Tuesday, July 13, 2010

TWD: Brrrrownies!!

Short and sweet this week just like the recipe that Karen from Welcome to Our Crazy Blessed Life chose for our Tuesdays With Dorie recipe this week!

If you love Junior Mints...if you love York Peppermint Patties then this is THE brownie recipe for you! I know it's up my alley--I welcomed the excuse to have to buy Peppermint Patties! Half the bag is now in fridge for snacking!

Dorie explains in her book that her son's liking of YPP ( forgive abbreviation, but I'm posting this from my iPhone... Tricky keypad)

the recipe came together so easily--though when I baked it, some of the white mint made like lava and bubbled up to break the surface... But regardless of looks, these were indeed refreshing as the old peppermint patty ad claimed ("when I bite into a York peppermint patty, I get the sensation of cool gale force winds whipping through my hair!!"...or there was another ad with a guy pretending to ski jump on his coffee table...anyone remember??)

anyway, these were awesome!!! Great moist texture...I'd make them again in a heartbeat!!

NOTE: how can I upload a photo from iPhone to blogger???! I can't seem to get my brownie photo into thus post !!! Grrrrrrr....(grrrownies!)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

TWD: Raisin Swirl Bread

Susan of Food.Baby chose this week's Tuesdays with Dorie recipe--(a club dedicated to baking and blogging through her book Baking: From My Home to Yours)--and what a choice she made! (ok, let's face it, it's not like any of the Dorie recipes are bad choices...) I guess I always especially like the ones that make me feel connected to childhood/young adulthood spent in the kitchen.

Nothing does that for me--as I'm sure with so many others--than the smell of bread baking. I was excited to try this recipe--and it came together so easily!! I made the dough Saturday night...up to the 'freeze for 30 min' which is when I put it in the fridge to hang out for the night. I left it in a nicely shaped rectangle....

And Sunday morning I found this

Ya, that dough goiter hanging off the left side of it wasn't there the night before...but it rolled out nicely and after some shoving I got it into the pan!

I have made bread before, but never made raisin/cinnamon swirl! So festive...Here is where I admit I'm a raisin snob at times. In fact, I used less than half the raisins called for in the recipe--just enough to complement every piece cut, but not enough to overload it. (I'm always on the lookout for the ever elusive "cinnamon" bagel...no raisins, just cinnamon. I have only rarely found it!)

I froze half the loaf for making Father's Day French Toast! Dear Husband and I thoroughly enjoyed the rest..."this is awesome" was the exact phrase from DH..and our little one even had some, and from the flailing hands and feet from the high chair, and the hands opening and closing to beckon for more, I think it was a thumbs up!

It was a pleasure to make--and to bring the smell of my mom's kitchen into my kitchen, which I just love doing. Music and smells are what brings me back to a moment in time..how I measure my history. (Which is why I just emailed my high school reunion committee a whole playlist of songs from 1986-1990...our 20 yr reunion is this fall and they asked for song suggestions...I gave them everything from that era from B-52 Love Shack to Young MC It Takes Two to Bon Jovi's Livin' on a Prayer..and everything in between (that means you Milli Vanilli, MC Hammer, Ton Loc, and Paula Abdul!) I hear some of these songs and I'm immediately in a car with my best friend from high school, and we are driving to football games...or basketball games.....or dancing at school or CYO dances ---looking for whomever was Crush Boy at the moment to make an appearance....and when I hear songs like The Lady in Red or Hold onto the Night, I have an urge to go blend into the wall or run off to the bathroom for fear that I'd be the loser without the dancing partner!)

And so with kitchen smells it's the same. As the bread was baking I was transported to the kitchen in our house I grew up in....Mom would make multiple loaves of bread usually at Thanksgiving and Christmas..she'd make enough to cover us through dinners, the leftover turkey sandwiches, morning toast (we so loved our toast in our house! Both French and good ol' toast-r-oven kind!) And any snacks in between. I love when I bake yeast recipes because I smell it, and Mom, who has been gone over 12 years now, seems to be no further away than just the other room...maybe in the dining room trying to find the "good tablecloth", or counting out silver, or in the Breakfast Room setting up the "kids table", and all the while singing along with Nat King Cole or Bing Crosby or Frank Sinatra or the Carpenters or show tunes....I hope one day my Littlest Baker smells bread baking and thinks "Home. Mom." I may not ever know about it, but I hope it's a connection made one day over time and space....(though I fear it won't be nice as the picture I have in my head ...My son will probably say something like, "I smell bread baking -- you know, that almost-burned smell--and I think of my mother...swearing that she left it in the oven too long..or not long enough...and in the background--I hear her singing along to bad 80's music....ahh, home. Mom..."

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

TWD: Tender Shortcakes

First a story about this week's recipe host/selector, Cathy of The Tortefeasor...

Cathy and I met 1990 (aka freshman year of college) and have been great pals ever since...now going on (gasp) 20 years??! Wow, ok, that really makes me feel old...many beers ago...

Cathy and I have been through a lot together--including (I think) at least 1 class together (right Cath, or am I imagining you were in an English class with me--the British female professor...the one who'd make us put the chairs in a circle and discuss the book of the month/week/semester/whatever..the one who called on that guy "Mahhrk" a lot? (aka "Mark"...but not the way she said it!)
Anyways, so regardless of curriculum, Cathy and I have gone through ups and downs....we have shared laughs and tears both good and bad...during college I can't begin to say how many belly pains I have had because of Cathy and I building upon each other's jokes and stories and putting us into hysterics with our housemates...I came out of college with a tight group of friends...friends who I know will have forever. Friends who I know I can call (or tweet...or text...or Facebook 'friend') and know they will be there.....Cathy is one of those few who I know I am bonded to forever. Let's face it, you don't go through the rise and fall of Zima together and not become bonded for life.

And after college, we have seen each other through questions like 'what will you do after graduation" to "where will you live.." to "who will you marry"...to "what will your baby be named"...and now that she introduced me to TWD questions like "did you bake this week?" or "could you find that ingredient in Alabama, because I could not in Connecticut..." And I know years from now the question will be "so where do we all retire to?" I can't wait until I am sitting next to Cathy at Bingo one day when we are old and grey....then catching the Early Bird Special somewhere...and then reminiscing for the 1000th time "remember the time we cooked Thanksgiving dinner for our parents senior year??"

And in between now and then, Cathy and I are now going through a new curriculum together: Tuesdays with Dorie. Cathy told me all about the club and her blog two summers ago--no more than a few weeks after I decided to start baking more, and tried my hand at my first scratch cake (recounted on my now-defunct first blog). Though let's face it, Cathy is ten times as dedicated as I am with it and 20 times as witty and interesting with her posts! I always look forward to them. Whereas the miles between her and I are far, TWD keeps us in closer touch than usual, and brings us closer together. So I thank this blog for that.

So back to baking--this week was Cathy's choice. Tender Shortcakes. What a perfect selection to kick off Summer! We have had wonderful sunny weather recently (with some gross humid days mixed in) here in the Northeast....and Sunday after the humidity lifted with a passing thunder storm, I dove in and made the shortcakes.

They came together easily--Cathy, I can't thank you enough for an easy-peasey recipe! (obviously, thanks to you too, Dorie!) I didn't even have to plan to get the butter to room temperature! (love the "chilled butter" recipes!)

I opted to add the cinnamon and nutmeg, called for in the sidebar of the recipe....if I see any spin on recipes that adds those spices, I tend to go for it immediately. I started forming them...and then I forgot that it said if you go for the cinnamon route, to add some vanilla into the dough...."Doh!!" I forgot! So I tried to get it back into the cakes not yet formed...so I start to blend it in then, "doh!" I panicked thinking if I add to it and remix the dough, it means I would have over-handled the dough..Dorie says not to do that...You can see here the first row has pre-vanilla cakes, the bottom row has 'post-vanilla' cakes....and since I was at the bottom of the bowl, the unmixed flour started appearing...(I did half the recipe by the way, and it yielded six cakes) Forgive yellow hue to all photos...with my flash it was too bright, without it, it looks like this...darn energy-efficient bulbs...
So onward...and when they came out after 15 minutes, give or take--Voila!!

So here's the confession...I don't like strawberries...growing up, when we would have strawberry shortcake, I would opt for the spongecake and whipped cream, hold the berries. I decided to use the lesser of the berry evils for me, and went with raspberry and blueberry (I love blueberries, but better when they are baked in a cobbler or crisp. I know these 2 berries do not get as juicy as the strawberry, so not as perfect for shortcakes, but I had to go with what I thought I would eat! Dear Husband prefers those two berries as well, so it made it easy--and quite patriotic I might add.)

These cakes are AWESOME. Tender, indeed--and I love the added dimension the cinnamon provides. Especially since I mostly was eating just the cakes and whippped cream. Easy recipe+yummy recipe=repeated recipe!!

I know I'll make these again a few times this summer--even if I don't get into strawberry shortcake,I know guests will love it with these shortcakes!
Cheers, Cathy! Thanks for introducing me to Dorie! Thanks for a fabulous recipe pick!! Miss ya, babe!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

TWD: Coconut Banana Ice Cream Pie

"See you in another life, brotha"

Well I've made just about as many resurrections on Dorie as....the man in black/smoke monster on Lost.

But here I am, trying again to work a little slice of baking into my little world filled with my ever-growing Littlest Baker. I must admit, I get selfish of my free time and ensuring that it goes to him...working all day I usally count the minutes til I can shut down and drive home and the weekends are all about either playing (or taking turns with daddy playing with him so we can clean the house!)

Yet I do so enjoy making new things and this Tuesdays with Dorie group, and carving out some 'me' time in between nap time will be good for me...so I'm back...again!

So this week Spike of spike.bakes (who is super cool in my book by the mere fact that there is a photo of Buffy and Spike in last week's post) chose Dorie Greenspan's Coconut Banana Ice Cream Pie...page 350 of Baking..From my Home to Yours.

What a perfect dessert this was to assemble as it had to be done in phases...quite inducive to napping schedules. No baking involved. You need only melt some butter and brown some coconut (which took longer than I thought it would to brown by the way...maybe I had it too low for fear of it burning too fast..oh ya, or maybe because I had it in a little saucepan, not a sautee pan as called for ..had to switch about 5 min into staring at still white coconut). So you get the crust together (coconut/butter/butter cookies) and press into pie plate and freeze for at least 30 min...then later on during naptime #2 I was able to blend the banana and ice cream and rum

I made this on Sunday--in preparation for the finale of Lost....I was so happy that this week was a tropical flavored dessert as it went so well with the Hawaiian location and all! Thanks, Spike! Anyone who knows me knows I'm into my tv shows (what few I have these days)...and who doesn't like a good 'theme' night. So in honor of the end of Lost, I made Shepherd's Pie (rather than go a tropical dinner route, I went the "pun" route as Jack Shepherd is a main character). After dinner Dear Husband and I enjoyed a slice o' banana coconut---and chocolate (a main flavor left out of the title, by the by) pie! Down the hatch it went! Though it was hard to get past the lump in my throat from tearing up the entire episode....It was a worthy finale of the show, I thought. Lots of hub-bub about disappointed fans...but I was not at all.

Sorry for the awful photography...but it's Monday night, I did not take photos when I first served this, so that's the pie without the banana top garnish..in awful artificial lighting...I'm keeping it frozen and serving one slice at a time, so I decided to forgo the sliced banana topping....If there is an award for worst photo, I think I just won it this week. Thus I had to open with a more attractive photo.
So with that, I hope to continue on and be here next week for white chocolate brownies...

See you in another (blog), brotha
oh, speaking of brothers...one of mine has a birthday today! Happy Birthday, Bri!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

TWD: Swedish Visiting Cake (aka Gimme Gimme Gimme a Cake After Midnight)

And here I thought ABBA was the best thing to come from Sweden!!

Thank you, Nancy, from The Dogs Eat the Crumbs who chose Dorie's Swedish Visiting Cake as this week's recipe! I'd like to think I would have baked along this week no matter what, but the fact that one of my very very fave TWD bloggers chose it led me to know there was NO WAY I was skipping this week! Nancy/n.o.e I was SO happy to bake along with you this week! :) I always love visiting your site-even though unfortunately I've not visited m/any TWD sites lately due to time working mommy constraints...but look at this face...HERE'S why I don't post or read so much anymore..forgive me, fellow bakers??)

but truly, I always find myself relating to Nancy's posts and thinking "I think she and I would get along so well!" :)

Back to the Swedes: This cake is amazing. It's perfect in its simplicity. It is supposed to be made in a cast iron skillet--and I bought a dark blue/white glazed one not to long ago (it's so much nicer than the terrible photo shows...) But I realized that mine is a bit over the 9" called for in the recipe, so you'll see my edges were well done...but the texture in the middle? Spongy without being soggy...perfectly moist (thanks to a melted stick o' butter!)..the almond flavors are so full, yet not overpowering (gotta love anything with almond extract!...Or I do anyways!) Perfect for tea/coffee in the morning...or in the afternoon, or over after dinner conversation!
The story here is you can start it when you see folks coming up the street, and the cake will be ready by the time you get around to having dessert. Love that kind of story behind a traditional recipe!

You start with a great little tactic that Dorie uses in one of my other fave recipes, the French Yogurt Cake, wherein you blend the lemon zest with your hands into the sugar to make the sugar fragrant prior to adding in other ingredients (oh, and by the way, this was a one-bowl, no electric mixer needed recipe--another reason to love this!!) Once you do that you've done the "heavy lifting" of this recipe--all else you have to do is add the eggs, extracts, flour and melted butter.

Nancy, you are the reason I have another top Dorie recipe! I know that when I go visiting, or expect visitors, this will be one of those things I can whip up (I already know the recipe by heart, which is even better!) THANK YOU THANK YOU! I needed another "French Yogurt Cake" type dessert and found it!

Dear Husband thought it was fabulous--but asked "so I don't suppose this is good for me in any way?" Once I shared there is a cup of sugar and stick of butter his fears were confirmed...so we may have to freeze half of it to prevent the 2 of us from eating this whole thing in record time!

I can't wait to make this and impress folks with it! I will try different pans next time--or adjust recipe to fit properly into a 10" skillet...

I have awful photo this week...it was either snap and post, or no post at all...and considering 2 weeks ago I took extra time to snap photos in the daylight, and then did not get my act together to write the post on the coconut cake we all baked--ugh..meant I missed a Tuesday posting...So even though it does not count, just for the record, here is my dandy coconut cake from a couple of weeks ago! Anytime I can take out the Kugelhopf pan is a good time!

For more on the Swedish Visiting Cake, including recipe, visit Nancy's blog...and for more takes on the cake, visit the sites listed in the blogroll of us Dorie Greenspan faithfuls!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

TWD: Thumbprints for us Big Guys

This week's Tuesdays with Dorie recipe was chosen by Mike of Ugly Food Dude, who picked a great hazelnut-based cookie filled with raspberry jam...

Question: mine came out anything but a cookie I would call for a 'big guy'--they were super miniature..I took a teaspoon of dough, used the end of the wooden spoon, all as detailed in directions, and yet I can't say that they looked anything like the picture in Dorie's book...were there camera tricks..smoke & mirrors?? Or is the 'big guys' supposed to mean some sort of grown up recipe/flavors, not the size of the cookie? (but still..the photo in the book seem much larger)

Regardless, I was happy to try something I never would have done otherwise on my own--my problem is that I overbaked the dough...so I have the other half of the dough in the freezer for a rainy day--when I will reduce cooking time by enough to not have the cookies come out with a burn sort of taste....

Mike, thanks for picking a great recipe--even overdone they were pretty good and I'm looking forward to making the 2nd batch soon!!

Oh--and I tried raspberry jam in some, blueberry in some others...some, as you see in the photo cracked, but the jam was thick enough that it did not leak out too much!
Apologies for a lack-luster boring post..I am half-asleep, dead tired right now..just wanted to be sure I got this posted on Tuesday!! Even though I ruined them, I was glad to bake along this week!

Monday, March 1, 2010

My first "occassion" cake

We had my son's baptism this past weekend...finally...and I am happy to report that I faced down the scary "special occassion cake" demon and I went ahead and made the cake for our 30+ party myself. (How can I look anyone in the face and tell them I have a baking blog--and then ORDER a cake from a bakery? Just could not bring myself to do it)

I knew that it would come out looking quite home made--which it did...but it TASTED AMAZING! I used Martha Stewart's One Bowl Chocolate Cake, and my dear friend Cathy gave me the link to use for the buttercream frosting! I had the ultimate one-two knockdown punch going..everyone loved it! And I think it looked rather charming--if only because you can tell that it was home-made. It was a labor of love--I had so much fun planning this very special day and am still smiling at what a perfect day it truly was.