Tuesday, October 27, 2009

TWD - Cherry-Fudge Brownie Tart

Excuse the paper plate...I served this one at work

This week's Tuesdays with Dorie exploration of Baking From My Home to Yours was hosted by April of Short + Rose. This was one of those recipes where I wasn't quite certain how the finished product would taste. It tasted pretty good!

I made the following mistakes/changes:
  • I didn't use alcohol (although I considered using orange juice, I boiled my dried cherries in water)
  • I didn't notice the recipe called for 12 ounces of mascarpone, and since I had already been to the grocery store four times on the day I made this, there was no way I was going again, so I made 2/3 of the topping recipe. It was plenty.
  • I forgot to add 1/2 cup of sugar to the melted chocolate, and I was glad I did. It didn't need more sugar. I used bittersweet feves and semi-sweet chips and thought it was too sweet.
  • I didn't wash and dry the pan before putting the cake back in it.
I sprinkled on some Valrhona crunchy chocolate pearls for decoration instead of dusting it with cocoa, and they added a nice flavor and texture contrast. I found them at Whole Foods (springform but you can order 2.2 pounds of them from Chocosphere. Don't taste them out of the little plastic tub because you may discover they are swell on their own, and there goes your fancy decorating idea. Not that that happened here. Nooo.

Thanks, April, for a great pick. It disappeared soon after I put it out at work.

Lethally Delicious is on vacation, so I may not be able to visit your blogs for a few days. Can you guess where in the world we are???

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Vacation Update

Where are we?

Any more guesses on where we are, if I give you a photo or two to as an additional clue...

There's no prize for guessing; I'm just taking advantage of the wireless in our hotel room.

Friday, October 23, 2009

BBA Rewind - Artos; and Guess Where We're Going on Our Vacation

I never finish anything. Not cleaning the house. Washing the dishes. The laundry. The filing. Cleaning out my closet. The only reason I get through our audit at work is the paralyzing fear of failure.

So it is indeed peculiar that I am determined to bake all of the breads in The Bread Baker's Apprentice: Mastering the Art of Extraordinary Bread. But it was no surprise that, with so many other deadlines looming before our vacation, that I decided to "make up" Artos bread. The group baked this bread before I joined, and I've been meaning to give it a try. With its heavy dose of aromatic spices, it made the house smell amazing. Nancy tweeted that it was great with the optional glaze so I made it with it and the sesame seeds. This bread was so fantastic that, with the deadline of catching a flight (with intermediate stops at the post office, vet, and--don't ask-- the Apple store) hanging over me and not the first item of clothing in my suitcase, I felt compelled to complete this post. So it's a short one with one takeaway...


Lethally Delicious is on vacation! I will have limited access to the Internet so may not be able to respond to comments for a while. We may go here...

As well as a large city nearby. And we may go here, too:

As well as a large city nearby.

Any idea where we're going?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Ina's Gruyere Cheese Souffle and Ellie's Easy Chicken Mushroom Quesadillas

This week, the Barefoot Bloggers are making Ina's blue cheese souffle, chosen by Summer of Sexy Apartment, and I owe her big time. This was my first time making a souffle. I messed it up every way I could, and it still turned out great:

1. I substituted gruyere for the blue cheese, adding about 1/3 more gruyere than the recipe called for.
2. I used 1% milk instead of whole milk.
3. I used pre-grated parmesan from Trader Joe's.
4. When I separated my eggs, a whisper of yolk got in the egg whites. They still whipped up fine.
5. I used large eggs instead of extra large, and used all the yolks and whites.
6. My attempt to draw a circle around the edge before baking was unsuccessful, but it still rose and the cracking didn't bother me.

I've heard before that souffles are not difficult, but I never believed it. Now that I've made Ina's, I'm a believer. The best part was the toasty crust, but it was all good. This was even terrific for breakfast the next day (the crust was less crusty, but no less delicious).

If you'd like to conquer your fear of souffles, you'll find the recipe here. Many thanks to Summer for picking this recipe, and to the commenters on the Musings on Barefoot Bloggers who suggested gruyere for those of us who weren't feeling the blue cheese.


I always love the irony of Barefoot Bloggers posting on the same day as Craving Ellie in My Belly. I've never seen Ellie Krieger unwrap four sticks of butter on any of her shows. This week, Marthe of Culinary Delights chose our recipe, Easy Chicken Mushroom Quesadillas. This recipe came together so quickly, and the filling for the quesadillas was delicious. This was a fast and delicious weeknight meal. I only wish I'd had some guacamole to go along with it!

If you'd like to give these a try, you'll find the recipe here. Thanks, Marthe, for such a super pick!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

TWD - Sweet Potato Biscuits (sort of)

Reading. I need to learn how to do it. Or maybe it's just reading comprehension I need to practice.

It would have made these biscuits much different.

For starters, I found canned, mashed sweet potatoes at Trader Joe's, and smugly substituted them for the ones the recipe called for.

I substituted two cans of mashed sweet potatoes for two cans of sweet potatoes.

And I did this even though I read Dorie's intro to the recipe, where she tells us that if you have left over mashed sweet potatoes, measure out 3/4 of a cup or so and go with those.

Two cans of mashed sweet potatoes is about 4 cups.

It took me a while to realize I had made a batter not a biscuit dough. So I added lots more flour.


And lots.

And then more.

I tossed in some maple syrup.

And then more flour.

Then I realized the rest of the ingredients were off, too. There wouldn't be enough butter.

I threw up my hands, and decided to make drop biscuits.

They were decent. Not decent enough to share, but enough for me to eat one. I told no one I messed this up. So please keep this to yourself.

If your reading comprehension skills are better than mine, you'll find this week's Tuesdays with Dorie recipe on page 26 of Baking From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan. It was selected by Erin of Prudence Pennywise. I know her reading comprehension is superb, so I am confident you'll find beautiful biscuits on her post.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

BBA - English Muffins

The next recipe in the Bread Baker's Apprentice agenda is English muffins. I pick these up at the grocery store from time to time, and I'd never given any thought to making my own. I normally pick the whole wheat ones, and initially planned to sub some whole wheat flour when I made them. I forgot to make the substitution, so mine were made with white flour.

To make English muffins, you simply make a basic bread dough, let it rise, divide it onto 6 supposedly equal pieces, let it rise again, and then cook them on a griddle. Who knew English muffins were made on a griddle?! Since I don't own a griddle, I stole borrowed one from my friend Susan. She's in New York for a wedding and I'm on cat patrol. I left some cinnamon crumb muffins in her freezer so I think she won't mind.

Peter Reinhart says to cook them on the first side until they're almost burned, but mine wouldn't get that browned even after I left them on the griddle 4 minutes longer than the recipe suggested. Next time, I won't do that since it made one side tougher than the other. After cooking on both sides, you finish them off in the oven. And then you have to wait 30 minutes before breaking in to them. Except I waited ten minutes and then attacked.

They were good! They had a much lighter texture than commercial English muffins, and a heady yeasty flavor that I loved. I think next time, I'll let them proof in the fridge over night to develop the flavor.

These were one of the most fun things I've ever made! They're very easy and reasonably fast. If you made the dough the night before and let it proof in the refrigerator, you could serve fresh English muffin sandwiches with eggs and cheese for breakfast...but I enjoyed mine with butter.

If you'd like to see more breads from our fantastic group of bakers, visit the Bread Baker's Apprentice Slow & Steady subgroup: Nancy (of Corner Loaf), Cathy (of The Tortefeasor), Audrey (of Food From Books), Jessica (A Singleton in the Kitchen), Melissa (of From Laptop to Stovetop), Kayte (ofGrandma's Kitchen Table), Sarah (of Blue Ridge Baker), Di (of Di's Kitchen Notebook), Margaret (of Tea and Scones) and Natalia (of Gatti Fili e Farina).

P.S.: I made these again after writing this post, but took them in a different direction. Instead of butter, I used orange olive oil, I subbed about 1/3 cup of whole wheat flour, and I used buttermilk this time. I made them 2.5 ounces so they wouldn't be such a big bready muffin. They were terrific! The olive oil adds a wonderful fragrance without making them oily (or even adding a detectable olive flavor). Now I want to try them again with hazelnut or walnut oil.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Penzey's cinnamon winner

The winner is.. Cassandra at Foodie with Little Thyme. She was the 13th comment that specified a favorite way to enjoy cinnamon. Cassandra, email me at lethallydelicious AT gmail DOT com to claim your cinnamon!

True Random Number Generator 13Powered by RANDOM.ORG

Thursday, October 15, 2009

CEiMB - Tuscan Vegetable Soup

This week was perfect for soup. We got a huge rain storm in the Bay area earlier this week, which is when I made this soup. I needed to bring a pot of soup to my P.E.O. meeting, and I was thrilled to see Lobster and Fishsticks chose this recipe for this week's Craving Ellie in My Belly.

I already had everything I needed to make this and came home a little early to make it before the meeting. I kept looking at the recipe, thinking "is this it?" It was so easy! I used fresh sage and rosemary from my garden, and doubled the recipe. After our meeting, this is all that was left (which was fortunate, since I'm a closet blogger and hadn't taken a photo!)

I went easy on the herbs and salt as I was afraid of overdoing it, and that was a big mistake. You may also consider grating some lemon rind into the soup, or finishing it with my favorite secret weapon, a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar. It was even better the next day.

This is my new go-to vegetable soup recipe. If you'd like to give it a try, you'll find the recipe here.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

TWD - Allspice and Cinnamon Crumb Muffins AND a Giveaway!

Would you like cinnamon or...


Kayte, of Grandma's Kitchen Table, is one of my all-time favorite bloggers, and this week she picked the Allspice Crumb Muffins for us to bake. I wasn't sure how I felt about allspice on its own (Dorie mentions that it's reminiscent of cloves, and I am not a huge fan of cloves). I considered making these with nutmeg or cinnamon, but except for subbing dark brown sugar for the light brown, I made the recipe as written.

Well, the first time.

This was a ridiculously simple recipe. Getting the crumb topping to the right crumb-like texture was the hardest part (and one I didn't master). I took them out of the oven and immediately (well, after a few photos) put them in the back of my car and took them to work.

The reaction was very positive, but they didn't thrill me. I had forgotten the salt (if you doubt the importance of salt to the flavor of baked goods, try leaving it out), and my baking powder didn't totally incorporate (even though I mixed and mashed with a spoon), which really annoyed me. I also used my silicone muffin mold that I got on our trip to Paris. Love that thing! The only problem with it is European muffin cups are slightly smaller than those in the U.S., so cramming all of the batter in 12 muffin cups and then adding the topping resulted in the muffins rising over the cups, onto the rim of the muffin mold, and the crumb topping melting and browning all over the tops.

That part was good! I inadvertently created what muffin top pans deliver, but with a muffin attached. They were well received at work, but I was very disappointed that I had little tiny balls of unincorporated baking powder, and I wasn't huge on the allspice. So I resolved to make them again a few days later.

And I did, but this time I used my favorite cinnamon, only more of it, and I sifted the dry ingredients to eliminate the offensive little balls of baking powder (it was easier than trekking off to Safeway to buy another can of baking powder.) I filled the muffin cups less full, utilizing five cups of my other muffin pan. The muffins were a more normal size, with less over run than the others had, but they were infinitely prettier. And since they were made with cinnamon, they were a much bigger hit at home. I finally figured out that just because the crumb topping doesn't form "crumbs," it's not a flaw. In fact, the caramel-y melting of the brown sugar and butter is fantastic, especially with the cinnamon. Thanks, Kayte, for picking such an easy and delicious recipe for us to make this week.

If you're interested in the recipe, check out Kayte's post, or, even better, buy the book Baking From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan. What are you waiting for? It has a zillion (actual number, I counted them) fantastic recipes. And then you should join the Tuesdays with Dorie bakers as we work our way through the book. It's a lot of fun and I guarantee you'll learn a lot.


I recently went to one of my favorite shops, Penzey's Spices in Menlo Park. It's so much fun to visit Penzey's, and I love their spices. I picked up what I needed, but I also picked up something special for you. Yes, it's my very favorite...

One lucky person will win a 1.7 ounce jar of Penzey's Extra Fancy Vietnamese Cinnamon. This is spicy and assertive, and is wonderful in baking, chai, cinnamon toast, you name it. When I got home, the new Cook's Illustrated was in the mailbox, and they tested cinnamon and, you guessed it, this one came out on top.

If you'd like to win this jar of cinnamon, just leave a comment on this post telling me your favorite way to enjoy cinnamon no later than 9:00 PM Pacific on October 17th.

UPDATE: Cassandra of Foodie with Little Thyme is the winner of the Penzey's Vietnamese Cinnamon! Thanks to everyone who shared their favorite way to enjoy cinnamon. I now have a lot of great new ways to try it.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

CEiMB - Chicken Chop Suey

...overheard at a recent support group meeting....

Hi, I'm Leslie and I'm addicted to Panda Express orange chicken... "HI LESLIE!"

I wondered if it was normal for my heart to start beating faster when I go buy my lunch but maybe it's just the cholesterol narrowing my arteries. No matter how good my intentions are, I still end up going to Panda Express to get their orange chicken. I love the sweet crunchiness on the bed of white rice. Love it. A lot.

So I was overjoyed to see that Ali at The Healthy Hostess picked this week's Craving Ellie in My Belly recipe, chicken chop suey. Because I need to stop with the orange chicken. After all, the crunchiness? Because it's fried. The sweetness? Because it's got a ton of sugar. The white rice? Bad, bad, bad. So Ali's pick was right on time.

The recipe had a long list of ingredients, and seemed daunting. When I shopped for it, I forgot to get the shiitake mushrooms, so I went with some sliced cremini mushrooms I had in the fridge. I roasted some boneless skinless chicken breasts while I prepped the vegetables and did the stir frying. Since I made this before I left for work one morning, I didn't measure anything. And you know what? It turned out great. You know how I know? I plated some for the photo shoot (I make it sound so glamorous--I was holding the bowl up in front of the window with one hand and taking the picture with the other). I put the bowl down, thinking I should dump it in a container and take it to work for my lunch. Then I thought I should taste it so I could write the post. One bite..."Mmmm...this is good!" Take another bite (so I can write a good, informative post!) "Mmmmm, this is REALLY good!"

So I just ate it for breakfast.

If you'd like the recipe, you can find it here, or Ali will have it on her post. Thanks, Ali, for picking such a winner!

Barefoot Bloggers - Cheddar Corn Chowder

I won't kid you...I wasn't in to making this week's Barefoot Bloggers pick. In typical Ina fashion, it calls for oil, butter, cream and cheese (and bacon, but I ignored that part). Some of the comments indicated it was thin or a little weak on flavor. I thought and thought about how to elevate the flavor and the texture. In the end, a few simple changes made this a slammin' good dish. I eliminated the bacon, reduced the cheddar a bit, upped the fresh corn, used whole milk instead of half and half, and cooked the flour a little longer to deepen the flavor. Lastly, I added some smoked Spanish paprika, not a huge amount, but enough to add flavor to the background and elevate the corn and other ingredients.

This was so good, I kept wandering by the cooling pot to sneak another bite. The flavors were rounded and balanced, and nothing upstaged the other ingredients. Perfect. If you'd like the recipe, you can find it here.

Many thanks to Jill of My Next Life for hosting this week. I'm sorry I doubted your pick, and I'm so glad I made it.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Mahi Mahi with Green Gazpacho Sauce

I lived in Miami for the first 40 years of my life, before work and the rest of my life lured me to California. Mahi mahi was so plentiful you could buy a couple of pounds for about $7. Before we got all PC, it was called dolphin fish, or simply dolphin. Tourists were frequently indignant that we were eating dolphin the mammal; it seemed we were always explaining that "this isn't Flipper" to someone who meant well. Eventually, we stopped calling it dolphin and started calling it mahi mahi, which sounds so exotic that the price had to go up. Mahi in the Bay area is usually well over $12 a pound so I rarely buy it.

I spied this recipe as I was flipping through the September issue of Bon Appetit, and I resolved to buy mahi mahi without flipping out over the price. The recipe was ridiculously fast as the gazpacho is made in the food processor and the mahi mahi is pan sauteed. My gazpacho looks a little unappetizing because the recipe called for white balsamic vinegar (which I don't have) and I subbed regular balsamic. This was fresh tasting and delicious with cherry tomatoes from the garden. Their season is waning; soon the plants will realize with overnight lows in the low 50s and daily highs in the 60s and low 70s spell the end of their season in the sun.

This one was so good, but more importantly versatile, that it's going into the rotation. If you'd like to try it, you'll find the recipe here.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

TWD - Split Level Pudding

This story has a good ending. Sometimes, you just need to know that up front.

Dorie's Split Level Pudding, chosen by Garrett at The Flavor of Vanilla, is a wonderful idea for flavor combiners. You get a layer of vanilla and you dip into a layer of chocolate.

Mine didn't go so well.

I cut the recipe in half. I took some shortcuts. There were some mishaps. I accidentally left out some steps and an ingredient. And it still turned out OK.

If I had done things right, it might have been a fine pudding. But doing things wrong, it was still pretty good.

The mistakes:
I used chocolate feves, and the cream (which I heated in the microwave) didn't melt them enough (which I didn't discover until we had them for dessert.) So it was a little like having chocolate slivers in the ganache part. No worries.

Still being lazy, I used the microwave to heat the milk and the sugar for the vanilla layer. I checked it often, stirred it from time to time and was way more vigilant than I normally am. Once the mixture started to bubble a little, I grabbed it out of the microwave and stirred it. That's when the boiling sugar at the bottom of the measuring cup turned it into a volcano of boiling milk and sugar. Which ran over my fingers, the counter, on the drawers, into the drawers, and all over the floor. For a moment, I thought "I should take a picture of this for my post," but then the pain started and I thought "IDIOT! You need to get your hand in ice water." Did I plunge my hand in cold water? Not yet. I cleaned up first. Fortunately, it was my left hand and I'm right handed. It was pretty painful and I spent most of the next several hours with my hand in an ice water bath. I still had a dessert to finish, but I won't kid you, I wasn't too focused. The milk and cornstarch went in out of order. I overcooked the pudding. I totally forgot to add the butter. And it was still good.

Thanks, Garrett, for picking a recipe that can be made with one hand in a bucket of ice. Having my hand in a bucket of ice made it hard to write last week's TWD post, but now you understand why I was abnormally brief.

If you'd like the recipe, check out Garrett's post. But follow the instructions, will you? Don't be like me.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

BBA - Cranberry walnut celebration bread

Hello, yeast! I've missed you.

Last time around, we made cornbread, which I know isn't an artisanal bread, but we made it and enjoyed it. But now I'm back, ready to be tested by your complexity. I peeked at the rest of the recipes in the book (The Bread Baker's Apprentice: Mastering the Art of Extraordinary Bread by Peter Reinhart), and they're scary. Cranberry Walnut Celebration Bread, you're easy and fast. No special shaping into slipper-shaped loaves. If I crudely shape you into a loaf and toss you in a pan in the refrigerator, you'll spring back to life when I need you. You're not needy (get it, kneedy?) like other breads. I think I'll look back fondly to you and wonder why I ever thought I could make it through this book of increasingly complex methods.
I had an oddly visceral reaction to the thought of braiding another loaf of bread ("NO!") so I made loaves, rationalizing that they'd make better sandwiches. It also makes it easier to give away. Not that people turn down bread but it just makes life easier.

This was such an uneventful recipe. I forgot to add the cranberries and walnuts but fortunately remembered before I parked this for its rise. I made a smallish loaf for us, and a biggish loaf to take to work. M. thinks I make the very best bread in the world (I love how biased he is about these things!) and this bread did nothing to change that. It was delicious! I was so happy I didn't braid it--it took all of the angst out of it and made it a fast and fun bread.

I am so fortunate to belong to a terrific group of bakers, the Bread Baker's Apprentice Slow & Steady subgroup: Nancy (of Corner Loaf), Cathy (of The Tortefeasor), Audrey (of Food From Books), Jessica (A Singleton in the Kitchen), Melissa (of From Laptop to Stovetop), Kayte (of Grandma's Kitchen Table), Sarah (of Blue Ridge Baker), Di (of Di's Kitchen Notebook), Margaret (of Tea and Scones) and Natalia (of Gatti Fili e Farina) are baking along on this journey of discovery through yeast. Check out their posts...I know most, if not all, of them will be making their celebration loaves braided.

Next up, English muffins! I may stray from the recipe somewhat and substitute some whole wheat flour...

EDIT:  This dough also makes nice rolls. Portion out the dough in 2 or 3 ounce pieces, cup a piece in your hand against an oiled countertop and roll the dough quickly until it forms a nice tight, round ball.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

CEiMB - New York Breakfast

This week's Craving Ellie in My Belly pick was compliments of Sara of imafoodblog. I love Sara (and her boyfriend Nick, who I swear grinds his own flour and would build a pizza oven from scratch if she gave him a chance). Sara is our fearless leader and she does a fabulous job of keeping us entertained and motivated.

This recipe reminded me that above all else I am cheap and lazy. Let's just say I'm selectively cheap and, well, lazy most of the time. Since there are only two of us, I wasn't buying a loaf of pumpernickel bread just to make this (partly because I thought it was supposed to be rye bread; when I discovered it was pumpernickel, it was a complete surprise). I did look for rye bagels at two different stores before I decided to go with the whole wheat bread in the pantry. I also didn't buy the whipped cream cheese because I have regular cream cheese in the fridge that needs to be used. I also went with the regular cucumber and skipped the red onion. And I added capers because the sandwich screamed "capers!" at me so I complied.

I served these open face as a late lunch and it was really good. I should have seasoned it more, and taking photos of toast dooms you to eating a sandwich that isn't at the peak of freshness. I used way more than 1 1/2 teaspoons of cream cheese, and that was a nice foil to the salmon. When I make this one again, I'll add more capers, cucumbers, chives and maybe even a touch of lemon juice or a light vinaigrette. I felt like it needed more acid to balance the creaminess of the cheese and the salmon.

Many thanks to Sara for picking one of the recipes I've never noticed but which has so many things I enjoy. If you'd like to see what the other Ellie cooks did with this one, click on their names in the left hand margin here.