Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Daring to do it: Sourdough

I know I say this a lot, but this month's challenge was something I was really excited about. Despite the fact that I am a "Daring Baker," I am still somewhat hesitant to try things that
have difficult reputations, so I was thrilled when Jessica announced that I would be tackling another one of my "someday" items.
Our Daring Bakers Host for December 2011 was Jessica of My Recipe Project and she showed us how fun it is to create Sour Dough bread in our own kitchens! She provided us with Sour Dough recipes from Bread Matters by AndrewWhitley as well as delicious recipes to use our Sour Dough bread in from Tonia George’s Things on Toast and Canteen’s Great British Food!

I love bread. Most types. But there is a special place in my heart for sourdough. Chewy, flavorful, crusty... it is just goodness! And, on a personal note, Hubby and I went to San Fransisco for our honeymoon, so there is a special place in my heart for sourdough... But it was always something that intimidated me when I thought abut making it. Sourdough requires a starter. A starter is kinda scary. It is a living thing that requires care. I know, I have children, I can care for living things. But a starter just seemed... scary. The science and art of it was confusing, and I was sure it was beyond my capabilities. Jessica's recipes and instructions were
heaven-sent this challenge! She was detailed, she was readable, she was just a great host! Using just whole wheat flour and water, over the course of a week I went from this play-dough like ball (over there on the left) to this wet clay-like blob (over there on the right), then finally had this bubbly, gooey concoction. Meet Eve:
You see, most of the Daring Bakers who have been cultivating their sourdough starters for many years had named their starters, as they are living entities. So I named mine Eve - mother of many things in my kitchen!
The first thing Eve created with me was a traditional Hannukkah treat - jelly donuts. (Sufganiot.) Using the starter fresh from the container I made a sweet dough which puffed nicely when fried in oil, had great tang to it, and tasted really good filled with strawberry jam and rolled in cinnamon sugar!
The next project for Eve was the French Country Bread recipe which Jessica had given in the challenge. This one required us to use the starter to make a production leaven, then use that leaven to make a rustic bread. Kneading this bread was interesting because it was all by hand, very sticky, and really needed a bench scraper. Which I don't have. So I took Jessica's advice and used the next best thing - a well washed (and used up...!) gift card. It worked really well. I do recommend reading the recipe, as there are lots of steps and lots of time involved. But the time really was the most difficult part, especially when you are as "patient" as I am. After most of the day, though, I had a beautiful crusty loaf, hot from the oven. Of course, since this had taken most of the day, it was 10 pm when it came out. So cutting into it had to wait. Which was really hard because the smell was fantastic. Like, really amazing...! So the next day the loaf went back into the oven to warm. When I cut it I was totally rewarded. I got the holes I was hoping for, and the taste was fabulous. Chewy inside, crusty outside... Kinda dense, considering all of the holes there, but so good.
There was leftover production leaven after making the bread, and I didn't want any part of Eve going to waste. So I played around and found a way to make sourdough biscuits. Sweet sourdough, again.. This is me, I try to make dessert versions of pretty much everything... The biscuits were really good. But I kicked it up a notch by making them into sourdough short cakes. Yum!


Jessica, this was awesome. I am really excited to have this new skill under my culinary belt, and to have this wonderful new addition to my kitchen/family! I am going to have so much fun seeing what other great things Eve and I make together.
I highly recommend that you take a look here to see what my fellow Daring Bakers created.
**Ok, Blogger is being weird, I don't know why it isn't letting me put in links. For the recipes go here: http://thedaringkitchen.com/sites/default/files/u11/62_Sour_Dough_-_DB_Dec_2012.pdf

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Daring to do it: Cha Sui and Cha Sui Bao

Our Daring Cooks’ December 2011 hostess is Sara from Belly Rumbles! Sara chose awesome Cha Sui Bao as our challenge, where we made the buns, Cha Sui, and filling from scratch – delicious!

I will be honest with you. When I first saw this challenge I was not impressed. Ok, I was impressed, I mean, this is something I would never have thought to make in a home kitchen. I guess it is more that I wasn't enthused. This is not really a Kosher/vegetarian dish. Traditionally, cha sui is pork. When Hubby asked what the challenge was, I said "barbecue pork buns." For a long time there I pretty much put it out of my mind, and figured I would just sit this one out. But I finally got to the point when I was about to go away for a week, and not come back until posting day. It was literally a case of do the challenge tonight or not do it at all. And when push came to shove, I didn't want to sit it out. And I am SO glad that I didn't! This was super yummy, and I am already trying to narrow down the possibilities for fillings when I make these again!
I started with the bun dough. This is a sweet yeasted dough, which didn't scare me, as I work with yeast pretty regularly. I was dismayed, though, with how my yeast-warm water-sugar combination looked after 15 minutes. Not frothy, foamy, or active looking at all. I was all of a sudden back to thinking that I wasn't destined to do this challenge... I stuck with it, though, and kept moving forward. Instead of using all A.P. flour, I substituted 1/4 whole wheat flour. Then I used the mixer to kneed. I had to add a lot more flour to get a good working consistency to my dough, but I eventually got there. Into a greased bowl, time to rise.
Next it was time to work on the filling. Generally speaking, the filling wasn't too strange - marinated protein sauteed with green onions and various sauce-making ingredients. (Yes, this is very much an over-simplification. Check out Sara's actual, informative, detailed recipe here...) After I did the measuring (and improvising, based on what ingredients I did and did not have on hand), I let Little Girl mix the marinade. The did a great job, and spilled a lot less than I would have! This was then poured over the tofu and left to marinate for not nearly long enough. (The flavor was good, but it would have been better if I had planned ahead and let it sit for the recommended time!)
I cooked the tofu in the oven for about 15 minutes, then followed the written directions for the pork filling Sara had given.
Filling done, it was time to work the dough. After more than five hours of rising time, my dough ball looked like this:
Not nearly as impressive as I would have thought, but, again, I stuck to it and continued. The dough was divided into 12 balls which were rolled out into disks. One disk, though, was commandeered by Little Girl to "work with." It became a snake, a turtle, a necklace... and eventually small baked (unfilled) rolls for her to eat, or not, as she saw fit. The filling was spooned into the disks which were then closed around it. (Hubby could not figure out how I had gotten the filling inside the buns... I probably shouldn't let him see this post and let him continue thinking that I am just that good!)
As I don't have a steamer basket, I baked my buns. I did not use the egg wash on them, even though the recipe called for it. They still developed an amazing golden brown color. And despite my concerns about the yeast, the buns were fluffy and light, so it all worked out for the best.
All of us around the table loved these "pork" buns. I was so glad that I finally decided to participate, and they were totally worth it. I am definitely going to make these again - both with the given (if somewhat altered) recipe and with yet to be determined fillings of a less traditional style!
Thank you so much, Sara, for teaching me something so new, and for being so supportive and encouraging. This was a wonderful challenge, and I highly recommend that you check out the versions created by my fellow Daring Cooks!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Daring to do it: Filipino Desserts

I am not home to write this post, we are at the in-laws' for the Thanksgiving weekend... Therefore I don't have all of my photos and such available to me until after the posting date... But this challenge was simply too yummy to delay, so you will have to make do with what I have access to here. :)

Catherine of Munchie Musings was our November Daring Bakers’ host and she challenged us to make a traditional Filipino dessert – the delicious Sans Rival cake! And for those of us who wanted to try an additional Filipino dessert, Catherine also gave us a bonus recipe for Bibingka which comes from her friend Jun of Jun-blog.

This was a fabulous challenge. Not too hard, procedure-wise, but different, and learning about a new culture. I must admit, I spent the whole month saying I needed to get in touch with my cousin who is Filipino to ask her about her experiences with the Sans Rival, but I never quite got there. I will have to ask her, anyway, since I totally want to make this again. As in, this past Wednesday I was looking at my stock of eggs thinking "should I make it?", but knew we had too much for for the holiday as it was, and didn't want the yumminess to be wasted!
Sans Rival is a layered dessert of meringue, butter cream and nuts. I made the meringue as written (well, using almonds instead of cashews, as that was what I had), but changed the butter cream. Being lactose intolerant, I don't keep butter in the house, just margarine. I also had raspberries I wanted to use. But my butter cream wound up way too thin - not fluffy at all. I tried adding some powdered sugar, no help, I tried whipping in a soy milk and flour thickener, nope... So I used the raspberry butter cream as the filling between the layers, and made a more standard (though nondairy) butter cream for the edges.
I loved this dessert, and I really want to make it again. I see this one being added to the regular rotation, at least for special occasions!!!
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At some point in the future I would like to look into the other recipes Catharine gave us, for the Bibingka and the salted eggs, but it just wasn't in the cards for this month.

Thank you so much, Catharine, for teaching us about this amazing dessert! This is the reason I joined the Daring Kitchen, and you were such a great host to work with! If you want to see what me fellow Bakers created, check it out here, just be sure you have a napkin or two to mop up the drool!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Daring to do it: Cooking with Tea

Sarah from Simply Cooked was our November Daring Cooks’ hostess and she challenged us to create something truly unique in both taste and technique! We learned how to cook using tea with recipes from Tea Cookbook by Tonia George and The New Tea Book by Sara Perry.

I feel like I owe Sarah an apology - I don't feel like I did this challenge the justice it deserves. I love the idea of cooking with tea. It is something I would have never thought to do, and yet now I have ideas bubbling away like crazy! Unfortunately, though, I never seemed to get around to most of them... I hope that I will keep this idea in mind, though, and keep using tea for more than just a warm and relaxing beverage!
I did create two tea inspired dishes. Here are my variations:
Pasta with sauteed cabbage, onions, and lentils cooked in green tea with lemon:


Cranberry oat bread, oats cooked in decaf chai tea:




Both of these dishes were delicious. The tea flavor was much more pronounced in the cake, which was amazing. The light lemon flavor in the lentils, though, added a great, fresh touch which is something I will keep in mind in future lentil dishes!
Thank you, Sarah, for such a great challenge. I love the creativity you inspired with your recipes, and the freedom you gave us to explore on our own! I recommend that you look here to see what my fellow Daring Cooks created!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Daring to do it: Povitica

The Daring Baker’s October 2011 challenge was Povitica, hosted by Jenni of The Gingered Whisk. Povitica is a traditional Eastern European Dessert Bread that is as lovely to look at as it is to eat!

When I fist saw this challenge I was confused. It looked both complicated and somehow familiar... Then it hit me. Babka! This is just like a babka! (Don't know what a babka is? Look here...) I have even made a babka before, which made me feel much more comfortable, and much more excited to get things going. Hopefully I will get the chance to make it again, (well, both, the povitica and the babka!) so I can get a real side-by-side comparison. Until then, though, I was realty pleased with how this recipe turned out.
I decided to make a half batch, as the full makes four loaves. I also decided that I would use different fillings for each loaf, because there are just too many ideas to do only one! The dough came together pretty easily. I did sub in some whole wheat flour, as I usually do. It did use more flour all together than I had expected it to, but I don't know if that was just me or if it was particularly humid or what... While the dough was rising I got to work on the traditional walnut filling. Except I didn't have enough walnuts, even for the quarter batch of the filling... I wound up using half walnuts and half almonds. Then Little Girl helped me combine all of the dry ingredients.
It was then time to roll the dough. (The Darning Kitchen is certainly giving us, and our rolling pins, a workout! Moo shu, phyllo dough, croissants...! Phew!) The goal was to get the dough thin enough to see through, I don't know if it my imagination, but I think I am seeing the texture of the granite through that dough... I was pleased!!
Once rolled out, the dough is then covered in the filling, then rolled up as tightly as possible.
Once rolled it is time to coil. (I know, lots of different types of rolling and such. But trust me, it is worth it!) The dough is coiled around and on top of itself to get cool patterns.

Before it is baked, the loaf is brushed with a coffee and sugar syrup. Can I just say yum? Time to bake.
When I finally cut my first slice of the traditional povitica (I had to wait for it to cool. That part is no fun, what with the amazing smell it was giving off...) I was a little sad. I hadn't taken a bite, so I wasn't disappointed in the taste, it was the swirl - where were all of those layers of swirls?

Then I remembered that the end of the loaf was not where everything was layered. So I cut further in. There was the awesome swirliness I was hoping for!!
And for my second loaf? Peanut butter and jelly povitica, at your service! That was Little Girl's favorite...!

Thank you, Jenni, for such a great challenge! I loved learning how something I grew up knowing (babka) really is both so culturally rich and different, and so versatile and yummy when made in new ways!! Please do yourself a favor and look here to see what my fellow Daring Bakers came up with. The variety of sweet and savory treats will blow you away!!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Back... in blue!

Ok, I promise, I haven't forgotten about this blog. But, as you can imagine, the two kiddos are keeping me on my toes. Really, the thing that falls to the wayside is the picture taking. We are still cooking and crafting, I am just not thinking about the camera when we do... Well, I am trying to fix my ways. Hopefully I will go back to sharing the fun things we do in our home other than the Daring Kitchen...!

This morning, to kick things off, I asked Little Girl if she would want to bake something special. She requested a cake. She chose to make it chocolate, with chocolate chips. When asked what shape cake she wanted, she said a heart. And when I asked what color heart she wanted, she told me blue. With our task set, it was off to the kitchen!
We started with the cake. I used the chocolate cake recipe from the cookbook that came with my trusty Kitchen Aid mixer, adding chocolate chips toward the end. Cakes baked and set out to cool, we set off on our errands.
During "rest time" I made the frosting. I find it easier to work with sugar on the stove top when neither the two year old nor the four month old are attached to me...! I used the same Fluffy While Frosting recipe I have become addicted to from my birthday cake last year, and added blue food coloring to get the color Little Girl requested.
Next it was assembly time, at least once the resting was done. We started by spreading a layer of frosting on one of the cakes, and adding some extra chocolate chips for good measure. Then the second cake went on top. So there, we have a circle. How to make a heart? We cut out a small "v" from the top of the circle and moved it to the bottom. Cover the whole thing in fluffy blue frosting to smooth the corners, and voila!!
So now we had the blue heart. Pretty, right? But it could always be prettier, right? So hand the kiddo some sprinkles, gum drops, and extra chocolate chips, then set her loose...!
The end result was a yummy, colorful chocolaty heart cake that made all of us smile! (Well, all except for the four month old who can't eat cake yet... You'll get there, Baby Girl!!)

Chocolate Cake
2 c. all purpose flour
1 1/3 c. sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. shortening
1 c. low-fat milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 eggs
2 squares (1 oz. each) unsweetened chocolate

Combine dry infredients in mixer bowl. Add shortening, milk, and vanilla. Mix about 1minute. Stop, scrape bowl. Add eggs and chocolate, mix again for aprox. 30 seconds. Stop, scrape bowl. Beat batter for a minute.
Pour batter into two greased and floured 8- or 9-inch round baking pans. Bake at 350(F) for 30-35 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes. remove cakes from pans, cool completely on wire rack.

**My adaptations:
I used 1 c. white sugar, 1/3 c. brown sugar. I used margarine for my shortening. I used rice milk (vanilla flavored) instead of low=fat milk. I used pre-melted packets of chocolate as my chocolate squares. And, of course, I added a couple of handfuls of chocoalte chips after the high speed beating.
Enjoy!!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Daring to do it: Moo Shu

This month was a special challenge for me! See if you can figure out why...

Hi! I am Shelley from C Mom Cook, and I am super excited to bring you this month's challenge. I have been a member of the Daring Kitchen for almost two years now, and have learned so much from the experience. I am also glad to be able to have my twin sister and fellow Daring Cook, Ruth, from The Crafts of Mommyhood, to help me out. Despite being twins, we have very different personalities and cooking styles, not to mention different food preferences and dietary restrictions, so my hope is that we are presenting a challenge that will work for the majority of cooks, and that will be enjoyed by all!

I kind of lucked into the position of hosting this challenge – I think I accidentally volunteered when working on a FoodTalk article late last year, but was then so excited to see my name on the hosting schedule, that I just had to go with it. Deciding on what to present, however, was another story. I considered and tested several different ideas before settling in on one.

I am extremely fortunate to have a friend and neighbor who went to culinary school, and with whom I always discuss my latest kitchen adventures. Recently she offered me an unbelievable gift – she offered to loan me her binders and notes from culinary school. I turned each page carefully, amazed by the information, tips, and recipes it contained. And then I saw it. A recipe for Moo Shu. All of the other ideas I'd been tossing around were tossed away. Moo Shu is one of the dishes that introduced me to Chinese food, and remains a favorite of mine. A simple, yet multi-component dish, my challenge was chosen.

The recipe that was included in my neighbor's binder was intended for restaurant use, with fancy ingredients, make-ahead components and scaled very large. Perfect for inspiration, but not the best recipe for a home cook with limited access to specialty ingredients and not needing to feed a restaurant full of people. After poring through cookbooks and websites, I selected the recipe for this challenge because it is both accessible and adaptable to a variety of dietary requirements, while maintaining authenticity to what Moo Shu is supposed to be.

Deh-Ta Hsiung, a renowned authority on Chinese cuisine, published a beautiful book called The Chinese Kitchen. The book is a wonderful and encyclopedic volume containing a wealth of information about all aspects of Chinese cooking, from ingredients to process to history. The recipes are accessible, flavorful, and clearly written. His recipe for Moo Shu, like the others, is straightforward and delicious, and is what I am sharing with you for our challenge.

In preparation for this challenge, I contacted Mr. Deh-Ta Hsiung, who is pleased to have his recipe as our challenge. Mr. Hsiung is widely considered an international expert on Chinese cooking, though his original work was in the arts and film-making. Chinese cooking was his passion, though, and he proceeded to take lessons from top Chinese chefs and work in professional kitchens around the world. Having written numerous books and articles, Mr. Hsiung is a respected authority in the world of Chinese cooking.

About this dish, specifically, Mr. Hsiung offered us a brief anecdote from his earliest work, regarding the origins of this dish's name. In The Home Book of CHINESE COOKERY, Mr. Hsiung discusses the dish as follows:

PORK LAUREL (MU-HSU PORK)
Some explanation is needed for the name of this dish. In China, we have a tree called kwei; according to my dictionary, kwei is called laurel in English, and it is a shrub rather than a tree; but the laurels we have in the garden of our London home never seem to flower at all, while the Chinese laurel is a large tree which produces bright yellow, fragrant flowers in the autumn. The pork in this recipe is cooked with eggs, which give a yellow colour to the dish – hence the name. But to add to the confusion, the Chinese name of this dish is mu-hsu pork, mu hsu being the classical name for laurel (are you still with me?). So you might say that calling it pork laurel is taking a poetic license.

Simply put, Moo Shu is a stir fry, containing thinly sliced or shredded vegetables, meat (traditionally) and scrambled egg. It is usually served on flat, thin, steamed pancakes, and is accompanied by a complementary sauce.

Moo Shu pork (the protein most commonly used in Moo Shu dishes) originates in Northern China (commonly attributed to the Shandong province, though sometimes attributed to Beijing), rising in popularity in Chinese restaurants in the West in the 1960's and 70's. As the dish became more popular, different restaurants adapted the recipe to meet their own styles, or to accommodate for expensive or hard-to find ingredients, so there is a lot of variation among recipes. Common among them, though, is a basis of cabbage and the inclusion of scrambled eggs.

The history and etymology of the dish are widely disputed, as indicated by Mr. Hsiung's anecdote above. There are two primary theories as to the origin of the name. Many, including the author of our challenge recipe, suggest that the Chinese characters, read as mu xi, refer to a tree that blooms with small, fragrant blossoms. They suggest that the scrambled egg in this dish is reminiscent of these blossoms, and thus a variety of egg dishes are referred to as mu xi. An alternative suggestion uses the Chinese characters reading mu xu, roughly translating to wood whiskers or wood shavings. The dish is thus named, it is said, due to the appearance of the shredded vegetables and meat, resembling wooden whiskers, or wooden shavings that were used as packing materials.

Recipe Source: The challenge recipe provided for the Moo Shu filling comes from The Chinese Kitchen by Deh-Ta Hsiung. The pancake recipe comes from the same source, though we have also provided an alternate method for preparing them, adapted from a variety of online demonstrations. The sauce recipe provided is from epicurian.com.

Blog-checking lines: The October Daring Cooks' Challenge was hosted by Shelley of C Mom Cook and her sister Ruth of The Crafts of Mommyhood. They challenged us to bring a taste of the East into our home kitchens by making our own Moo Shu, including thin pancakes, stir fry and sauce.

Notes:

A few notes about the traditional main ingredients of a Moo Shu stir-fry:

Cabbage

The primary vegetable within the Moo Shu stir fry is generally cabbage. While there are many varieties of cabbage available, the most traditional for this style of dish is the Chinese cabbage, also known as Napa cabbage.

Chinese cabbage is a traditionally cool weather crop which thrives during the shorter days of the year, so it is normally planted during the second half of the calendar year. It generally reaches maturity within about three months after planting. In order to provide a continual supply of the vegetable, a late crop is planted in areas with appropriate conditions. There are several varieties of Chinese cabbage, which all have delicate, sweet flavors, and blend well with the other foods with which it is cooked. It also holds up well to various cooking methods, which is why it makes a good base for dishes such as Moo Shu. Stored in the crisper of the refrigerator, Chinese cabbage can keep for up to ten days.

Scallions

Scallions, also known as green onions or Spring onions, are milder than most other species of onion. They may be eaten raw or cooked, and are very common in Asian recipes. Scallions are generally sold in bunches with the roots still attached. Stored properly, in a plastic box to allow them to breathe, they can keep for up to a week in the refrigerator.

Bamboo Shoots

Bamboo shoots are the edible shoots of a variety of bamboo species. They are available fresh, dried and canned. Fresh bamboo shoots must be parboiled to eliminate a harsh, bitter poison, hydrocyanic acid, prior to being eaten or used in recipes. Dried bamboo shoots must be soaked prior to use. Both parboiled fresh and reconstituted dried bamboo shoots need to be rinsed with fresh water as the final preparation step. Canned bamboo shoots are parboiled and require no reconstitution, though should also be rinsed.

One of my favorite quotes about bamboo from The Chinese Kitchen is as follows:
Traditionally, the bamboo symbolizes the virtuous man, bending in the wind yet never breaking.


Fungus

Not generally a word most casual Westerners associate with food, there are a wide variety of mushrooms that are used in Asian cooking. The specific fungus specified in Mr. Hsiung's recipe is dried black fungus, which has long been cultivated in China. While there are many different varieties available in China, there are only a few commonly available in the West. Stored in a dry, dark place just as they are packaged, they can last indefinitely. Once reconstituted, they can be stored for up to five days in the refrigerator in a bowl of fresh water.

Mandatory Items:
You must make Moo Shu pancakes using the provided recipe, a stir fry, and a complementary sauce.

Variations allowed:
Substitutions for purposes of dietary requirements are allowed, and creativity with vegetables, proteins and sauces, maintaining the spirit of the challenge, are encouraged.

Yes, my sister and I hosted. To read the recipe and such, (and Shelley's fabulous pictures) check things out here.
I just wanted to add my two variations for you.
I clearly did not make pork. I made a tofu moo shu that was really good. I did play with the veggies, Hubby doesn't like mushrooms, and I like lots of vegetables!!
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I then wanted to try something very out of the box that Shelley and I had wondered about - dessert moo shu.
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Apples cooked in margarine, brown sugar, cinnamon and vanilla. A scoop of vanilla ice cream would have made this even better, but I loved it as it was!

Thank you, Shelley, for letting me help with this challenge. I had a lot of fun, and I hope to return the favor! Thank you to Lis for... well, for the Daring Kitchen! And thank you to the wonderful Daring Cooks who moo shu'ed along with us! Please check out their creations here!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Daring to do it: Croissants

This was an awesome challenge that deserves a wonderful, glowing write up. But things are busy right now... So unfortunately this post will be fairly basic. But this is something I want to make again. And again...!


The Daring Bakers go retro this month! Thanks to one of our very talented non-blogging members, Sarah, the Daring Bakers were challenged to make Croissants using a recipe from the Queen of French Cooking, none other than Julia Child!

I love croissants. But I don't eat them too often because of that whole butter thing... Lactose intolerant me doesn't like to overdo the dairy... So I made my croissants with soy milk and margarine. They worked really well. I made the recipe twice. First time I followed the recipe (well, except for those two dairy changes/substitutions).
Some process pics:




Out of the oven - half plain, half with cinnamon sugar on top.The inside. Not as fluffy as "professional" ones, but darn tasty!!I was impressed with the flavor, the texture, and the butteriness, despite not using butter! So I made them a second time. This time I made half cinnamon sugar:






Look at those layers!!
Then the other half I made into pain au chocolate. Yup. Chocolate.



Thank you, Sarah! I love this recipe, and I think this is something I am going to do a lot! They were not nearly as difficult or time consuming as I had feared, and they worked SO well! If you can control your urge to lick the screen, take a look here at what my fellow Daring Bakers made!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Daring to do it: Stock and Soup

Peta, of the blog Peta Eats, was our lovely hostess for the Daring Cook’s September 2011 challenge, “Stock to Soup to Consomm√©”. We were taught the meaning between the three dishes, how to make a crystal clear Consomm√© if we so chose to do so, and encouraged to share our own delicious soup recipes!


I have long wondered about the difference between "stock," "broth," "consomme" and "soup." Thanks to Peta, I have a little bit more of an understanding!! For this challenge we were asked to make stock, then take it to another level. I was not brave enough (read: didn't think I could) to attempt a vegetarian consomme, but I did make one of my favorite soups, which, oddly enough, I had never made myself before! And I made a yummy side for the soup, which really made this challenge super yummy, even if I didn't stretch myself as much as maybe I could have...
My first Daring Cooks' challenge taught me to make stock. In the year and a half since, I have made stock quite a few times, and I tend to keep vegetable ends and cuttings in my freezer for that purpose. For this stock I used the ends of some leeks, onion skins, broccoli stems and asparagus stems, as well as some fresh carrots and celery and seasonings. It all went into the slow cooker overnight, and when I woke up what had started like this:
had turned into this:
Off to a good start! When we woke up, Hubby commented on how good the soup smelled... With a stock that smelled that good, I knew the soup would have a great flavor.

One of my favorite soups is one my mother makes. It is a quinoa vegetable soup, and it is really quite good. Hearty but not too thick, warming and a complete meal, thanks to the wonderful food that is quinoa. Somehow, though, I never get around to making it myself. Thanks to Peta, I finally did! I had to make a few changes to the recipe, based on what I had in the house, but it seemed to work out well.
The veggies:
There were also split peas and (of course) quinoa, Add it all into the pot, let it do its thing, and then you have this:


Yum.


Peta asked us to make some sort of accompaniment to go with our soups. I really wasn't sure what to make, though, since this soup really can stand alone. I could make bread of some sort, or try again to make bread bowls... Nothing called to me. So I turned to Mark. No, not my husband Mark! Mark Bittman, of course. MY favorite cookbook is his How to Cook Everything
Vegetarian. In there I found his recipe for cheese shortbread. Kind of like Cheez-Its for grown ups. Perfect!


These were so good. Better warm, but perfect with the soup. We wound up breaking them into pieces and stirring them right in...


Thank you, Peta, for giving me the kick I needed to make this soup! You were a supportive host, and it has been so much fun to see how everyone has taken something seemingly simple and made it so creative!! If you want to see what my fellow Daring Cooks came up with, then take a look here!