Tuesday, January 27, 2009

TWD - Fresh Ginger and Chocolate Gingerbread

About, oh, 25 minutes into the baking of this lovely cake, I realized that I had omitted the leavening. In this recipe, leavening is not optional. 

I was all prepared to weigh in on fresh vs. crystalized ginger, adding chocolate to a classic, choosing the right pan size, etc. But that's kind of pointless when your gingerbread looks like this:

So, even though it was not cracked or even puffy as Dorie said it might be, it smelled divine while it was baking. The texture is a little off (hey, like me!) but the flavor is fantastic. I didn't find stem ginger and I was lazy so I didn't add the crystalized ginger I bought for this cake. Oh, and I didn't make the frosting, because hey, it's a flop. You know the old expression that came up during the presidential campaign, the one about putting lipstick on a pig? That would be frosting a cake that didn't rise that has the texture of a sponge, a tasty sponge, but a sponge nonetheless.

Check out what the other TWD bakers did here. They added leavening, and have the beautiful puffy cakes to prove it. And please visit Heather at Sherry Trifle for the recipe.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Barefoot Bloggers - Easy Sticky Buns

I'm in! And what a great recipe to start cooking along with the other Barefoot Bloggers! This talented group is cooking through the recipes of Ina Garten of Barefoot Contessa fame.

These cinnamon rolls looked so ridiculously easy that I made them this morning before work. Yes, truly. If you want to induce rapture in your coworkers, bring in these cinnamon rolls. You start with frozen puff pastry and end with rolls that aren't soft and pillowy but delightfully crisp and chewy. I wish I had captured their stunning beauty when they came out of the oven, but I was trying really hard not to be more than a half hour late for work. I did get a quick photo with my phone before everyone devoured them.

My deepest thanks to Melissa at Made By Melissa for this wonderful pick! (Yes, that is the top of my Tupperware cereal bowl, I know, my styling is pathetic!) If you'd like the recipe, stop by and visit Melissa.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

CEiMB - Chicken Cacciatore

This week, Craving Ellie in My Belly was making the Chicken Cacciatore from The Foods You Crave by Ellie Krieger. Peggy at Pantry Revisited chose for us this week.

I love chicken cacciatore. I love mushrooms, tomatoes, onions and chicken, and I love them together. I was really looking forward to making this recipe. I did make a few changes. I used boneless skinless chicken breasts, added extra onions and mushrooms, and I used sliced cremini mushrooms. I used chicken broth instead of wine, and added quite a bit of salt and pepper since it seemed to want seasoning.

We had this over brown rice and it was...OK. I wanted it to be more assertively flavored, so I would probably add smoked spanish paprika if I were to make the recipe again. That won't be necessary for a while since it made enough for at least eight servings. 

Please check out what the other CEiMB cooks did here.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Inaugural Muffins

Sorry, I didn't bake with the other TWD bakers this week. I did make the Coffee Break Muffins from Baking From My Home to Yours. I don't know if President Obama likes coffee or muffins, but Mr. President, these muffins are for you. Thank you for giving us hope.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

TWD - Savory Corn and Pepper Muffins

Tuesdays with Dorie is a group of bakers who are baking through Dorie Greenspan's Baking From My Home to Yours. The bakers take turns picking the recipe for the week and we all post on Tuesdays (hence the name).

Rebecca of Ezra Pound Cake (one of my faves!) chose this week's recipe, Savory Corn and Pepper Muffins. I was looking forward to this one, not just because we've been craving a savory break from all of the sweets, but because I love corn muffins. I used a stone ground corn meal, thinking it would make the muffins rustic. Since I was sharing these with visitors who may or may not like spicy food, I omitted the jalapeno. I used a ground Ancho chile powder, and added about a half teaspoon of cumin to round out the flavor. I increased the corn (I used frozen) to about 3/4 cup. I also subbed fat free yogurt for the buttermilk. I popped them in the oven and waited eagerly for them to come out. They baked for about 19 minutes. I tasted one right after I took them out of the oven (ouch!) Hmm...

They were kind of disappointing. The flavor was...muddled. The jalapeno would have helped, and adding cheddar would have helped a lot. The worst part was the stone ground corn meal was gritty and didn't add a great texture. The corn meal was less gritty the following day, but the extra day dried out the corn so that it was almost desiccated. Maybe fresh corn would hold up better.

Check out the other TWD bakers here. They had better results than I did, and they reported that the muffins were fantastic with chili. I would try these again, stick with the recipe, using buttermilk, jalapenos and less corn, plus skipping the cumin. It's possible I made too many changes and it blanded out the flavors.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

CEiMB - Fried Rice with Scallions, Edamame, and Tofu

This week's Craving Ellie in My Belly pick was chosen by Jennifer at Running with Food. I am not a huge fried rice fan, but I was eager to try Ellie's version since it seemed to have a good balance of veggies and rice.

I made two substitutions: I used shrimp instead of tofu (I had some I needed to use up) and mini sweet peppers instead of the red bell pepper (Safeway was out of bell peppers?!?) I actually made the recipe a few minutes ago so I could take it to work for my lunch.

The verdict? Delicious! I liked the look of the dish before I added the soy sauce, but flavor was terrific. This is a lunch I'm going to look forward to eating, and when you're trying to lose weight, liking your food is key to staying on your plan. Many thanks to Jennifer for picking a real winner!

Make sure you check out the other CEiMB cooks here. We're all cooking from Ellie Krieger's book The Food You Crave. It's an awesome book filled with healthy AND delicious recipes.

Next week's pick is Beef Tenderloin. I'm not a beef fan so I'll sit that one out, but I'll be back for the Chicken Cacciatore the following week.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

TWD - French Pear Tart

Today's Tuesdays with Dorie selection is a very special one indeed. It was chosen by Dorie Greenspan, whose book Baking From My Home to Yours started our fearless founder Laurie on the path to this wonderful group of bakers.

I admit a bias to all things French, and have enjoyed pear tarts many times in Paris. The combination of buttery crust, frangipane filling and the buttery taste of the pears is a wonderful combination. I was thrilled when this pick was announced, not just because Dorie picked it, but because it's been two years since our last trip to France and a girl just needs her tarts, ya know?

The recipe gave the option of using canned pears, poaching pears or using fresh, ripe pears. I had an amazingly busy weekend, so I went the lazy route. Dorie explains in the recipe that French bakeries use canned pears, which made me feel better. The tart shell came together easily in the food processor, and I divided it between six 4" tart shells. In hindsight, I think it would have been better to make four or five of them as the crust was a little bit thinner than I like. I popped them in the freezer for the requisite half hour before blind baking them and made the almond cream filling. Since I was well established on the lazy route, I used ground almonds rather than making my own. The ground almonds gave the filling a rustic look that I really like.

The next morning, I let the almond cream sit out until it was spreadable, sliced the pears, assembled the tarts and baked them off. They baked for 42 minutes in a 325 oven on the convection bake cycle. The filling puffs up and browns as it bakes. Mmm...fresh pear tarts... OK, I admit it, I had half of one of these for breakfast. But they looked and smelled so good...I know you all understand.

The verdict: this is my favorite Dorie recipe to date (and the cheesecake was hard to beat!) The crust is so buttery, the filling crunchy and chewy at the same time, and the pears are the little jewels of sweetness that crown these two tasty components. Unlike most desserts, every bite is better than the one before.

Check out what the other TWD bakers did here. They inspire me every week. You can find the recipe on Dorie's site.  An extra special treat is here--Dorie answering all our random questions from the last year. Thanks to Dorie for the book that inspires us all, and thanks to Laurie for starting (and all the work to maintain) this group. This tart's for you!