Friday, October 29, 2010

French Fridays Round UP

When the new group formed for Dorie's New book Around My French Table, I wanted to belong. It is a great way to experience a new cookbook, instead of having it decorate my shelf like so many others. In Tuesday's with Dorie, I found that some recipes that I would have never considered were keepers after all.

What I didn't want was for my blog to be just about cookbooks and their associated groups. I love to participate, but I like to do my own thing too. So for French Fridays, instead of posting each Friday, I have decided to do a monthly round up of the recipes. It was an impressive  group of recipes for October. The first time I make a recipe I do it as written, no variations. I want to see just what it is that Dorie is presenting. These were all recipes that I would make again, but with my own twists next time around.

   Our favorite for this month was the Gerard's Mustard Tart. Next time I might add some roasted chicken or cooked shrimp to the tart to make it more of a complete meal. I would also cut the leeks into rounds instead of strips. Although the Hachis Parmentier sounded like a French version of Shepherd's Pie, it was not quite what we expected. We thought the flavor could have used a boost and maybe some veggies. Next time I would double the meat portion of the recipe, add some veggies, and mix the cheeses into the potatoes, which I would make slightly richer and thicker.

The Vietnamese spicy chicken soup had fabulous flavors and since I am not a coconut lover, I was surprised at how much I liked it. With some veggie potstickers, this would make a great meal on a cold day. I did skip the gougeres, so the last thing I made was the Marie-Helene's Apple Cake. It was moist and loaded with big pieces of apple, similar to our family favorite apple cake. You can add little whipped cream and a touch of caramel sauce if you feel the need to dress it up, but most of it was gone before I got a chance to do that.
We really liked the October recipes and Dorie's new book, and we can't wait to see what next month will bring!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Buttermilk Donuts and a Winner

Mimi's Kitchen had to close for a few days so we could take care of our termite troubles. Not a fun activity. It's like moving, having to pack everything up and then unpack just a few day later. Now that I'm back in the kitchen, I hope to catch up on all the good food that you have posted to your blogs in the last week or so.
For our "welcome back to the kitchen" treat we jumped right into the Daring Baker's challenge, which was donuts. There is nothing like fresh donuts to pick up your spirits when you have been locked out of your kitchen for a couple of days! We choose to make the buttermilk donuts, and they were delicious- light, tender and cakey without being greasy. We iced them with a simple glaze and dressed them up for Halloween. They were good plain, but we began thinking of all the spices and flavors we could add to the dough for a new twist. We also liked that they can be decorated in so many different ways for various holidays or events, like baby showers or birthdays.

 The October 2010 Daring Bakers challenge was hosted by Lori of Butter Me Up. She used several sources for her recipes including Alton Brown, Nancy Silverton, Kate Neumann and Epicurious. 
If you would like the recipes visit Lori or the Daring Kitchen.  Donut making would not be complete without a few donut holes, which we rolled in cinnamon sugar. They would also be good in powdered sugar or dunked in any left over glaze.
Finally, the winner of the Dove Chocolate give away is Jamie of Good Eats and Sweet Treats. Please e-mail me your mailing information and Laura will send you your winnings.

Old-Fashioned Buttermilk Cake Doughnuts:

Yield: About 15 doughnuts & 15 doughnut holes, depending on size


¼ cup sour cream  
3 ¼ cup All purpose flour extra for dusting surface
¾ cup White Granulated Sugar
½ teaspoon Baking Soda
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
1 teaspoon Kosher (Flaked) Salt (If using table salt, only use ½ teaspoon)
1.5 teaspoon Nutmeg, grated
1 1/8 teaspoon Active Dry Yeast
¾ cup + 2 Tablespoon Buttermilk
1 large Egg
2 Egg Yolk
1 Tablespoon Pure Vanilla Extract
Powdered (Icing) Sugar (Used for decorating and is optional)


1.    In a small stainless-steel bowl set over a pot of gently simmering water, heat the sour cream until just warm.

2.    Over a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, nutmeg; make a large well in the center. Place the yeast in the well; pour the sour cream over it. Allow it to soften (if using packed fresh yeast), about 1 minute

3.    Pour the buttermilk, whole egg, egg yolks, and vanilla extract into the well. Using one hand, gradually draw in the dry ingredients. The mixture should be fairly smooth before you draw in more flour. Mix until it is completely incorporated. The dough will be very sticky. Wash and dry your hands and dust them with flour.

4.    In Sift an even layer of flour onto a work surface. Don’t be afraid to use a lot of flour. You don’t want the doughnuts sticking to your counter. Scrape dough out of bowl onto the surface; sift another layer of flour over dough. Working quickly, pat dough into an even 1/2-inch (12.5 mm) thickness. Dip cutter in flour and, cutting as closely together as possible, cut out the doughnuts and holes. Place holes and doughnuts on a floured surface. Working quickly, gather scraps of dough together, pat into 1/2-inch (12.5cm) thickness, and cut out remaining doughnuts and holes.
  Heat oil to 375 F. Drop three to four doughnuts at a time into the hot oil. Once they turn golden brown, turn them and cook the other side. Once cooked, place on a baking sheet covered with paper towels to drain,  decorate as desired.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Cream Cheese Bran Muffins

Bran muffins always sound boring and healthy and not really tasty, but these are not your typical bran muffin. These are light, full of nutty bran flavor and plump raisins, then topped with a creamy cheesecake like topping. They are perfect with a cup of coffee or tea or as a quick breakfast as you rush out the door.

You could say these muffins have stood the test of time. I've been making them since I got the recipe from my friend Marlene over twenty five years ago, and even my kids still love them so they are definitely on our breakfast treat list.
Not that they need it, but there are plenty of way you could dress them up. You could add a little orange zest to both the batter and the topping for a bright citrus punch, or you could add cinnamon or espresso powder for the perfect afternoon snack with that pumpkin spice latte.

Bran Muffins
1 1/4 cup bran cereal (I use all Bran)
1 cup milk
1/4 cup oil
1 egg
1 1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup raisins (I plump in hot water for ten minutes or so)

8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg

 Pre heat oven to 375F.

1. In a medium bowl combine cereal and milk; let stand 2 minutes.
2.  Add oil and egg; mix well.
3.Add dry ingredients, mixing just until combined.  Fold in raisins. 
4. Spoon into muffin tin, either lined with a paper liner or greased and floured, filling 2/3 full
1.Mix cream cheese, sugar and egg  until smooth and well blended.
2.Drop rounded tablespoonfuls of cream cheese mixture over muffin batter.
Bake 375F for 20-25 minutes.
Makes 12 muffins

By the way you still have a chance to win this awesome Dove Chocolate give away sponsored by my  favorite chocolatier Laura Cryns at Dove Chocolate Discoveries.

Photo- Dove Chocolate

If you haven't entered the Dove Chocolate give away follow the link, you have until Sunday October 24 to leave a comment.

Links: Foodie Fridays @ Designs by Gollum

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Caramel Corn - Dove Chocolate give away

Caramel corn is a fall favorite at our house. Molasses, sugar and butter turn into a crunchy coating for this addicting treat. I made the first batch of the year so I could send it to Mini Me at college, because it travels well and I don't have to worry about it arriving in one perfect piece. I like to make a bigger batch as the holidays get closer because it's the perfect thing to package in a cute tin and have as an instant gift for someone.

Caramel Corn
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup molasses
3 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 1/2 to 3 quarts popped corn
1.Pre heat oven to 250 degrees F.
2.Lightly butter a large mixing bowl and fill with the popcorn
3.Combine sugar, water, molasses, butter vinegar and salt in a heavy saucepan. Cook over medium high heat to 260 degrees F (hard crack) or if you don't have a thermometer, until a small amount forms a hard ball when dropped into ice water.
4.Remove from heat and stir in the baking soda.  The mixture will bubble up and look creamy. Pour it over the popcorn and stir to coat. Spread on a lightly greased rimmed cookie sheet.
5.Bake at 250 degrees F. for about 20 minutes. Remove from oven and cool completely.
printable recipe

Now if you want to personalize this you can mix in your favoite nuts, raisins, cranberries... almost anything you like and stir it into the mixture just after you add the syrup to the popcorn.  One of my childrens' favorite things to do is to drizzle the cooled caramel corn with melted chocolate. Dark, milk and white chocolate alone, or in combination really dress this up.

Now that leads up to the Dove Chocolate give away. Laura, an Independent Chocolatier for Dove Chocolate Discoveries has offered one of my readers (ships US addresses only) a Cocoa Classic Bundle which  includes
Mousse Starter Kit (2oz Chef-Seriers Dark Chocolate, 2 Mousse packets), Peanut Butter Baking Bits, and
 Mint Baking Bits, all for just checking out her website.

Dove Chocolate Discoveries
To enter the give away just visit Dove Chocolate Discoveries  then leave  me a comment telling me what you liked best. Be sure and check out their cute recipe section for some chocolate inspiration.
 Please  leave your contact information if your comment doesn't link back to you. Give away ends Sunday October 24.

links: Foodie Fridays at Designs by Gollum

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

TWD: Fold Over Pear Torte

Fold Over Pear Torte

Cakelaw Laws of the Kitchen selected Fold-Over Pear Torte for us to bake this week. A creamy custard filling is packed with sweet, ripe pears, dried apricots, and a few nuts for crunch, then everything is folded into a flaky pie crust resulting in a really lovely autumn dessert.

The creamy custard filling reminded us of Mimi Jr.'s favorite dessert, Pear Pepper Pie, but the heat of the pepper was replace by tangy sweet apricots. Pears are another fall favorite at our house, for eating and baking, so we were excited to try a new pear recipe.  

Fold Over Pear Torte
Dorie Greenspan Baking from my home to yours 

1/3 cup all-purpose (plain) flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
3 large, ripe but firm pears
Squirt of fresh lemon juice
Grated zest of 1/2 lemon
1/2 cup finely diced moist, plump dried apricots or moist, plump golden raisins
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
2 large eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon rum
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2 tablespoons (~25g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 cup heavy cream (I used light cooking cream)
confectioners (icing) sugar, for dusting

Prepare an 8 or 9 inch spring form pan with pastry dough:
Once the dough has chilled, roll it out between pieces of wax paper, into a 14 inch round. Place the rolled dough, still in between the paper or cling film, onto a baking tray, and refrigerate for 20 minutes:
Generously butter an 8or 9 inch round spring form pan. Take the dough out of the fridge, remove the top piece of paper or film, and turn the round of dough, bare side down, into the spring form pan. Remove the rest of the paper or film, then gently press the dough into the pan so that it is flat against the bottom. Next, press the sides of the dough up against the sides of the pan. Do this by turning the pan on its side and turn the pan as you press down the dough. The dough will pleat and may even crack. This is OK - just press the cracks together.
Once your pan is lined with dough, cover it and put it back in the fridge to chill while you make the filling and preheat the oven. Line a baking sheet big enough to hold your spring form pan with a piece of baking paper or a silicone mat.
Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl. Set aside.
Peel and core the pears, then cut them into 1/4 inch cubes. Put them in a medium bowl, and toss them with the lemon juice to prevent darkening. Stir in the zest, apricots (or raisins) and nuts:
Using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, or a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the eggs and sugar together on medium-high speed until they thicken (~ 3 minutes). Reduce the mixer speed to low, and add the rum and extracts. Still with the mixer on low, add the dry ingredients, mixing only until incorporated. Last, add the melted butter, then the cream, mixing only until the batter is homogenous.
Remove the chilled dough in the pan from the fridge, and place it on the lined baking sheet. Spoon the fruit into the bottom of the pan, then pour over the batter, stopping when you have 1/2 to 1 inch of crust extending above the batter. Don't overfill the crust - you may have some batter left over. Using your fingertips, gently push the dough down over the filling in a ruffle towards the centre of the torte. Don't push the dough into the batter:
There should be space between the filling and the crust, as the filling will rise to fill the gap.
Put the torte in the preheated oven, and lower the oven temperature to 180 degrees Celsius/350 degrees Fahrenheit/ gas mark 4. Bake the torte for 60-70 minutes, or until the crust is browned and a knife inserted into the custard comes out clean. Check the torte after it has been baking for 40 minutes or so, and if the crust is getting too brown, cover the torte with a foil tent for the remainder of the baking time.
Remove the baked torte from the oven, and allow it to cool completely in the pan on a wire rack.
Just before serving, run a knife around the outside of the torte to ensure it hasn't stuck to the pan, then remove the sides of the pan: dust with powdered sugar. 
printable recipe

To see what the other TWD  bakers thought visit our blog roll.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Chocolate Cupcakes

These cute football cupcakes are the perfect sweet treat to take to your next football party. I first saw these over at Shelly's blog cookies and cups some time ago. If you don't know Shelly you should drop on over she is one of the most creative and entertaining bloggers around. If you want detailed pictures on how to make these, you will find them on her blog.

We used our new favorite chocolate cupcake, which came from Cook's Illustrated, and our favorite butter cream frosting, which just happens to be nearly the same as Shelly's ( except I add a pinch of salt to mine). Since I didn't know what teams were playing on this particular day, I went for a generic football theme, but you can vary the colors of frosting and sprinkles to show your team spirit.

Chocolate Cupcakes from Cook’s Illustrated
Makes 12 cupcakes

3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/3 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
¾ cup hot coffee
¾ cup bread flour
¾ cup granulated sugar
½ teaspoon table salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
6 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350. Place chopped chocolate and cocoa in a medium bowl. Pour hot coffee over mixture and whisk until smooth. Set in refrigerator until cool, about 20 minutes.
2. Whisk flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda together in a small bowl and set aside
3. Whisk oil, eggs, vinegar, and vanilla into cooled chocolate-cocoa mixture until smooth. Add flour mixture and whisk until smooth.
4. Divide batter evenly among cupcake pans. Bake until cupcakes are set and just firm to the touch, 17-19 minutes. Cool in pans until cool enough to handle. Let cool completely before frosting.

Butter Cream Frosting
via cookies and cups

1 stick softened butter
1/2 c. Crisco
2 t.vanilla .
1/4 cup milk
pinch of salt
6 to 7 cups of sifted powdered sugar 
Color as desired


1. Cream the butter and shortening together at a med-high speed for about 2 minutes, until it appears smooth and creamy.
2. Slowly add powdered sugar and beat until fairly well incorporated, mixture will be crumbly
3. Add  milk and vanilla beat at medium-low speed until combined and then up your speed to med-high and beat until light and fluffy

 Oreo Truffle Footballs

1 pkg. Oreos, crushed
1 8 oz. pkg cream cheese, softened.
1 10 oz. pkg milk chocolate candy melts
Royal icing or white candy melts

1. Mix the cream cheese and the crushed Oreos together.
2. Form cookie mix into football shapes about 1and 1/2 inches long place on a baking sheet lined with parchment or wax paper. Chill in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes..
3. Melt chocolate in microwave until smooth and liquid, be careful not to over heat it. Dip footballs into chocolate, tapping off excess chocolate.  Place on a baking sheet lined with wax or parchment paper to set.
When the chocolate has set, pipe the stitching with either royal icing or white chocolate.

Go Gator!
Links: Foodie Friday at Designs by Gollum

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

TWD:Double Apple Bundt Cake

Lynne of Honey Muffin chose Double Apple Bundt Cake for us to bake this week. This was a good cake that stayed really moist and was full of nuts, raisins and fall spice flavors.

 Although we agreed it was tasty, it didn't quite measure up to our favorite apple cake. In this cake, we thought the shredded apple just disappeared on the cake and we missed the chunks of moist, sweet apples that are the star in our usual apple cake. We thought it would make a good muffin or coffee cake with a spice streusel topping to give it that little something to make it stand out.

After a few "tasting slices" of plain cake, we added a dollop of freshly whipped cream and a drizzle of homemade caramel sauce and it became a warm comforting fall dessert.
Double Apple Bundt Cake
From Dorie Greenspan’s “Baking: From my home to yours”

2 cups AP flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon salt
1 ¼ sticks (10 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 ½ cups sugar
1 cup store-bought apple butter
2 eggs
2 medium apples, peeled, cored and grated
1 cup pecans or walnuts, chopped
½ cup plump, moist raisins (dark or golden)
Confectioners’ sugar for dusting (optional)
For the Icing (optional) 
1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
About 2 tablespoons fresh orange or lemon juice

Getting ready:  Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9- to 10- inch (12 cup) Bundt pan. If your pan is not nonstick, dust the interior of the pan with flour, then tap out the excess. (If yo’ve got a silicone Bundt pan, there’s no need to butter or flour it.) Don’t place the pan on a baking sheet – you want the oven’s heat to circulate through the Bundt’s inner tube.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt.

Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed, scarping the bowl as needed, for 3 minutes, or until the mixture is smooth, thick and pale. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for about 1 minute after each addition; you’ll have a light, fluffy batter. Reduce the mixer speed to low and beat in the apple butter – don’t worry if it curdles the batter. Still on low, add the grated apples and mix to completely blend. Add the dry ingredients, mixing only until they disappear into the batter. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the nuts and raisins. Turn the batter into the Bundt pan and smooth the top
of the batter with the rubber spatula. 
Bake for 50 to 55 minutes, or until a think knife inserted deep into the center of the cake comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack to cool for 5 minutes before unmolding and cooling the cake to room temperature. If possible, once the cake is completely cool, wrap well in plastic and let it stand overnight at room temperature to ripen the flavors.

If you’re not going to ice the cake, you can dust it with confectioners’ sugar just before serving.

To make the optional icing:  Put the sugar in a small bowl and stir in a squirt or two of either orange or lemon juice. Keep adding the juice a little at a time until you have an icing that falls easily from the tip of a spoon. Drizzle the icing over the top of the cake letting it slide down the curves of the cake in whatever pattern it makes. Let the cake stand until the icing dries, a matter of minutes, before slicing.

To  see what in the other TWD  bakers thought visit our blog roll