Saturday, May 31, 2008
The other night my boyfriend wanted to call up the local pizza parlor and order his favorite pizza (usually some pepperoni concoction with pineapple on it). I quickly stopped him in his tracks and told him that I would make a pizza for him instead. What was I thinking?? I’m not sure what made me say that as I was pretty certain that I had no frozen pizza dough or flat bread (unless you count the freezer-burned pita bread that really needed to be thrown out), and no pepperoni in the house. Well, it was too late to turn back at this point and retract my offer as my boyfriend happily put down the telephone and had a big smile on his face. I hid my panic with my own smile and confidently said, “dinner will be ready in about 45 minutes.” So the challenge began. I opened up my freezer and saw the box of Trader Joe’s puffed pastry that I bought for apple turnovers a few weeks ago. Thankfully, I still had one sheet of pastry left in the box. Woohoo! Next, I looked in the fridge and grabbed the shredded mozzarella cheese, some Chinese sausage, a Tupperware of marinara sauce, and the leftover top round steak that I made for some beef tacos the previous day. Lastly, I checked the pantry and found a can of crushed pineapple. Putting all the ingredients together was a breeze and a lot of fun. I first brushed the puff pastry with a little egg white wash, then spread a nice, thick layer of marinara sauce right over that. My boyfriend loves his pizza on the "saucy" side so I was pretty liberal with the marinara. Next came a few handfuls of part-skimmed mozzarella cheese, and then I sliced up one Chinese sausage and spread this out on one side of the pizza; the other half of the pizza was topped with the sliced top round steak. Finally, I added some of the crushed pineapple here and there because for my boyfriend, a pizza just ain’t a pizza without some pineapple on top! Into the preheated 400 degree F oven it went, and in about 20 minutes, the pizza was done. The end result was, to quote my boyfriend, “one of the best pizza’s I’ve ever tasted”! Can you believe it?
Since I received such accolades with the aforementioned puffed pastry pizza, I decided to make another for tonight’s dinner. This time though I changed up my toppings and used Canadian bacon, black olives, cherry tomatoes, precooked shrimp, and of course pineapple! Once again, the pizza turned out great and we didn't even have to pick up the phone. Saturday night cooking should always be this simple. Hope you enjoy.
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
I have to admit, I was a little hesitant about completing this month’s Daring Baker’s Challenge. Well, maybe intimidated is more accurate! I mean, could I possibly pull off such a complicated sounding recipe such as this Opera Cake? I had never even heard of such a dessert until a little less than a month ago when our lovely hosts Ivonne, Lis, Fran and Shea announced that this would be our challenge for May. I initially read the recipe over a couple times and each time thought, 'this sounds too hard!’ I didn't pick up the the recipe again until a few days before the long Memorial Holiday weekend and this time, after a few more reads, I actually felt excited about attempting this challenge. This is gonna sound corny but as I was reading the recipe for the third and fourth time I began to think about what being a Daring Baker means and why I joined DB in the first place. I knew one reason I joined was to stretch and challenge myself in the baking arena; another was to learn more from others who shared a passion for baking; and most of all, I joined the DB'ers to have fun! And was this Opera Cake FUN to make! Yes, it did entail many steps, and YES, I did have some frustrating moments especially when the butter cream which turned out so lovely on Saturday night, did not look so hot on Sunday morning. Still though, this recipe allowed me to be a little more creative by choosing the flavorings which was an orange and almond theme. I chose to add some Mandarin oranges in between the layers of the jaconde, added Grand Marnier to the white chocolate ganache, almond extract was used in the syrup, and I topped the finished cake with almond slices and more oranges. Oh my gosh, this cake was delicious! The Opera Cake made its "debut" at a family get together this past Sunday and was a huge hit! The flavors worked well together and despite all the butter, cream and chocolate, there was still a lovely lightness to the cake. Are you up for the Opera Cake challenge? If so, you can find the full
recipe on Ivonne's site if you click here. I'll see you at the Opera!
Sunday, May 25, 2008
How do you like your chocolate chip cookies?
a) soft and chewy
b) thin and crispy
c) all of the above
Well, if you answered "c" then I think you will enjoy this cookie recipe by pastry chef Sherry Yard. She calls these her "quintessential chocolate chip cookies" and by the taste of them, the name is quite fitting. The cookies manage to possess crisp, delicate edges and a soft, chewy center. That's the perfect chocolate chip cookie in my book! Yard recommends the use of a high quality bittersweet chocolate that she cuts into 1-inch pieces versus the more traditional chocolate chips. I used a mixture of dark chocolate as well as mint chocolates in my cookies so feel free to experiment with whatever you like. The interesting step in this recipe was shaping the dough into a log and then popping it into the fridge to chill. I'm more used to the usual drop cookie method of making chocolate chip cookies which, by the way, is also an option with this recipe.
So grab a tall glass of milk, or whatever your poison might be and hope you will enjoy these delicious cookies. Bet you can't eat just one either!
Chocolate Chip Cookies (by Sherry Yard, Desserts By The Yard)
1 and 1/2 cups AP flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
4 oz (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
12 ounces bittersweet chocolate, cut into 1-inch pieces
directions-(Prepare oven and cookie sheets once the cookie dough has already chilled for a minimum of one hour OR if skipping the chilling process, proceed as normal)
1. Place racks in the middle and lower third of oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. Sift together the flour and baking soda and set aside.
3. Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment (or in a large bowl with a hand mixer), cream the butter on medium speed until lemony yellow, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the sugar, brown sugar, and salt. Continue creaming the mixture on medium speed until it is smooth and free of lumps, about 1 minute. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl and the paddle.
4. Add the egg and vanilla and beat on low speed for 15 seconds or until the egg is fully incorporated. Do not over beat. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
5. On low speed, add the sifted flour mixture. Beat slowly until all the flour is incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the chocolate chunks and mix in.
6. Remove small handfuls or spoonfuls of one half of the dough from the bowl and center them along the bottom of a sheet of parchment or waxed paper, creating a log of 1 and 1/2 inches wide and 12 inches long. Fold the parchment over, creating a sausage. Twist the ends over and wrap in plastic. Repeat with the remaining dough. Chill for at least 1 hour, preferably overnight. You can freeze the dough, well wrapped, for up to 2 weeks). When the dough has chilled, remove it from the paper and using a serrated knife, slice 1/3-inch-thick rounds off the log. Place the cookies 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets.
**Note: if baking right away, skip step 6 and spoon heaping tablespoons 2 inches apart on the prepared sheets.
7. Bake, rotating the sheets from the top to bottom and from front to back halfway through the baking, for 12 to 15 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove from the oven and slide the parchment off the baking sheets onto a work surface. Cool the baking sheets between batches and allow the cookies to cool for at least 5 minutes before eating.
Cookies will keep for up to 3 days stored in an airtight container at room temperature.
Sunday, May 18, 2008
Thursday, May 15, 2008
Sunday, May 11, 2008
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
Monday, May 5, 2008
These scones were a little different than the kinds I’m used to baking. For one thing, and I’m a little embarrassed to admit this, I have never used cream of tartar in a scone recipe before. Little did I know that this is a commonly used ingredient if you’re going to make a traditional English scone, which this recipe is. This resulted in a scone that was lighter and flakier than what I'm accustomed to. I also liked the sugar and cream coating that I brushed the scones with before popping them in the oven. This added such a nice crispness and subtle crunch to the scone in addition to giving it a bit of sweetness. The recipe is a very versatile one and you should feel free to add whatever suits your fancy. I was thinking of making chocolate chip scones but ended up chopping up some chocolate and toffee candy and mixed it into the dough. Next time, I think I’ll try some juicy raisins.