Tuesday, July 27, 2010

DARING BAKERS CHALLENGE JULY, 2010-Swiss swirl ice cream cake!

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     This month's daring bakers challenge was one I could really sink my teeth into!  Perfectly suited for our summer weather here in the United States.  I was especially excited about this dessert because my oldest son was coming to visit us and I wanted to make something special for him... this certainly fit the criteria!
     The July 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Sunita of Sunita’s world – life and food. Sunita challenged everyone to make an ice-cream filled Swiss roll that’s then used to make a bombe with hot fudge. Her recipe is based on an ice cream cake recipe from Taste of Home.
     While we were required to make a Swiss roll (i.e jelly roll), filling, two ice creams and a fudge sauce, we were able to play around with our own recipes and flavors.  I don't have an ice cream maker and Sunita had made her two recipes (vanilla and chocolate) without the use of a machine so I stuck with her ice cream recipes. I also stayed with her recipe for the filling and the fudge sauce.  Really, the only thing I changed was that I used a Chocolate Swiss Roll recipe from Betty Crocker.
Chocolate Swiss Roll Cake
3 eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup water
1 teaspoon coffee-flavored liqueur   I used vanilla paste in place of the liqueur
3/4 cup Gold Medal® all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened baking cocoa
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
Unsweetened baking cocoa
2 tablespoons coffee-flavored liqueur **omitted this ingredient
     Heat oven to 375°F. Line 15x10x1-inch pan with foil; generously grease. In large bowl, beat eggs with electric mixer on high speed about 5 minutes until thick and lemon colored. Gradually beat in granulated sugar. Beat in water and 1 teaspoon liqueur on low speed. Gradually add flour, 1/4 cup cocoa, the baking powder and salt, beating just until batter is smooth. Pour into pan.
     Bake 12 to 15 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Run knife around edge of pan to loosen cake; turn upside down onto towel sprinkled generously with cocoa. Carefully remove foil. Trim off stiff edges of cake if necessary.
While hot, carefully roll cake and towel from narrow end. Cool on cooling rack at least 30 minutes.

3. Unroll cake carefully and remove towel

For the filling-
2C / 500 mls/ 16 fl oz of whipping cream
1 vanilla pod, cut into small pieces of about ½ cm (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)
5 tblsp / 70gms/2.5oz of caster sugar
      Grind together the vanilla pieces and sugar in a food processer till nicely mixed together. If you are using vanilla extract, just grind the sugar on its own and then add the sugar and extract to the cream.
     In a large bowl, add the cream and vanilla-sugar mixture and beat till very thick.
     Divide the cream mixture between the completely cooled cakes.
     Open the rolls and spread the cream mixture, making sure it does not go right to the edges (a border of ½ an inch should be fine).

Roll the cakes up again, this time without the towel. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge till needed, seam side down.

The vanilla ice cream-
2 and ½ C / 625 ml / 20 fl oz of whipping cream
1 vanilla bean, minced or 1 tsp/ 5 ml/ .15 fl oz vanilla extract
½ C / 115gms/ 4 oz of granulated sugar
     Grind together the sugar and vanilla in a food processor. In a mixing bowl, add the cream and vanilla –sugar mixture and whisk lightly till everything is mixed together. If you are using the vanilla extract, grind the sugar on its own and then and the sugar along with the vanilla extract to the cream.
      Pour into a freezer friendly container and freeze till firm around the edges. Remove from the freezer, beat till smooth and return to the freezer. Do this 3-4 times and then set completely.

The chocolate ice cream-

2C/ 500 ml whipping cream
1 C/230gms/8 oz caster sugar
3 tblsp/ 24 gms/1.5 oz of natural unsweetened cocoa powder
     Grind together the sugar and the cocoa powder in a food processor .
     In a saucepan, add all the ingredients and whisk lightly.
     Place the pan over heat and keep stirring till it begins to bubble around the edges.
     Remove from heat and cool completely before transferring to a freezer friendly container till firm around the edges. If you are using an ice cream maker, churn the ice cream according to the manufacturer’s instruction, after the mixture has cooled completely. If not using a machine; remove from the freezer, beat till smooth and return to the freezer. Do this 3-4 times and then set completely.

The Hot fudge sauce
1 C / 230gms/ 8 oz of caster sugar
3 tblsp / 24gms/1.5 oz of natural unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tblsp /15gms/ 1 oz of cornflour/cornstarch
1 and ½ C /355ml /12 fl oz of water
1 tblsp /14gms/ 1 oz butter
1 tsp/5 ml / .15 fl oz vanilla extract
     In a small saucepan, whisk together the sugar, cocoa powder, cornflour and water.
     Place the pan over heat, and stir constantly, till it begins to thicken and is smooth (for about 2 minutes).
     Remove from heat and mix in the butter and vanilla. Keep aside to cool .

Assembling your ice cream cake
 Cut the Swiss rolls into 20 equal slices ( approximately 2 cms each ).
Cover the bottom and sides of the bowl in which you are going to set the dessert with cling
film/plastic wrap.
 Arrange two slices at the bottom of the pan, with their seam sides facing each other. Arrange the Swiss roll slices up the bowl, with the seam sides facing away from the bottom,
 to cover the sides of the bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and freeze till the slices are firm (at least 30 minutes).
 Soften the chocolate ice cream. Take the bowl out of the freezer, remove the cling film cover and add the ice cream on top of the cake slices. Spread it out to cover the bottom and sides of the bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and freeze till firm                    ( at least 1 hour)
Add the fudge sauce over the vanilla ice cream, cover and freeze till firm . ( at least an hour)
 Soften the Vanilla ice cream and spread it over the fudge sauce. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze for at least 4-5 hours till completely set .

 Remove the plastic cover, and place the serving plate on top of the bowl. Turn it upside down and remove the bowl and the plastic lining. If the bowl does not come away easily, wipe the outsides of the bowl with a kitchen towel dampened with hot water. The bowl will come away easily.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Tinkerbell Cake

   My beautiful, charming, delightful grand daughter just celebrated her first birthday.  Time flies! I was blessed enough to be at her birth (forever thankful to that experience!!) and babysit her four days a week.  To see the changes that take place in her week to week is just a God gift. 
     Hubby and I made her birthday cake.  Hubby is so talented with molding the fondant!  He did this awesome model of Tinkerbell! I made the "smash" cake for her and did the decorating on the Fairy cake. I found some candy the looks like river rock and some jelly bean boulders that really jazzed up the cake. The cat tails are made from dried spaghetti pasta and fondant wrapped around them.  And aren't the mushrooms adorable! I was really pleased how they turned out. Overall the cake was a success - although I fretted about it all weekend.  I'm terribly critical of the work I do and feared it would be a disappointment. As my husband frequently reminds me, I am my own worst enemy. Why I stress myself out of a family birthday cake... for a one year old mind you... is just so not neccesary.
    I'm just going to share some pictures with you now.  Enjoy!

Chocolate Mint Tea Cupcakes

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       I've been wanting to experiment a bit using tea and came across this Chocolate Mint Tea by Stash. Sounds amazing, doesn't it!! I cheated and picked up a box cake mix... shhh, don't tell! It is just the basic yellow cake mix by Betty Crocker.
     I brewed 1 1/4 cups of tea using four of the tea bags and let it steep for fifteen minutes. I wasn't sure if this would be strong enough but since I was experimenting who cared?? I just used the brewed tea in place of the water the box package asked for. The taste is indeed melded throughout the cupcake. Topped with some frosting I found in an old Betty Crocker book (again using brewed tea in the frosting) and used some chopped up mint Three Muskateers bars for decoration.
Chocolate Mint Tea Butter Frosting
5 Tablespoons Flour
1 cup Milk (I heated the milk and put two tea bags
 in to seep for fifteen minutes)
1 teaspoon Vanilla (I omitted because I wanted a stronger mint flavor)
1 cup Butter, softened
1 cup Granulated Sugar (Do NOT use Powdered Sugar!)

Using a small sauce pan, whisk flour into milk and heat, until it thickens, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and let it cool to room temperature. Stir in vanilla and set aside. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the cooled milk mixture and beat until it all combines. The mixture will look a bit like whipped cream.  Because of the milk, your cake or cupcakes should be refrigerated.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Monthly Challenge: Part Two Basil

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I was a bit disappointed in the Strawberry Soup (although very very tasty) being rather soup-less.  So I thought with another attempt I would use Basil.  This is my first year of having success with growing my herbs in pots out on my deck.  My basil is especially lush and abundant and so I put together this recipe for Penna Carbonara with Basil Lemon Cream that I found here.  I loved the cream but honestly found more of the aroma of Lemon rather than any taste of lemon.  But ohhhhhh, this recipe is indeed lovely.
  The recipe claims to serve four but even with the three of us putting a good amount into our bellies there was still enough for all of us to eat it again for another meal. Also, because my hubby hates vegetables mixed in pasta dishes I had to omit the veggies.  Nuts are another no no for meals so the pine nuts were left out.  This is probably a good thing with the price of pine nuts these day!
Penne Carbonara With Basil Lemon Cream
Yield: 4 Servings

1/4 cup Smoked bacon, chopped  I used half a pound of bacon... never can have too much bacon!
2 oz. Butter
1 tsp. Garlic, minced  I used one clove garlic
1/4 cup Onion, diced  Used half of an onion
1 cup Mixed vegetables: carrot, peas, corn, Lima beans, green beans omitted
2 tsp. Pine nuts, toasted omitted
1 1/2 cup Chef Larry's Basil Lemon Cream (recipe follows)  I ended up using all the cream sauce because I felt it was too dry at the 1 1/2 cup amount
1 1/4 lb. Penne Rigate pasta, cooked "al dente"
1 tsp. Parsley, chopped
to taste Salt
to taste Fresh ground black pepper
1/2 cup Shaved or shredded Parmesan cheese (optional)  I served with a tons of Parmesan... for me, Parmesan cheese is never optional!
to garnish Fresh chopped parsley
     Prepare Chef Larry's Basil Lemon Cream per recipe, reserve. Cook bacon in a sauté pan over medium heat until cooked. Add butter, garlic and onion. Sauté garlic briefly, do not brown. Add mixed vegetables and pine nuts. To heat pasta: place cooked pasta in lightly salted simmering water for 1-2 minutes to reheat (do not overcook.) Remove pasta from water and drain well. Add heated pasta to sauté pan with bacon and vegetables. Stir in enough of Chef Larry's Basil Lemon Sauce to coat pasta and vegetables. (Add sauce in intervals until pasta and vegetables are nicely coated.) Season pasta with salt and fresh ground black pepper. Add 2/3 tsp. of chopped and mix well. Portion pasta into heated pasta bowls. Top with optional shaved Parmesan cheese and additional chopped parsley. Serve immediately.

Basil Lemon Cream
Yield: 2 cups

1 tsp. Butter
1 tsp. Shallots, minced  I used half of a shallot but could easily use onion
1/4 tsp. Garlic, minced  I used one clove garlic
2 oz. White wine
1 1/2 cups Chicken stock  only had canned chicken broth on hand
2/3 cup Heavy cream
1 1/2 tsp. Fresh lemon juice
to taste Salt
to taste Fresh ground black pepper
8 Basil leaves, finely minced
as needed Roux to thicken (equal parts flour and melted butter)  I used 1 tablespoon butter melted with enough flour to make a paste 

Melt butter in a saucepan, do not brown. Add shallots and garlic, sauté briefly. Add white wine, bring to a simmer and reduce by 1/2. Add stock, bring to a simmer. Cook over medium low heat for 10 minutes. Add roux to achieve desired consistency, continue to simmer. Add cream and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper. Finish with fresh minced basil.

MSC July: Flourless Chocolate Cupcakes

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This month the Martha Stewart Cupcake challenge was by Lauryn from Bella Baker chose Flourless Chocolate Cupcakes for July.

These cupcakes were unbelievably delicious! I was hesitant to make these because it contains no flour.  I've made meringue cookies before but cupcakes?  Would they be like meringue?  You could tell the technique was  related to the meringue cookies but the texture of this heavenly cupcakes was out of this world! My husband described these cupcakes as a baked mousse.

The recipe as posted makes about 22 cupcakes.  I easily halved this recipe and made 10.

Flourless Chocolate Cupcakes
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (or 1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips)
6 large eggs, separated, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
Ice cream, for serving (optional)
     Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Melt butter and chocolate in a large heatproof bowl set over (not in) a pan of simmering water. Stir to combine, then remove bowl from heat and let cool slightly. Whisk in egg yolks.
     With an electric mixer on medium speed, whisk egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar, beating until peaks are stiff and glossy but not dry (do not overbeat). Whisk one quarter of the beaten egg whites into chocolate mixture to lighten; gently fold mixture into remaining whites.
     Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until cupcakes are just set in centers, about 25 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely before removing cupcakes (their centers will sink). Cupcakes are best eaten the same day they are baked; keep at room temperature until ready to serve.  I topped some with scoops of ice cream and others with a bit of ganache and some strawberries.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Monthy Challenge: July's Farmer's Market Strawberry Soup

Never to turn away a challenge, this month I started with the monthly challenge.  The challenge for this month was to use something in season.  I've always wanted to try a fruit soup.  I found this interesting recipe for Strawberry Soup at allrecipes.  I made a few changes based on the ingredients I had in my kitchen as I was too hot and too lazy to go shopping!  It was delicious, but more beverage like than soup though.  Will have to try another fruit soup again.... someday.  I have posted the recipe as I found it and in the italics I have put my changes.  Enjoy!

Strawberry Soup(ish)
serves five

2 pints strawberries 
      2 cups plain yogurt    I used vanilla yogurt
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup water
1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom  I replaced the cardamom with ground ginger
In a blender, combine the strawberries, yogurt, orange juice, sugar, water and cardamom. Puree until well mixed. Chill and serve.

The Daring Cooks July 2010 Challenge: Nut Butters

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This months daring cooks challenge was to make a a fresh nut butter and to use it in one savory recipe (i.e., not a sweet dessert). We were able to choose the type of nut (e.g., peanuts, walnuts, cashews, pecans, almonds, hazelnuts, macadamias, etc.). Then puree the nuts into a paste or butter.  Then use our fresh homemade nut butter in at least one savory recipe. The nut butter challenge was inspired by the article “Better with Nut Butter” by Kathy Baruffi in Cooking Light magazine.

     In addition to instructions for making nut butters, we were provided 4 challenge recipes from which to choose: Chicken with Pecan Cream & Mushrooms, Asian Noodle Salad with Cashew Dressing, Chicken with Curried Tomato Almond Sauce, and Walnut Walnut White Bean Dip with Rosemary & Sage.
     I'm all over anything with mushrooms so I made the Chicken with Pecan Cream and Mushrooms.

Blog-checking lines:  The July 2010 Daring Cooks’ Challenge was hosted by Margie of More Please and Natashya of Living in the Kitchen with Puppies. They chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make their own nut butter from scratch, and use the nut butter in a recipe. Their sources include Better with Nut Butter by Cooking Light Magazine, Asian Noodles by Nina Simonds, and Food Network online.

Chicken with Pecan Cream & Mushrooms
Yield: 4 servings
To make the Pecan Cream:
3/4 cup (180 ml) coarsely chopped pecans*, toasted
1 cup (240 ml) water
¾ teaspoon (3 ml) salt, more as needed
½ pound (225 g) egg noodles or pasta
4 (6-ounce / 170 g) boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
1 teaspoon (5 ml) olive oil, more as needed
Salt & pepper to taste
1 tablespoon (15 ml) deglazing liquid (water, broth, wine; optional)
1 teaspoon (5 ml) olive oil, more as needed
1/4 cup (60 ml) finely chopped shallots
½ pound (225 g) mushrooms, sliced
1 Tablespoon (15 ml) fresh thyme leaves
Chopped pecans, (optional garnish)

1.Prepare pecan cream. Grind pecans in a food processor for about a minute or so until smooth, scraping down the sides of bowl as needed. Add water and 3/4 teaspoon (3 ml) salt; process until smooth, scraping sides of bowl as needed. Set aside pecan cream. (*If starting with prepared pecan butter, blend ¼ cup plus 2 Tablespoons (90 ml) pecan butter with the water and salt until smooth.)
2.Cook noodles according to package instructions in salted water. Drain, rinse, and keep warm.
3.If desired, pound chicken to ¼ inch (6 mm) thickness to promote even cooking. Sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper to taste. Heat 1 teaspoon (5 ml) olive oil a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add half the chicken; sauté 3 to 5 minutes on each side or until cooked through. Cook the chicken in 2 batches, adding more oil if needed for second batch. Set aside cooked chicken on a clean plate, cover to keep warm.

4.Add deglazing liquid to pan if using and stir up any browned bits. If needed, add another teaspoon (5 ml) of oil (or more) to pan for sautéing the shallots and mushrooms. Sauté the shallots and mushrooms over medium heat for 4 to 6 minutes or until mushrooms are tender and starting to brown. Add fresh thyme to the pan. Stir in pecan cream; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 1 1/2 minutes till reduced slightly.

5.Slice chicken into thin strips. Divide the noodles among serving plates. Add a scoop of the mushroom pecan sauce on top of noodles. Lay sliced chicken on top. Garnish with fresh thyme and/or a pinch of chopped pecans if desired.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Pulled Pork with White Barbecue Sauce

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Hubby and I were talking the other day about the states we have been in - no surprise here, I'm a military brat so won hands down on having been in the most states.  That got me to thinking about the different  foods of each state and what I haven't tried.  Doing a bit of research on the net, I discovered that iconic foods are very controversial! What is a must try food from your state?
Out of curiosity I looked up foods from Alabama. One item that continued to come up consistently with Alabama was a white barbecue sauce. I like a good barbecue sauce and love the ones that have a little kick to them.  All I have ever had though was the basic red sauces (i.e. tomato based) so curiosity had the best of me and we went with a recipe for pulled pork that had a white barbecue sauce(which I found on myrecipes.com and was taken from Cooking Light). The pork is supposed to be served on sweet potato biscuits but it's hot today and I'm not terribly ambitious so I'm serving them on buns I have on hand. As I was making the sauce I kept having this nagging feeling of "I know this recipe."  My first taste and I figured it out... duh... its the dressing I use on our coleslaw! Mayo, cider vinegar, sugar, salt and a bit of pepper.  I wanted a different taste so I combined two recipes and came up with my own version of  the white bbq sauce.  Want to see the originals? Check out these links Southern Living or  Myrecipes.com

Of course, if your going down south you have to have some sweet tea to go with your meal.  Nope, never had sweet tea either though I have had iced tea with sugar.  Purists have told me that my iced tea with sugar is nothing like a good southern sweet tea so I found a recipe on line and served that with dinner as well.

Overall, we liked the pulled pork but didn't think the white barbecue sauce was anything we needed to try again.  The sweet tea... well, it is indeed sweet! It was quite good though.  .
Alabama Pulled Pork Sandwiches with White Barbecue Sauce
inspired by Cooking Light and Southern Living
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons Cider vinegar
1 teaspoon Coarsely ground fresh pepper
2 teaspoon Fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon prepared horseradish
Dash of salt
1 1/4 pounds Pork tenderloin, trimmed
1/2 cup Apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup Water
3 tablespoons Brown sugar
2 teaspoons Kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon Ground red pepper
1/2 teaspoon Chili powder
1/4 teaspoon Garlic powder
2 tablespoons potato starch  this is my addition... we didn't care for how runny it was so we added thickener.

1. Prepare sauce by combining the first 6 ingredients in a small bowl. Cover and chill.
2. Prepare pork: cut pork into 2 1/2-inch pieces. Combine apple cider vinegar and next 7 ingredients (through garlic powder) in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil. Add pork to pan. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 1 hour or until tender. Remove pork from cooking liquid; shred with 2 forks (I cheated and just pulled it apart with my fingers).  In remaining liquid, add the two tablespoons of thickener and whisk smooth.  Bring to a boil and add shredded pork back into the liquid.  Allow to thicken, remove from heat. Serve on buns.
Smooth Sweet Tea

1 pinch baking soda
2 cups boiling water
6 tea bags
3/4 cup white sugar
6 cups cool water

1.Sprinkle a pinch of baking soda into a 64-ounce, heat-proof, glass pitcher. Pour in boiling water, and add tea bags. Cover, and allow to steep for 15 minutes.
2.Remove tea bags, and discard; stir in sugar until dissolved. Pour in cool water, then refrigerate until cold.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

July Cookie Carnival: Oatmeal (C)raisin Cookies

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This is my first month of being part of the Cookie Carnival... yeah, I like challenges as they tend to motivate me :-)  There were two options to choose from and I decided to do the Pillsbury Oatmeal Raisin Cookies....sort of.  I'm totally out of Raisins and so chose to add Craisins instead. I made a few other changes as well and they will be noted in italics next to the original ingredient 

Oatmeal (C)Raisin Cookies
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar   I used dark brown sugar as it is a favored preference
1/2 cup margarine or butter, softened   I used unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups quick-cooking rolled oats
1/2 cup raisins   switched out the raisins for Craisins
1/2 cup chopped nuts  Added toasted Pecans as my choice of nut

1. Toast pecans over medium heat on stove top using a skillet.  These can burn so don't turn your back on them!  Once the Pecans start to release their fragrance and a bit of their natural oil, remove from heat and let cool.

2. Heat oven to 375°F. Spray cookie sheets with nonstick cooking spray. In large bowl, combine sugar, brown sugar and margarine; beat until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and egg; blend well.  Add flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; mix well. Stir in oats, Craisins and toasted pecans.
3. Drop dough by using either a rounded teaspoon or a cookie scoop (my scoop uses a tablespoon) and place 2 inches apart onto sprayed cookie sheets or silpat. 

4. Bake at 375°F. for 7 to 10 minutes or until edges are light golden brown. Cool 1 minute; remove from cookie sheets. Made about 3 1/2 dozen cookies.