Thursday, October 14, 2010

CEiMB- Apple Brown Betty

Oh my, I loved this. It was so easy to make and the flavor was excellent. I will definitely be making this again. The whole family loved it and I didn't feel too guilty while eating because it is really pretty healthy. Now I did make it a little bit less healthy by adding an extra tablespoon of brown sugar and an extra tablespoon of butter to the topping, but I figure for each serving that only adds a negligible amount of fat and calories. To get the recipe and try this yourself you can buy the book So Easy by Ellie Krieger or you can visit Jessica of Learning to Love Vegetables.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

I heart cooking clubs- Farewell Food

The group I heart cooking clubs focuses on one chef for a period of 6 months and then moves on to a new chef. It is really such a great way to get to know new chefs and to push yourself to try new things. I will be honest, before joining the group, I really had no idea who Mark Bittman was. Now his recipes have become a staple in my home and even when I don't follow a recipe exactly, I will still grab my big, red How to Cook Everything book to see what the best way is to slice some fruit or how to prepare some other fill-in-the-blank. So for me this isn't really goodbye because Mr. Bittman is here to stay! Which is really what this group is about. I have found a new favorite that I don't think I would have found otherwise.
However in keeping with the farewell theme, I decided to say farewell to summer as well as Mark Bittman. I found a tasty and simple recipe that has become another meatless favorite!

Pasta with Corn, Zucchini, and Tomatoes

  • Salt
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, or 2 tablespoons oil and 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 cup corn kernels (from 2 or 3 ears)
  • 1 cup diced zucchini or summer squash (from 2 or 3 small vegetables)
  • 1 medium onion or 3 or 4 shallots, diced
  • 1/4 teaspoon minced garlic, optional
  • 1 sprigs tarragon
  • 4 plum or 2 large tomatoes, diced
  • 1 pound cut pasta, like penne, rigatoni, or fusilli
  • 1. Set a large pot of water to boil and salt it. Put 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and add corn. Cook, stirring occasionally, until corn begins to brown. Add zucchini and some salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until zucchini begins to brown.
  • 2. Add onion or shallots and garlic if you are using it. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion softens, about 5 minutes. Add tarragon and cook for 30 seconds, then tomatoes. Put pasta in boiling water and cook until tender but not mushy, 10 to 15 minutes.
  • 3. While pasta cooks continue to cook sauce, reducing heat when tomatoes begin to break down. If sauce dries out (with plum tomatoes, this is likely), add some pasta cooking water, about 1/2 cup at a time. When pasta is done, drain it, toss with sauce and remaining oil or butter, and serve immediately.

Friday, October 1, 2010

French Fridays with Dorie: Gougeres

French Fridays with Dorie is a blogging group focusing on Dorie Greenspan lovely new cookbook, Around My French Table. I love Dorie and I am loving this new cookbook. Her books are the most entertaining cookbooks I own. Not only can the women really whip up a great dish but she also know how to dish, as in spin an entertaining story. I can actually curl up with her cookbooks like I would a novel and enjoy the stories. I would definitely recommend checking out this book!

This weeks recipe was Gougeres. Until yesterday I had never made these wonderful little pastries but I can guarantee I will be making them again. They are so amazingly quick and easy. You can seriously have them to the table in just over 30 minutes, which in my opinion, makes them as convenient as biscuits but with a more sophisticated flavor. We all really loved these and definitely ate more than is probably recommended. I ended up just using some sharp cheddar that I had in the fridge this time. I can't wait to experiment with some other types of cheese!

CEiMB- Almond French Toast Bake

I have had this wonderful little cookbook by Ellie Krieger called So Easy for months and although I have looked through it several times, until last week it was mostly just keeping my other cookbooks company. No longer! I had come across a group called Craving Ellie in my Belly a few weeks ago and decided if I joined the group, then maybe I would actually use this wonderful cookbook. And that is just what happened :D I have now made my first delicious and really very healthy Ellie Krieger recipe. YAY!
It truly was a success in my opinion. My kids loved it, and while it wasn't my hubby's absolute favorite, he enjoyed it, and for me, two of my most favorite foods on the planet are french toast and bread pudding so, heck yes I am a fan. The other really winning quality: it was truly "so easy" to make. Isn't it great to actually find truth in advertising!
I followed the recipe pretty exactly. I only made 3 changes. The first one was to use frozen blueberries instead of fresh. The second change I made was that I didn't use real maple syrup, I just used the pancake syrup I had on hand. The last change I made was to use fewer eggs than called for. The recipe called for a whopping 8 whole eggs and 8 egg whites, that seemed like a lot for one loaf of french bread. After checking some comments on the Food Network link for the recipe, I saw someone suggested using only 5 whole eggs and 4 egg whites. That is what I did and for me it turned out great. Not soggy and just slightly crispy on the edges.
See how everyone else fared here and to try this recipe yourself, head on over to our hostess, Heide's blog, Chez Zero.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

SMS Rewind: North Fork Peach Raspberry Pie

I actually made this lovely pie a while ago but I still had not gotten around to posting it. Since this week was kind of busy I decided to skip the Plum Raspberry Preserves that were picked by this week's hostess, Margo of Effort to Deliciousness, but be sure to check that out.

This pie was originally picked earlier this summer, on July 4th. It is a really simple pie. The taste is delicious and it is such a great way to use up that summer fruit. The peaches and the raspberries really compliment each other. I may be biased though because raspberries are probably my favorite fruit. I love the slightly tart flavor, of raspberries and of the pie :)
This pie was picked by Rebecca of the lovely blog, Beurrista. Be sure to check out her blog to get the recipe. It is worth making. Also you can check out the experiences of the other sms bakers by checking here.
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Monday, September 20, 2010

SMS: Lemon Blueberry Buttermilk Pie

What a fun and easy recipe we got to make this week. Special thanks to Melissa of the blog Lulu the Baker for such great pick (check out her blog for the recipe)!It was a big hit in my house and you can even pat yourself on the back after eating it because, hey, fresh blueberries equal antioxidants and fiber (and I am sure lots of other great things). The other really great thing about this recipe is that, while it looks pretty and fairly impressive, it is so incredibly easy (especially if you cheat and have a good friend like Marie Callendar help with the crust).
Enjoy a visual feast and take a look at the how the incredibly talented SMS bakers fared this week.
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Sunday, September 5, 2010

SMS: Mom's French Pancakes

Wow it has been a long time. Summer was so busy for me and even though I did some baking, I really failed in the posting department. I think part of my problem was that once I got a few posts behind, it started feeling like a chore to get caught up. I finally had to remind myself that I am doing this because I enjoy it and I am only doing this for me, so it doesn't need to feel like I am behind.

Okay on to this weeks SMS recipe. I love crepes. My father is french so I grew up with a lot of french food. Crepes were a Saturday morning staple in my house growing up so this was a fun and easy recipe for me. I love just about any filling in crepes. My favorites are berries, nutella, plain old sugar with lemon juice sprinkled over the sugar, and one of my most favorite fillings is creme de marron (chestnut cream). I happened to have a can in the pantry so that is what I used for the filling in these crepes. Apparently it is not a universally loved flavor because my husband is not a fan and my youngest little guy didn't seem to like it either. Oh well, can't win 'em all. In any case this was a very basic and straightforward recipe. The crepes it produced were yummy. Head on over to Jaime's blog, Good Eats and Sweet Treats, to check out her delicious photos and to snag the recipe. To find out how all the other SMS bakers fared, go here.

My camera has died, so this is a borrowed camera that, unfortunately, was not at all co operative. Hence the lousy picture. But the other bakers have beautiful pics, so check those out.
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Sunday, July 18, 2010

SMS: Chocolate Walnut Brownies

First off, I must admit I was somewhat distracted this week by something even better than brownies. "What", you say, "could possibly be better than brownies?" My adorable, super-cute, 4 day old nephew! He is the squishiest, most cuddly baby ever! So, instead of stressing about this post and getting it done early, I procrastinated and cuddled instead.
That being said, it is funny how nervous I was for my week to host. I don't know how everyone else feels when their time comes but, for me, so much thought gets put into the whole process. I wanted to pick a "good" recipe and I wanted to make it enough times that I would have really cool tips or tricks to share. Alas, I have no tips or tricks. Luckily, I found the recipe to be pretty straightforward and in my opinion, it makes a really good brownie. Now I do realize what makes a good brownie seems to be a really individualized thing. Some like fudgy, some like cakey, etc. I don't like mine to taste undercooked. These were just about perfect for me. They were moist but still tasted cooked all the way through. I also found this recipe to be pretty customizable. I added mint chips to one batch and they were just great.Instead of using cocoa in this recipe, you use unsweetened chocolate and melt it in a double boiler. ( I just used a metal bowl over a pot.)
Next, you mix together the eggs, sugar and vanilla, until the batter is a pale yellow.Incorporate the chocolate into batter. Now is the time to get creative and throw in any add-ins that you have a hankering for, in this case, walnuts.Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 45 - 5o minutes. Then comes the best part-Cut and eat.

Before I post the recipe, I just want to say thanks to the great women in this group. I am inspired every time I check one of your blogs! Be sure to check out the amazing bakers who joined me this week.
You can find this week's recipe on pages 82-83 of The Sweet Melissa Baking Book, or posted below.
Chocolate Walnut Brownies

1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter
4 ounces best-quality unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 cup all purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

2/3 sup walnuts, coarsely chopped (optional)

Before you start
Position a rack in the center of your oven. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Butter and flour a 9 x 9 x 2-inch square cake pan.

  1. In the top of a double boiler set over simmering, not boiling, water, melt the butter and chocolate. Remove from the heat but keep warm.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whip attachment, beat together the eggs, sugar, and vanilla on medium speed until pale yellow in color, about 2 minutes. Add the melted chocolate and mix to combine.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour and salt.
  4. Add the flour mixture to the chocolate mixture in 3 batches, mixing on low speed until just combined. Do not overmix. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Stir in the nuts by hand.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until sides begin to pull away from the pan and center is moist but not runny and a wooden skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove to a wire rack to cool.
  6. When cool, loosen the edges of the pan with a knife and invert the brownies onto the cutting board. Cut into 12 brownies, measuring 3 inches by 2 1/4 inches, or serve straight from the pan.
The brownies keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. For longer storage, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 5 days, or freeze well wrapped in plastic wrap and then aluminum foil for up to 3 weeks. Do not unwrap before defrosting.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

SMS: Sour Cherry and Almond Biscotti

It has been a while since I have posted anything but I have actually been doing quite a bit of cooking and baking. We have just been busy enough the last couple weeks that I have had trouble finding time to sit down and make a record of the culinary adventures I have been having. Okay it probably hasn't been exciting enough to apply the word "adventure" but I did make freezer jam on my own, which was a first :) I also made last weeks sms recipe but I just haven't gotten around to posting it either. Maybe a little later today...Anyway, on to this weeks recipe. I have never made biscotti before and I was so pleasantly surprised that mine turned out. I kept thinking throughout the process that I couldn't see how this was going to come out looking like the biscotti my grandparents make but in the end it all came together just fine. Although it took a little time, most of that was baking or sitting in the fridge, and it was actually really easy to make. My husband preferred it after the first baking. He liked that it was more like a cookie then, so maybe I will make these again for him without baking twice.Thanks to Tracey for hosting this week, what a great pick! Check out her blog for the recipe and a really nice picture tutorial (wish I would have had that to look at while making mine). Also take a look at how the other SMS bakers did.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

SMS: Gingersnaps

I love gingersnaps! I had the privilege of having one of the world's sweetest and kindest women for my grandmother. As a kid I loved visiting her house. It was one of those places where a kid could really be spoiled. She always had yummy treats at her house that my parents didn't keep regularly stocked around our house. One of the treats she frequently had at her house were gingersnaps. They weren't homemade but they were still yummy, especially dipped in milk. Since those days I have come to like these crisp little cookies even more because not only are they just plain good but I also have sweet memories of my lovely grandmother attached to them. This recipe is the first time I have ever made gingersnaps. I thought the recipe was great, although mine were slightly overcooked, so I probably need to lower the temperature in the oven or reduce the time. The only other thing I had a problem with was I only had half of the ginger I needed. I improvised and used a little more of the other spices but the flavor, while still yummy, wasn't quite right for gingersnaps. I definitely plan to make them again, this time with enough ginger. Check out the other amazing SMS bakers to see some really great looking cookies and for the recipe and some yummy looking variations on the recipe, head on over to our lovely host's blog, The Ginger Snap Girl.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

I heart cooking clubs- Dining with Dad

Here I am posting on the last day of the week, again! Hmmm, I need to get more organized. We have so many things going on during the summer that posting gets pushed to last.
Okay, so this week I made two recipes from How to Cook Everything. The first one is Everday Pancakes with one of his variations, and the second recipe was The Best Scrambled Eggs.

The Everyday Pancake recipe is a really great basic pancake recipe. It will probably be my go-to recipe for pancakes because it is so versatile and quick to whip up. I love all of the add in suggestions and look forward to trying a lot of them. Some of them sound so good, like substituting coconut milk for regular milk (love coconut milk) and some of them sound intriguing like spooning the batter over cooked bacon. I didn't pick anything as exciting as either of those two suggestions this time. My husband is a big fan of grains so we added one cup of cooked wheat berries to the batter. He liked it a lot and everyone else seemed to enjoy them as well (particularly my littlest guy). The wheat berries kind of give the pancake a chewy texture but it worked. Here is the recipe-

Everyday Pancakes
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar, optional (I left it out)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups milk
  • 2 tablespoons melted and cooled butter (optional), plus unmelted butter for cooking, or use neutral oil
  • 1. Heat a griddle or large skillet over medium-low heat. In a bowl, mix together dry ingredients. Beat eggs into 1 1/2 cups milk, then stir in 2 tablespoons melted cooled butter, if using it. Gently stir this mixture into dry ingredients, mixing only enough to moisten flour; don't worry about a few lumps. If batter seems thick, add a little more milk.
  • 2. Place a teaspoon or 2 of butter or oil on griddle or skillet. When butter foam subsides or oil shimmers, ladle batter onto griddle or skillet, making pancakes of any size you like. Adjust heat as necessary; usually, first batch will require higher heat than subsequent batches. Flip pancakes after bubbles rise to surface and bottoms brown, after 2 to 4 minutes.
  • 3. Cook until second side is lightly browned. Serve, or hold on an ovenproof plate in a 200-degree oven for up to 15 minutes.

My second recipe, The Best Scrambled Eggs, was also pretty good. They take quite a long time to cook but they have a very creamy texture. I probably won't make these too often. They were tasty but not enough to justify the extra time they took. One of the things I love about scrambled eggs is that they only take about five minutes to whip up so this just isn't as useful to me but for a special occasion they would be a yummy addition. The recipe only makes two servings so I doubled it. I also didn't have cream on hand (well actually I did but it was put in a part of my fridge that freezes and was totally solid) so I used 3 tblsp. of whole milk with 1 tblsp. butter. Here is this recipe doubled-
The Best Scrambled Eggs

  • 8-10 eggs
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons of cream
  • 2 tablespoons butter or olive oil
  • 1.Crack the eggs into a bowl and beat them just until the yolks and whites are combined. Season with salt and pepper and beat in the cream.
  • 2. Put a medium skillet, preferably nonstick, over medium heat for about 1 minute. Add the butter or oil and swirl it around the pan. After the butter melts, but before it foams, turn the heat to low.
  • 3. Add the eggs to the skillet and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon. At first nothing will happen; after 10 minutes or so, the eggs will begin to form curds. Do not lose patience: Keep stirring, breaking up the curds as they form, until the mixture is a mass of soft curds. This will take 30 minutes or more. Serve immediately.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

SMS: Chocolate Orange Macaroons

This week our SMS host was Ellen of Blue Tree Green Heart. She picked these wonderful, super easy Chocolate Orange Macaroons. They are seriously the easiest cookie I have ever made. They even beat out no-bake cookies, I think, on the easiness scale. This recipe has five ingredients and it literally takes only about 5 minutes to mix it all up. When these first came out of the oven and I tried one warm (because that is the just the kind of impatient person I am) I thought they were pretty good but as they cooled they tasted so much better. I took some down to my mom and dad and they seemed to like them too, especially my mom, who ate "a few" more than the two she planned to eat. Give these a try, especially if you are a fan of coconut! Also be sure to check out how the other bakers did this week and take a look at Ellen's post, she has some really great photographs!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

I heart cooking clubs- Herb Garden

I love fresh herbs, unfortunately I CANNOT seem to keep them alive! I don't know what I am doing wrong, but despite my best efforts I keep killing them. Luckily, the grocery store has them so when I am in need, I can drive five minutes and pick them up.
The herb I decided to play with this week was thyme, and just for the heck of it, I looked it up on Wikipedia. Here are a few interesting factoids about thyme: Ancient Egyptians used thyme for embalming. The ancient Greeks used it in their baths and burnt it as incense in their temples, believing that thyme was a source of courage . It was thought that the spread of thyme throughout Europe was thanks to the Romans , as they used it to purify their rooms and to "give an aromatic flavor to cheese and liqueurs". In the European Middle Ages , the herb was placed beneath pillows to aid sleep and ward off nightmares. In this period, women would also often give knights and warriors gifts that included thyme leaves as it was believed to bring courage to the bearer. Thyme was also used as incense and placed on coffins during funerals as it was supposed to assure passage into the next life.
I made Italian bread sticks, also called grissini. They are an item that I buy from Whole Foods whenever I go there because they are just so yummy. I discovered them a couple years ago and have a mild addiction to them. Now I can make my own and season them however I like and as an extra bonus, homemade just tastes fresher and yummier. These are really easy to make, and the recipe says you should get 50-100. I got around 60-70 ish, so not too shabby. The dough is mixed in the food processor, which I love because it makes it so darn easy!
These are very customizable. The first pan I actually started cooking before I realized I hadn't added any herbs (duh), so they ended up being plain. After that I added thyme to the dough, and for my last two pans, just to jazz them up a little, I sprinkled one with onion powder and one with garlic powder. All of the variations were just lovely and would be great dipped in just about anything (ranch and marinara are my faves).
Anyway without further ado, here is the basic recipe, and if you are going to add herbs, he suggests 2 teaspoons of rosemary, thyme, sage or a combination of the three which you are supposed to add along with the olive oil, oops.


2 teaspoons instant yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
3 cups all purpose or bread flour
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more as needed
1/2 cup semolina or cornmeal

1. Combine the yeast, sugar, flour and salt in a food processor; pulse once or twice. Add the oil and, again, pulse a couple times. With the machine running add 1 cup of water through the feed tube. Continue to add water, a tablespoon at a time, until the mixture forms a ball. The dough should be a little shaggy and quite sticky.
2. Put the olive oil in a bowl and transfer the dough ball to it, turning to coat well. Cover with plastic wrap and let it rise for 1 hour in a warm place. Reshape the ball, put it back in the bowl, cover again and let rise in the refrigerator for several hours or, preferably, overnight.
3. Heat the oven to 400F. Lightly grease 2 baking sheets with olive oil and sprinkle very lightly with the semolina.4. Cut the dough into three pieces: keep the other 2 covered while you work with the first. On a well floured surface, roll a piece of dough out as thinly as possible into a large rectangle, about a foot long. Use a sharp knife or pastry wheel to cut the dough into roughly 1/4 inch thick strips (slightly smaller is better than slightly bigger).
5. Transfer the strips to the baking sheets, spaced apart and brushed with olive oil. Bake until crisp and golden, 10-20 minutes, then cool completely on wire racks. Serve immediately or store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

No SMS this week :(

I really wanted to make these cookies but apparently the stores out by me are deficient! I could not find shelled pistachios anywhere accept Costco, and I just didn't want that big of a bag. I looked in baking good and the snack aisle, and I even checked every checkout stand (I probably looked half-crazed) because sometimes they have those snack bags of nuts. NADA. I guess I could have shelled them myself but by the time I decided I was going to have to do that, if I wanted to make these, my littlest guy came down with a fever.
I realize in the whole scheme of things these are not big problems, they were more like irritating mosquito bite problems. Ah well, I will make these sometime this summer and I am enjoying seeing how everyone else fared. Also skip on over to our wonderful pinch hitter's blog, Tracey of Tracey's Culinary Adventures.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

I heart cooking clubs- Garlic Breath

For this weeks IHCC recipe I made braised potatoes. He has several (10) variations of the recipe and I made Braised potatoes and Garlic. I love garlic and I actually think this could have easily accommodated more garlic but I try to be sensitive to the rest of my family. This was a really easy recipe and if you are having freaky weather for May (like we are) you might enjoy soup.


2 pounds all-purpose or waxy potatoes
3 Tblsp. olive oil
salt and freshly ground pepper
1-2 heads of garlic, peeled
2 cups stock or water
1/4 cup parsley, for garnish (I didn't have any so I skipped this)
Parmesan, if desired

-Peel potatoes and cut them into chunks.
-Put the oil in a large pot over medium high heat. When hot add the potatoes and garlic, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook stirring occasionally until coated in oil and beginning to turn golden.
-Add the stock and enough water so that the potatoes are barely covered. Bring to a boil, stirring once in a while to make sure the potatoes aren't sticking, then turn the heat to medium-low so that the mixture bubbles gently.
-Cook, stirring occasionally until the potatoes get tender, 20-25 minutes. Add more liquid if they start to stick.
-The potatoes are done when a skewer or sharp knife inserted into one meets almost no resistance. Adjust seasoning, garnish with Parmesan and serve.

After tasting the recipe the way it is, I did puree about half of the soup just to give it a more creamy texture. My whole family loved this. Everyone had seconds and my two year old had fourths (although I was giving him much smaller servings).

SMS: Coconut Custard Pie

Ahh, I am getting this out so late but technically it is still Sunday where I live (for another 45 minutes). I made the pie earlier in the week and then kind of forgot about it until a little while ago. Incidentally, I also made last weeks pecan pralines this week (they were good but SUPER sweet, like tooth ache sweet). Anyway back to the coconut custard pie. It was very easy to make and pretty quick too. Overall I liked it and the fam seemed to enjoy it but I was a little disappointed in the texture or flavor. I was expecting it to be more creamy, like pudding and it was a little more eggy. It wasn't bad, I was just looking forward to something a little different. I followed the recipe pretty exactly but it could have been user error.
I must admit I did not make my own crust. Just didn't feel like messing with it this time.
Also making a brief appearance, here are my pralines for last weeks SMS. They are pretty good with ice cream. They weren't anything I would crave but they are pretty quick and really easy. I could see making them to give to a neighbor as a gift. I think if/when I make these again I will add more nuts. You really need the nuts to help break up the sweet.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Daring Bakers: Piece Montée or Croquembouche

The May 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Cat of Little Miss Cupcake. Cat challenged everyone to make a piece montée, or croquembouche, based on recipes from Peter Kump’s Baking School in Manhattan and Nick Malgieri.

It was definitely a challenge, to say the least! This project took me a little ways out of my comfort zone. I get nervous to make layer cakes, let alone something like this. But that being said it was a very fun learning experience and I am so glad I got to try it! My dad and my stepmom are both French, were married in France and had a croquembouche for their wedding cake. I didn't make it to the wedding but I have seen the picture and been very curious about this dessert ever since. I am sure theirs looked and tasted much better than the one I made (at least I REALLY hope so). Still I don't think I did too bad a job for my first try :) If I make one again, don't think I would use the caramelized sugar. It was a pain, literally! I ended up burning the tip of one of my fingers, which kind of ruined some of the fun. Were I to try this again, I think I would try the chocolate. Much more user friendly and who doesn't love cream puffs and chocolate. So not sure if I will ever make the whole thing again but I can definitely say I will make cream puffs again and I am excited to make other things with the pate a choux.

I followed the recipes and used the vanilla cream filling. Yummy! To finish off my croquembouche, I made my favorite sugar cookies and used a basic royal icing to decorate them.
Making the pate a choux was actually pretty quick and easy. The piping was a little more difficult for me to get right. For some reason when I tried to pipe it at first, it seemed a little too liquidy (spell check tells me this is not a real word but c'est la vie) but after sitting for a minute the flour seemed to absorb more of the egg and it worked out fine.
Some of the puffs were not quite as puffy as they should have been but they still tasted yummy and worked out okay.
Here are the sugar cookies. They were pretty fun and easy to make.

Following are the recipes used in making the piece montée, including the sugar cookie recipe.

Pate a Choux (Yield: About 28)
¾ cup (175 ml.) water
6 Tbsp. (85 g.) unsalted butter
¼ Tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 cup (125 g.) all-purpose flour
4 large eggs

For Egg Wash: 1 egg and pinch of salt

Pre-heat oven to 425◦F/220◦C degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Preparing batter:
Combine water, butter, salt and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and stir occasionally. At boil, remove from heat and sift in the flour, stirring to combine completely.

Return to heat and cook, stirring constantly until the batter dries slightly and begins to pull away from the sides of the pan.

Transfer to a bowl and stir with a wooden spoon 1 minute to cool slightly.

Add 1 egg. The batter will appear loose and shiny. As you stir, the batter will become dry-looking like lightly buttered mashed potatoes. It is at this point that you will add in the next egg. Repeat until you have incorporated all the eggs.

Transfer batter to a pastry bag fitted with a large open tip (I piped directly from the bag opening without a tip). Pipe choux about 1 inch-part in the baking sheets. Choux should be about 1 inch high about 1 inch wide. Using a clean finger dipped in hot water, gently press down on any tips that have formed on the top of choux when piping. You want them to retain their ball shape, but be smoothly curved on top. Brush tops with egg wash (1 egg lightly beaten with pinch of salt).

Bake the choux at 425◦F/220◦C degrees until well-puffed and turning lightly golden in color, about 10 minutes. Lower the temperature to 350◦F/180◦C degrees and continue baking until well-colored and dry, about 20 minutes more. Remove to a rack and cool. Can be stored in a airtight box overnight.

When you are ready to assemble your piece montée, using a plain pastry tip (I actually used a squeeze bottle as per the recommendation of Martha Stewart), pierce the bottom of each choux. Fill the choux with pastry cream using either the same tip or a star tip, and place on a paper-lined sheet. Choux can be refrigerated briefly at this point while you make your glaze.

For the Vanilla Crème Patissiere (Half Batch)
1 cup (225 ml.) whole milk
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
6 Tbsp. (100 g.) sugar
1 large egg
2 large egg yolks
2 Tbsp. (30 g.) unsalted butter
1 Tsp. Vanilla

Dissolve cornstarch in ¼ cup of milk. Combine the remaining milk with the sugar in a saucepan; bring to boil; remove from heat.

Beat the whole egg, then the yolks into the cornstarch mixture. Pour 1/3 of boiling milk into the egg mixture, whisking constantly so that the eggs do not begin to cook.

Return the remaining milk to boil. Pour in the hot egg mixture in a stream, continuing whisking.

Continue whisking (this is important – you do not want the eggs to solidify/cook) until the cream thickens and comes to a boil. Remove from heat and beat in the butter and vanilla.

Pour cream into a stainless steel/ceramic bowl. Press plastic wrap firmly against the surface. Chill immediately and until ready to use.

Here is the recipe for the glaze I used and following is the chocolate glaze I wish I had used.

Hard Caramel Glaze:
1 cup (225 g.) sugar
½ teaspoon lemon juice

Combine sugar and lemon juice in a saucepan with a metal kitchen spoon stirring until the sugar resembles wet sand. Place on medium heat; heat without stirring until sugar starts to melt around the sides of the pan and the center begins to smoke. Begin to stir sugar. Continue heating, stirring occasionally until the sugar is a clear, amber color. Remove from heat immediately; place bottom of pan in ice water to stop the cooking. Use immediately.

Chocolate Glaze:
8 ounces/200 g. finely chopped chocolate (use the finest quality you can afford as the taste will be quite pronounced; I recommend semi-sweet)

Melt chocolate in microwave or double boiler. Stir at regular intervals to avoid burning. Use the best quality chocolate you can afford. Use immediately.

Finally here is the recipe for the sugar cookies. I found them on this wonderful blog.


1 cup butter
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp good quality vanilla
1 cup sour cream
4.5- 5 cups flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
4 tsp. baking powder

Cream butter and sugar. Mix in eggs. Add sour cream and vanilla. Blend well. Sift dry ingredients together. Add to cream mixture a little at a time. Roll dough on floured board and cut into desired shapes. Bake on parchment lined sheets at 350 F for about 10 minutes.

Seriously these are amazing cookies and I usually use the frosting that goes with them (which you can find on the same blog) and it is even better!

Here is the link to the Daring Bakers challenge. There is some awesome information along with some extra recipes that I didn't use. Also you can use the blog roll to check out how the other, very talented, Daring Bakers did with this challenge.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

No SMS today :(

No yummy butterscotch pralines here. I just didn't find the time this week to do any baking or cooking. My husband loves butterscotch so I will still be making these (hopefully sometime this week). Anyway they look really wonderful on everyone blogs. Tessa over at The Cookin' Chemist hosted this week and she has a great tutorial on how to make these butterscotch pralines and be sure to check out how the other sms bakers did.

Monday, May 17, 2010

I heart cooking clubs- Potluck

It is that time again! POTLUCK. This week I went super-duper easy for my potluck recipe. I made Five Minute Drizzle Sauce, which can be found at the beginning (page 22) of How to cook Everything. This is such a simple recipe and I really loved it plus I just love all of Bittman's variations.
Here is the recipe-

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil or butter
1 tablespoon minced onion, garlic, ginger, shallot, scallion or lemongrass
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice or mild vinegar, like balsamic
salt and freshly ground black pepper


1. Put the oil or butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. When the oil is warm or the butter is melted, add the onion and cook stirring occasionally, until it softens (turn the heat down if it starts to color), a minute or two.
2. Stir in 2 tablespoons water and the lemon juice and sprinkle with some salt and pepper; maintain the heat so it bubbles gently for a minute or two. Taste, adjust the seasoning and serve.

I used the onion and drizzled this over warm pasta. Then I topped it with some freshly grated Parmesan cheese. What a comfort food! I can't wait to try some of the other variations and to try it on more than just pasta. Mark Bittman suggests it be used on pasta, rice, fish or chicken. I think it would also make a yummy vinaigrette for a salad.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

SMS: Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Caramel-Rum Raisin Sauce

YUMMY! I really love bread pudding, any kind, at pretty much any time of the day! Bread pudding, is not just for dessert as far as I am concerned. If I didn't love bread pudding so much, I probably would have given this week a miss because my little sister got married Friday, which made for a crazy, busy week.

I am so glad I made this because it was delicious. Here are the few changes I made to the recipe: I didn't have brioche so I grabbed a loaf of bread from a local grocery store that was described as rich, golden and buttery. I also did not have rum so I substituted 1 tsp. rum flavoring and enough water to make 1/4 cup in total. The rum flavoring was a little strong for me so next time I think I would just use 1/2 tsp. rum flavoring. This will be a recipe I definitely use again, especially in the fall and winter, although we are pumpkin lovers year round here!
I still have some leftover sauce that I plan to try with vanilla ice cream tomorrow, yum!
To give the recipe a try, zip on over to our wonderful host this week, Carmen of Baking is my Zen; she has the original recipe plus some variations and some great information as well. Also enjoy taking a look at the other SMS bakers.

Daring Cooks: Stacked Green Chile & Grilled Chicken Enchiladas

Our hosts this month, Barbara of Barbara Bakes and Bunnee of Anna+Food have chosen a delicious Stacked Green Chile & Grilled Chicken Enchilada recipe in celebration of Cinco de Mayo! The recipe, featuring a homemade enchilada sauce was found on and written by Robb Walsh.
Okay, so I am posting this a couple days late but I have a pretty good excuse. My little sister got married on Friday and it ended up being a (good) crazy day! Anyway, all of a sudden, today I remembered that I still haven't posted this. Oops!

My family and I really enjoyed this recipe. In fact looking at the pictures makes me really wish I had some leftovers sitting around somewhere! I am so glad I made these because we have a new family favorite. I have never made enchiladas before, stacked or otherwise, so it was exciting to try something completely new. Also I am really intimidated by chili peppers. Just some weird quirk of mine, I get nervous messing with foods that you should wear gloves to cut into. But I overcame my fear, and I found the chilies really non-intimidating once I started cooking. I originally planned to make my own corn tortillas, but alas that will have to be a project for a future date. These had a lot of steps to follow but each of the steps was dead easy. I did make a different filling than the chicken filling. As I have mentioned on here before, the hubby is not a big meat eater, so I threw together a very simple, non-meat filling.
The recipe for my easy filling is-

1 can of black beans
1 can of sweet corn
1/2 a red onion, diced
1 cup queso fresco, crumbled
cilantro to taste

Mix them all together and add them to the enchiladas.
Here is the link to the rest of the recipe on the Daring Kitchen or they can also be found on here. Special thanks to our hosts, Barbara and Bunee! These were great!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

SMS: Orange Blueberry Muffins with Pecan Crumble and Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there who work so hard! And a special wish for happiness to my own sweet Mother. Being a mom is a really tough job and some days there seem to be few if any rewards. On a related note, I have two pretty cute little boys here that I might be willing to part with for the right price (i.e. if you pick them up they are yours). I am just kidding (mostly)! But if anyone has any ideas how to get kids to stop fighting, I am all ears.
Okay on to the recipe. These muffins were so yummy! I loved them and, in my opinion, the pecan crumble really is what separates these muffins from any other blueberry muffins. I could have eaten the whole bowl of that pecan crumble plain (or maybe with a bowl of ice cream) . Luckily I resisted, and I am so glad I did because the synergy of the crumble with the muffin was better. These were really pretty easy to make and I was able to get a dozen regular sized muffins as well as a dozen mini muffins. The only problem I had was the amount of liquid in the batter. Melissa mentions in the recipe that you will need to adjust the amount of liquid in the batter depending on the moisture of the fruit you use. Well blueberries are not as moist as, say, peaches, so I guess I should have used more liquid, but she doesn't specify how much more. Anyway, after I had everything mixed together, I realized it was more the consistency of bread dough than muffin batter, so I added more liquid and because of that I think the muffins were slightly over mixed. Ah well, I will know better next time and this time they still tasted pretty great. Find out how the other SMS bakers did and be sure to check out the wonderful blog of this week's host, Chaya of Sweet and Savory.