Thursday, January 29, 2009

Tuiles the latest DB'rs challenge

This month's challenge is brought to us by Karen of Bake My Day and Zorra of 1x umruehren bitte aka Kochtopf. They have chosen Tuiles from The Chocolate Book by Angélique Schmeink and Nougatine and Chocolate Tuiles from Michel Roux.
Okay I know I'm sliding in under the wire this month. It seems no matter how I think I'm going to change my procrastinating ways, the DB'rs challenge still sneaks up on me! Anyway this was a fun challenge. There was lots of room for creativity. I made my tuiles into cups filled with strawberry mousse in a pool of strawberry syrup. Just for fun I made some tuiles in the shape of butterflies. I had a great time with this challenge and the end results were very tasty! Be sure to check out all the other DB'rs tuiles. Thanks to our hostesses Karen and Zorra for such a fun challenge!

Strawberry Mousse
1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
3 tablespoons cold water
1 cup strawberries
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 egg white
3/4 cup heavy cream
In a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over 1 tablespoon of the water and let stand until softened, about 5 minutes. In a blender, puree the strawberries with the remaining 2 tablespoons of water. Strain the strawberry puree into a small saucepan; there should be about 3/4 cup. Add the sugar and bring to a boil. Simmer the strawberry mixture over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until it is slightly reduced, about 5 minutes. Stir in the softened gelatin until dissolved. Let the mixture cool.
In a medium bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the egg white until firm peaks form. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the cooled berry puree until no streaks of white remain. In another bowl, beat the heavy cream until softly whipped. Fold the whipped cream into the berry mixture and refrigerate until chilled, about 1 hour.

Strawberry Syrup
3/4 cup water
1/3 cup granulated sugar
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
1 cup strawberries, plus more for garnish
In a small saucepan, combine the water sugar and lemon zest and bring to a boil. Add the strawberries to the syrup and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and cook, crushing the blackberries against the side of the pan, until the liquid is slightly reduced and the berries have broken down, about 15 minutes. Strain the syrup into a heatproof cup without pressing. Refrigerate the syrup until chilled.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Guilt (and gluten) free oatmeal banana muffins

My dad is the healthiest person I know. Really. He's in his late 60's has almost no body fat and can outwork most men half his age. His cholesterol and blood pressure are great in spite of eating eggs, real butter, and some form of dessert at least once a day. If you ask him what his secret is he'll tell you; oatmeal. He has eaten a bowl of oatmeal and two eggs for breakfast nearly everyday of his entire life. I think he single handily has kept Quaker Oats in business!
He's hardcore with the oatmeal too. It's the old-fashioned oatmeal, no quick cooking, brown sugar and maple microwave variety for Dad. He claims that the quick cooking kind it's nearly as healthy( and apparently the American Cancer Society agrees). Oh and he doesn't put any sugar on his oatmeal either, sometimes some raisins or other fruit but never sugar.

Oatmeal is one of those super foods that has numerous health benefits, not the least of which is lowering cholesterol levels. I know I should get more in my diet and I do occasionally eat a bowl. I just can't seem to make myself eat it everyday. Oh and I do have to add a bit of brown sugar, sorry Dad, I'm not as tough as you! Hubs will also force down a bowl now and again, but definitely isn't going to eat it on a regular basis. So I been was looking for some other ways to incorporate more of this wonder food into our diet. I came across this recipe for oatmeal banana muffins. It's low fat and has an amazing 25 grams of oatmeal to each muffin! I didn't actually set out to make gluten free muffins, but this recipe uses no wheat flour. Instead it calls for oat flour. I didn't have any oat flour on hand, but its easy to make. I put my old fashioned rolled oats into the food processor and ground them until they had a flour like texture. Super simple! It takes about a cup and a half of oats to make one cup of oat flour.
The muffins were really moist. Hubs and I agreed they taste and texture of banana bread.

These muffins are like a portable bowl of oatmeal. The fruit is even included.

Banana Oatmeal Muffins
Yield: 12 large
Bake: in 400ºF oven for 20 minutes

1 1/4 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup yogurt, plain low fat
1/2 cup milk, low fat
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup oil, sunflower or vegetable oil
2 bananas, large, ripe, mashed
1 egg, large, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cup oat flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda

In a bowl mix together rolled oats, yogurt and milk. Let soak for 10 minutes.
Mix oat flour, salt, spices, baking powder and baking soda in a bowl.
Add brown sugar, mashed banana, egg and oil to rolled oats mixture. Mix well.
Add dry ingredients to the rolled oats mixture. Mix well. Fill greased or paper lined muffin cups 2/3 full. Bake for approximately 20 minutes.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Antipasto for two

Okay I've been a bad blogger. I know but, it's been a crazy busy week or so. I haven't had a spare moment it seems. By the time I finish all the baking I have to do for others, I've just haven't had time to squeeze in time for pictures and new posts. So enough of my excuses for now!
I did, while shopping for baking orders, find time to pick up a new cookbook, however. I got Frank Stitt's latest cookbook Bottega Favorita. It features the recipes from his Italian restaurant, one of my personal favorite restaurants, Bottega. The recipes in this cookbook are wonderful. I've made the several so far(but didn't take pictures!) and they've all been winners. This is a picture of the antipasto for two. You don't really need a recipe to put this together. Just grab olives, roasted peppers, pepperoncini, some Italian meats and cheese, and good bread and your set. I did make the marinated chickpeas that he had in the cookbook and hubs and I both agreed they were delicious. We opened the last bottle of wine that we brought back from Italy and enjoyed it with this antipasto platter. It was just like being back in Italy!
1/2 cup cooked or canned chickpeas
1 scallion thinly sliced
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon red wine vinegar
salt and pepper
Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and let marinate at least one hour at room temp. or overnight in the refrigerator.(bring to room temp. before serving).

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Chocolate dipped strawberries

The first of the strawberries were picked at Waterberry Farm this week. It looks like we're going to have a great crop this year! I brought home a large bag of the "less than perfect" berries. They taste just fine but my Dad won't sell a berry that he feels isn't perfection. He takes it very seriously. I can't tell you how many strawberries I've had to look and help him decide weather it's okay to sell or not. By the way we have 6000 plants and yes I'm almost certain that he looks at every single berry! So these berries didn't make the cut but that's fine with me. Hubs and I ate as many as we wanted fresh and I dipped the rest into dark chocolate. After wrapping them in a robe of chocolate I rolled them in chocolate sprinkles or crushed toffee bits.
Chocolate dipped strawberries are a quick easy treat, but they look impressive. Roll the chocolate dipped berries into nuts or sprinkles and they look like something that came from a candy store. These strawberries certainly don't look less than perfect anymore!


Melt 5-6 ounces of semi-sweet or white chocolate chocolate

Microwave directions for melting chocolate:
Place coarsely chopped chocolate in a microwave-safe container and microwave at MEDIUM (50 percent power) for 1 1/2 to 4 minutes, until the chocolate turns shiny.
Remove the container from the microwave and stir the chocolate until completely melted. Be careful not to overheat or the chocolate can burn.

Dip strawberries in the melted chocolate, lightly shaking the berry to remove any excess chocolate. Roll the dipped strawberries in chopped nuts, chocolate sprinkles, or toffee bits. Place on parchment paper and let chocolate set-up. The strawberries are best eaten within a few hours of dipping them in the chocolate but can be kept overnight if refrigerated.
Note: make sure your strawberries are completely dry when you dip them into the chocolate. Any water on the berries will ruin the chocolate.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Orange Blueberry Muffins...

...just the thing to break that post holiday baking slump.

Is it just me or does anyone else get the post holiday baking slump? I know everyone vows to lose weight after the holiday's, but I even lose the desire to bake. After baking (and eating) all that rich holiday food, nothing much appeals to me in those weeks following Christmas. That may not be all bad considering how tight my pants felt after the holidays!
However when I came across this recipe for orange muffins I found myself pulling out the flour, sugar, butter...etc. Citrus and fruit, now that's just the combo that will get me back in the kitchen. These muffins are delicious! They are moist and slightly cake like, but without being heavy. The fresh orange juice and zest gives them a wonderful punch of citrus. Throw in any berries or cranberries you have on hand and you might find yourself getting back in the baking groove!

Orange Blueberry Muffins
source: Rebecca Rather The Pastry Queen

1 cup milk
1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1/2 cup sour cream
2 large eggs
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
zest of 1 orange
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries tossed in a bit of flour

Orange Glaze

1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon grated orange zest

Preheat oven to 350. Grease 8 Texas-size (3 1/2 inches in diameter and 2 inches deep) muffin cups with butter or cooking spray. (*see note below) Whisk together the milk, orange juice, sour cream, eggs, and butter in a medium mixing bowl. Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Pour the milk mixture into the dry ingredients and stir just until the flour is incorporated. Gently fold the orange zest and blueberries into the batter.

Spoon the batter into the muffin pan, filling each cup just to the top. Bake the muffins for about 25 minutes, until they are golden brown around the edges and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool the muffins in the pans for about 5 minutes, then transfer them to a cooling rack and glaze.

To make the glaze: combine all three ingredients in a medium bowl. Spread the mixture on top of each muffin. Serve warm or at room temp. (there amazing warm!)

Notes: Instead of making "Texas" size muffins, I made mine in a regular size muffin pan. I baked them about 16 minutes. Test them with a toothpick at 15 minutes.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Meyer Lemon Custard Cakes

It's been gray and rainy for several days. The holidays are over and after all that baking I'm lacking motivation a bit. Hubs and I are trying to get in better shape. These are a few of the reasons I've been finding it difficult to blog right now. Don't worry there will still be plenty of baking going on, I'm just in a slight funk.
I got a bag of these gorgeous sunny Meyer lemons from my parents farm. They're so pretty they're begging to baked into something wonderful. I just got the latest Bon Appetit and in it is a recipe for Meyer lemon custard cakes. There small light and lemony, the perfect antidote to all those heavy holiday desserts.

Meyer Lemon Custard Cakes
source: Bon Appetit

3/4 cup plus 2 TBS sugar, divided
1/4 cup all purpose flour
pinch of salt
1 1/3 cups whole milk
2 large eggs, separated
1/3 cup fresh Meyer lemon juice or regular lemon juice
2 TBS finely grated Meyer lemon peel or regular lemon peel
1 8-ounce container chilled creme fraiche

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter eight 3/4-cup ramekins or custard cups. Whisk together 1/2 cup plus 2 TBS sugar, flour and pinch of salt in a medium bowl. Combine milk, egg yolks, lemon juice, and lemon peel in a large bowl; whisk until blended. In another bowl, beat egg whites with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Gradually add remaining 1/4 cup sugar and beat egg whites till stiff but not dry. Fold 1/4 of whites into custard. In two additions fold in the remaining egg whites in the custard. (the custard will be runny and I had lumps of egg whites when I made it)
Divide custard equally among the ramekins. Place ramekins in a large roasting pan. Pour enough hot water to come halfway up the sides of ramekins. Bake custards until golden brown and set on top (custard cakes will have a soft center), about 25-27 minutes. Cool slightly, and refrigerate custard cakes. Chill custard cakes until cold at least 4 hours, then cover and keep refrigerated.
Using electric mixer, beat creme fraiche in a medium bowl until softly whipped.
Run a knife around each custard cake to loosen. Invert each on a plate. Serve with whipped creme fraiche.

*Notes: I made this recipe according to the recipe except for the creme fraiche because I didn't have any on hand. I think I would use 1/2 cup lemon juice and 3 TBS grated lemon peel the next time I make these. The lemon flavor was very light and I like a little more tang. The custards definitely need to be made in advance so the flavors have a chance to meld.