Sunday, July 25, 2010

chocolate, chocolate cookies

"Twin Chocolate Cookies" to be more correct.  This is another Cookie Jar - Hannah Swensen - Joanne Fluke recipe ("Blueberry Muffin Murder" page 136).

The outside of this cookie does not crunch, but holds within it's walls a rich, decedent center.  Though I toasted the pecans, there is so much chocolate that the pecans are included mainly for texture and not flavor.  I would add a touch of espresso powder; however, they are delicious just as the recipe is written.

The cookies puff a bit in the oven, then fall and crack when removed from the oven.

I froze some of the cookie dough in #50 scoop ball size.  I believe, if possible, the cookies taste better and bake better out of the freezer.

These will be a win-win with all your chocolate lover friends and family.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

my eye to the world

Trust me, the food photography will return very soon...

I'm on a mission to organize my photo images taken since October 2006, and managed via Lightroom.  So, I'll add to this post as I find the image files. (the links below will be live once I find and reconnect the images)
Perhaps, you could care less....but I will feel so much more organized!  And the memories...oh, the memories.  There are sounds and flavors and sights from these travels that create memories for a lifetime.

Watch seems to 'appear' in most of the photo sessions linked below.

Apple rings  October 2009
Viking Cupcakes and Cakeballs  August 2009

Culinary School Bootcamps
Culinary Institute of America
Hyde Park, NY
Baking students 2008
Chef demos 2008
Pastry students 2009
Chef demos 2009

Destin area, Florida:
   Night Lights
   2008 FL Hwy 98E

Atlantic Ocean, Florida
November, 2007
Cocoa Beach 1
Cocoa Beach 2

Europe - Munich and Paris
   Munich 1
   Munich 2
   Munich 3
   Munich 4
   Munich 5
   Paris 1

Mississippi Delta
MS Hwy 61  October 2008

NCM meetings:
Las Vegas, NV  October 2006
Denver, CO  March 2008
Phoenix, AZ  March 2007
Quebec, Canada August 2007
Portland, ME  July, 2008
   Artist along ME coast
Providence, RI
San Antonio, TX  Oct, 2008
Monterey, CA  March 2009
Milwaukee, WI  July 2009
Charleston, SC  Oct, 2009
Orlando, FL  February 2010 (too cold to venture out with the camera!)

Seattle, WA  July 2010
Washington, DC  Oct, 2010
Austin, TX  March 2011
San Diego, CA  July 2011
Cape Cod, MA  Oct 2011

New Orleans, LA  March 2008
Union City, TN dove hunt

Memphis, TN
Orpheum Oz 2009
Ice Storm January 2010

Biker Boys and Hot Cars
pink lady August 2008
1931 Harley Davidson  December 2007

New York City 2010

World Wide Photo Walk 2010

above image made with my first generation iPhone (& edited w/ Best Camera iPhone applicaiton) today, near the end of our walk
we were all hot, hot, hot
high today was near 100 degrees

This is the third year Scott Kelby has endorsed the world wide photo walk.  I've participated in the  Memphis, TN walk each year.  Here's the link to my images from the 2010 walk.  I'll post the link for 2008 and 2009 soon.

2010 World Wide Photo Walk - Gale's images

2009 World Wide Photo Walk - The Memphis group was in Midtown Memphis.  At the moment, I can't find these images...

2008 World Wide Photo Walk - Gale's images

Friday, July 23, 2010

my view from the kitchen

Now, couldn't you bake with this view just on the other side of the window?

There are no food shots nor recipes in this post.  I just wanted to share this image (25 seconds lapsed to take this image at 9:41PM last Saturday night) of the view from the kitchen at the beach.

it's 5 o'clock somewhere

a closer look

the chocolate view

This is another of my 'beach baking' treats.  Oooooie  gooooooie brownies, creammmy cheesecake, and rainier cherries...what a combination for the last night at the beach! 

It's been almost a week since I enjoyed this '5 o'clock somewhere' treat; the memories are sweet.

The cheesecake brownie is another winner from "Ready for Dessert" by David Lebovitz. This recipe included, all my beach baking was accomplished with only a pan, bowl, and a spoon.  No fancy mixer, no special tools (well, except for my scale, which I packed with care); it's amazing what you can do when you don't have tools at hand, and you really want to bake.

The brownie layer contains three types of chocolate, and the cheesecake layer contains 8 oz. of cream cheese - all in an 8" square pan, or 64 square inches of goodness.  And, one square inch of this rich brownie is an adequate serving.

The cherry garnish was my add; it's not in the recipe, but I think they add color, and I know they add flavor. 

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Bakery Nouveau in Seattle, WA

I will have the opportunity to visit Bakery Nouveau in Seattle, WA in a couple of weeks.  After the visit, I'll post a few pictures and describe to you some of the bakery items.

My association with Bakery Nouveau has come through Katerina.  You can read the short story here.

The bakery has graciously listed my blog on their blog section, 'blogs we read.'  I am honored.

Here's a link to Bakery Nouveau's website.  Soon, some of those delectable treats will awaken my taste buds.

Friday, July 16, 2010

a five day beach course in cheese

I stand at the cheese counter in Whole Foods or Fresh Market in Memphis, TN or Lucy's Whey in Chelsea Market, New York City...
And I don't have any idea what wonderful discoveries await me, because I know nothing about cheese.

I was raised on a farm in rural NW Tennessee.  We grew up eating Velveeta cheese.....I know....but that's what Mom served.  So, when I tasted a brie (soft white) warmed gently in the oven, and Havarti (semi-soft) included in a quiche, my taste buds danced.  There must be more!

Thus, my beach vacation reading:

Early in the book, editor-in-chief, Juliet Harbutt describes 7 types of cheese:
  • fresh
  • aged fresh
  • soft white
  • semi soft
  • hard
  • blue
  • flavor-added
Afterwards, there is a section on the prefect cheeseboard.  Next there are over 750 different cheeses photographed and described, along with suggestions for serving and pairing with drink.

I shall take my book to the store, stand at the counter, observe....and hope those around me don't think I have lost my mind!  (actually, they my know less about cheese than I now do!)

I'm enjoying the book.  It's very easy to read, and quite resourceful.

My brother writes a frequently updated wine blog.  You can find it here.  He compares wines in various price ranges, while accompanying the wines with something tasty from his three trusted grills.  He will soon be contacting me, the family expert-in-the-making, for wine and cheese paring suggestions. (if you enjoy a glass of wine, please take a moment to click over to his blog)

Thursday, July 15, 2010

popovers and summer salad

These popovers are made from a simple, basic recipe.  Once again, this is a "Cookie Jar" recipe from Joanne Fluke's book, "Key Lime Pie Murder."  I must confess that I have had far superior results with this simple recipe than with other popover recipes that require such techniques as mix well, mix gently, let the batter rest, don't let the batter rest, etc, etc, etc.

Pretty on the inside:

Popovers paired with this salad recipe from my friend at Mrs. Ermel's blog. Strawberries, blueberries, tangerines, greens, (you could add roasted chicken) strawberry vinaigrette, and the best part...

Sugared almonds!

(mix by hand; don't use a mixer)

1 c. eggs (this is about 4 large eggs, but I measured exactly) - whisk by hand about 1 minute
2 c. milk (I used whole milk); whisk just until blended
Add, all at once:
2 c. flour, unsifted
1 t salt
Stir with wooden spoon until mixed, but a few small lumps are remaining

Pour into greased/sprayed 12 cup muffin pan (I did use the pretty 12-well popover pan)
Bake at 450 degrees for exactly 30 minutes - DON'T open the oven door
DO watch through the glass of the oven door - it's fun to watch the popovers pop up

After 30 minutes, remove the popovers from the oven
Pierce each one with a sharp knife to release steam
Remove from pan; serve (perhaps with this jam, or this jam)

breakfast shots

Aren't they beautiful - peach jam and blueberry jam warmed by the rays of the afternoon sun.  And, who would not want to add a 'shot' of either of these to their breakfast toast.

In the past, I have followed Ina's recipe and made strawberry jam.  After that very successful attempt, I am no longer afraid of the fruit, sugar, and thermometer.

I didn't use commercial pectin in the jams pictured here, and the peach jam is slightly runnier than some might prefer.  And, I did add a vanilla bean after I removed the peach jam from the heat.  An entire vanilla bean was too much for this small batch of jam.  Even though the aroma of the vanilla bean lying on the counter near the cooking peaches was delectable, the vanilla flavor is too intense for my pallet.  I would only add about 1/3 bean in the future.

As for the blueberry jam, the berries have enough natural pectin to produce a jam with 'just the right thickness.'

I now have about 5 cups of jam aging and waiting patiently to be used in fruit bars, or on top of macaroons, or...on my morning toast.

Blueberry Jam
4 c. fresh blueberries from local Farmer's Market (some crushed and some left whole)
2 c. granulated sugar (I whirl mine in the food processor for a few seconds)
juice of 1 medium lemon

Mix all ingredients in a thick-bottom pan.  The thicker, the better; this will help prevent sticking/burning when the fruit and sugar get very hot.

Stir to encourage sugar to dissolve; continue to stir often to prevent burning.

Inhale frequently, as this jam smells of wonderful summer fruit as it cooks.

Heat to 220 degrees on thermometer.  After you make a few batches of jam, you will notice that the bubbles in the pan are thicker, and juice splatters out of the pan, and everything tries to burn on the bottom when the jam is just right and done.  Until you reach that observation confidence, I would use the thermometer.  ( I use a thermometer) The process took about 30 minutes of cooking time.

Makes about 2 1/2 - 3 cups of jam.

Peach Jam
Replace 4 c. blueberries in recipe above with 4 cups peeled and sliced peaches.  Follow all other instructions as listed above. 
This took about 45 - 50 minutes.  Next time I will add a little Granny Smith apple chopped very fine (to add a little pectin) to aid in the jelling/jamming.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

beach sweets

Bathing beauties - beach ladies - 
Everything seems sweeter at the beach - powder white sand - white powdered sugar

The lemon bars are a refreshing treat on a hot Destin afternoon.  They remind me of a rich, creamy lemon pie atop a crunchy shortbread crust.  The recipe is from Alice Medrich's book, "Pure Dessert."

The shortbread, flavored with an extra splash of almond, accompanies my morning fruit.  The recipe is a favorite from Michael Ruhlman's, "Ratio."

And the brownies - ah, the brownies.  The recipe is from "The best of fine cooking-Cookies,".  They are made with dutch process cocoa and 4 oz of Scharffen Berger 62% cacao.  They are lucious.

Notice, I'm referring to these in the present tense....I'm still eating them as I type.

Listed below is a basic outline of the brownies if you cannot find the magazine.
"Double Chocolate Chunk Fudge Brownies"
"The Best of Fine Cooking Cookies" page 51
350 degrees
8" square pan, lined with parchment for easy removal of the cooled brownies

6 oz (3/4 c.) unsalted butter
2/3 c. dutch process cocoa (I used Pernigotti from Wm Sonoma); stir well
1 2/3 c. granulated sugar
1/4 t. salt; stir well
1 large egg; stir well
1 t vanilla; stir
1 (more) large egg; stir well
1 c. unbleached all purpose flour; stir just until mixed
1/4 lb chopped chocolate; fold into batter
1/2 c. chopped pecans or walnuts (I did not add these); fold in if using

When I bake, I weigh my ingredients using my trusty kitchen scale. Therefore, I convert the above measurements to ounces and/or grams.  I'm an accountant...what can I say???

Recipe states 33-38 minute baking time, warning to watch closely so as not to over-bake.  My brownies baked longer, but I was not baking in my home oven.  You want them to be soft and gooey, but not raw in the middle.

Cool well; cut into small squares - these are very rich!; consume crumbs and broken pieces of the brownies; enjoy!

These brownies were baked, cut, wrapped, and frozen at the beach in FL.  A few days later, they were driven home to TN via AL & MS. They were then refrigerated.  And today, ten days later, they are still delicious.  The outside edge of each small brownie square is crusty, crunchy.  And the inside of each square is still lush and gooey and full of delicious chocolate goodness.  

Culinary Institute of America Hyde Park NY Pastry Bootcamp

I attended this awesome bootcamp in the fall of 2009.  Finally, I have edited the pictures.  My classmates will be surprised to see pictures months later.

Chef's demo:

Student's daily production:

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

creme caramel was just the beginning

CIA Day 1 (originally written in September 2009)
It's not yet daylight in the Hudson Valley at 5:30 AM as I make my way north to orientation. As the continuing education coordinator distributes parking passes and food swipe cards, I am nose deep in my instruction manual. What will we be making this week???

Breakfast today was Elvis french toast...what can I say...Memphis is home...I had to try this. It's almost what you would expect. Two slices of french toast sandwiched to together with banana, peanut butter, and bacon. It's quite rich, and I didn't pour on the syrup!

How great to see Chef Welker again. He was my instructor last fall at Baking BootCamp. After watching Chef demo pastry cream, vanilla sauce/creme anglasie, pate a choux, and the wet method of making caramel for creme caramel, we were given our assignments and allowed near the gas cooking flames. How trusting of the CIA to allow this group of people, from all walks of life and all experience levels, free reign in the kitchen.

Pastry cream means whisk constantly and vigourously until your arm feels very, very tired. And then whisk some more. Mary (my bootcamp partner) and I took turns whisking. Now, who's going to help whisk in my home kitchen?! All the effort was worth the final result; we produced a tray of rich, thick, vanilla seed speckled, pastry cream. (BTW, the CIA uses 2,000 pounds of butter per week.)

Pate a choux did not require any of the heavy duty whisking. We piped lines and circles with the dough...I guess that means we made eclairs and cream puffs. Tomorrow, we will fill these with the pastry cream we made earlier today.

Lunch break was not your ordinary brown bag variety. Caprece salad, lamb, squash, and some type of stuffing. Skipped the cheesecake (I can't believe I did that!) to get back to class to make the caramel.

And now, on to the hot sugar part of the day. It was just awesome to watch that sugar (we used the wet method to make the caramel) change from white bubbles to golden amber caramel! We will plate these little pots of creme caramel tomorrow.

We finished the afternoon with a very complete tour of the campus. In addition to the baking and chocolate classrooms we observed, we made our way 'downstairs' to the fish room and the meat room. I can't describe will just have to wait for the pictures. Oh, and a quick trip through the store room where they keep the chocolate.

It's time to dress for dinner at Caterina De Medici; they are expecting us at 7PM. Not to be outdone by the lamb at lunch, I'm sure this dinner will be spectacular.

Dinner service was quite slow; we didn't finish dessert until 9:30 PM. Today has been a wonderful but very long day.

Here's a link to another day 1 and 2 post.  I was so tired at the end of the remaining evenings of the week that I didn't write summaries of the day.  The pictures will have to tell the story...

The above post was written in September 2009.  After the week at CIA Pastry Bootcamp, I returned home to work and everyday stuff.  Now it's July 2010, and I'm on v a c a t i o n!  And, I now have time to update some partially-completed posts.

So, I'll soon be posting CIA Pastry Bootcamp pictures from September 2009.  As was the CIA Baking Bootcamp in fall of 2008, this Pastry experience was educational, and fun, and inspiring.  If you are even remotely considering a week at CIA, click that button on the computer screen and commit to taking the class.  It will change your life.

blueberry crunch cookies

Really pretty cookies, with a good shape and texture.....but....

...they just didn't have a blueberry flavor.  When a bite of cookie includes a couple of the dried blueberries, there is a hint of blueberry flavor, but not the intense flavor I had imagined.  How do I achieve great blueberry flavor in a cookie?  Any suggestions?

This is another 'Cookie Jar' recipe from Joanne Fluke's Hannah Swensen series.

The pottery is from a regular merchant at the Memphis Farmer's Market.  I'll post the link to her website when I return home from v a c a t i o n.

cardamom takes these gingersnaps over the top

Another 'Cookie Jar' recipe-and this one (Spicy Dreams) is great!   The cardamom, in this cookie that I would call a gingersnap, takes the cookie to a new level.  There is a depth of flavor added that comes only from the addition of the cardamom.

Aren't these cookies pretty.  Notice the 'swirl-crack' in the top of the cookie.

Yes, that's sugar, and an ample amount.  I rolled the dough balls (made with a #50 scoop) in sugar prior to baking.  Years ago, my mother often baked gingersnaps especially for me; so, they hold a very special place in my heart.  These cookies are as good as hers...they help bring back fond memories of days long gone.

You can find this recipe in Joanne Fluke's, "Key Lime Pie Murder," page 226.

Monday, July 12, 2010

pretty pottery

This post has been adjusted to highlight a new piece of pottery from Nephew A & Niece M.  It is not about the quiche in the pottery.  Though the original intent was to post three delicious quiche recipes along with the pottery, none of the quiche recipes are worthy of posting.

But, look at my new pottery!!!!  It's from Six Toe Studio in Martin, TN.

This quiche was the better of the three, yet still does not deserve a post.  It does look pretty...

This quiche cut cleanly, and looks pretty, but did not pass the taste test...

And this quiche has a potato crust; I will not try that again - at least not this recipe...

But the zucchini are very photogenic...and the roasted Roma tomatoes were delicious...

Usually I don't post the kitchen disasters, but the pottery dish is so pretty...

peach frangipane galette

You can't see the thick, gooey, aromatic layer of frangipane under the peaches - but it's in there! And that layer is what makes this humble peach galette fit for any royalty.  The curst is perfect also.  It easily rolls into shape, bakes to a golden brown crisp, and tastes as buttery, flaky as in your dreams.

My galette did spread a little during baking.  Next time, I will pack the fruit higher in the center, and wrap the dough a little more compact.  

Notice the golden brown crust, studded with raw sugar added prior to baking.

I used the remaining portion of frangipane not required for the galette in this recipe.

beach breakfast

I could eat healthy like this every day...if I had time in the mornings, and a 6th floor balcony, and a white sandy beach, and the emerald green waters of the Gulf Coast.  Though that is not my normal routine, for this week it is exactly my routine.  

As I sit and listen to the waves crash on the shoreline, I enjoy season-fresh fruits and my new favorite granola.  I've taken a vanilla granola recipe and 'kicked it up a notch.' In omitting the oil, I have in it's place added frangipane.  This yields a most flavorful almond granola, the almond aroma wafting around your senses as soon as the granola is poured into a bowl from the freezer (yes, store your granola in the freezer.)  You can find the frangipane recipe in David Lebovitz's "Ready for Dessert."  I used 1/2 the frangipane recipe in this granola; the granola bakes to a very rich, almond scented mixture.

I cleaned my plate!  (notice the reflection of the balcony railing, balcony wall, gulf waters, and horizon - all in the bowl of the spoon)

This granola does not maintain the crunch as with other granola recipes; however, the flavor well compensates for the loss of crunch/softer granola.