Thursday, December 25, 2014

TWD/BCM: Buche de Noel

"Just say it's the best thing you ever ate," I begged.

But they HAD to be honest...
"The cake is dry."
"It's too sweet."
"I expected CHOCOLATE!"

At least we had the famous
Starlight Mint Surprise cookies.
Rolled up cake awaits filling and frosting.

Ah well, there are worse things. It was a fun Christmas activity. I even envisioned making it an annual event. I was so proud of myself. The cake baked and rolled up beautifully. The pecans were to die for (everyone agreed on that). The fluffy marshmallow icing was magical. If only the cake had been chocolate. Well, there's always next year.

The other Tuesdays With Dorie bakers can be found here. Most of their families were less demanding, LOL! 

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Fantastic Festivus - whatever your cup of tea - hope it's a good one. Here are a few pictures from our holiday. 

And a shoe. From the family Christmas party. The youngest of the young accidentally lost it while she was eating. 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

TWD/BWJ: Chocolate-Mint Nightcaps

Let's get something straight.
These are NOT cookies.
To be fair, the Cookie section of Baking With Julia
describes cookies as "the smallest cakes".
Which is what these are - little filled cakes.
Whoopie Pies, if you will.

Threw raw-egg caution to the wind.
We did enjoy the batter.
We probably won't make them again. Our go-to chocolate mint cookie is a favorite from childhood, Starlight Mint Surprise Cookies. A wondrous combination of crispy brown sugar dough, filled with a mint-flavored chocolate disc and topped with a nut. Not "little cakes". Sorry Nightcaps, when you're up against family tradition it's not a fair fight. Especially when you're not a cookie to begin with.

Maybe if your layers were crispy and sandwiched together with Nutella...  

but that would be a different thing altogether, wouldn't it? Ah well, every recipe can't be a winner.

And then there was the issue of the "nightcap". A mound of chocolate on top that looked very unappetizing. Let's be honest. I'm a dog owner.

But a piping bag full of ganache can be fun. Why in the world would anyone put a dull pile of chocolate poopie on top when there are so many other possibilities?

Unfortunately, these can't be stored easily once they're topped. Which is why the recipe also specified that they must be eaten right away. Who lives in a world where an entire batch of cookies can be consumed immediately? Not me. We now have a little decorate-it-yourself kit in the refrigerator. 

The other Tuesdays With Dorie bakers who made this recipe can be found here.

And a shoe. From Statesboro. We went down there this week to retrieve our girl, and her dog, and her car, which was inoperable and had to be towed - what an experience!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

TWD/BCM: The Rugelach That Won Over France

Can you imagine whipping up a batch of rugelach
just to use up a few ingredients before a trip?
According to Baking Chez Moi, that is exactly what Dorie did.
When her husband shared them with the French flight crew,
she was treated like royalty.
I can understand why.
Hail Queen Dorie!

The last time we made rugelach, it was a HUGE ordeal. Took a kitchen-full of ingredients and at least 3 days if I remember correctly. 

Didn't get near the freezer. Half an hour
or so in the fridge worked great.

Wasn't sure I wanted to take that on again, but kept thinking of Dorie throwing this together on her way out of town. If she could do it, I could. 

And I did. It was SO much simpler than the last time!

The quick processor dough rolled out beautifully and turned into something magical in the oven. 

Tastes like it came from a bakery. You'd never guess it was easy. The hardest part was keeping myself from eating the entire batch. 

Thank goodness I had a church meeting. Great group of women who get together every year and make chrismons to give to the children on Christmas Eve. 

This year we've made something totally adorable. A surprise that can't be revealed just yet. I will say that we made 174 of them. Those ladies deserved a snack.

The links for the other Tuesdays With Dorie bakers are here.

And now, a shoe. Seen once upon a time in the church courtyard:

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 special 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 in search of the sale. Guess what I found? I couldn't believe it when I saw a grinder just like the one from my childhood! Best 6 dollars I ever spent.

Today we put that thing to work. The ground-up cranberries have a different consistency than 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 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: