Dec 25, 2010

Frohe Weihnachten--Stollen

I tried. I really, really tried. I had these wonderful dried figs and dates...soaked in espresso. Organic cocoa powder and handmade marzipan. I followed the directions to the best of my abilities. In the end however, I came up against my nemesis, who unfortunately is almost guaranteed to take me down every single time: Yeast, I loathe you. I'm not sure what happened but my dough didn't raise at all and I ended up scraping the entire thing and then I was in a super funk about it and not sure if I could afford the extra ingredients.  However anyone that knows me knows that I love a challenge and I had to try it again.. different recipe.

This months daring bakers challenge was to make stollen which according to our friend Wiki has been around since before 1474. I did make stollen it just wasn't quite the recipe from the bakers challenge. Was this challenge a success? I will give it a 50/50. The stollen is AMAZING. First the smell hits you and then the taste... its outta this world. I made this bad boy last night and we ate a piece about three in the morning and then really cut into it today. I am definitely adding this one to my repertoire and my sweets for holiday list! Tonight we had it with some Marzipan coffee and it was delectable!

(delightfully modified from King Arthur website)
2 1/4 cups Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt*
1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) cold butter
1 cup ricotta cheese, part-skim milk type
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup dried fruit blend; or 1/2 cup golden raisins + 1/2 cup of your favorite dried fruits, chopped to 1/2" pieces if necessary
Reduce the salt to 1/4 teaspoon if you use salted butter

Preheat your oven to 325°F. Lightly grease a baking sheet, or line it with parchment.
Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a mixing bowl.
Cut the cold butter into small chunks, then blend it into the flour mixture to form uneven crumbs.
In a separate bowl, mix together the cheese, egg, vanilla, and flavors.
Toss the fruit and almonds with the flour mixture until evenly distributed. Then combine the wet and dry ingredients, mixing until most of the flour is moistened.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface, and knead it two or three times, until it holds together. Divide it in half.
Roll each piece of dough into an 8" x 7" oval about 1/2" thick.
Fold each piece of dough roughly in half, leaving the edge of the top half about 1/2" short of the edge of the bottom half. Should you fold the long way, or the short way? The long way will give you a longer, narrower stollen, with shorter slices; folding the short way will give you a wider, fatter stollen, with longer slices.
Use the edge of your hand to press the dough to seal about 1" in back of the open edge; this will make the traditional stollen shape. It's also the familiar Parker House roll shape, if you've ever made them. *
Place the shaped stollen on the prepared baking sheet.
Bake the stollen till they're very lightly browned around the edges, about 40 minutes. A cake tester inserted into the center should come out clean.
Remove the stollen from the oven, and transfer to a rack. Brush them each with 2 to 3 tablespoons melted butter and Rum.  Sprinkle heavily with confectioners' sugar.
Allow the stollen to cool, then brush with butter again, and sprinkle with sugar again. Wrap in plastic wrap till ready to serve.

I severely changed the protocol here :
roll into a rectangle about 16 x 24 inches (40 x 61 cms) and ¼ inch (6 mm) thick.

put a 1/4 inch "snake" of marzipan in the center.
Starting with a long side, roll up tightly, forming a long, thin cylinder.
Transfer the cylinder roll to the sheet pan. Join the ends together, trying to overlap the layers to make the seam stronger and pinch with your fingers to make it stick, forming a large circle. You can form it around a bowl to keep the shape. Using kitchen scissors, make cuts along outside of circle, in 2-inch (5 cm) intervals, cutting 2/3 of the way through the dough. Twist each segment outward, forming a wreath shape.

Blog Checking Lines:
The 2010 December Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Penny of Sweet Sadie’s Baking. She chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ to make Stollen. She adapted a friend’s family recipe and combined it with information from friends, techniques from Peter Reinhart’s book.........and Martha Stewart’s demonstration

Merry Christmas!

Hope all of you have had an amazing Christmas with friends and family! I am utterly grateful for all of your support on my blogging endeavor!

Dec 19, 2010

Obligatory Cookie Post

COOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOKIES! This is my obligatory cookie post for my blog. I wish I could say that this year was the year that I discovered some amazingly delightful cookie that took my breathe away and forever changed my world, but it didn't happen. All of these recipes were good. A few of the very good. Out of all the cookies I will definitely be making the sugar cookies, the magic cookies, the whoopie pies and the macaroons again. Oooh magic bars and graham cracker bark they are my favorite... I make the graham cracker bark with semisweet chocolate chips and crushed peppermint candies on top...NOM! I am just going to link to the recipes I used for each cookie.  I'm not claiming any of them or anything I just used them!

My cookie decorating helpers! The elves were covered in powdered sugar, frosting and other sticky things by the end of the night!

One of the cookie plates that I made for the SA to take to his bosses.  Similar plates went with me to work and we sent some of them to SA's parents as well. Not to even mention the plate that is sitting on our kitchen counter!

Garam Masala Gingerbread

Cinnamon Spiced Hot Chocolate Cookies

Brown Sugar Shortbread

sugar cookies

dulce de leche


Chocolate Krinkles

Magic Cookie Bars

Peppermint Whoopie Pies

Chocolate Chip Cookies (just use the recipe on the back of the bag! holla!)

Graham Cracker Bark

Dec 13, 2010

Daring Cooks Challenge: Poached Eggs/ Huevos Hollandaise

I was sooo not looking forward to poaching an egg.  Gross. Runny Yolks. No thank you! However, the night I made this I was craving huevos rancheros but thought I would just suck it up and make the the poach eggs (and get it over with) but it was amazzzzzzzzzing!
This recipe kind of evolved as I was making it and ended up quite over the top.  BUT OVER THE TOP TASTY!
Its kinda hard to tell in the picture but on the bottom there are my own version of borracho beans topped with a garlic toasted muffin, then a sausage patty, poached egg(I promise its there!), crumbled cotija cheese, green salsa and homemade hollandaise. (and now I am going to go work out, LOL!) It was sooooo stinking good that even my husband who detests runny eggs finished his bowl and my leftovers. The yolk was so good when it mixed in with the beans and the cheese.
HECK YES to HUEVOS HOLLANDAISE! and I've been converted!
Borracho Beans(or drunken beans)
1 pound dried pinto beans, washed

2 quarts chicken stock
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 tablespoon ground black pepper
1  can or bottle beer
1 can diced tomatoes, drained
1 white onion, diced
3 pieces of cooked bacon
6 cloves garlic, chopped
3 bay leaves
1 1/2 tablespoons dried Mexican oregano
1/2 cups chopped fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon of cumin
1 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon of cayenne

Soak beans over night in a large pot of water, or just do what I did and follow the directions on the back of the bag for a quick soak!

Drain beans, and refill the pot with chicken stock and enough water to cover the beans with 2 inches of liquid. Season with salt and pepper. Cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and cook for 1 1/2 hours.
In another skillet, cook the bacon over medium heat untill done, and remove from pan being careful to save your bacon grease, add onions and cook untill translucent.
Stir beer, tomatoes, onion, bacon, garlic, bay leaves, oregano, chili powder, cayenne, cumin and cilantro into the beans. Continue to cook uncovered for 1 hour, or until beans are tender.
With a potato masher, crush the beans slightly to thicken the bean liquid. Adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper to taste.

modified slightly from Alton Brown's Recipe
3 egg yolks

1 teapsoon water
1/4 teaspoon sugar
12 tablespoons cut into small pieces
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Pour 1-inch of water into a large saucepan; over medium heat, bring to a simmer. Once simmering, reduce the heat to low.

Place egg yolks and 1 teaspoon water in a medium mixing bowl and whisk until mixture lightens in color, approximately 1 to 2 minutes. Add the sugar and whisk for another 30 seconds.
Place the mixture over the simmering water and whisk constantly for 3 to 5 minutes.
Remove the bowl from over the pan and gradually add the butter, 1 piece at a time, and whisk until all of the butter is incorporated. If your butter isn't melting, put the bowl back over the simmering water so that it will melt. Add the salt and cayenne pepper.
I was talking to one of my friends about this recipe and he recommended after you whisk the egg yolks, water and sugar  simply pouring the mixture in a blender and adding softened butter.  I'm not sure if that would work but I think its worth a try!

Blog-checking lines: Jenn and Jill have challenged The Daring Cooks to learn to perfect the technique of poaching an egg. They chose Eggs Benedict recipe from Alton Brown, Oeufs en Meurette from Cooking with Wine by Anne Willan, and Homemade Sundried Tomato & Pine Nut Seitan Sausages (poached) courtesy of Trudy of Veggie num num.

Dec 12, 2010

A day for sweets!

Cocoa Nibs. Exotic. Ddifferent. Sexy.
They were calling my name last night at the grocery and I couldn't figure out why, but I bought them, brought them home and then enjoyed the fact that I had them---all disregarding the fact that I had no idea what I was going to make with them, have never cooked with them and was generally clueless on how to proceed. 
Today I had what I hope will become an annual cookie making party and after making a couple of dozen cookies, everyone was hungry for something a bit more substantial. Enter the lamb chops, Enter the cocoa Nibs.
OOoh yeah! This dish ended up being a great experiment.  I served it beside risotto with artichokes and tarragon a green salad and a great bottle of wine and while it wasn't sexy considering we had dinner guests it was delicious and very very very different from our normal fair!

Lamb Chops with Cocoa Nib Sauce

2 medium shallots, minced
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
4 6-ounce lamb chops
1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 to 3/4 cup white wine
1/4 cup low-sodium beef broth
1 teaspoon mustard
2 tablespoons cocoa nibs
1/4 cup Heavy cream
Pinch of sugar
Shredded basil leaves

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Grease a baking dish with cooking oil and place it on the middle oven rack.
Sprinkle the cocoa powder on a plate; use it to lightly coat both sides of the lamb chops. Lightly season both sides with salt. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the chops and cook for 2 minutes, then turn them over and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Both sides should have a slightly seared, chocolate-brown crust. Transfer the meat to the baking dish in the oven and cook for 25 minutes or until it reaches the internal temperature of 150.
With the skillet still over medium heat, add the minced shallots and cook for about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they have softened. Add the wine and broth; increase the heat to medium-high and cook for 5 minutes, until the liquid has been reduced by at least a third then stir in the mustard and cocoa nibs. Salt to taste. Cook on low for three minutes.
Turn off the oven and transfer the meat to the counter to rest.  Pour sauce over meat and top with shredded basil.

Dec 10, 2010

No... I haven't...

stopped blogging or disappeared... I am just in retail managment and you wouldn't want a recipe for most of the stuff we have been eatting on the fly! Luckily this weekend I have Sunday off and Holiday cookie making is on like donkey kong! New posts next week!