Sunday, December 28, 2008

Daring Baker December 2008

A French Yule Log! This being my first challenge I was very excited. Jeana and I spent four days working on it. The recipe came from: "This month's challenge is brought to us by the adventurous Hilda from Saffron and Blueberry and Marion from Il en Faut Peu Pour Etre Heureux.They have chosen a French Yule Log by Flore from Florilege Gourmand" And what a recipe they chose! 

Being as I'm a working girl (haha), it took us four days to complete! At the same time this was great because unlike many people who mentioned having all the dishes in their kitchen dirty by the end of it, we were forced to clean as we went (day by day). 
  Also the only challenge we hit during the process was the Creme Brulee insert. We were using a friend's oven and were unsure with all the other problems people were having (with time and temp). In the end we did it twice. The first time, it was too cooked. The second time, it was well under cooked. OH WELL! 
The recipe consisted of six parts:
1)  Dacquoise Biscuit
2)  Mousse
3)  Ganache Insert
4)  Praline (Crisp) Insert
5)  Creme Brulee Insert
6)  Icing

   Although this seems daunting, when done over the course of a few days it was not bad. The order of making them that we followed was: 
1. Creme Brulee
2. Mousse
3. Praline
4. Ganache
5. Biscuit
6. Icing 
(Assembling as we went)
  Here is a second pic with Jeana's mother's chirstmas tree in the background. Most gorgeous tree ever! 

Although most of the recipes were probably more than necesary but the Biscuit layer is definitely worth trying some time. If you are interested has a Kirsch cream/Chocolate cake with a very similar recipe. Either way here is the recipe:
Element #1 Dacquoise Biscuit (Almond Cake)

Preparation time:  10 mn + 15 mn for baking

Equipment:  2 mixing bowls, hand or stand mixer with whisk attachment, spatula, baking pan such as a 10”x15” jelly-roll pan, parchment paper

Note:  You can use the Dacquoise for the bottom of your Yule Log only, or as bottom and top layers, or if using a Yule log mold (half-pipe) to line your entire mold with the biscuit. Take care to spread the Dacquoise accordingly. Try to bake the Dacquoise the same day you assemble the log to keep it as moist as possible.

2.8 oz (3/4cup + 1Tbsp / 80g) almond meal 
1.75 oz (1/2 cup / 50g) confectioner’s sugar 
2Tbsp (15g) all-purpose flour
3.5oz (100g / ~100ml) about 3 medium egg whites    
1.75 oz (4 Tbsp / 50g) granulated sugar
1.    Finely mix the almond meal and the confectioner's sugar. (If you have a mixer, you can use it by pulsing the ingredients together for no longer than 30 seconds).
2.    Sift the flour into the mix.
3.    Beat the eggs whites, gradually adding the granulated sugar until stiff. 
4.    Pour the almond meal mixture into the egg whites and blend delicately with a spatula.
5.    Grease a piece of parchment paper and line your baking pan with it.
6.    Spread the batter on a piece of parchment paper to an area slightly larger than your desired shape (circle, long strip etc...) and to a height of 1/3 inches (8mm). 
7.    Bake at 350°F (180°C) for approximately 15 minutes (depends on your oven), until golden. 
8.    Let cool and cut to the desired shape. 

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Limoncello and Cherries soaked in rum

So we started with quite the mess...

We pealed a LOT of lemmons!

For the cherries we did a couple little test jars so that every week we can try one to see when they are done! Introduce our new monthly blog!!! Cherry testing
So the left test jar has spiced rum "Tattoo Jerry" to be exact an the right has white Bacardi rum. Both have jarred cherries

TA-DA!! in the end no more mess...The results will have to be discussed in following months!

Although we did not use a recipe for the cherries, we are followinga recipe for the limoncello.


15 lemons* 2 bottles (750 ml) 100-proof vodka** 4 cups sugar 5 cups water * Choose thick-skinned lemons because they are easier to zest. ** Use 100-proof vodka, which has less flavor than a lower proof one. Also the high alcohol level will ensure that the limoncello will not turn to ice in the freezer.

PreparationWash the lemons with a vegetable brush and hot water to remove any reside of pesticides or wax; pat the lemons dry. Carefully zest the lemons with a zester or vegetable peeler so there is no white pith on the peel. NOTE: Use only the outer part of the rind. The pith, the white part underneath the rind, is too bitter and would spoil your limoncello. Check out my web page on How to Zest.Step One: In a large glass jar (1-gallon jar), add one bottle of vodka; add the lemon zest as it is zested. Cover the jar and let sit at room temperature for at least (10) ten days and up to (40) days in a cool dark place. The longer it rests, the better the taste will be. (There is no need to stir - all you have to do is wait.) As the limoncello sits, the vodka slowly take on the flavor and rich yellow color of the lemon zest. Step Two: In a large saucepan, combine the sugar and water; cook until thickened, approximately 5 to 7 minutes. Let the syrup cool before adding it to the Limoncello mixture. Add to the Limoncello mixture from Step One. Add the additional bottle of vodka. Allow to rest for another 10 to 40 days. Step Three: After the rest period, strain and bottle: discarding the lemon zest. Keep in the freezer until ready to serve.

The only changes we made were using Skyy Vodka not 100 proof because we were being cheap : )

Lemon Night

SO the other night, Jeana and I were asked to use some of the lemons off her parent's beautiful lemon tree. Everything grown in their garden is perfect, organic, and delicious, so there is a real honor in being asked to use something from the garden.
Although, I will add the recipes later, we decided to make a lemon tart and a Ohio Lemon pie.
LESSON TO LEARN: patience. Ohio lemon pie filling has to sit for at least 8 hours and up to 36!!! Plan ahead. I believe that it would be worth it if you take the time to let it "macerate" that term all you cooks! I had no idea what that meant, until this recipe. Now I want to macerate EVERYTHING!

As we were cooking, we enjoyed a nice Hefe Weisse beer. Delicious with lemon. Although this is not an especially nice brand of beer at midnight when we hit up safeway for everything we forgot to buy earlier it was a nobrainer beer.
THis was our pie crust. This recipe will also be posted later and is well worth it. This is just one pic of the pie, at the stage of adding the butter and crisco into the dry ingredients


Thursday, December 18, 2008

Never Trust A Recipe That Sounds Funny

So Jeana and I have been doing some cooking lately...The only problem is we attempted a new recipe that neither of us knew anything about. Now, we have both been baking long enough to know when something is up and we have both DEFINITELY baked sugar cookies before. So when this recipe began with "Step 1. Combine first 8 ingredients, mix until combined" we were a little hesitant. Low and behold, we had good reason. Knowing that the sugar and butter are supposed to be creamed first, this recipe seemed a little suspicious. In the end the cookies tasted iffy, ok at best.  LESSON TO BE LEARNED: Don't trust a recipe for sugar cookies that does not tell you to cream butter and sugar first... 
Here are some pics of us baking and of the cookies: 
Remember when rolling out the dough to not let it have big cracks in the side. If for no other reason, you can fit more cookie cutters per batch :-) 

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Last of the plants

So the weather in California has become a bit of a mystery...By this time last year it seemed to look like winter...pouring rain, the occasional thunder storm, you know the things you expect in winter. This year though, we still haven't had a storm just fog. REALLY THICK fog....
The nice side to this odd weather though, is that little bits of fall and summer are still holding on. Here are some of those small wonders holding out in my backyard:

a trip to Santa Clara

This past weekend, I spent some time in Santa Clara with Jeana. On Saturday morning, as we traditionally do, we attended the farmer's market near Santa Clara University. Jeana, Sam, and I first decided to buy all the fruits and vegetables that we needed to buy. The first stand we went through had this at it...
Can Anyone guess what it is?

Hint: you can peel and eat it.

At the same stand we found this little beauty....Which presumably is a type of cauliflower. So great.

After shopping we sat down to eat our Naan wraps. Mine was a mixed vegetable wrap (white rice, mixed vegetables and Naan). The picture was taken a little too close, but it tasted much better than it looks!

Jeana had a garbonzo bean Naan wrap, and clearly enjoyed it!
Sam, although by far the most diehard Naan wrap eater, was a little unsure about being on a blog.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Baked Alaska

Baked Alaska!
Jeana and I found a recipe on the internet for the bottom cake layer...which we won't discuss how that went...jeana... ; ) haha. All in all this was a fun recipe. I would like to make it again without interuptions. Either way it was deliscious. To save time (as this was about 9:30pm) we used store bought ice cream, this is a fancy looking yet VERY easy late night dessert
We piped the meringue with a pastry bag, and then torched it with a mini-kitchen torch.

This was all it took to make the I love a quick egg based cake!
All in all this was a great looking dessert for how easy it was (with our little cheat)....