Friday, February 29, 2008

Julia Child's Daring French Bread~

WOW- talk about diving HEAD FIRST into baking bread for my very first time. I have had "bake bread" on my to do list forever. When it came time for this month's Daring Bakers Challenge, I was thrilled to see that Mary of The Sour Dough and Sarah of I Like to Cook chose French Bread....and not just any old bread recipe- but the 18-page tribute to doing it best, Julia Child's French Bread recipe from "Mastering the Art of French Cooking: Volume Two by Julia Child and Simone Beck".

So I set aside an entire day to get down and make some bread. I was so excited to tackle this challenge, I can't even put it into words! Deciding what shape to form the bread was hard, so many options, and the very first time to try any one of them! After some debating I decided to form two boules (bread bowls). The instructions/the recipe was a very descriptive one, THANK GOODNESS!!! I really appreciated all the description and was so thankful for the tips from the experience of Sarah and Mary!! To see the full recipe, visit THIS LINK courtesy of Mary. If you are ready to get inspired by some beautiful bread check out the DARING BAKER'S BLOGROLL.

Gettin' ready for the FIRST RISE..

WOO HOO!!!! Now that's RISEN!

Gettin' ready for the SECOND RISE...

Mine could have MOST DEFINITELY been more golden, and more neatly shaped & formed, but I had a blast putting the first notch in my bread-baking belt. Now the ice has been broken and I very much look forward to baking bread again and again and many, many more times after that! This is the whole reason I joined the ranks of the Daring Bakers. I feel that innovation and creativity can truly be taken to new heights by learning and trying things I never made, and whipping up something I may not have been brave enough to make time for before. So far in my 3 months as a member, I have rolled a roll cake, made meringue with confidence and now I'm BAKING BREAD!!! I look forward to this years challenges, and can not wait to see what is up next!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Nate's 8-Spice Chicken

I am naming this 8-spice chicken because he used Chinese 5 spice, plus some ginger, plus some garlic powder, and rubbed it with Garlic Chili Sauce (which I know is not really a spice on it's own, more of a SAUCE really, but hey, I'm calling it an 8th spice).

This is an easy weeknight dinner with TONS of taste and not too bad for you either!

Here is what you'll need

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts (rinse and pat dry)
3 T. garlic chili sauce
2-3 tsp. Chinese 5 Spice
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp garlic powder

Mix the dry spices together and rub all over the chicken breasts. Then rub the garlic chili sauce over both chicken breasts. Grill about 7 minutes each side or until cooked all the way through.
We had this with a baked sweet potato and some steamed green beans. TA-DAAAAA! :)

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Tuesdays With Dorie~Pecan Sour Cream Biscuits

WHEW!!! I almost didn't make it this week, but the recipe really sounded way too good to miss out on. I came runnin' home from work Monday night and in the wink of an eye I had some fabulously delicious biscuits on my kitchen table, posing for their close up!! I'd like to shout-out a SUPER HUGE THANKS to ASHLEY over at eat me, delicious for choosing an EXCELLENT recipe for this weeks edition of TUESDAYS WITH DORIE*. I hosted a shower with my mom this weekend so my cookin' time was pretty spent and I nearly missed out on participating this week. Thankfully Erin picked a spectacular recipe that did not take too much prep time, and I was able to come home and make biscuits before Nate arrived home from work! I have been dying to make some biscuits for quite a while. My friend Lisa got me a fabulous gift this Christmas, a subscription to both Gourmet and Bon Appetite magazines!! The first issue I received was all about delicious Southern goodness. I thought about making biscuits, because they had some great recipes and Nate and I are both big biscuit fans. As of this week I had still not come around to making any of those recipes- so I gave this one a whirl, and it ROCKS!!

Another grand thing about this recipe is that you can make the dough, cut the biscuits, then they can be stored in the freezer for up to 2 months! Awesome!!!
I didn't have a biscuit cutter so I used a wine glass, then I thought I'd make some mini biscuits too! They were spectacular, I am a HUGE fan of this recipe!!

Pecan Sour Cream Biscuits
(Makes about 12 biscuits)
Dorie Greenspan's Baking; From My Home to Yours

2 cups all-purpose flour (or 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour and 1/3 cup cake flour)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup (packed) light brown sugar
5 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 10 pieces
1/2 cup cold sour cream
1/4 cold whole milk I used non-fat
1/3 cup finely chopped pecans, preferably toasted

Getting Ready: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Get out a sharp 2-inch-diameter biscuit cutter and line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone mat.

Whisk the flour(s), baking powder, salt, and baking soda together in a bowl. Stir in the brown sugar, making certain there are no lumps. Drop in the butter and, using your fingers, toss to coat the pieces of butter with flour. Quickly, working with your fingertips (my favorite method) or a pastry blender, cut and rub the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture is pebbly. You'll have pea-size pieces, pieces the size of oatmeal flakes and pieces the size of everything in between-- and that's just right.

Stir the sour cream and milk together and pour over the dry ingredients. Grab a fork and gently toss and turn the ingredients together until you've got a nice soft dough. Now reach into the bowl with your hands and give the dough a quick gentle kneading-- 3 or 4 turns should be just enough to bring everything together. Toss in the pecans and knead 2 to 3 times to incorporate them.

Lightly dust a work surface with flour and turn out the dough. Dust the top of the dough very lightly with flour, pat the dough out with your hands or toll it with a pin until it is about 1/2 inch high. Don't worry if the dough isn't completely even-- a quick, light touch is more important than accuracy.
Use the biscuit cutter to cut out as many biscuits as you can. Try to cut the biscuits close to one another so you get the most you can out of the first round. By hand or with a small spatula, transfer the biscuits to the baking sheet.

Gather together the scraps, working with them as little as possible, pat out to a 1/2-inch thickness and cut as many additional biscuits as you can; transfer these to the sheet. (The biscuits ca be made to this point and frozen on the baking sheet, then wrapped airtight and kept for up to 2 months. Bake without defrosting-- just add a couple more minutes to the oven time.)

Bake the biscuits for 14-18 minutes, or until they are tall, puffed and golden brown. Transfer them to a serving basket.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Tuesdays With Dorie~ Almost Fudge Gateau

I have been admiring the weekly dishes of the Tuesdays with Dorie Group . Each week the group bakes a recipe (chosen by a different member each week) while baking through Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan . This week is my first go at it, I LOVE the book and can't wait to bake as many of the delicious dishes as I can keep up with. This weeks recipe was chosen by Nikki of Crazy Delicious.

I made this on Sunday afternoon and aside from my eggs being a little annoying to deal with, I think the prep went really well. I baked it for 40 minutes, which I think was just a minute too long, as the knife came out clean and not "streaked with chocolate".

Visit all the fabulous Gateau's made by the growing members of TWD by clicking HERE
I wasn't sure if I was going to make the glaze or not and before I knew it, I realized it was after 10pm, and I wanted to taste it, so I just topped mine with some powdered sugar.

Almost Fudge Gateau
By: Dorie Greenspan
p 218-219 of Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan

5 large eggs
9 oz coarsely chopped bittersweet chocolate
1 cup sugar
5 T. unsalted butter, cut into chunks
2 T. coffee or water
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
pinch of salt

For the Glaze (optional)
4 oz coarsely chopped bittersweet chocolate
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tsp. light corn syrup

Center a rack in the oven and pre-heat to 350. Butter a 9-inch spring form pan, line the bottom with parchment paper, butter the paper, dust the inside of the pan with flour and tap out the excess. Place the pan on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat.
Separate the eggs putting the whites in a mixer bowl and the yolks in a small bowl.
Set a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and add the chocolate, sugar, butter and coffee. Stir occasionally until chocolate and butter are melted; the sugar may be grainy, but that is fine. Transfer the bowl to the counter and let stand 3 minutes.
Using a rubber spatula, stir in the yolks one by one, then fold in the flour.
Working with the whisk attachment of the mixer or a hand mixer, beat the egg whites with the pinch of salt until they form firm but glossy peaks.
Using the spatula, stir about one quarter of the beaten whites into the batter, then gently fold in the rest. Scrape the batter into the pan and jiggle the pan from side to side a couple of times to even the batter.
Bake for 35-45 minutes, or until the cake has risen evenly (it might rise around the edges and you'll think it's done, but give it a few minutes more, and the center will puff too) and the top has firmed (it will probably be cracked) and doesn't shimmy when tapped; a thin knife inserted into the center should be slightly streaked with chocolate. Transfer the pan to a cooling rack and let the cake rest for 5 to 10 minutes. Run a blunt knife around the edges of the cake and remove the sides of the pan. Carefully turn the cake over onto a rack and remove the pan bottom and parchment paper. Invert the cake onto another rack and cool to room temprature right side up. As the cake cools, it may sink.

To Make the Optional Glaze:
4 oz. bittersweet chocolate
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tsp. light corn syrup

Turn the cooled cake onto another rack so you'll be glazing the flat bottom, and place the rack over a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or wax paper to catch any drips.
Put the chocolate in a small heatproof bowl. Melt the chocolate over a pan of simmering water, the chocolate should be just melted and only warm, not hot. Meanwhile bring the cream to a boil in a small saucepan. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and stir very gently with a rubber spatula until the mixture is smooth and shiny. Stir in the corn syrup. Pour the glaze over the cake and smooth the top with a long metal icing spatula...."

I got lazy and just topped it with some powdered sugar- this was SOOO good though it is moist and rich and fantastic all by itself.

I am so happy to be part of the fabulous TWD group and can't wait for next week~

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Creme Brulee~

This is one of my all time favorite deserts, but one I have never attempted to make on my own at home! We got a blowtorch at Thanksgiving to caramelize our HAM and we've been looking forward to another blowtorch recipe. Creme brulee is a pretty obvious one when you are thinking of ways to bring the blowtorch into the kitchen so I ordered some cute little dishes from Crate & Barrel and did some digging for a good first-go-round Creme Brulee recipe. I found Alton Brown's recipe HERE on the food network website.
This was a very simple recipe and Creme Brulee turned out to be an easy thing to make, thank goodness!!

Alton Brown's Creme Brulee
(I cut this recipe in half and it filled 4 dishes 5-inch diameter x 1-inch height, not sure how many oz. they are)

1 quart heavy cream
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
1 cup vanilla sugar, divided (I used regular sugar and 1/4 tsp vanilla extract mixed)
6 large egg yolks
2 quarts hot water

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Place the cream, vanilla bean and its pulp into a medium saucepan set over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat, cover and allow to sit for 15 minutes. Remove the vanilla bean and reserve for another use.

In a medium bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup sugar and the egg yolks until well blended and it just starts to lighten in color. Add the cream a little at a time, stirring continually. Pour the liquid into 6 (7 to 8-ounce) ramekins. Place the ramekins into a large cake pan or roasting pan. Pour enough hot water into the pan to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake just until the creme brulee is set, but still trembling in the center, approximately 40 to 45 minutes. Remove the ramekins from the roasting pan and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 3 days.

Remove the creme brulee from the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes prior to browning the sugar on top. Divide the remaining 1/2 cup vanilla sugar (I just used regular sugar) equally among the 6 dishes and spread evenly on top. Using a torch, melt the sugar and form a crispy top. Allow the creme brulee to sit for at least 5 minutes before serving.

This was SO yummy! I mixed some frozen raspberries with a little honey and put those on top. The next time we plan to have a dinner party these will for sure be on the menu, especially since you can get up to the refrigerator step and leave the brulee in over night. (Then just take them out to sit as soon as the main course is served).

Monday, February 11, 2008

Scallop Cabbage Salad

Well, not the prettiest photos I have ever taken, but definitely a delicious, healthy dinner that we both loved!!
We're trying to get in a healthier groove, so after a trip to one of our favorite Japanese markets here in LA, we came up with this veggie-packed Sunday dinner.

Scallop Cabbage Salad
For 2
By Nate & Beth

1 pkg (3-4 individual) Sushi-grade large scallops
Low-sodium soy sauce
1 orange, sliced into 1/4s
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1/2 sweet white onion, peeled & chopped
1/4 chopped green cabbage
1/4 chopped purple cabbage
2-3 radishes sliced
Chopped or shredded carrots
1 T olive or sesame oil

Toss together chopped cabbages, radishes & carrots.
In a large skillet on medium heat olive oil, add onions and garlic and stir for about 5 minutes or until onions soften a bit. Add a tsp of soy sauce and the juice of 1/4 of the orange. Sautee about 7-10 minutes and let juices combine and onion/garlic mix caramelize a bit. Very lightly season scallops with kosher salt on both sides and add to pan, and squeeze the juice of 1/4 orange over them. Cook 4 minutes then flip, squeeze another 1/4 orange over and cook another 4 minutes. Stir and simmer everything another 2-3 minutes. Divide cabbage mix between 2 salad bowls, and use a slotted spoon to pile the garlic, onions and scallops on top. Drizzle the extra juices over the salad and serve with an orange slice on the side! (you can also use a little salad dressing if you want, or top with sesame seeds).

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Crock Pot French Dip Sandwiches

These are soooo delicious, and yet another reason why the crock pot is so fantastic. This is an old recipe that comes from my mom's favorite crock pot cookbook Crock It, By:Barbara Murray I'm looking forward to trying more recipes from this book, but I don't own it yet, I just call my mom and have her read me recipes. ;) It is on my "purchase ASAP list". We had these yummy French Dip Sandwiches at my mom's house not too long ago, I had been thinking about making them ever since, especially because this recipe is much better in a 5.5 qt crock pot than in the 2.5 qt crock pot I rocked until this Christmas ;)

Crock pot French Dip Sandwiches
Source : Crock It Cookbook by Barbara Murray
Serves 4-6

3 lb boneless beef chuck roast
1 pkg Mushroom/onion soup mix
1 10oz can of beef broth + 1 can of H2O
French rolls or sour dough bread

In a medium bowl whisk together the broth, water and soup mix. Trim any excess fat off of the meat. Add meat to crock pot, then pour broth & soup over it.
Cook on low 6-8 hours. Remove meat to a large bowl or plate using a slotted spoon. Use two forks to shred up the meat & remove any excess fat. Toast the bread and make sandwiches with the beef (we added some horseradish to them) serve with a bowl of the au jus from the crock pot for dippin'.