January DB challenge; Biscuits!

Biscuits. Honestly, I have never been a huge fan. Granted, most of them were store-bought (A.K.A hard and funny tasting,) but I was a little sceptical of this challenge. However, my husband loves biscuits, so I decided that I would have fun with this.

They were delicious!! Soft and flaky on the inside, crispy and firm on the outside..

Needless to say, I have been converted. The recipe was very easy, too. Just twenty minutes total, only ten minutes of work. So I made biscuits and gravy a couple of days later, also very tasty! Not very pretty in the pictures, but I’m definitely going to make it again.

Here is the link to the recipe. You will need to try this!

http://thedaringkitchen.com/forums/january-2012-challenge-back-basicsscones-aka-biscuits

Or, for a more simplified version..

1 Cup Flour

2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

2 Tbs Frozen butter, grated

1/2 Cup cold milk

1TBS milk, optional for glazing tops of scones

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1. Preheat the oven to 425 Degrees

2. Triple sift the dry ingredients into a large plate.

3. Rub the frozen butter into the dry ingredients, toss  until it resembles very coarse bread crumbs for flakey biscuits, or coarse sand for tender biscuits.

4. Pour as much milk as needed to make a slightly sticky dough. The wetter the dough, the lighter the biscuits.

5. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Fold the dough over itself 4 or 5 times. If you knead the dough too much, the dough will become tough. However, if you underwork it, it wont bind like it should.

6. Cut out the dough, either by using a knife or a round, sharp, cookie cutter.

7. Place the dough on a cookie sheet, just barely touching for soft scones. If you’d like a golden brown scones, brush the milk on top.

8. Bake for about ten minutes, until sides are set. When done, immediately  place on cooling rack. Serve while still warm.

Enjoy!

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Bartering with Bread- who knew?

When its slow at work, I like to give myself some “Me” time. Today was fun because I got two new food magazines, so I was able to browse (and drool) for the majority of the morning. I started with Food and Wine, one of my favorite sources for good recipes. I came across this article that probably made my day.

There is this woman who lives in Sweden. She actually barters with bread she bakes herself. From Sour dough to charcoal infused bread, she makes each loaf with the intent to make it better than the last. What started as a convenient trade-of between friends became a type of home business. She has a Facebook page with over 1000 friends, all who will offer trades for her loaves of bread.

 

In the article, she admits she mostly gets jam, but she has also gotten a lot of cool things. She has gotten good tickets from a local play, a potted goji-berry tree, herbs, sea salt.. the list goes on even more than I can comprehend, I am sure.

The crazy thing about this woman, is this isn’t her profession. She works in a manager for three different Levi stores. She bakes as a stress relief.

I just love this idea! Over the years, she has even created her own “mother,” or starter. It’s basically growing your own yeast culture that you use for sourdough bread that lives in a flour and water mixture. (I have plans to start growing my own, by the way. As of right now.)

Here is the article, if you’d like to read it.. I suggest  you do.

http://www.foodandwine.com/articles/the-benefits-of-food-bartering

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Daring Bakers Challenge- Croissants!

When I first heard about this challenge, I got very excited! I have always loved the fluffy, buttery, airy goodness of a good croissant. As a result of that, I have wanted to make croissants for a while. It seemed so convenient that it just came up as the September challenge for the Daring Bakers.

Unfortunately.. I don’t have a whole lot of time these days. Being recently married, going to school full-time, and working full-time, I only have one full day off.  Those are usually spent catching up with my or my husband’s family.  So needless to say, this recipe was very hard to fit into my schedule. I tried hard though, let me tell you!

As soon as I got off work on Saturday, I went straight to the kitchen, cleaned up, and got to work. The recipe is complicated, with some three or four rising times, incorporating butter, and everything. That combined with my dough stubbornly staying flat, and not rising, these croissants did not turn out well. They were so pitiful, I didn’t even want to take a picture of them. They tasted fine, but the texture was thick and dull. You can say, after my day dreaming about my beautiful croissants all month, I was disappointed.

When I have time, maybe during the semester break this December, I will try this again, and I will get it right. They may have won this battle, but I will win the war! Mwahaha! 😉 I’ll let you know how it goes.

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Molecular Gastronomy

If you would have come up to me a year ago and said, “One day you will be fascinated by science,” I would have laughed out loud. But here I am, looking as science websites, and thinking I might even guy a science kit. Except, this isn’t just science; its food science! (Make more sense now?)

Molecular gastronomy is the study of food and how it reacts to different elements. For example, you can cook eggs at different temperatures with different techniques to get an altogether different end product.

Wierd right? Here are more edible-looking pictures of this fatastic thing:

What I want to try -so badly!- is spherification. You can take any liquid and make it into juice-filled spheres. A lot like caviar. I have a feeling you could do a lot more with these things than you could with the caviar we are all familiar with.

Here are some grapefruit noodles: (Noodles! imagine the possibilities of a fruit salad!)

Here is a website I found with a fantastic video tutorial for spherification.

http://toastable.com/2010/08/watermelon-caviar-an-introduction-to-molecular-gastronomy/

I’m going to try it, I promise you!

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Fraiser- DB July Challenge

Fraiser (Noun):

1. My best friend’s dog.

2. Name of a  TV series, of which said dog was named after.

3. A free-standing (fresh) strawberry cake.

.. Wait, what?

I have been making jokes about this one all month. “I’m making my friends dog into a cake! HAHA!” .. Its gotten past the point of polite smiles from my family by now. I still think its funny!

I’ve got to say though, this is probably my most successful challenge yet. I didn’t have any weird hic-ups with this one. (Thank goodness, I’m still trying to live down the whole watermellon rolling thing.)

I made it for my house warming party, and served it for my family. According to my sister, it was “Exeptional.” If I do say so myself, it was really good. I even got my fiance to say it was really good, and he doesn’t even like cake! That’s how I know it worked- he doesn’t lie about my food to make me feel better. Gotta love him for that!

Plus, I got to use my new platter!

Here is the official recipe: http://thedaringkitchen.com/sites/default/files/u11/57_Fresh_Fraisiers-DB_July_2011.pdf

I followed it pretty closely. The only thing changes I made was lime zest instead of  lemon in the cake, lemon extract in the syrup and chocolate gnash on top instead of almond paste. (Although I would have loved to work with that!)

The cream filling was quite a process; a lot of heating up, chilling, heating up again, whisking, adding cream. Whew! That being said, one of my favorite things to do is fold whipped things into a batter. It looks cool while you are doing it, and the end result is so satisfyingly creamy! Love it.

Just talking about it is getting me craving.. After work, I plan on going home and eating that last piece. Yum!

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Baklava!

First of all, I really need to keep up on this blog better! I have at least three food stories to report. All in good time.

My second Daring bakers challenge was to make baklava. You might think, “Okay, that’s not too bad.” Then I would laugh at you. Part of the challenge was to make the phyllo dough from scratch. Yes, this mean that you must roll your own sheets!  This was fun, let me tell you!

My first try was a fail in multiple ways. Through different events.. That I had no control over.. cough cough.. I ended up rolling my first batch of phyllo dough with a watermelon. While you rolling on the floor at my stupidity, let me explain. I live with my dad, but also have access to my mom’s kitchen, so I usually cook there. But this time, I chose to switch things up and cook at my dad’s while everyone was gone to church. I thought it would be easy. Then I realized I didn’t know where anything was. After searching through every cabinet and drawer, I could not find a rolling-pin. So I look around, not wanting to put this off any longer, and catch sight of this huge watermelon on the counter. Yeah. So I sanitized it and got to work smashing my phyllo dough flat enough to read large letters through it. It was a work out, let me tell you! But, surprisingly, it worked quite well. But it was rather difficult, so I only got seven mini cupcake molds filled up before I gave up for the day, and stuck it in the oven. Now, there is a process to this. I got a little confused of what this process was, even though I had gone over the recipe multiple times. I was supposed to cook it for 30 minutes, take it out, pour the syrup over it and let it sit. Somehow I thought I needed to put it back in the oven for another 30 minutes after pouring the syrup in. Needless to say, it took a couple of days of soaking the pan to get the rock candy baklava out.

My second time was 90% more successful. This time I used a half loaf baking dish, a rolling-pin, and only cooked the necessary amount of time. For the nuts, I used walnuts, pecans and a little bit of almonds.  To avoid the extreme sticking, I used maple syrup instead of honey, a little bit of water and almond extract and let that simmer for a while with orange peels in it. It came out delicious! It did taste a little stale though, and I decided it was because I made the phyllo dough and layers a little to thick.

I finally got it right when I cooked it my third time. I got the phyllo dough very thin, only put three sheets for each layer, and used the same syrup, YUM!!! I ate about six pieces of it that day, and I still want more.

I will definitely  be making this again!

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First Daring Bakers Challenge!!

The Daring Bakers. I love it so much!! It is actually a part of the Daring Kitchen. Every month a couple of lady’s send out a challenge that everyone will make. Everyone puts their own little twists on it, and then tells their own little story about it. It is pretty much the best thing in the world for people who love food like I do.

This month’s challenge: Marquise on Meringue. Marquise is an egg yolk based dessert.. You mix it with rich creamy chocolate gnache and smooth airy whipped cream.. Fantastically dreamy and fluffy! Meringue should be more familiarto some of you.. It’s a marshmallow base. This Meringue, however is a lot softer, gooier than your average marshmallow.

The recipe that was posted on daring bakers was dark chocolate marquise. It called for black and cayenne pepper.. that was a little intimidating to me. And yet, I wanted to try it. So I reached my own compromise with myself. I made three different kinds of Marquise, with three different kinds of meringue to match. I must be crazy.

First (and definitely most popular) White Chocolate Raspberry with a splash of rum flavoring, all rolled in powdered sugar. I made a little mistake with this; it wasn’t as fluffy as it should have been, and the raspberry chunks left a crystalized texture. But it was the favorite for most family and friends.

Second was the dark chocolate with spice rolled in cocoa powder.. I messed up on this one too. Just being an air head this time. I was thinking I was working with the milk chocolate, so I ended up flavoring it with a little butterscotch on the side. Still good though.

Third (best in my opinion) was the milk chocolate flavored with butterscotch and almond with Orange flavored meringue. This time it was rolled in hot chocolate powder. Very fluffy, and melt-in-yout-mouth sweetness. It was very good!

 I definitely will be making this again. Oh, and the meringue was torched!!!

PS- the yellow stuff is the white chocolate gnache.. It looked like stringy egg whites so I wanted to die it red.. but I didn’t have any red food coloring.. so being the genious that I am, I used yellow intsead.

So much fun!

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