Archive for February, 2011

Baked Farrotto

Yesterday afternoon, I got a phone call from my sister regarding our dinner plans. I was really excited because there was a recipe I have been wanting to try out I came across it here, a blog I enjoy reading.

I never seem to be able to follow recipes precisely, and this was no exception. I added a couple of carrots to the onion for some added flavor and color.

I didn’t have any broth on hand so I tossed the carrot peels and tops in a pot of water with parsley stems and onion skin. It wasn’t perfect but it did the trick.

After I added the farro, I also added some rings of sweet peppers…

then, tomato sauce (that my sister made last summer,) the broth, chopped parsley instead of oregano, and some parmesan cheese.

I put the lid, slightly askew, on the pot and slid it in the over. I was impressed at how well it turned out, and how easy it was!

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Citrus Tarts

I have been craving this perfectly tangy citrus tart for a while now. I kept buying lemons with the intention of making it but somehow they always were used for something else. The other day, I went to the store and bought some lemons, limes, and blood oranges.

I figured I may as well go all out. Yesterday, I prepared two types of tart dough,( I think I prefer the flakier, less sweet type) and I made some curds.

First, I zested them…

then I juiced them…

then I mixed the juice and zest with some eggs, sugar, and butter…

After the curds had cooled a little bit, I poured them into the prepared shells and popped them in the over for a couple of minutes, until the centers were set…

They were really tasty! I especially enjoyed the blood orange!

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I got up early this morning to bake a cake. I only have one large sheet cake pan so I had to bake two layers, separately. I used the same recipe that I used for my friends wedding cake last summer. Last night while reading through some cookbooks, I came across a useful tip. When baking large cakes, reduce the oven temperature by 25*F to allow for more even cooking. I tried this out today and I am pleased to say that my cake turned out quite nicely, no dry or crispy edges and the center is cooked through!

While the first layer was baking, I prepared the batter for the second layer. With both layers baked and cooling…

I thinly sliced some strawberries. (Normally I don’t buy like to buy fruit out of season but I had a request for strawberries and they actually looked pretty juicy so I went for it.)

I put the berries in a bowl and sprinkled a some sugar (maybe 2 Tbsp.) on them.  I whipped some cream and assembled the cake. I put the strawberries in between the two layers with just a touch of whipped cream…

…then covered the entire cake with whipped cream and dusted it with a little cocoa powder.

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Last weekend I went for a little drive and wound up Michigan. Among many things I (I should really say we, as it was a group effort) made some delicious chocolate chip cookies. The recipe that we used is from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything. They were delicious, especially with a large glass of milk!

I am back home now and tonight I wanted to make some more cookies, I decided to play with the recipe and use yogurt with a little baking soda as a substitute for the eggs. They were quite tasty, though a bit thinner and more chewy with crispy edges. It’s hard to compare the two cookies, they are totally different. I enjoyed the eggless version but I am not completely satisfied. I will let you know when I come up with the perfect compromise, until then here are some more pictures.

This time, I used chocolate morsels from Askinosie Chocolate. They were well worth it! These dark chocolate morsels are a nice break from sweet cookie.

Ready to go in the oven…

and finally cookies before bed….

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A couple of weeks ago I was having dinner with some of my friends and their daughter and I came up with a plan to make chocolate truffles for her classmates for Valentine’s day. So, today, we did just that. We used the ganache that I had leftover from the Sarah Bernhardts that I made yesterday.

The Munchkin chose orange zest, roses, sea salt, and cocoa powder for garnishing. She may be 10, but she has quite the refined palate.

We spooned out portions of the ganache and rolled them into balls.

Since the chocolate melted in our hands, it required some cleaning up between batches. Don’t worry, the Munchkin also used the sink for this step…)

When we were finished making the balls, we prepared the garnishes.

For one variation, we crushed dried rose buds and mixed the petals with some orange zest and rolled the truffles in it.

For the other, we rolled the truffles in cocoa powder. Both types got a touch of vanilla sea salt on top. Finally we put one of each in their little boxes…

…and tied them up with a ribbon and a card.

They are simple and delicious!

Here is a basic recipe for ganache:

1/2 lb. finely chopped semisweet or bittersweet chocolate

1 c. cream

1/4 tsp. salt

Place chopped chocolate in a heat-proof mixing bowl and set aside. Place cream and salt in a heavy bottomed saucepan and slowly bring to a boil. Pour the hot cream on top of the chocolate and whisk until smooth. Leave the ganache at room temperature for least 6 hours. Note: You can speed up the “setting up” process by refrigerating it and stirring it every 20 minutes until it is set, but I don’t recommend this technique, it tends to come out a bit grainy in texture.

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Sarah Bernhardts

Yesterday I did a cooking demo at the At Home Store. I made some really wonderful cookies that are a cross between a macaron and a truffle. The recipe that I used is from The Sono Baking Company Cookbook:The Best Sweet and Savory Recipes for Every Occasion by John Barricelli. They were really fun to make! They were pretty simple even though lots of different steps were involved. The first step was making the chocolate ganache.

Secondly, I made the almond macarons. I used a pastry bag to pipe out tiny little rounds…

Then I melted some chocolate for the hard casing. (This was the only place that I didn’t follow the recipe exactly. It calls for a little bit of vegetable oil, to keep the chocolate looking shiny, but I only had olive oil pressed with tangerines–so that is what I used instead. The orange was very nice although maybe a little too strong. If I were to use it again I would use even less and maybe mix it with some vegetable oil.

With all of the elements ready, it was time to assemble the cookies. I piped some ganache onto each cookie…

…and then dipped each one  in chocolate.

They were really tasty! I had a lot of ganache left over! I think I could have made about a third of what the recipe called for and had enough.

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There was a blizzard last night and when I woke up this morning, everything was under at least a foot of glistening white snow. Since I was forced to stay home, I took the opportunity to do some baking. I decided to make some shortbread and since I couldn’t decide which kind to make, I made two – half batches.

The first one I made was pecan shortbread, here is the recipe:

1 stick butter, softened

1/4 c powdered sugar (not sifted)

1/4 c ground pecans

1/2 tsp vanilla

1 c flour

1/2 tsp. salt

*dark chocolate shavings

Cream together the butter and sugar. Add the pecans and vanilla, mix until combined. Add the flour and salt and mix until it comes together.  Press into a buttered baking dish, I used a pie plate. Bake at 325*F for about 30-35 min. *Optional, sprinkle a thin layer of chocolate shavings on top of the shortbread while it is still hot, using a rubber spatula or a spoon, smooth it out over the surface.

The second kind I made is orange cornmeal shortbread:

1 stick of butter, softened

1/3 c sugar

zest of an orange

1 tsp. orange juice

1/2 tsp vanilla

3/4 c flour

1/4 c cornmeal (I used half fine and half coarse)

1/2 tsp salt

Cream together the butter and sugar. Add orange zest, juice and vanilla, mix well. Add flour, cornmeal, and salt. Mix until the dough comes together. Press into ad buttered baking dish (I used a pie plate.) Bake at 325*F for about 35-45 min. Cool completely before serving… If you can stand to wait.

*Sorry there aren’t any pictures this time around, I am house sitting and don’t have my camera with me.

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