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TWD: The Lime Pie that had Better be Worth it! August 25, 2009

Lime Cream Pie before covering

Lime Cream Pie before covering

So this for this week’s Tuesdays with Dorie, Linda of Tender Crumb decided on Creamiest Lime Cream Meringue Pie.  After reading the recipe, I knew it was going to take some time to make.  I had planned to make it over the weekend, but that just didn’t pan out.

Instead, I made it yesterday and recruited the help of my daughter.  She loves to grate and juice.  This was the perfect recipe for her!  As she did that I made the graham cracker crust.  Things were cruising along and I figured this would be easier than I expected.

Ha!

I don’ t think I’ve ever been so frustrated trying to bake something in my life!

The recipe says that bringing the lime cream to temperature would take about 10 minutes.  Well…it took me more like an hour and it still didn’t come to 180 degrees.  Near the end it finally dawned on me that maybe, just maybe, there was something wrong with my thermometer.  I stuck it in a glass of ice water so I could calibrate it and, sure enough, the temp was way off — the wrong way.  So I thought my cream was at 150 degrees but it was actually at 145.

Ugh!!!!!

I finally just gave up and took it off the heat anyway.  By the time it had cooled slightly, it was so thick that I had to force it through the strainer to get rid of the lime zest.  I almost skipped that part.  I had a hard time incorporating the butter while blending.  By the time I was done, I had lime cream all over my my kitchen, on my shirt, and in my hair.  At this point I’m not sure why I’ve gone through all this trouble for something that isn’t chocolate.

Lime Cream Pie 015

I miss chocolate.

According to the recipe, the lime cream is supposed to be refrigerated for four hours before you put it in the pie crust and then another three hours after you add the meringue.  Seriously?  After all that work I have to wait?

I don’t think so.

Since my cream was so thick to begin with, I just added it straight to the crust and let it chill for awhile.  Then, since everyone was so anxious to eat it, I ended up adding whipped cream to it to cut the tartness instead of the meringue.

I know it’s not the exact recipe but by the end I was so exhausted (who knew standing at the stove constantly stirring for an hour could be so tiring?) that I am perfectly okay with that.  We all like fresh whipped cream better anyway.

As for whether or not this pie was worth it…well…it was good.  The texture was phenomenal.  So beautifully creamy — like butter (probably from the 2 1/2 sticks in the cream) — and perfectly tart.  I’m glad I took the trouble to strain the zest out because that would have ruined the lovely texture of the lime cream.  We all agreed that the whipped cream was a nice touch, adding a bit of sweetness to the whole thing.

I’m glad I made this pie.  I know my family enjoy trying new things and chocolate, as hard as it is for me to fathom, is not everyone’s favorite.   So, even though this wasn’t my particular favorite (still liked it though), it was worth it just to make my family happy.  If you are lime-lover, you’d be happy to make this too.  Just make sure your thermometer works.

To see the recipe for the Creamist Lime Cream Pie with Meringue, visit Linda at http://www.tendercrumb.blogspot.com/

Lime Cream Pie 016

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Ode to Julia: Baked Eggs in Ramekins August 24, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — amynb2008 @ 1:57 am
Baked egg with cracked pepper and red sea salt

Baked egg with cracked pepper and red sea salt

I am so behind in my blogging.  I’ve got at least three recipes I should be blogging about but as I was looking through my pictures trying to decide what to write about, I kept coming back to these baked eggs.  They just look so beautiful.  If you truly eat with your eyes first, than this recipe is a feast.  It’s not really a baked good, but I think it warrants mention here anyway.

With the recent release of the movie Julie and Julia, I’m sure that there has been a rediscovery of French Cooking.  It is, after all, what drove me to pick up Julia’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking.  Well…that and the 40% off coupon.  I haven’t had time to make much out of it but the first recipe I made, the baked eggs in ramekins, is just a treasure.

I once saw Nigella make a simple soft-boiled egg.  If you had asked me before I saw that show, I would have told you I am not a big fan of eggs.  For some reason that egg she made looked so good that I gave it a try, as I had never had them before.  Low and behold…I fell in love.  Oh…a perfectly cooked soft-boiled egg with crisp whole wheat bread, it’s heaven!

Baked eggs are like soft-boiled eggs cooked out of the shell.  They are incredibly easy to make yet when they come out of the oven, there is a complexity to them that you don’t expect.  They are creamy and soft and unspeakably good.  I can’t even find words to explain.

Just trust me…You must try these.

Baked Eggs in Ramekins

Recipe from Julia Child but written in my words

Serving: 1

2 tablespoons cream

1-2 eggs

1/2 teaspoon of butter plus more for buttering ramekin

Boiling water

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Pour boiling water into a baking dish.  Set ramekin in the boiling water and add one tablespoon of cream.  When cream is warm, add the egg(s).  Top with the other tablespoon of cream and dot with butter.  Bake at 350 degrees for 7-10 minutes (it always takes me a little longer).  The toughest part of this recipe is knowing when the egg is done.  The white should be firm and the yolk thick.  It will continue to bake after you take if from the oven so be sure not to over bake.  It is a little hard to tell if they are done because of the cream but after making them once or twice, you’ll get the knack.

 

Confessions of a Rock Eater August 23, 2009

Filed under: Quick Breads,Uncategorized — amynb2008 @ 2:48 am
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I have a confession to make.  And it doesn’t involve baking.  Okay…Here it goes.

I love Harry Potter.

The books that is…I realize Harry is a work of fiction.rock cakes, baked eggs, and applesauce bars 004

I know that there are people out there that feel that this series is, well, I guess the word would be evil.  I only mention this because a few of my closest friends happen feel this way.  I have to say that I completely respect this opinion.  I just disagree with it.

I think that the Harry Potter series is just a really good story.  In fact, not only is the storyline amazingly detailed and the characters highly developed, but there are actually uplifting themes running throughout — themes like love, friendship, loyalty, determination, courage, and doing what’s right.

Now you might be wondering what all this Harry Potter talk has to do with this blog.  Well, there is one more minor theme that occurs often in these books and that is food.  I’ve always been intrigued by all the different foods mentioned in these books.  Maybe it’s because they are set in Britain and many of the food I haven’t heard of before.  Like treacle fudge.  Which later I learned is molasses fudge.  Not really my cup o’ tea, but there are others.

Take rock cakes for instance.  Hagrid is mentioned on one or two occasion making them for Harry and his friends.  Since Hagrid’s character is not known for his prowess in the kitchen, I’ve always kind of thought that they were just called rock cakes because they were hard…like rocks.

Alas, in one of my $5 baking cookbooks from JoAnn’s I came across a recipe for rock cakes.  I just had to try them.

Let me just say that I am so glad I am a better baker than Hagrid.  If magical is not the word to describe them, it comes close.  Rock cakes are something between a biscuit and a scone.  They are just slightly sweet and very tender but with a nice, golden-brown bite on the outside.  They are filled with raisins (also I used currants) and, strangely, Maraschino cherries.  I sprinkled them with raw sugar for added treat.  Besides tasting good, they’re really quite pretty too.  They just sparkle.  They are really easy to make (just make sure not to over mix) and bake up quickly.  They are just the thing for curling up with a hot cup of tea and a really good book…whatever your choice of books may be.

Rock Drops

1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/3 cup butter (5 1/3 tablespoons), cold and diced

1/3 cup raw sugar, plus more for sprinkling

1/2 cup raisins (I used currants)

2 tablespoons chopped Maraschino cherries

1 egg, beaten

2 tablespoons milk (I ended up using about 3 tablespoons)

Whisk together flour and baking powder.  Add butter and rub into the butter the flour with your fingers until the mixture looks like bread crumbs.

Stir in the the raw sugar, raisins, and cherries.  Add in the egg and milk to moisten and bring together in a soft dough.

Spoon 8 mounds of the mixture onto a buttered cookie sheet.  Sprinkle with more raw sugar.  Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown and firm when gently pressed.

Remove rock drops from the cookie sheet.  Serve hot from the oven or transfer to a wire rack to cool before serving.  They are really good either way!

 

Bruschetta Pizza August 19, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized,Yeast Breads — amynb2008 @ 11:45 am
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Back in July, I took my annual trip to Frankenmuth, Michigan.  Frakenmuth is a small little town dubbed as “Little Bavaria”.  It’s German themed and famous for its chicken dinners.  It happens to be between home and my in-law’s cottage so during the week of the fourth of July, I leave my wonderful family behind with Grandma and Grandpa and spend the night — all by myself — in this quaint touristy town.

I have a very established routine.  I stop at the local pharmacy to buy magazines.  Then I go try to check into my hotel but I’m usually too early so I walk up one side of the street and down the other, stopping at any of the little shops that strike my fancy.  My favorite shop is an old mill that has a small balcony that overlooks the Cass River.  I like sitting out there and watching the river.  I didn’t make it to that shop this year because the new hotel I tried was right on the river and I had my own private balcony.

It was on this very balcony, overlooking the peaceful river, that I came across the recipe for Bruschetta Pizza in A Taste of Home magazine.  It looked delicious so I tucked it away for future reference.

I have two 3-ring binders full of recipes tucked away for “future reference” but there are always those that really stick out.  This was one of those and I finally had the chance to make it.  The original recipe called for a prebaked pizza crust, but I just couldn’t do that.  If you’ve ever had homemade pizza crust, you’ll know why.  There’s just no comparison.

Unfortunately, my memory is not always good and it was about 3:00 before I realized that I needed to make pizza dough. My usual recipe needs to rest for several hours or overnight in the refrigerator and it’s always a bit of a production so I decided to try to find something different and hopefully easier.  After a quick search of my references, I decided to make up my own recipe.

I have to say, it turned out really good.  It rose well and the crust turned out chewy but crisp on the bottom.  As with my other recipe, the flavor would have developed more after resting a few hours but I think for such short notice it turned out very nicely.  The recipe was based on one I found in Brother Juniper’s Bread Book and I’ll share it below.

As for the actual pizza…

I am a very traditional person.  I like things pretty much the same way.  I like my burgers with lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, ketchup, and miracle whip.  I like my chicken fingers with honey mustard, not ranch.  I like my pizza with sauce, cheese, ham, and mushrooms.  I like knowing what I’m going to get.  I like knowing that I’m going to like it, so I rarely stray from these formulas.  However, for this particular variation, I’m glad I did.  The recipe calls for sausage and turkey pepperoni but since I hate pepperoni in turkey or any other form, I left that out.  I used hot turkey sausage and that was just enough spice to make it interesting but not too hot that Ella wouldn’t eat it (I made a cheese pizza for Melanie and Norah).  I liked the amount of cheese.  It was a good balance.  Like I said earlier, the crust was very nice too.

If you like the flavor of tomato and basil, you will love this pizza.  The fresh flavors of Bruscetta with the undertones of the sausage was a great pairing.   We all agreed.  For future reference, this one is a keeper

Amy’s Own Pizza Dough

This is actually enough to make 3 or 4 good-sized pizzas.  I divided it up into 3 parts, one for the Bruschetta Pizza, one for the cheese, and one part I put in the fridge to make pizza cups with for lunch tomorrow.  See my previous post on pretzels to see what I’m talking about.Bruschetta Pizza 002

1 1/2 plus 1/8 cups warm water

2 teaspoons active dry yeast

a pinch of sugar

2 1/4 cups bread flour

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons salt

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon honey

Mix together yeast, water (about the temperature of a baby’s bath), and sugar.  Let sit while you gather the other ingredients.

Measure the rest of the ingredients into the bowl of a stand mixer.  Using the dough hook, mix together on low speed.  Once the ingredients are well mixed, add in the yeast water while the mixer is still running.  Pour in enough to make the dough smooth.  Continue to mix but turn up the speed or knead by hand until the dough is smooth and elastic.  Clean out bowl and oil bottom and sides.  Return dough to bowl.  Turn dough over to coat with oil and cover with a wet towel or plastic wrap.  Allow to rise at least an hour or until double in size.

Once double, punch down and divide into how ever many pieces your are going to use.  Roll each into a ball and set out on the counter to double in size again, about an hour.

Preparing the Pizza

for a pizza the same size as a large prebaked shell

1/2 pound hot turkey sausage (I used more, 2/3 to 3/4, probably)

2 cups mozzarella

2-3 roma tomatoes, chopped

1/2 cup basil, chopped

1/4 teaspoon dried thyme

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

1 tablespoon olive oil

If you have a pizza stone, put it in the oven on the lowest shelf and preheat to 500 degrees.

Take the sausage out of the casing.  Cook in a skillet until completely done.  Set aside.  Set aside mozzarella cheese as well.

Mix remaining ingredients (begining with the tomatoes).   Set aside.

When dough has doubled a second time, spread dry polenta or cornmeal down on your work surface.  Roll out dough to make pizza shape.  Top with sausage and cover with cheese.  If you have a pizza peel, put your pizza on the peel and using that place it on the preheated pizza stone.  Let cook for any where from 7-10 minutes, depending on the size of the pizza.  Look for a golden brown crust and melted cheese.

Remove from oven and top with the tomato mixture.  Garnish with more basil, if you like.

Cut and serve.  Yum!

 

TWD: Applesauce Spice Bars August 18, 2009

If you have ever read any of my blog, you will know that fruit is not really my thing.  Don’t get me wrong.  I love a nice, crisp, coldrock cakes, baked eggs, and applesauce bars 011 apple or a juicy peach or plump, sweet grapes.  But fruit to me is…well…fruit.  It doesn’t belong in sweets.

Yet, time and time I seem to prove myself wrong.  Both banana bread and blueberry muffins are about as delicious as they come.  I was delighted with Nigella’s pineapple upside down cake and Dorie Greenspan’s apple crisp was fabulous.

And now Dorie has done it again.

This week Karen from Something Sweet by Karen (http://somethingsweetbykaren.wordpress.com/) chose Dorie’s Applesauce Spice Bars.  When I made them yesterday, I was feeling a little out of sorts.  I had just come home after being away for a few days so I guess I was just trying to get back in the swing of things.  I felt like I was trying to think of a hundred different things at the same time and not concentrating on any of them.  That was my state of mind as I approached this recipe.  The one day I needed chocolate I get stuck with apples.

Thank goodness it was so easy to prepare.  The hardest thing to was peel and chop the apple.  Which I forgot to do until I was ready to add it.  Oh well…no harm done.  I made myself follow the recipe to a T.  I’m not big on raisins but I added them anyway.  I used golden raisins which I find sweeter and nicer than regular ones.  I’m not a huge fan of nuts in baked goods like this but I put them in.  I’m not a drinker but I happened to have some rum on hand, which I added in lieu of the applejack (which I always figured was a cereal).

The batter for these bars is prepared in a saucepan after melted butter and brown sugar are mixed together.  I like that I didn’t need any special equipment, no electric mixer.  It was just me and the ingredients.  I started to relax a little.  After all how can melted butter and brown sugar be bad?

After the bars baked, I poured on the glaze (more melted butter, brown sugar, and, this time, cream) and waited for them to cool.  When it was time to make dinner, I snuck a bite.  They were still slightly warm but I discovered, to my delight, that they were pretty good.  After a few more minutes, I tried another bite.  They were really moist and good.  Before dinner was quite ready, I tried them again.  Wait a minute…I actually like these!  Before I knew it, I had nibbled away a whole end of the pan.  Luckily, it was the short end.  There aren’t a lot of raisins in so I hardly noticed them.  When I did, they just added a nice sweet plumpness.  The nuts were a nice contrast in texture that I didn’t mind a bit and you can’t taste the rum at all.

These are really a nice little snack bar — a great after school snack, or a sweet ending to lunch with friends, or a nice, light dessert after a heavy dinner served with a bit of vanilla ice cream.  I’d say these bars are a hit.  I guess I’m beginning to change my mind about fruit.  Maybe it can be a dessert.

Don’t get me wrong.  Chocolate will always reign supreme in my book, but a change can be nice too.

To view the recipe for Applesauce Spice Bars please visit Karen at http://somethingsweetbykaren.wordpress.com/.

 

Tuesdays with Dorie: Brownie Buttons and Tempations August 11, 2009

Brownie Rounds 013

My second week with Dorie and imagine my delight in getting to make something chocolate.  Brownies, no less.  Jayma of Two Scientists Experimenting in the Kitchen, who chose these little gems, must really know her stuff.

Note to self:  peruse Jayma’s blog ( http://jaysfavoritefoods.wordpress.com/)!

I was excited to try these Brownie Buttons even though I am the self-proclaimed best brownie baker in the world and have the best recipe imaginable (hey, Howie agrees with me)!  Still, I am open-minded and love trying anything new.

Seeing that these were little bit-sized brownies reminded me of a cute little pan I saw.  It was made for brownies and was just like mini-muffins, only square-shaped instead of round.  This seemed like the perfect opportunity to make an investment of this pan.  Especially since I had a 50% off coupon for Michaels.  I got the kids in the car and started to go.  Only I got to thinking.  Do I really need this pan?  Will I use it enough to warrant its use of my precious cabinet space?  Or would it too end up in my garage sale pile next to the Popsicle-shaped cake pan and the Twinkie-shaped pan?  Hmmm….alas, I decided it was not worth it and very reluctantly turned my car around and went to do some other shopping that actually was necessary.  Uh…that was hard but even at 50% off it seemed like a waste.  Of course, I still have that coupon and now I’m bhaving second thoughts.  Let’s hope I can stay strong.

But I’m off the subject now…let’s get back

These little brownies are so easy to make and come out just adorable using a plain old mini-muffin pan.  Ella decided to help me make them.  You may remember that she’s my chef, not my baker, so I a bit surprised she wanted to help.  I think it was her way of apologizing for being a bit, um,  shall we say…difficult when we were at the store earlier.  She was a huge help and other than melting the chocolate could probably have made the whole recipe without me.

The recipe calls for adding orange zest.  I did not plan for that so I didn’t have an orange.  Funny, since I almost bought one at the store the other day.  I must have been trying to tell myself something.  Luckily, this was optional and I don’t feel like I was missing anything by leaving it out.  Although Ella, who loves to grate and zest things, was a bit disappointed.  The recipe also called for bittersweet chocolate which I also didn’t have so I used 2 ounces of semisweet and a half of unsweetened.  As far as I could tell this didn’t affect the outcome at all.  The brownies turned out nice and moist and just the right amount of sweet and a whole lot delicious.

These are the perfect little sweet treat for after school or for dessert after lunch with friends.  Perhaps you have company for tea and want a little something sweet — these are just the thing.  Dipping the brownies into white chocolate dresses them up a bit and makes them extra special.  They definitely seem like more trouble than they are — which is such a nice thing.  It’s good to have easy little treats like these that still seem like something special in you repertoire.

So even if these Brownie Rounds did present me with a tempation or two (considering I probably shouldn’t eat anymore of them since I’ve already eaten most of them by myself), they are totally worth it.

Note: I’m new to Tuesdays with Dorie, so I’m not sure whether or not I’m supposed to post the recipes.  If you’d like the recipe for Brownie Buttons, please click on the link above for Two Scientist Experimenting in the Kitchen.  Thanks!

 

Potato Chip Cookies (Yes, you read that right!) August 9, 2009

Filed under: Baking Unplugged,cookies,Uncategorized — amynb2008 @ 7:24 pm
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Yesterday was Friday and there wasn’t much on the agenda for the day.  All we had to do was go to the store to pick up some milk and go to the bank to pick up some money.  While we were at the store we picked some potato chips to make some potato chip cookies.

Weird you say?  I totally agree.  I found the recipe for them in my new cookbook, Baking Unplugged by Nicole Rees.  My girls thought they sounded interested so I figured why not give them a try.  Plus, I was feeling a little guilty about saying they suck the joy out of baking.  That’s not exactly true so I wanted to do something with them.

Melanie joined me right away.  She’s my baker.  She’s like me and seems to like the measuring and presicion of baking.  Ella, on the other hand, enjoys cooking much more.  She likes the chopping and peeling and the sauteing.  Predictably, she didn’t want to help with the cookies so it was just me and the other two.

This is a good recipe to make with kids.  Most of the preparation is measuring which is a great thing to do with kids.  It helps with hand-eye coordination and can solidify math skills.  One kids’ favorite things to do in the kitchen is crush things so crushing the potato chips is a perfect job for them.

These cookies are made entirely with powdered sugar.  This gives them a unique texture that reminds me of a pecan sandy.  They are tender with a bit of a crunch at the same time.  You can actually feel the texture of the potato chips but you can’t taste them.  I find these cookies a bit rich but not quite sweet enough for my taste.  They leave me wanting something more.  As a result, I resorted to my old, faithful friend.  Chocolate.potato chip cookies 007

I melted a bit of chocolate and had the girls go to town drizzling the cookies.  The chocolate helped give the cookie another dimension but they still need something.  I’m not sure what it is.

So what does all this mean?  Well…these aren’t my favorite cookies.  They don’t stand a chance against chocolate chips or peanut butter.  However, they are easy make, kid-friendly, and while I don’t love them, I don’t hate them either.  I think it’s worth trying this unique cookie for yourself and drawing your own conclusion.potato chip cookies 010

Potato Chip Cookies

from Baking Unplugged by Nicole Rees

1 cup unsalted butter, soft

1 cup powdered sugar

1 large egg yolk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour

3/4 cup finely chopped, toasted pecans

3/4 cup crushed potato chips

Preheat oven to 250 degrees

In a large bowl, beat the butter and powdered sugar until fluffy with no lumps, 1-2 minutes.  Stir in the egg yolk, vanilla, and salt until the dough is smooth and creamy.  Stir in the flour until almost combined.  Stir in the pecans until evenly distributed and then very gently sitr in the crushed potato chips.

Note:  Melt a 1/2 cup of chocolate chips until smooth.  Use a fork to drizzle over cookies.

potato chip cookies 011