Friday, July 10, 2009

Deniz's Birthday Desert: Brownies and Caramel Ice Cream

Once again, I won't be here for my good friend Deniz's birthday later this month. But I'm also seeing her today and knowing that she loves caramel and she always orders brownies when we go out I thought I would make her a brownie with lots of walnuts, and a caramel ice cream.

The brownies are rich and dark, rather sweet and nutty. They need a tall glass of milk to balance them out... or some ice cream! And it's hot... so ice cream is always better then milk when it's summer!

The ice cream recipe (amazingly good - great texture - dense and rich) is from Tartelettes blog http://tartelette.blogspot.com/2009/07/recipe-chocolate-torte-caramel-ice.html and the brownie recipe is from Dorie Greenspan's "Baking: From My Home To Yours" and it's the 'classic brownie'.

Lisa's Tart: Lemon Cream And Blueberries

It's Lisa's birthday in August - but I won't be here to bake for her. I'm seeing Lisa today so I thought I would make her my favorite lemon cream tart (pate sucree and lemon cream) with some tasty, fresh and local blueberries from the local farmers market.

So simple, happy birthday Lisa!

Cherry Sorbet

It is cherry season, and as cherries are my utterly favorite fruit in the universe I decided to make a very simple sorbet from them.

A while back I read the book 'Animal Vegetable Miracle: A year of Food Life' by Barbara Kingslover This recipe (http://docs.google.com/gview?a=v&q=cache%3AkzyPq7JAQcwJ%3Awww.animalvegetablemiracle.com%2FSorbet.pdf+cherry
+sorbet&hl=en&gl=us) is one of theirs as mentioned very simple, cherries, sugar and water are all that is required. where she and her family decided that they would spend a year living off the land. Meaning eating seasonally, living local and sacrificing things like bananas in order to stick to those goals. A pretty amazing and inspirational book. I want a garden....

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Strawberry, Raspberry and Balsamic Vinegar

Yet another jam with strawberry's in it. This is a beautiful rich spread with strawberry's, raspberries, lemon, balsamic vinegar and sugar. Such a simple combo, but it leads to a really beautiful color and tasting spread.

Great on a rich rye, the flavor holds its own.

Away Again

I will be having a break in posts for a couple of months.

On the weekend I leave for a farm in Washington State that makes goat and sheep cheese. I'm looking forward to learning about how to make and cultivate cheeses of various varieties, how to live without internet(!) and hopefully getting back to and experiencing more nature as well.

Wish me luck!

Gateau de Crepes with Green Tea Cream

I had a couple of fellow bakers and the idea was we would whittle away the afternoon with board games and trying out some food. The invite stated something along the lines of 'bring a baked good that you've been trying out/ experimenting with'. I really always experiment so I thought I would continue with the theme. I saw this at Desserts Magazine http://tartelette.blogspot.com/2008/08/two-chocolates-some-salted-butter.html It's from the book:'Chocolate Epiphany: Exceptional Cookies, Cakes and Confections for Everyone' by Fran├žois Payard.

If you can roll out a ton of crepes in a small amount of time then let me tell you this is the recipe for you. If you can't then it's a labor of love...a seriously long, drawn out love. Let me tell you I spent over an hour making the crepes for this guy.

However, it is a visually stunning cake - all the lovely layers of brown contrasting with the vibrant green pastry cream (a light one - with the pastry cream being 'lightened' if you can call it that... with whipped cream). I tried the pastry cream without the added cream and it had a really intense matcha tea flavor. The interesting thing was, once you added the crepes and the whipped cream, the flavor wasn't really there anymore. It was lost - and only found at the end of a bite. Which, as I'm not a massive fan of matcha tea was a good thing.
The crepes themselves are infused with oran
ge zest which really dominates the flavor.

This is not a sweet treat - it is a rich treat. It's about the dense pastry cream and the rubbery crepes.
I adore the way it looks utterly ragged on the outside, and yet when you cut into it it looks amazingly organized.

Ravioli/Lasagna

I've been meaning to attempt home made pasta for years but have been too wimpy to give it a go. Once again the farm I went to was an inspiration - they made pasta and I got to watch and feel the dough. So when it came to making the dough at home I wasn't as scared of giving it a go. I made mini lasagna's and with a ricotta (homemade of course!) mushroom and thyme filling, as well as a sauerkraut filling.

The ravioli has a mushroom filling as well, but Josh added a bit of white wine as well.

Light Rye 60%

I adore rye bread. Something about the flavor adds a heartiness and depth that you simply can't achieve using white flour alone. This rye has caraway, a little dark rye flour and has a sourdough starter using some of the levain I've been faithfully keeping alive for the past few weeks. So it has a little added sourness to it, and the flavor gets better as the bread ages.

I like to call the style of cut I used on the bread "the comb over". From Hamelman.

Winter Sanity and Green Apple Pectin

I've been making an utter ton of jams, preserves and other fruity concoctions due to winter. Yes winter. It depresses me and in using the local delicious and oh so very in season fruits at the moment (note: cherries(!!!) and strawberries and soon to come raspberries) my theory is that when winter rolls around, then I will have some remnants of sunshine in the form of these preserves.

A lot of the jams using summer berries requires pectin which helps thicken the mixture as these tasty fruits don't have a large amount of pectin in them. I do use some powdered pectin but I'm really trying to use natural pectin donated by green apples instead. The idea is that the pectin derived from boiling down whole apples (simply quarter them and then put them in a pot just cover them in water and boil them slowly. Then strain the water - but make sure you keep it. Add some sugar and cook it down and then jar it. You should be good for pectin for a while) is enough to thicken a jam. I think it does. But the consistency is never that hugely dense, 'you can barely flick the stuff off a spoon' kinda thickness. Instead it's a soft gel. One that sometimes boarders on a syrup. But it's so good, and it's soaks your toast oh so well in it's sugar goodness.

Cherries and Preserving them

Cherries are my favorite fruit on earth. They are delectable when they are fresh and in season and local. Unfortunately the season isn't long enough for my liking so I decided to preserve some cherries in a sugar syrup with a bit of liquor added in. I made one set with rum and the other with brandy. I figure these beauties will be wonderful in tarts in winter.

The variety I used is called 'Tieton". They are mammoth, juicy and hold there shape well. I was talking to the people where I bought these pretties from, and they said they only have them for about 2.5 weeks per year. So sad. But I have a little treasure tucked away for the colder months.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Rhubarb and Spiced Meringue Tart

Ok this one is kinda bizaare. And it's weirdly more savory then sweet. It is a simple base called a 'flaky pastry' which requires very little sugar and butter (I know rather disappointing). It was a really awkward base to roll as it required massive amounts of force to get it into a semblance of the shape/thickness needed. The taste was nothing either - very bland, and the texture when baked was tough, not one to repeat again despite it being so cheap (little butter + little sugar + AP flour instead of pastry flour + no eggs = very cheap indeed).

The middle part was chopped rhubarb with a flan cream/custard on top. Once again a really savory sort of middle bit - with no sugar added to the rhubarb - only in the flan cream - which really didn't have a lot considering the majority is rhubarb.

On top however was a lot of sugar in the form of a meringue. A simple meringue made with egg whites, a ton of sugar and the addition of nutmeg and freshly ground black pepper. Out of the whole tart this was my favorite part. I made mini macaroons out of the left overs. Very tasty.


Overall, if I were to make this tart again I would not use the sam
e base instead I would sweeten it up with a sucree. I also on the final product got carried away with a blow torch which I wouldn't do again (the photo's of the tart before it went in the oven and subsequently got torched by me later on). I really liked the top part (meringue) so I would make that again, maybe try it with another filling as well....

Monday, July 6, 2009

Macaroons: Choc Chip with Salted Caramel

I've been rather desperate lately to find the best recipe for macaroons - the french ones. You know the ones, all leggy on the bottom, slightly chewy yet crunchy. Yeah those, well I've had some issues with flavor and shape, and texture.

Usually they are too sweet. I can only handle a small one, and even then it may be too much for me. I've have also made flat pancake like macaroons that are bendable and bizarre looking.

These were little gems. They were nice in texture (chewy, yet a little crunchy), they were nice and small and I think the best thing about these guys was that they had a caramel filling.... I mean really how can you beat that?

I think the trickiest bit for me is the piping. I'm a little off, so I spent a while attempting to pair the macaroon halves with similar sized macaroon halves...
This recipe is from 'Desserts Magazine' a great mag
that is free online. It is from magazine issue #5. You can check out the recipe at: http://www.dessertsmag.com/desserts-magazine/issue5/. The recipe is by Gemmi Rizzzi and let me tell ya- this recipe works.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Strawberry Rhubarb Tart

I've been having problems setting pastry cream of late. I swear I cook it until it is thick and boiling, then leave it on the heat for a couple of minutes more. Yet time and time again my cream is not setting up very well. It turns into this gooey mass... a tasty gooey mass, yet not a very elegant mass when it is cut into slices. I don't want to use corn products in my baking unless it is fresh corn (although I do make some exceptions especially when I use chocolate or am making a candy) so I've been using potato starch instead of corn starch in the pastry cream. I'm wondering if this may be my downfall?

Anyway, back to the tart. A strawberry and rhubarb puree was made and then placed on a tart base (this wasn't a pate sucree...as I ran out of pastry flour. So I made an old tart base that I hadn't made i
n ages). I then put on the pastry cream and on top of that some strawberries. A very simple tart but devastatingly good.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Le Success

I've been petrified of making a cake. I'm scared of layers, and the hours of labor that goes into making one. So I've been putting it off and off and off.

I thought I'd give it a go as I have the time, and I really need to get some practice in before school starts again.

This is made with a nut marangue (hazelnut and almond), two types of butter cream (vanilla and a praline) and a ganache layer. It wasn't too hard to assemble, although the cream made it difficult to cut, but I froze it and that allowed me to trim the sides.

I attempted to make some caramel hazelnuts to go on top. However, the caramel thickened too fast, so they weren't brilliantly successful. But they look alright.