Sunday, August 29, 2010

chocolate chip cookie dough cheesecake bites

on the bottom - graham cracker crust, slightly baked
in the middle - chocolate chip cookie dough crumble
topped with cheesecake batter, which oozes down into the cookie dough

The original recipe states that these cheesecake bars do not cut cleanly; however, they are easily removed from this pan and this pan.

Loaded with 2 bars of Lindt Excellence Extra Creamy Milk chocolate chunks, the cheesecake bites are rich and flavorful and addictive.  

The original recipe reverses these two top layers, and states that more cheesecake batter should be considered.  I think I'll try the suggestions.

You can find the original recipe here.

Friday, August 27, 2010

quiche quest

In my quest for what my palate considers the perfect quiche, I continue to search and research and bake, and then try another recipe (earlier efforts here) and bake again.  I don't really know what I'm looking for, but I do think I will know when it is achieved.

I'm becoming pleased with the crust recipe I'm using; however, the custard/filler portion of the quiche is still definitely a work in progress.

I've been on this quest for about a year, and I have baked some really bad quiches.  I'll look back some day and realize that the journey to success is littered with trials (that would preach on Sunday morning!).

I've become a fan of the Cooking Channel, and Rachel Allen Bake.  In a recent episode, Rachel was teaching her cooking students to prepare a spinach, potato, and goat cheese tart.  Her crust making process appeared simple, and I was again inspired.  The pictures in this post are of my first attempt using her recipe.  I have since tweaked the recipe, more to suit my taste.

The pictures below are pretty, but the dish still needs adjustments.

nutmeg...In my opinion, the more the better.  I now grate fresh nutmeg over the top of the quiche before and after baking.

afternoon sunshine...photographer/artist sneaks out at least once in every food shoot

crust...molds well in the removable bottom tart pan

I think my filling overflowed, baking to a darker, crunchy, flavorful crust.  It's probably not culinarily correct, but it's pretty.

attractive slice...taste is important, but so is pretty

As you can see, the bottom crust is too moist.  That I have now corrected by increasing the blind bake time.  I prefer the potatoes shredded rather than cubed.  The baby spinach would probably be more flavorful if I added some 'fat meat grease' as Mom would say, but as of yet, I'm sticking to the healthy version.

You can find Rachel's recipe here; however, I'll note my adjustments in a later blog post, along with updated pictures.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

lavender shortbread

This recipe bakes to a rich, buttery, melt in your mouth cookie.  Add to that combination a hint of lavender, and the creation is a cookie that's simple, yet sophisticated in flavor.

The mixing, chilling, and baking process is simple.  In the future, I will chop the lavender before adding it to the cookie dough.  You will notice lines/indentions in the cookies.  While slicing the cookie dough logs, the knife pulled the lavender buds, and formed unattractive lines on the surface of the cookies.

Though not perfect in appearance, these cookies are outstanding in flavor.   I'll add this cookie to my classy 'tea-time' cookie list along with the Rose Water Almond Tea cookies which were adapted from the blog Baking Obsession.

You can find the recipe for the lavender shortbread at the blog Dessert First.  Penzey's stocks the culinary lavender; however, they do not display the lavender on the retail store shelves.  Ask the ladies in the store for lavender; they probably have a few bottles in the storeroom.

dusting of raspberry - granola

Do you see it?  It's a little left of six o'clock.  There - right there!

It's a Chukar Cherries Raspberry Truffle, sliced in half, and added to one of my favorite GRANOLA recipes.

The granola pictured is adapted from Sunny Anderson's Happy Trails Granola. You can find her recipe on the Food Network website here.
red is the color!
The golden tag attached to my glass of granola was originally attached to a large bag of raspberry truffles.  Imagine a dried cranberry, enrobed in white chocolate, and dusted with tangy raspberry powder.  The smoothness of the white chocolate combines with the chewiness of the dried cranberry to create a delicious marriage on your tongue, then, when least expected, a tartness invades the party from the raspberry powder.  

The truth is, I ate most of the truffles, but did manage to save the last few to add to this granola. 

Modifying the original granola recipe, I added raspberry syrup in place of the maple syrup, and I added the raspberry truffles in place of the MMs.  I'm sad to say that the raspberry syrup did not add any flavor to the granola; however, the chopped truffle pieces added a tiny bit of tartness/sweetness to various bites of the granola.  I will double the quantity of truffle pieces in the next batch of granola.

raspberry truffles from Chukar Cherries
I had hoped for a deep raspberry flavor in this granola.  That did not happen; nevertheless, the recipe makes a great, extra crunchy granola.  (store your granola in the freezer!)

aging in Ziploc; not as romantic as 'aged in an oak barrel'
empty containers must mean something is baking!

d e l i c i o u s!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Bakery Nouveau Seattle, WA

As I mentioned in an earlier blog post , I visited Bakery Nouveau in Seattle a few weeks back.  I was asked to write a post for their blog.  I've tried to share with the readers what I saw and felt that day.

Click -  Bakery Nouveau's blog to see my Guest Post.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

frangipane - blueberry version

I have probably grossly misused the word for the divine, almond pastry cream like mixture, frangipane. However, the almond flavor in frangipane is so intense, and I'm looking for a blueberry flavor just as intense.  Perhaps the oil in the almonds add to the intensity; that oil quality may not occur in blueberries.

Listed below are a couple of internet references related to frangipane.

from O Chef:
What is Frangipane?
 I have a cookbook that was written some time ago. In it there is a recipe for frangipan. The recipe resembles pastry cream. It mentions nothing about almond paste. Did frangipan always have almond paste in it?

 It is interesting how food and cooking terms can evolve over a few hundred years. The earliest reference we can find to frangipane dates from about the mid 1600s, and was applied to a custard tart that included both ground almonds and pistachios in the custard. Since then, it is most often used to refer to an almond-flavored pastry cream, but, like you, we have found a reference to a vanilla-flavored pastry cream without almonds also called frangipane. We have found a pastry shell itself that goes by the name, which may be stuffed with a savory filling rather than sweet. Finally, it can be a gooey, savory paste, used to stuff meats or fish before cooking.
Given all those choices, we vote for the almond-flavored pastry cream, and intend never to use the word for anything else! Nowadays, it is mostly spelled frangipane or frangipani.

Actually, frangipane can be any cream or custard-like substance with nuts.

I'm looking for a blueberry granola recipe with blueberry flavor as intense as that in my almond (frangipane) granola. Thus, an experiment is outlined before you.

Blueberry powder
Blueberry paste - this has the consistency of just made marshmallows
made from these dried blueberries (Simply the Best from Pike Place Market in Seattle, WA)
Photograph here should be of the frangipane-blueberry version; I'll insert later.
Frangipane-blueberry version mixed with honey, and ready to pour over granola mixture.
Blueberry granola, 30 minutes out of the oven.  The blueberry flavor in this granola is not as intense as the almond flavor in my almond frangipane granola.  I've stored the granola in the freezer for a couple of weeks, to age.  

If the experiment is a success, I'll update this post with the recipe.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

someone, please tell me why this is good for me!

I have tried and tried to eat yogurt.  I found it slimey with an aftertaste. The ladies at work have offered suggestions; my friend in NE of the famed Mrs. Ermel's Blog has offered suggestions.  None seemed to convince me that what I was tasting was actually good.


I've found an orange creme Yoplait Whip (140 calories) that I can enjoy.  This reminds me of an orange push-up...almost.  

Now a member of the healthy yogurt eaters of the world, I decided to read the ingredient list.  Is this stuff really good for me????!!!!!

I have never been a sweet milk drinker, ice cream often does not sit well in my stomach, and buttermilk with cornbread - out of the question!

Here's a list of ingredients:
  • low fat orange creme yogurt, which consists of the following:
    • cultured, pasteurized, grade A, reduced fat milk
    • sugar
    • nonfat milk
    • high fructose corn syrup
    • modified corn starch
    • kosher gelatin (Some Kosher gelatins are made with agar-agar, most are not.) (Kosher gelatin can be made with fish bones, and/or beef skins.)
    • orange puree  (WHOO HOO! finally something that sounds good)
    • potassium sorbate added to maintain freshness
    • natural flavor
    • colored with annatto extract (used to color cheese yellow) (from wikipedia: In the United States, annatto extract is listed as a color additive “exempt from certification” and is informally considered to be a natural color)
    • vitamin A acetate
    • vitamin D3
  • lactic acid esters of mono and diglycerides
  • nitrogen (we put this in tires at work)
Again I ask - do the good qualities outweigh the bad in a serving of yogurt?

Monday, August 9, 2010

relaxing after Pike Place Market tour

After two hours following an entertaining Savor Seattle Food tour guide through Pike Place Market, I welcomed the opportunity to sit and relax.  

I spotted 'Le Panier - Very French Bakery' earlier in the day while walking through the market.  Relaxing on the high stool, resting my camera and bag on the bar height ledge, I sat and gazed out the open air window.  Market-goers strolled by the window, many consuming a sample of the diverse selection of food found in the market area.

Choosing a sample of Le Panier creations was difficult.  Patrons standing behind me in line silently hoped that I would make a decision rather than continue to stand and gaze at the selections in the display cases.  I chose -

  • Crunchy, crusty, orange-ganache macaron
  • Petite lemon Tartlett aux citron - small tart with lemon creme
  • And, my favorite of the three, which was so moist, rich, and flavorful was the friand - a petite buttery cake with almond and vanilla.  

I saved the last bit of lemon tart only to set up this shot, after which I quickly consumed the bite.

If you find yourself in Pike Place Market, I highly recommend relaxing at Le Panier.

Here's the link to my blog post detailing the culinary delights I sampled during the Pike Place Market Tour.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

another fruitcake

It's hot and it's August, neither of which most associate with fruitcake. I found this blog post that I started and never finished.  Enjoy.

(reprinted from holiday baking 2008; baked again holiday 2009)

My grandparents, MaMaw and Pop Easterwood, always had orange slices and chocolate/cream candies at Christmas. I’ve always heard of this Orange Slice cake; so, when I found an old, now yellowed, newspaper clipping in MaMa’s recipe box a few days ago, I decided I would see what all the hype was about.

The last time I looked for candied orange slices, which was probably 20 years ago, they were easily found. This weekend, I searched three or four retail stores, and finally found them at Fresh Market. Do you want to guess how much they cost these days??????  $4.99/pound

The cake has been minced, mixed, baked, and is now soaking overnight in a glaze.  

I finally found a recipe on the internet similar to the recipe I found in MaMa’s recipe box. The candy is called “Orange Slice Jelly candy.’ And the internet entries are referring to this cake as another...........FRUITCAKE!!!!!!!!!!!!

Here are some comments from the internet search:

“Tasted good, but scared off the fruitcake-wary folks, too sweet for some, and not at all kid friendly.The finished product was thought to be a fruitcake. Those of us who tasted it liked the flavor, but could only eat a tiny sliver.”

“My grandmother has made this same recipe for years, and it is absolutely fabulous. It has a very similar texture to a fruitcake, but it's sooo much better!”

“Fruit cake haters beware. This cake is much like a "poor man's" fruit cake with orange slice candy rather than candied fruit. HELPFUL TIPS: Coat the candy in the flour used in the recipe before blending and this will help with the candy sticking on the side of the pan. Dip your cutting knife in warm water, flour or spray with nonstick cooking spray to prevent the candy from sticking on the knife before cutting up the orange slice candies.”

My tasting comments:

It’s good!!!!!!!!!!!!
Very sweet, and very moist, but good.

Listed below is my adaptation of a recipe from an old newspaper clipping.

Cream until light and fluffy:
1 c. margarine
2 c. granulated

4 eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition

Mix and add to margarine/sugar/egg mixture:
1 t. soda
1/2 c. buttermilk

Toss together and coat all pieces well with flour:
3 1/2 c. all purpose flour
1 box (I used 5 oz) chopped dates
1 pound orange slice candy, diced
2 c. chopped nuts (I used pecans)
Note:  the smaller you chop all these pieces, the easier it will be to slice the baked cake.

Add flour and flour coated ingredients to creamed mixture.
Stir in coconut.

Bake at 250 degrees F. for 2 1/2 to 3 hours in a well greased tube pan.  I grease my baking pans with this pan release.

While cake is baking, prepare glaze.
1 c. fresh orange juice
2 c. powdered sugar
mix well

Immediately after removing baked cake from oven, pour glaze over the cake.

Allow cake and glaze to sit in pan overnight.

Remove cake from pan and store in refrigerator.

I find that this cake cuts easier when it is cold. The cake is very rich.  It could be served in small squares in tiny paper liners. 

mobil phone photos not to be shunned

Have some fun and share your best mobil phone photos with Sandie at 'A Bloggable Life.'  She is spotlighting a few photos on her blog in her new project "Photos A GoGo."

While sitting at the beach, on vacation, I photographed my toes and uploaded the photo.  Well, she posted the photo!  I'm honored.  (I should have painted my toe nails!!!)

Click on this word TOES to see my entry.

She is now collecting mobil phone photos for round two.  Submit your photo today.

New York City

A direct flight and a memorable NYC cab ride deposited me, My Friend A, and My Friend K at the Double Tree in the middle of Times Square.  

I've seen the city on television, but I had no idea what I would soon be experiencing.

After a quick check in, we were off to explore.  Over the next 4 days, we walked, and walked, and walked.  Our feet hurt so badly the first couple of days that we could barely walk to the bed to rest.  That is not an exaggeration!

We had a great trip, seeing many of the tourist sights, hearing the sounds of the city, and dodging the sea of yellow cabs.  My Friend K became an expert subway navigator.  We scouted Manhattan from 82nd street south, through Belvedere Castle in Central Park, through part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, down into the Apple Store, up to the top of the Empire State Building, and southeast through Brooklyn to Coney Island.  

We easily found Starbucks, Amy's Bread, Serendipity III, and Chelsea Market.  And we walked by countless bakeries, restaurants, and street vendors.

Here's the link to New York City.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

first view of Pike Place Market in Seattle, WA

The Pike Place Market tour was to begin at Starbucks (not the original one) located at Pike Street and 1st Avenue.  I arrived early, not knowing where to park nor where to walk nor where Pike and 1st intersected.

Who would travel without GPS assistance?  The handy little device directed me to The Public Market Parking Garage, conveniently located at 1531 Western Avenue.  I paid $15 for parking.  Some may consider this pricey; however, Seattle traffic is intense.  For a non-resident such as me, the ease of access was worth the dollars.  A nice young lady, walking her bicycle, escorted me up the elevator to the 7th floor.  From this landing one can view the shipping yard and the market wall.  Little did I know what awaited on the other side of that wall.

As I opened the door, and proceeded inside, I was instantly overwhelmed.  There, displayed as far as the eye could see, were shelves and rows and racks and benches heaving with a food lover's 'stuff.'  Knowing I could not loiter, I moved along to the assigned destination, all the while assured that before me lay a day of sensory overload.

Pause for a personal endorsement -
I highly, highly, highly recommend the Savor Seattle Food Tours.  I can triple highly recommend this business since I participated in three of their tours.  All were equally informative, led by knowledgeable tour guides, entertaining, and well organized.  All three offered an ample array of tasting opportunities.

Once equipped with communication devices, and served a taste of pomegranate iced tea at Starbucks (dark brown exterior building and brown logo rather than the traditional green), the "Pike Place Market:  Classics Food and Culture Tour" began.

Keep in mind that we were only tasting at all the stops, so portions were small yet quite adequate.

Daily Dozen Donuts -
  • small, just baked and still warm, sugar-cinnamon dusted donuts

MarketSpice -
  • their signature tea: cinnamon-orange, naturally sweet iced tea (very good)
  • smoked salt (reminded me of a grill; later returned to the store and sent my brother's samples of the salt)

Pike Place Fish - The tourist attraction, and tourists were thickly packed around the long counter.  Yes, we saw the fish fly directly into the hands of one from our tour.    We tasted three smoked salmon samples; all were absolutely delicious!  I think these were the three:   
  • Alderwood-smoked Garlic and Pepper Salmon
  •  Alderwood-smoked Salmon
  • Alderwood-smoked Salmon Belly Strips (an alternative to beef jerky)

Frank's Quality Produce -
  • thinly sliced, juice dripping plums 
  • round, plump bing cherries

Pike Place Chowder -
  • the award winning clam chowder was thick and rich and just perfect; 
  • the seafood bisque was not my favorite because it was too fishy, which is what one would expect of seafood bisque

Chukar Cherries -
  • savory peach-cherry salsa which was delicious with chips
  • dried bing cherries; I returned to purchase these for my granola recipes
  • black forrest chocolate cherries 
  • mocha cherry 
  • a raspberry truffle which is a dried cranberry coated in white chocolate and dusted with red raspberry powder
  • milk chocolate honey pecans (Yum, yum, yum to all these items.  I think I have listed the cherry-tastings somewhat accurately; we tasted so many!)

Beecher's Handmade Cheese --
  • made-on-the-premises cheddar cheese, cubed and served on crackers
  • award winning macaroni and cheese
  • Serious Eats great blog post - click here 

Piroshky-Piroshky --
  • Apple cinnamon roll
  • Savory Russian Smoked salmon pate piroshky

Etta's Seafood Restaurant - a Tom Douglas restaurant

  • Mini Dungeness crab cakes 
  • Lemon tart 

The guide shared vendor trivia as we walked along the tour route, as well as history/trivia of the area.

As you can see, we tasted so many different delicacies.  The list is long, and maybe it's only important to me (and the vendors), but I wanted you to experience the tour, virtually.  Alone, I could have walked through the marked, looked around, and wondered.  Led by the tour guide, we were escorted around, and in front of, and behind.  And we were fed instantly; no waiting in line, no overstuffing, and no doggie bags.

I'll post information related to the other tours soon, as well as a link to all the pictures.

Mama's biscuits - well --close...

(repost from January 27, 2008)
Mama would have used Reelfoot lard, but, since that packing company has not existed for years, that was not an option. The buttermilk would have been Turner, but I didn’t have that either. I used Martha White self-rising flour; I don’t remember which brand Mom used.
Raphe and I braved the c..o..l..d this weekend and went out photographing the Memphis bridge Friday night. Saturday morning we tried to make Mom’s biscuits. They were pretty good. And, they passed my special ‘Mama’s biscuits’ brothers will know what this is!
2 cups Martha White self-rising flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup lard
3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons buttermilk (not the low-fat!)
Heat oven to 450 degrees. Mix flour and baking soda; cut in lard. Add buttermilk and mix with a fork; mix gently to form a soft dough. Turn dough out onto lightly floured area; pat dough quite thin (Mama’s biscuits were thin and crisp); cut with biscuit cutter. Place in hot iron skillet, greased with bacon fat or lard, and bake 10 - 12 minutes until golden brown.

Monday, August 2, 2010

food adventures in Seattle, WA

I've just returned from a few days visiting Seattle, WA.  Seattle is a food lovers town.  I participated in a few city tours around Pike Place Market, and tasted many, many dishes of the Pacific NW.  I'm in the process of editing (many) pictures, and I'll post a link soon.  Also, I'm compiling a list of food tasting opportunities, along with web site links.  Many offer internet sales, and one would be well served to buy from these home-grown vendors.

I also visited Bakery Nouveua in W Seattle.  Watch for a full post related to that experience very soon.