Wednesday, November 26, 2014

TWD/BCM: Cranberry Crackle Tart

"Close your eyes and pretend to be in Paris," I said.

Yes, this was good.
Unlike anything we've had before.
Fantastic crust spread with jam and topped
with a crunchy cranberry-studded meringue.

Equally important, it was a nice, light, prelude-to-Thanksgiving use for the excess cranberries I'm forced to purchase every year. My mother's cranberry salad recipe calls for a pound of cranberries. They only come in 12 ounce bags now, so I usually buy two and scale up. This year I didn't have to do that.

It's a red-letter year for Mother's Cranberry Salad. I don't have that many cooking memories from childhood, but one clear memory is the grinding of the cranberries. We had a metal grinder that clamped onto our kitchen table, in fact there was a permanent dent in the table from the grinder's once-a-year workout. I haven't seen that grinder in over 30 years.

A couple of weeks ago, I was leaving the quilt guild meeting over in Marietta when I saw a small "estate sale" sign. For some reason, that sign spoke to me, so I turned around and went to find the sale. Guess what I found that day? I couldn't believe it when I saw a grinder that looked just like the one we used to have. Best 6 dollars I ever spent.

Today we put that thing to work. The ground-up cranberries have a different consistency that berries that have been run through a food processor (which was the only way I could make the salad for the past 30 years). What a pleasure it was turning the handle, watching those little orbs being sucked into the screw-mechanism and emerging from the holes on the front plate as a deep red slurry. This time I had a daughter with me instead of a mother. The beat goes on. My cup runneth over. And just as we were finishing up, a flower delivery came from my sister. It was almost like she was there too.

Any recipe this dirty has been used a few times.

The other Tuesdays With Dorie bakers who made Cranberry Crackle Tart can be found here. The recipe can be found in Baking Chez Moi. It's a fabulous book. We've only just started baking through it, so now would be a great time to join in if you're interested.

Here's a shoe. Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

TWD/BWJ: Amaretti

Confession time.

I never understood why almond extract tastes like it does.
Always thought it tasted more like cherries than almonds.
Then I opened my first can of almond paste and took a whiff.

These rocked my world.
There's nothing else to say, really.
4 ingredients?
(3 if you don't top them with pine nuts)

Didn't have a 3/4" plain tip, so I figured the
connector was close enough without a tip.
Just held my finger over that little gap on the side.
It was fine.
Love my little beaker a la Alton Brown.
Perfect for holding the bag while I filled it.

The other Tuesdays With Dorie bakers can be found here. Even though this recipe is from Baking With Julia, we've also just started Dorie's new cookbook, Baking Chez Moi. It's the perfect time to jump in. We're doing one recipe from each book every other week, staggering them so that every Tuesday is baking day now. I'll do what I can when I feel like it. That's about all I can promise.

Thank goodness, Amaretti was easy easy easy. I like that.

And now a shoe:

Friday, November 14, 2014

TWD/BWJ: Alsatian Onion Tart

I baked this on the right day!
It was election day.
I remember it well.
The boy came home to vote.
We had the Alsatian Onion Tart for lunch.
With creamed collards and Waldorf salad.
Posting on time is SO overrated.

Wimped out on making the puff pastry
I'm not sure I understand the concept.
My favorite thing about puff pastry is the puff.
Next time I might try it un-pricked.

You can find the links to others who made this "tart" here. We thought it was more like pizza with an interesting crust. But what's in a name, really?

Now, how about a shoe? That's a bridge over the Chattahoochee down there.

TWD/BCM: Palets de Dames

Can we talk?

The dough is so good, you could just stop here.
Right about the time I decided to quit pushing myself on the Baking With Julia project, news came that Tuesdays With Dorie is also taking on Dorie Greenspan's new cookbook, Baking Chez Moi. Instead of every other week, it'll be EVERY week. Had to let that simmer (pardon the pun) before deciding what to do.

Didn't use milk in my icing. Just lemon juice.

After much ruminating, I've decided to continue on! The main thing is that I want to keep learning. Baking With Julia doesn't contain Dorie's recipes, or Julia's for that matter. The recipes in that book come from many different baking experts, and yes it's a treasure, but each contributor has their own style.

Baking Chez Moi, on the other hand is Dorie's baby. And I trust Dorie. Not gonna be obsessive though. I'll bake what I want from both books, and pass if I'm not interested or overwhelmed by other things. This is supposed to be fun, not a beat-myself-up-for-missing-this-week's-recipe marathon. When my husband asked what I was making, I replied that it was something I can't pronounce. Palets de Dames, aka "cookies".

You might notice that my cookies don't exactly look like Dorie's. Oh well. Something happened when I mixed up the icing with food coloring and before I knew it, the spirit of Jackson Pollock took over.

Heck, I didn't know what they were supposed to look like since my book hadn't arrived yet. But as I was finishing up in the kitchen, a car (yes, a CAR with a delivery service logo on the side) pulled up in the driveway and delivered my book. It's a sign.

Got myself a butter crock too. And some measuring spoons.
And a book with the words "tidying up" in the title.

See that roasted veggie quiche? Homemade crust.
I never would have done that before
Tuesdays With Dorie came into my life.
Close enough!
Who cares if they have different personalities?

Since this is the first recipe we've tried from Baking Chez Moi, it's the perfect time to jump in and join the Tuesdays With Dorie group. You can see the blogs of the other bakers here. Click around, and see how much you can learn. It's really fun if you don't get too perfect about it. Obviously, that's not my problem. Ha Ha!

And now, for your entertainment, a shoe. Because we're "taking off" on a new adventure:

Thursday, September 18, 2014

TWD/BWJ: Classic French Bread

Tuesdays With Dorie, you are a bad influence!

Good grief, this is either the best bread in the history of mankind, or I haven't had bread in so long it only seems that way.

After a bit of a search, I found fresh yeast. If you're in the Atlanta area, you can get it at the Buford Highway International Farmer's Market - in the refrigerated area of the Eastern European section. Don't know why I've never been there before, but it was a pretty great place to explore. The aisles are marked with different country names, and you can literally walk around the world.

Let's get to some pictures:

Aerating my flour with a whisk.
Learned it in a Montessori classroom.
Recently discovered that Dorie refers to this
in the "flour" section of the book on page 13.
I feel so validated. And so far behind on reading
what's in the book. Really, there's lots more than recipes.

That yeast cake crumbled up nicely.
But it smelled a little... skanky...

Not the best scale for measuring .6 of an ounce

All that kneading caused Katie to throw a screw,
but as usual she performed beautifully, loose screw or not.

Genius suggestion by Sharron to let the shaped dough rise
on parchment paper cradled between rolled up towels.
Baked them right on the paper.
One question: Where can I get a single-edged razor blade?
My knives just aren't cutting it. <groan>

Meanwhile, outside, the feeder is almost empty.
They've sucked down a gallon this year!
Can hummingbirds get fat? My husband thinks so.

See what I mean about being a

Check out the links of the other Tuesdays With Dorie participants here. And the original video of Julia with Danielle Forestier (who contributed this recipe) is here.

For your amusement.
This came in my CSA box yesterday.

 Finally, a shoe. This one seems appropriately French. It's not every day that you see an upright high heel in the road!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

TWD/BWJ: Poppy Seed Torte

I tried.
I expected greatness.
But no. Just no.

This one didn't do it for us.
My husband said, "It tastes liquid-y and strange."
That about covers it.

But I did learn some things:

1) Real apricots have pits. And it's easy to over-poach them. Yes, I've led a sheltered life.

OK, they were "plumcots".
But I'm guessing that's pretty close.

2) "Cleaning out" the coffee grinder by running a piece of bread through it is not such a good idea. Gummed it up pretty quickly.

3) Hungry young men will eat anything with a big bowl of ice cream. "It's an acquired taste," my son said. "The first couple of bites were odd, but it's growing on me." (Remember, there was ice cream involved.) 

Feel free to laugh!
Everyone else's torte was so lovely. Mine was just sad.
4) Penzeys Spices is an incredible place. If you have one of these stores near you, please go there. Just for a visit. Personally, I think the website leaves something to be desired (not enough pictures) but if you can go there in person you will be forever changed. All these years I've heard people rave about fresh spices and thought they were just being overly perfectionist. I mean, really, if I had a bottle of something purchased from the grocery 5 years ago, no way I was going to go buy another one. They found spices in the pyramids, for goodness sake! But Penzeys is spice wonderland. There's a store over on the other side of town, and a friend from church was always handing things off to me in little Penzeys bags. The store was on my route to a quilt workshop, so I stopped. Actually I was in search of a spice mix called "Sunny Paris" that someone mentioned in a chicken recipe. I'd forgotten all about the poppy seeds until I saw bags of them. Which is why I took on the Torte. It didn't work out, but the Penzeys experience more than makes up for it.

Very few of the Tuesdays With Dorie bakers seem to have made the Poppy Seed Torte. Probably because of the quantity of seeds required (2 cups!). But some made it and liked it. You can see their links here

Finally, a shoe. Hitching a ride on the back of a truck.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

TWD/BWJ: Baking Powder Biscuits

Biscuit challenge

Baking Powder Biscuits from Baking With Julia
Low-carb Breakfast Biscuits from Up Late Anyway

Let the chips fall where they may.
Looky what I found on the windowsill - 2" biscuit cutter.
Those antique cooking utensils have come in handy lately.

The low-carb ones baked first.
Spread more than I expected.
Next time - muffin tin.

Light and fluffy. And yummy.

OK, let's be honest here. Nothing is going to beat a good old-fashioned made-from-scratch biscuit. Of course they were excellent. I was forced to try one for verification purposes. It wasn't really a fair fight. The low-carb biscuits weren't bad, especially when paired with a great little spaghetti squash casserole. I even found Mr Picky nibbling a second one the next day (though he refused the spaghetti squash). 

To each his own. They both have a place in the world. Speaking of the world, we've been out in it this summer. Another road trip through the Carolinas, Tennessee, the Virginias, and DC. 

Jumping on the...

The Biltmore

America On Parade
at Shenandoah Caverns

Our nation's capitol.
I love the national mall at night.

The National Zoo

And we lost our sweet Sallie, who outlived her sister Rachel by 8 months. Now they're back together again, chasing squirrels and running the green fields of doggie heaven, pain-free at last. But it's hard. The house is still filled with dog beds and unused dishes. I can't bear to part with them. And our one remaining dog, Lady, is lonely.

Here's a shoe. A VERY interesting place to eat in Hendersonville, NC. I was almost out of the lot when my boy spotted it.