Tuesday, February 21, 2012

TWD/BWJ: Chocolate Truffle Tarts

Both kids were home this weekend, so we made these on Saturday. They went back to school on Sunday bearing tarts, King Cake, brownies, and Girl Scout cookies. Their friends will be happy.

Is there anything better than baking with your teenage daughter? At one point, we were laughing so hard she was literally rolling on the floor and I could hardly breathe. That brought brother bear out of his cave to see what the commotion was all about. There was chocolate involved.  Of course.

Let's get on with the baking photos.  If you want the actual recipe, you can get it here, here, here, or here. And here's where you can check out the rest of the TWD blogroll.

Couldn't believe it but
smearing those crumbs worked!

out of the fridge
my baby
baking the crusts

Used bittersweet chips. Needed a kitchen scale
to measure the right amount. So proud that I had one,
even if it was out of reach on a high pantry shelf
(think we bought it years ago to weigh a Pinewood Derby car).
What's a "slowly disappearing ribbon"?

Separating the eggs.
Froze the whites in an ice cube tray. 
Yay! They look like the picture! And taste fabulous.

Oh, and here's a shoe I saw this week while sitting at a light on an interstate overpass. A "chocolate" brown leather clog-ish sort of thing drowning in cigarette butts. Who loses a shoe in a place like that?

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Proper Tools Make All the Difference

I always knew this where quilting was concerned. Any Bernina owner will agree. "Nothing sews like a Bernina. Nothing." It's not just a slogan. It's the truth.

But when it came to cooking, I made do with whatever I had on hand. And yes, I probably could have gone another 25 years without knowing that my oven is 50 DEGREES HOTTER than the dial indicates.  No wonder I've had a tendency to burn everything! Suspecting that it ran hot, I've always set the temp a little less than recipes call for, but still assumed I'd done something wrong when things came out over-cooked. Did I mention that our stove is a "classic"? No doubt it's older than I am. Explains the hot flashes. Poor thing.

Which is all to say that it's been a revelation to have a simple oven thermometer.  I treated myself to this little luxury when I went to Cook's Warehouse for tart pans. Decided that if I'm going to learn to bake, I might as well buy the proper tools. Also picked up an instant-read thermometer (didn't have it for the bread recipe) and a dough scraper.  And yes, I spent $36 on 6 little tart pans but am thrilled to have them.  Think I'll be getting to know the woman at Cook's Warehouse.

Oh, and guess what else I found this week?  Was at the library looking for something in the DVD section when this jumped out at me.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

TWD/BWJ: Bread of Life

I have a history with bread. Once upon a time, I baked 3 loaves of sourdough bread every week and never bought a loaf at the store. It was a 2-day ordeal involving starter (that had to be fed) and a couple of long risings. I believe the weekly baking ended just about the time that my firstborn started walking.  Duh. He's 21 now.

A few years ago, I joined the worship ministry at church. You get interested in bread when you prepare communion frequently. From time to time, I even set up bread machines in the sanctuary, timed to finish just before the worship service. The aroma of baking bread fills the room and the bread is still warm when served. We've experimented with different kinds of bread too. Currently, we're praying our way around the world, a different country each week. This week was Estonia, so we used rye bread for communion.

But it's been years since I mixed and kneaded with my own hands, and baked the loaves in an oven. I was thrilled to see that the first recipe picked for the Tuesdays With Dorie: Baking With Julia project was White Loaves.

Reading a few other blogs, I was a little worried about my KitchenAid mixer (her name is Katie).  Seems that several participants had trouble kneading the dough in the mixer for 10 minutes on medium speed.  There were even stories about dead KitchenAids!  Now Katie has a few years on her. She used to belong to my mother-in-law, who entrusted me with her beloved mixer when she moved to a senior living facility.  Poor Katie has been sitting in the corner mostly unused for 5 years now but I treasure her and didn't want to risk damage.  Since I don't have an owner's manual, the KitchenAid website came to my rescue.  Their recommendation for bread dough was 5 minutes at a lower speed, number 2 on the dial.  So I did a bit of a combo.  Ten minutes, but at the lower speed, and Katie performed beautifully!  The dough was gorgeous.  I did knead by hand a little at the end for the pleasure of it.

The bread turned out great!  Oh, how I wish you could smell my house right now...

And just for fun, here's a shoe I spotted this week...

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

A Good Day to Begin

Numerically significant.
A series.
A progression.
A date which includes 1 zero, 2 ones, and 3 twos.
And written another way
is Palindrome Day.

Blogging?  Me?  Uh-uh.
But I must.
Why? you ask.
Because I want to learn to bake.

Tuesdays with Dorie: Baking with Julia starts this month and you must have a blog to participate.  This group will be baking their way through Dorie Greenspan's book, Baking With Julia (based on the TV series).  I have the book and the enthusiasm, but no blog... until now.  And so it begins.