m eating or not!) is acceptance of them. Blogs feel the same, we can’t eat together but we can share what we love and you might just feed your family from my recipe!
I’ve never understood the people who hold their “family” recipes secret. I do understand that you want to be complimented on your food but it’s so self centered, self absorbed. The highest compliment for me would be to see a recipe I had a hand in spread all over! And it truly would only be “had a hand in”, I don’t think there are any truly “new” recipes at all. Just variations, riffs as it were, on old classics. I try to share little tips I’ve learned along the way. Someone taught me after all, why not pass it on to make cooking easier? Anyway, just some random musing. More food to come later…..
One more quote from the first page. “These desserts seem to have existed since the beginning of time, effortlessly traversing borders and centuries. Most of these recipes are so ancient that they are hard to date. Certain master pastry chefs have left their imprint on the recipes over the course of their long histories and are still associated with them today, but these chefs were not their actual inventors.” Inspiring, we can leave our own little touches on these ancient recipes!
What I have learned so far about the blogging world is that people are extremely generous with their recipes and advice. So in honor of Valentine’s Day and to spread love everywhere I can I am posting a wonderful strawberry cheesecake that was kindly shared by Donna over at Sugared Pecan (You will go directly to the recipe from that link and her great blog). Oh and did I mention that this has a pretzel crust?! That idea was genius Donna.
Not only did I make this for me and my sweetie to enjoy but I have a friend at work who’s birthday is on Valentine’s day so the slice that is missing in my picture is hers!
I found a wonderful blog http://www.tarteletteblog.com She has the most delicio looking desserts on there, plus some good, what I call “regular” food recipes too. Anyway, I was intrigued by one called a Poached Pear Almond fallen Souffle Cake I believe. Since it’s fall and there are pears everywhere, I had to try it. Here is the recipe and then my results.
Poached Pear And Almond Fallen Souffle Cakes:
She did not remove the center, seeds etc so I didn’t either.
For the poached pears:
6 mini d’Anjou pears, peeled (I used 4 d”Anjou and 2 Bartlett)
1/2 cup sugar
2-3 cardamom pods (I used about /21 tsp ground cardamom)
1 stick cinnamon
5-6 allspice berries
1-2 star anise
4 cups (1 liter) water
For the cakes:
3 tablespoons (40gr) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup (100gr) sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup (190ml) heavy cream
1 cup ground almonds
1/4 cup (40gr) sorghum flour (I used 1/4 cup all purpose flour)
1 teaspoon baking powder
Prepare the pears:
Place the pears, spices, lemon and water in tall saucepan and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Lower the heat and let them simmerfor 15-20 minutes or until the pears are just soft (poke with a toothpick to check).
Remove from the water using a slotted spoon and allow to cool on paper towel or baking rack.
Prepare the cakes:
Preheat the oven to 350F and position a rack in the middle.
Slightly butter or spray 6 ramekins and place them on a baking sheet. Set aside.
In the bowl if an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffly (about 3 minutes). Add the eggs, one a time and beat well in between each addition. Reduce the speed to low and add the vanilla, heavy cream, almonds, flour and baking powder and beat until incorporated. Fill each ramekins about 1/3 full with the batter and place a poached pear in the center.
Bake for 25-30 minutes.
I had no ramekins so I had to rush out and get these.
The pears smelled heavenly as they were poaching and I was so excited to finish this. I wonder if there are any uses for the leftover poaching liquid cause it seemed such a shame to throw it away. It smelled drinkable! I might try reducing it to a syrup and pouring it over these before serving. I made the batter, added it to the ramekin, popped a pear in each one and into the oven they went.
So the verdict: They taste wonderful, the insides seemed a little undercooked but the tops were too brown to allow more cooking. The texture reminded me of a type of halvah they make in Greece which is more like a cake than the paste that the Persians make. A bit grainy which might mean I need to process the almonds longer. I think next time (and there will be a next time) I will change the almond and flour mix to have more flour. I didn’t end up making a syrup because we couldn’t wait to try them. Jason would have eaten them all in one sitting if I didn’t restrain him!