Rosemary and Olive Foccacia

June 1, 2010

How do you know when yeast is dead? If you put it in lukewarm water and it doesn’t bubble. Then, after 5 minues you check on it, give the bowl a shake, and lo and behold! a bubble pops up! it must be alive! (It’s actually not.) Don’t use dead yeast! Your bread won’t rise.

Dead yeast may have been the problem  with this bread, but maybe I just overbaked it. The dough rose quite well, but the final product was pretty tough.

It looked lovely and smelled delicious though!

Rosemary and Olive Foccacia

1 T active dry yeast

1 2/3 c warm water

5 c all purpose flour

2 t salt

1/4 c olive oil

chopped fresh rosemary

quartered whole olives

Sprinkle yeast into warm water. Let sit 5 min until bubbly.

Add flour, oil, and salt. Stir until the dough gets too thick, then knead until all the flour is incorporated.

Place in a greased bowl, cover loosely with a kitchen towel and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour.

Press dough into a greased jelly roll pan. Let rise until doubled in size – another hour.

Stir together rosemary with 3 T olive oil. Brush rosemary oil and press olives evenly over dough.

Bake in a preheated 425F for 20-25 min until golden brown.

Fondant and Chocolate Wrap Fail

April 5, 2010

I HAVE A CAKE DECORATING INTERNSHIP THIS SUMMER! I am soooo excited. It’s at a start-up bakery and I’ll be working with the owner who is also the decorator extraordinaire. There’s so much to see and do and learn! So I decided to hone my skills and practice covering a cake in fondant. I’d tried it a few times before and the last one was fairly successful, so I decided to be adventurous and make my own fondant. BIG MISTAKE. The Rolled Buttercream Fondant recipe works great for little modelling project and for covering cupcakes, but it just doesn’t have the elasticity to hold up for an eight inch cake.

In an attempt to save my creation, I tried to wrap the sides in a chocolate wrap… but made that too thin, so the edges wouldn’t peel off the wax paper.

Overall my techniques did not turn out as expected. However, the cake – red velvet with berries and cream filling – was delicious. Not traditional, but very yummy :D

Rolled Buttercream Fondant

1 cup light corn syrup

1 cup shortening

1/2 tsp salt

1 Tbsp vanilla

2 lbs powdered sugar + more for rolling out

Beat together syrup and shortening.

Add salt and vanilla. Mix well

Slowly stir in powdered sugar, switching to kneading when consistency gets too thick.

Special thanks to my roommate, Amy, for taking pictures for me!

Tiramisu Cheesecake

March 25, 2010

What better to do on a lonely weekend when all the roommates are out than to bake a tiramisu cheesecake and invite a few friends over to watch Alton Brown on Youtube?

Before she left, one of my roommates commented that tiramisu cheesecake sounded difficult…after all both are rather complex desserts on their own. This recipe was not only quite simple, but also a perfect blend of the two flavors. The mascarpone added an extra layer of silky richness to the cream cheese filling and the ladyfingers lining the edge gave the whole thing a nice crunch. This was also the first cheesecake I’ve made that didn’t crack on top. Yay!

Tiramisu Cheesecake

4 cups crushed graham crackers

2 Tbsp butter

Ladyfingers

1 tsp intant espresso powder

1 Tbsp hot water

2 8oz. blocks cream cheese

1 8 oz. tub mascarpone cheese

1 cup sugar

1 Tbsp cornstarch

1 tsp vanilla

3 eggs

Combine crushed graham crackers and butter. Press into the bottom of a 9″ springform pan. Line the sides of the pan with ladyfingers.

Dissolve instant coffee in hot water. Set aside.

Beat together the cream cheese and mascarpone until smooth. Add sugar, cornstarch, coffee, and vanilla. Stir until combined. Mix in eggs one at a time.

Pour filling into prepared pan. Bake in a preheated 350F oven for 50-60 minutes until center is just set.

Almond Tofu

March 1, 2010

My mother occasionally made this dessert when I was a child. It wasn’t usually for a special occasion. It was just a tasty tidbit that we occasionally had a strong craving for. It’s simple enough to be whipped up on a whim since it has only a few ingredients and doesn’t take long to make.

This creamy white dessert is literally translated to “tofu,” but it is definitely more a gelatin. The texture is achieved with agar, a gelatinous agent derived from seaweed.

To make this tasty treat, all you do is add the powder to water, boil it, remove from heat, and add milk. The exact proportions are readily available on the back of the box.

Generally, we consume almond tofu with canned fruit cocktail. The syrupy fruit adds a hint of sweetness, but doesn’t overpower the delicious almond flavor.

Happy Valentines Day!

February 15, 2010

Simple lemon cake with strawberry jam spread between the two layers. Baked in a cookie sheet and cut out with a big heart cookie cutter. Super simple cute yums :D

Easy Lemon Cake

1 box lemon cake mix

4 eggs

1 1/4 cup milk

4 oz. apple sauce

Combine all ingredients. Pour into a cookie sheet/jelly roll pan lined with parchment paper and sprayed with cooking spray. Bake 15-20 minutes in a preheated 350F oven.

Birthday PIZZA!

February 4, 2010

Instead of going out to a fancy dinner (for those always seem to fall short of expectations), my boyfriend and I decided to bake our own pizzas for my birthday.

With The Ridiculously Thorough Guide to Making Your Own Pizza in hand, we made our way through the aisles of our local Trader Joe’s.

Less than two hours of prep, assembly and baking later, we had five delicious (and rather large) pizzas. It was enough to feed my entire family!

Crusts: Whole Wheat and Garlic & Herb

Toppings: mozzarella, goat cheese, black olives, red onions, pepperoni, sausage, portabello mushrooms

Thanks boyfriend, for a lovely dinner!

Pear and Plum Cobbler

November 13, 2009

Sometimes the fruit that you carefully select from the supermarket as the prettiest specimin with the least bruises turn out to be kind of blah tasting. That’s what happened to the last batch of plums and pears I bought. I haven’t quite figured out when things are in season, so sometime the fruit that strikes my fancy isn’t quite the best choice.

So what’s a girl to do? Bake cobbler!

I’m not sure if the texture of this turned out like a traditional cobbler is supposed to be, but it sure was tasty. Especially with a big scoop of creamy, rich, vanilla ice cream.

A big thank you to the boyfriend for google-ing this recipe for me. I adjusted it to the amount of fruit I had available.

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Pear and Plum Cobbler

1 plum (thinly sliced)

2 pears (thinly sliced)

3/4 cup sugar

3 Tbsp cornstarch

1 cup flour

1 tsp baking powder

2 Tbsp brown sugar

1/4 cup butter

1/4 cup milk

1 egg

1. Combine sliced fruit, 3/4 cup sugar, and cornstarch in a 9×9″ square pan until fruit is well coated. Let rest for ~30 minutes.

2. Stir together flour, baking powder, and brown sugar.

3. Cut in butter until mixture resembles a coarse sand.

4. Mix in flour and egg until well combined.

5. Spread batter over fruit.

6. Bake in a preheated 325F oven for 45 minutes.

Pumpkin, Pumpkin, Pumpkin!

November 2, 2009

My last few photographed endeavors have all involved….guess what….pumpkin!

1. Pumpkin Curry

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“It tastes like Japanese curry!” my roommate exclaimed upon tasting a spoonful of leftovers I’d heated up for dinner. “Can I have another bite? Can you make it again???”

I used Japanese pumpkin, but the curry paste was a “Golden Curry” from a Chinese supermarket.

This lovely seasonal curry recpie that I got from my mother goes great over rice. Leftovers make for an easy and delicious, but slightly ugly meal.

When I made it fresh a few days ago my boyfriend scarfed down half a pot of rice with the tasty sauce. Afterwards, he wandered aimlessly around the apartment, mumbling about food coma…

Pumpkin Curry

4 cups Japanese Pumpkin, cubed

3 Tbsp vegetable oil, divided

1/4 lb.  pork loin, sliced

1 tsp cornstarch

1 Tbsp soysauce

1/2 a medium onion, diced

1/4 packet of Golden Curry paste

2 oz. coconut milk

Heat 2 Tbsp oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add pumpkin, allow 1 side to brown. Turn pumpkin pieces, add 1/4 cup water, cover to steam.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine sliced pork with cornstarch, soysauce, and 1 Tbsp oil.

Once water has evaporated, turn pumpkin and steam again with another 1/4 cup water.

Push pumpkin to the sides of the pan. Add onions and pork to the center. Stir until just cooked through.

Add enough water to cover the pumpkin. Adjust the amout of water depending on how strong/thick you want the sauce. Boil for 10 minutes. (Take a shower and make your boyfriend watch the pot.)

Add the curry paste and coconut milk. Stir to combine. Turn off heat.

Serve over rice. Yummy!

Makes enough to feed 3-4 people depending on hunger and glutton levels :)

2. Failed Pumpkin Soup

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Take home lesson: Halloween carving pumpkins are not meant to be eaten.

This dish looked stunning, but the taste was b-i-t-t-e-r!

Simply not a success :(

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3. Carved Pumpkin!!!

This baby was huge! The image template was printed on an 8 1/2×11 paper and it took up the whole page. Roomie project yay!

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And our awesome balcony lights:

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Rosemary and Smoked Gruyere Cheese Puffs

October 19, 2009

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My boyfriend claims that every time we eat at my place he never gets full :(

So after a simple dinner of Miso Egg Sauce Noodles (post to come when I remember to take photos…and figure out ingredient proportions), I made a late night snack. The recipe I used comes from Food Wishes’ gougères recipe. I have rosemary, but not thyme, and I happened to have a nice hunk of gruyere, so that’s what I used. The light, airy, herby, cheesy result was surprisingly easy to accomplish.

These puffs are explosions of flavor! The smoky flavor of the cheese barely sneaks out from beneath the strong, piney rosemary flavor. The 14 puffs that I made were demolished by five of us in a matter of minutes.

Is rosemary related to pine trees?

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Cheese Puffs

4 Tbsp butter

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup flour

2 eggs

2 tsp rosemary

1/2 cup shredded gruyere cheese

Melt butter in a small saucepan. Add water and stir to combine. Turn off heat. Stir in flour. Stir vigorously.

Spread batter into bottom and sides of medium mixing bowl. Allow to cool slightly. (Meanwhile shred cheese.)

Stir one egg and the rosemary into the dough. Mix until homogenous dough forms again.

Add second egg. Stir until smooth.

Stir in cheese.

Drop dough by spoonfuls onto a parchment paper lined cookie sheet.

Bake for 15 minutes at 425F.

Makes ~14 puffs.

Decent Apple Cake

October 17, 2009

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After gusting winds and torrential rain two days ago, today has been shorts and t-shirt weater. WHY??? Not good weather for baking, but…

…my apples were starting to look like this:

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Thus, I reluctantly turned on my oven to make some Apple Cookies. Then I decided that I was too lazy to make them into cookies, so I ploped the whole thing into a square cake pan and made Apple Cake Bars. It was alright. I cut the sugar down from the original recipe, so it ended up being more like Apple Bread Bars. Not bad considering the fate of the apples would have been in the garbage can otherwise.

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Apple Cake Bars

1 stick butter

3/4 cup dark brown sugar

1 egg

1/4 cup milk

2 tsp total of a mix of cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves

2 1/4 cups flour

1 tsp baking soda

4 wrinkly little apples (peeled, cored, and diced)

1/4 cup granulated sugar

Combine apples and granulated sugar. Let sit while preparing the batter.

Cream butter and sugar. Add milk and egg, mix well.

Stir in flour, baking soda, and spices..

Fold in apples.

Bake in a greased 8″ square pan at 350F for 20 mins.


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