Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Blueberry Coconut Ice Cream

Ice Cream is good and almost everyone likes it. I have a very loved Cuisinart ice cream maker that I use quite often. So often, in fact, that I have 4 freezer bowls for it. I like to have ice cream as dessert if we're having friends over for dinner in the summer and I like to have more than one flavor. Last year my husband and I really thought about opening a hand-crafted ice cream shop. I did all the research and we learned that we would be the first company who's actually making ice cream from scratch -every other ice cream company in the state uses a ready-made mix. These mixes scare me; who knows what fillers and preservatives are found in them. Anyway, for many reasons, we chose to put this idea on hold, but, the experimenting with flavors sure was fun and that's what led me to own 4 freezer bowls.

This week's Tuesdays With Dorie recipe was Blueberry Sour Cream Ice Cream, chosen by Chronicles in Culinary Curiosity. I was serving a Hawaiian themed dinner and blueberries don't really fit into anything tropical so I tweaked the recipe a little. I replaced the heavy cream with coconut milk, I used lime juice and lemon zest and I decreased the amount of sour cream to 1/2 cup. I thought about adding a little candied ginger or some shredded coconut but I decided to keep them out- I didn't want to play with the recipe too much. Blueberries still aren't tropical, but who cares- I've been enjoying them more this summer than ever before.

This ice cream recipe is an easy one as it doesn't involve making a custard first. That process produces my favorite kinds of ice cream- super rich and creamy ones. This recipe is simple and still makes something really good and in a shorter amount of time.

If you want to try an easy, delicious ice cream that doesn't take too much time to prepare, try this one. It's worth it!

Blueberry Coconut Sour Cream Ice Cream

Adapted from Dorie Greenspan's Baking From My Home To Yours

1 cup of blueberries- fresh or frozen

1/3 cup sugar

pinch salt

1 teaspoon lime or lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon lime or lemon zest

3/4 cup of coconut milk

1/2 cup of sour cream

Place blueberries, sugar, lime or lemon juice and zest in a non-reactive saucepan (I use stainless) and cook on medium heat about 3 minutes. The blueberries should soften and pop and the sugar should dissolve.

Put blueberry mixture into a blender, or food processor and whir away until you have a fairly consistent mix- this should take no more than a minute. Add the milk and sour cream and pulse until it is incorporated.

Chill the mixture in the refrigerator for a couple of hours before you churn it in your ice cream maker.

Smile and enjoy.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Island Fever

Tonight we ate macadami crusted ono, with mango and pineapple salsa, coconut rice and spicy broccoli and bok choy. It was a fabulous dinner that we enjoyed on the coffee table while watching the Olympics.

We were married on the island of Kauai last year and our friends, Pam and Mike, gave us a great Hawaiian cookbook, written by Sam Choy, as a wedding gift. Tonight's the first night we're breaking it in.

Of course, we couldn't get our hands on any Hawaiian caught Ono (also called Wahoo), but I don't care. This fish is so good- it is firm and white and is perfect for crusting with something. Halibut could be substituted as well- you could even use something like Tilapia or even chicken.

Macadami Crusted Ono
adapted from Sam Choy's Hawaii's Favorite Recipes

4 6 oz. fillets

1/8 cup olive oil

1 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced

1 teaspoon garlic, minced

salt and pepper to taste

1/2 cup cracker crumbs or Panko flakes

1/2 cup butter, softened

1/4 cup macadamia nuts, chopped

1 tablespoon fresh herbs of your choice

1 teaspoon paprika

salt and pepper to taste

Marinate fish in the olive oil, ginger, garlic, salt and pepper for at least 1/2 hour

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine all other ingredients to make your breading. Divide the mixture into 4 portions and pat the portion on both sides of each fillet. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until topping is crisp and brown.

Top with fruit salsa, recipe below.

Pineapple-Mango Salsa

3 tablespoons sugar

1 1/2 tablespoonse lemon or lime juice, or vinegar

pinch of red pepper flakes, or one seeded jalapeno, chopped

pinch cumin

1 medium mango, diced

1/2 pineapple, diced

1/2 small red onion, diced

2 tablespoons cilantro

Mix sugar, juice/vinegar, chili flakes and cumin until sugar dissolves. Fold in remaining ingredients and chill.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Summer Fruit Galette

This week's Tuesday's With Dorie recipe was a Summer Fruit Galette. It was chosen by Michelle in Colorado Springs -thanks Michelle!

I was so lucky with my choice of fruit- I was able to use huckleberries that I had picked that morning, rhubarb cut from my friend's garden the night before, and cherries dropped off that morning from another friend's orchard. The fruit couldn't have been more local or fresh. How perfect was that?

Last year, I joined the Slow Food Movement. It is an organization that was started in Italy and is devoted to the art of eating slow food (not literally chewing slowly, but eating food that is the exact opposite of fast food) and eating locally. Slow Food is about knowing your farmer, following the path your food has traveled in order to be on your plate, savoring flavors and simplicity, eating what is in season, organic when possible and most of all, eating consciously. Slow Food does not focus just on organic, because truthfully organic is not always the solution. I say that because organic asparagus in the dead of winter, flown from New Zealand, should not be purchased. It won't taste good, I assure you, and the carbon footprint on those asparagus stalks is just awful to think about. The solution isn't clear and it isn't easy when it comes to this conundrum. Is it better to buy local greens, picked that morning from a local farmer, who isn't certified organic, than the big tub of Earthbound Farms organic greens from your local Costco? It is a difficult choice and I choose the farmer, but admittedly I do undertand if you're choosing Costco. If you want to learn more, try reading Michael Pollan's book, The Omnivore's Dilemma or Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. I consider them must-reads for everyone.

So, enough of that and onto this week's choice. I love making galettes! They are rustic, easy, and delicious. Dorie Greenspan's recipe called for a custard filling, which was interesting to try, but I probably won't use it again. I was able to use the freshest of fruit and I didn't really want to mask the bright flavors of them with a custard. Perhaps in the winter, when frozen berries will be used, the custard will find it's way back into the galette.

Dorie calls for a sprinkle of crushed graham crackers over the inside, bottom of the galette. I used crushed savoirdi cookies (the kind used in Tiramisu) instead of graham crackers. They are really crispy and light and work really well. I also tossed my fruit with a little lemon zest and about a tablespoon of sugar to offset the tartness of the rhubarb and the huckleberries.

Dorie Greenspan's recipe for pie crust is a breeze to work with. I've said it before, but I must say it again- if you're going to use shortening, try to use the healthiest ones out there. My go-to is Spectrum Organic Shortening . It is made with organic palm oil and is trans-fat free. Stay away from Crisco! The crust is mostly made with butter, which makes it really taste good. I usually use an all butter dough as I prefer to sacrifice some of the flakiness for more flavor and butter just always seems healthier than shortening, even if it is organic.

Here is the recipe as written in the book. My changes were slight- I used cherries, huckleberries and rhubarb (unpeeled) and added some sugar and lemon zest to the fruit. I used a huckleberry jam too, which is spread on the bottom, just below the cookie crumbs.

Dorie Greenspan's Summer Fruit Galette

from Baking From My Home to Yours

What you'll need:
  • Good For Almost Everything Pie Dough for a single crust-see recipe below

  • 2-3 tablespoons jam or marmalade, chilled

  • about 2 tablespoons graham cracker crumbs

  • Fresh summer fruit: about 10 apricots, 8-10 nectarines, 8 ripe but firm peaches, 8-10 firm plums or 2 stalks rhubarb

  • Decorating (coarse) or granulated sugar, for dusting-raw sugar is my choice

  • Custard- see recipe below

For the Custard:
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled

  • 1/3 cup sugar

  • 1 large egg

  • ¼ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Mix all the above ingredients together and set aside

For the Pie Crust:

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

  • 2 tablespoons sugar

  • 3/4 tsp salt

  • 1 1/4 sticks very cold unsalted butter, cut into tbsp size pieces

  • 2 1/2 tablespoons very cold vegetable shortening, cut into 2 pieces

  • About 1/4 cup ice water

Put the flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor fitted with a metal blade, pulse just to combine the ingredients.

Drop in the butter and shortening and pulse only until the butter and shortening are cut into the flour. Don’t overdo the mixing- what you’re aiming for is to have some pieces the size of fat green peas and others the size of barley.

Pulsing the machine on and off, gradually add about 6 tbsps of the water- add a little water and pulse once, add some more water, pulse again and keep going that way. Then use a few long pulses to get the water into the flour. If, after a dozen or so pulses, the dough doesn’t look evenly moistened or form soft curds, pulse in as much of the remaining water as necessary, or even a few drops more, to get a dough that will stick together when pinched. Big pieces of butter are fine.

Scrape the dough out of the bowl and onto a work surface. Shape the dough into a disk and wrap it. Refrigerate the dough for at least 1 hour before rolling (if your ingredients were very cold and you worked quickly, though, you might be able to roll the dough immediately: the dough should be as cold as if it had just come out of the fridge).

Putting it Together/Creating your Galette:

Center rack in the oven and preheat to oven to 425 degrees F.

Line a baking sheet with parchment (see below) or a silicone mat.

To make it easier to move the pie dough onto the baking sheet, roll the dough between sheets of parchment paper ( in which case, you can use one of the rolling sheets to line the baking sheet) or wax paper or plastic wrap.

Alternatively, work on a well-floured surface, taking care to keep the dough moving by turning it and flouring the surface often.Roll the dough into a large 1/8 inch thick circle.

Using a pastry wheel or a paring knife, time the dough to a 13 inch diameter. Feel free to approximate this-I did.

Using a cake pan or a pot lid as a template and the tip of a blunt kitchen knife as a marker, lightly trace a 9 inch circle in the center of the dough- this is the area for the filling.

With the back of a spoon or a small offset spatula, spread some of the jam over the circle- how much will depend of the jam flavor you want.

Sprinkle over the crumbs, adding a little more than 2 tablespoons if you think you’ve got particularly juicy fruit.

Put a piece of plastic wrap or wax paper over the dough and refrigerate it while you prepare the fruit.

Wipe the apricots, nectarines or plums clean with a damp towel and cut in half; discard the pits. Blanch peaches for 10 seconds in a pot of boiling water, transfer them to a bowl of ice water to cool, then slip off the skins.

Halve and pit the peaches or peel rhubarb to remove the strings, and cut into 1 to 2 inch pieces (if your rhubarb is young and thin, you do not need to peel it).

Arrange the fruit on the dough, cut side down if using stone fruits, then gently lift the unfilled border of dough up and onto the filling. As you lift the dough and place it on the filling, it will pleat. If you’re not in a rush, freeze the galette for 15 minutes to give the crust a rest.

Brush the dough very lightly with a little water, then sprinkle it with a teaspoon or two of sugar.

Bake galette for 25 minutes, or until the crust is brown and the fruit is soft.

When the initial 25 minutes or so of baking is up, remove the baking sheet from the oven (leave the oven on), and carefully pour the custard around the fruit. Depending one how much juice has accumulated and how much space you have between the fruit, you may not be able to pour all the custard into the galette, but even 2 tablespoons can give the right effect. Pour in as much custard as you can, then carefully return the pan to the oven. Bake for another 12 to 15 minutes, or until the custard is set- it shouldn’t jiggle when you gently shake the pan.

Cool the galette on the baking sheet on a rack for 10 minutes.Very carefully slide a small baking sheet or cake lifter under the galette and slip the galette onto a rack to cool. The galette can be served when it is just warm or- my preference- when it has reached room temperature. Dust with confectioners' sugar just before serving.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

For Sarah

My co-worker Sarah asked me to make cupcakes for her kiddie party that she was hosting. It was fun to think about and a fun project to make. I made basic chocolate and vanilla cupcakes, with a vanilla buttercream, all filled with vanilla pudding. I also made a small batch of coconut frosted ones, because when I was a child, that was my first flavor choice.

Hope you liked them Sarah!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes

Have you seen or heard of this book- Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day? It is sweeping the nation! (That sounds so dramatic and it's only about bread. I love it.) I'm a believer but first I must admit that I wasn't at first.

Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes you ask? Yes. Yes. Yes. This basic recipe is so easy to make. Any of you can do it! I made the recipe below, and added about 1/2 cup of sunflower seeds as well as about 2 Tablespoons of honey. It was really good but not the prettiest, I'll agree. My photo makes it look burnt, but I assure you it wasn't. It was crunchy on the outside and warm and soft on the inside. I have a feeling that my method and the appearance will both improve with each try.

I bought the book and it is filled with bread recipes, including brioche, challah, and pannettone. So, if you find yourself with 5 extra minutes on your hands this week, try this and be sure to let me know how it goes. If, however, it is 90 degrees outside do not turn that oven on-this bread can wait for a more temperate time.

Basic Artisan Bread Recipe

Recipe adapted from Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day

3 cups lukewarm water
1 1/2 tbsp granulated yeast
1 1/2 tbsp coarse salt
6 1/2 cups unsifted, unbleached, all purpose flour

1. Add yeast and salt to water in a large 5 quart container or bowl.

2. Mix in the flour with a wooden spoon or a mixer fitted with a dough hook until mixture is uniform. If you are hand mixing and it becomes difficult to incorporate all the flour with spoon, you can use wet hands to press mixture together, but do not knead.

3. Cover with a non-airtight lid and let rise approximately 2 hours until it rises and flattens. At this point, you can stick the dough in the fridge and let it stay in there for close to 2 weeks! the last loaf we made tasted even better than the first.

4. Sprinkle dough with flour and cut off a grapefruit sized piece, add a little more flour if needed to prevent dough from sticking to hands and stretch surface of dough around to bottom turning as you go to form a ball.

5. Let dough rest 40 minutes. Preheat oven to 450F and place an empty broiler tray on bottom rack.

6. Dust dough with flour and slash with a serrated knife to make a criss cross or scalloped pattern. Put dough in the oven and quickly pour 1 cup of hot water in the broiler tray and shut the door. Bake for 30 minutes or until the crust is nicely browned and firm to the touch.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Summer Fruits Pie

I was supposed to make a double crusted blueberry pie (doesn't that sound so good?) for this past week's Tuesday's With Dorie recipe. The issue was, I still had rhubarb, and a big bag of frozen huckleberries, so this AMAZING pie became a huckeberry-blueberry-rhubarb pie. I know the huckleberries were frozen, and I didn't have to use them, but I wanted to. I really wanted to. Our huckleberry picking season starts in about a month and I have plans to pick gallons and gallons this year. There are no huckleberry farms. These small, purple berries only grow in the wild and sometimes they are a bear to pick (you can run into bears too while you pick them which is not my idea of a good time). I did choose to add fresh blueberries as well and the combination of the 3 was sublime.

The fact that the pie was absolutely delicious made up for the fact that it was not the prettiest. It was hot here the day I made it. Too hot to be dealing with buttery crust. I made an amateur move and put the pie in the oven, with the soft, melty dough, when what I really should have done is popped it into the freezer to firm it up; the crust drooped and looked awful, but it tasted so good. So good in fact that a friend and I may begin to sell these at a farmer's market in town.

I used Dorie's exact recipe for the crust. It calls for both butter and shortening and thankfully the butter ratio outweighs the shortening. Butter will give it a delicous flavor and the bit of shortening gives it a flakiness that can't be beat. I don't usually cook or bake with shortening, but when I do, I make sure to use the organic shortening by Spectrum from the health food store. Pick some up and try it- it's not as smooth and creamy as that disgusting Crisco, but the tradeoff is way better. Dorie's crust was perfect. Flaky and buttery and light- exactly how it should be.

To see the full recipe for this week's Double Crusted Blueberry Pie, check out Amy's blog, South in your Mouth.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Fruit Cobbler-No, Fruit Crisp- Yes!

Okay, so I tweaked this week's Tuesday's With Dorie recipe so much that I turned it into a different recipe, which essentially is breaking the rules and I hate to do that. The thing is, Dorie's recipe said no strawberries and that's what I had, strawberries- beautiful, sweet, organic strawberries that were calling out to be used. I also had been given a garbage sized bag of rhubarb. So, strawberry and rhubarb- what's a girl to do? We were taking the dessert to a friends house for dinner- this was our first invitation over and I did not want my dessert to flop. After reading the many posts about the cobbler topping being a little lackluster, I had to make the switch- you understand right? It was the pressure of the dinner party and the strawberries and rhubarb calling out to me- I just couldn't say no. Once I made the decision, I felt completely relieved as I like crisp better than cobbler anyway. Lucky me, I also had a huge bag of frozen huckleberries in my freezer. We're entering this year's huckleberry season, so it's time to use the old ones up. They made the crisp a beautiful, vibrant purple and the dessert vanished quickly. Blueberries would also work for this, fresh or frozen. Served warm, with a scoop of ice cream, this was the perfect dessert to share with friends while sitting in a log cabin in the woods during a huge thunderstorm.

This week's actual Tuesdays With Dorie recipe was Mixed Berry Cobbler, chosen by Beth. You can view the recipe for the cobbler on her site Our Sweet Life

Strawberry-Rhubarb-Huckleberry Crisp
Adapted from Dorie Greenspan's Baking From My Home to Yours

This fruit-cobbler-turned-fruit-crisp came out amazingly good!

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup (packed) light brown sugar
3/4 cup old-fashioned oats
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
Pinch of salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts
zest of 1 lemon
1 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled

1 pound (4-5 medium stalks) rhubarb, trimmed and peeled and sliced into 1/2 inch pieces
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 cup cold water
2 cups strawberries, hulled and sliced
1 cup huckleberries (use more strawberries or rhubarb if you don't have hucks)
1 cup sugar
1 T lemon juice
pinch salt

Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 350ºF. Put a nonreactive 9-inch square baking pan on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicon mat. Alternatively, you can use individual ramekins. These are great to serve at a dinner party.

Put the flour, brown sugar, oats, lemon zest, salt, and cinnamon in a large bowl and sift the ingredients through your fingers to blend them, be on the lookout for lumps in the brown sugar. Mix in the nuts and then pour over the melted butter. Using a fork, stir the ingredients until they are thoroughly moistened. Spoon half the mixture into the pan and pat it down lightly to form a thick crust. Set the remainder aside for the topping.

For the filling:

Dissolve the cornstarch in the cold water; set aside.
Put the strawberries,rhubarb, sugar, and lemon juice in a medium saucepan and, with a fork, pastry blender, or potato masher, crush the berries. Place the pan over medium heat and, stirring occasionally, bring the mixture to a full boil. Pour the dissolved cornstarch into the pan and, stirring with a whisk, bring everything back to a boil. Now add the huckleberries. Keep cooking and stirring until the fruit filling is thick and no longer cloudy, about 3 minutes. Pull the pan from the heat, and pour the filling in the prepared dish. Scatter the remaining crisp mix over the filling.

Slide the crisp into the oven and bake for 60 minutes for the large crisp, or about 35 for the individual ramekins, or until the topping is golden and the strawberry jam is bubbling up all around the edges. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool until only just warm or at room temperature. Serve with freshly whipped cream or your favorite ice cream.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Cupcakes for a Good Cause

I attended our local Relay For Life walk tonight. If you aren't familiar with Relay, it's a cancer walk that happens all over the country and lasts the whole night. Its extremely moving. The weather was perfect and the spirits were high; we couldn't have asked for a better night.

I work for a bank and we host a cake walk every year at the Relay event. It gives the kids something fun to do, and we all know that sugar can sometimes turn a frown upside down. Since the cupcakes were for kids, I opted to go for a bright rainbow look and frosted them red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple. They came out looking good and the kids snatched them right up.

I used a simple white cake recipe and an easy American buttercream. The fun part was dyeing the frosting and choosing the sprinkles for the top!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Peppermint Cream Puffs! Hooray!

This weeks Tuesdays With Dorie recipe was a fun one.

I love cream puffs. Always have. Eclairs too, of course. Lucky for me, I visited an old friend over the weekend to explore her beautiful gardens in town and to dig up some of her mint. I came home with close to a square foot of mint, roots and all, which I promptly put in one of my whiskey barrel planters. There will be no flowers in that planter this year, if the mint decides to live! Fresh mint is one of my favorite herbs to have on hand. I live in Montana, and our growing season is short; those adorable window herb gardens that many of you have just don't make it through the winters here. I also came home with a bag of salad greens, a square foot of oregano (filling another whiskey barrel)and some radishes. What a wonderful gift on a Sunday morning.

So, the cream puff ring, although beautiful, wasn't practical for me to make this week. I converted them to puffs and packed them up to share today. One container will go to my coworkers and the other container will go to a board meeting I have to attend. I sit on the board for our region's Head Start school- what an important organization Head Start is! Our board meetings tend to be long and occur during prime lunch time. These should help us all get through the meeting as there's nothing like a sugar high to keep you going.

I followed this recipe really closely. The only changes I made were:
1. I left one yolk out
2. I beat the eggs together beforehand in a measuring cup
3. I allowed the paste to cool for a bit before adding the eggs
4. I slowly streamed the egg mixture in while the mixer was running
5. I used Agave Nectar to sweeten the chocolate glaze

They came out crisp and wonderful. Some prettier than others, of course, but that's the beauty of the puff!

I've been too busy frolicking in the sunshine to post lately. Finally, summer has arrived here in Montana. Just last week, we had a FREAK snow storm. Yes, that's right, snow. While you guys on the east coast were burning up in the heat, and the poor midwesterners were/are dealing with the terrible floods, we were dealing with snow. In June. What a winter it has been.

My husband and I picked up our permit to go Morel mushroom picking this week. I can't wait. Morel's are so delicious and they are going off like crazy right now. These tend to show up in areas that burned the year before and last year we dealt with a big forest fire nearby. So, it's off to the woods we go to forage. Hopefully, I'll take some photos of the pasta I plan on making before we devour it.

Thanks Dorie Greenspan, for another wonderful, homey, inspiring dessert. I have a feeling I'll be buying some extra love today with them! Thanks also to Caroline of A Consuming Passion- you can view the entire recipe on her site.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Ooh La La! French Chocolate Hazelnut Brownies

This week's Tuesdays With Dorie recipe was chosen by Di of Di's Kitchen Notebook. Thank's Di!

Mmm mmm. These French Brownies were good. Admittedly, I didn't completely follow Dorie's recipe, but I think she'll understand. I elected to amp up mine by omitting the raisins and adding extra cinnamon, toasted hazelnuts and Nutella to my batter. They are truly delicous.

I don't drink coffee very often anymore, and when I do it has to be decaf and unsweetened, but back in my days as a barista, one of the latte flavors I liked best was hazelnut cinnamon. If you're a sweet latte drinker (a dying breed, which is a good thing really) you must try yours like this. Make sure to top your milk foam with cinnamon sprinkles as well. Oh, and tip your barista if they are nice and make you a good drink!

Some of you likened the original recipe with flambed raisins to Raisinettes. I LOVE Raisinettes (people only eat these at the movies, right?), but I didn't have the rum and I have a husband who is not a raisin fan. I don't like to bake anything that he won't eat because I end up making up for his abstinence by eating more and this is not the season to be fooling around with extra, extra calories. One serving of rich, hazelnut brownies are just enough.

I know I'll make this recipe again-it was so easy and produced a delicious brownie. After the "photo shoot" I left 3 out, then I wrapped the rest of these up and threw them in the freezer. They've joined cupcakes, flourless chocolate cake, and chocolate lava cakes. I like having a freezer full of this stuff as they are perfect mix ins for ice cream when you have that burning need on any given night for a treat. Plus, brownies defrost wonderfully. In fact, as an update, after seeing Sex and the City on Sunday, and proceeding to drink too much wine back at my house with my girl friends, these already came and went. Au Revoir French Brownies!!Thanks for being there waiting for us when we really needed you after too much wine on a work night.

So, go ahead and splurge. If you're like me and you have a big Costco bottle of Nutella or any other chocolate hazelnut spread sitting in your pantry, I recommend you try the recipe my way. The Nutella added a delicous boost in chocolate flavor as well as extra richness.

French Chocolate Hazelnut Brownies
Adapted from Baking From My Home to Yours


1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon cinnamon
6 ounces good bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (I used Scharffen Berger 60%)
1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons; 6 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into 12 pieces
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
3/4 Cup Nutella
2 Tablespoons Frangelico (optional)
3/4 Cup chopped toasted hazelnuts
powdered sugar for dusting

Getting ready: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 300°F. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with foil, butter and flour the foil, place the pan on a baking sheet, and set aside.

Whisk together the flour, salt and cinnamon, if you're using it.

Put the chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Slowly and gently melt the chocolate, stirring occasionally. Remove the bowl from the saucepan and add the butter, Frangelico and Nutella, stirring until it melts. It's important that the chocolate and butter not get very hot. However, if the butter is not melting, you can put the bowl back over the still-hot water for a minute. If you've got a couple of little bits of unmelted butter, leave them—it's better to have a few bits than to overheat the whole. Set the chocolate aside for the moment. Alternatively, you may choose to melt the chocolate in the microwave on half power, stirring regularly.

Working with a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the eggs and sugar until they are thick and pale, about 2 minutes. Lower the mixer speed and pour in the chocolate-butter, mixing only until it is incorporated—you'll have a thick, creamy batter. Add the dry ingredients and mix at low speed for about 30 seconds—the dry ingredients won't be completely incorporated and that's fine. Finish folding in the dry ingredients by hand with a rubber spatula, then fold in the hazelnuts.

Scrape the batter into the pan and bake 50 to 60 minutes, or until the top is dry and crackled and a knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Halfway through the baking time, rotate the pan in the oven.

Transfer the pan to a rack and allow the brownies to cool to warm or room temperature.

Carefully lift the brownies out of the pan, using the foil edges as handles, and transfer to a cutting board. With a long-bladed knife, cut the brownies into 16 squares, each roughly 2 inches on a side, taking care not to cut through the foil. Dust with powdered sugar if you'd like.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Pecan Honey Sticky Buns, Tuesdays With Dorie

Tuesdays With Dorie you've done it again. Another deadline which means another sweet treat to concoct in record time because of course, these Tuesdays sure do sneak up on me. The Tuesday after a Memorial Day weekend spent away from home sneaks up even faster.

I have to give this recipe another shot. The thing with delicious, nutty, gooey treats like these is that they CANNOT BE RUSHED.

Check back for this recipe redo. Dont' worry sticky buns, I'll be back-just not after a 12 hour drive in the car from Portland Oregon to NW Montana with my husband and 2 dogs. Next time I'll be more coherent and less road weary and I will then master you.

The recipe, from Dorie Greenspan's Baking From My Home to Yours is below. I did cut and paste it, so I apologize for the lack of pretty formatting.

Pecan Honey Sticky Buns
Makes 15 buns

For the Glaze:
1 cup (packed) light brown sugar1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces1/4 cup honey1-1/2 cups pecans (whole or pieces)

For the Filling:
1/4 cup sugar3 tablespoons (packed) light brown sugar1 tablespoon ground cinnamon3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

For the Buns:
1/2 recipe dough for Golden Brioche loaves (see below), chilled and ready to shape (make the full recipe and cut the dough in half after refrigerating it overnight)

Generously butter a 9-x-13-inch baking pan (a Pyrex pan is perfect for this).

To make the glaze: In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, bring the brown sugar, butter, and honey to a boil over medium-low heat, stirring frequently to dissovle the sugar. Pour the glaze into the buttered pan, evening it out asbest you can by tilting the pan or spreading the glaze with a heatproof spatula. Sprinle over the pecans.

To make the filling: Mix the sugars and cinnamon together in a bowl. If necessary, in another bowl, work the butter with a spatula until it is soft, smooth and spreadable.

To shape the buns: On a flour-dusted work surface, roll the chilled dough into a 16-inch square. Using your fingers or a pastry brush, spread the softened butter over the dough. Sprinkle the dough with the cinnamon sugar, leaving a 1-inch strip bare on the side farthest from you. Starting with the side nearest you, roll the dough into a cylinder, keeping the roll as tight as you can. (At this point, you can wrap the dough airtight and freeze it for up to 2 months . . . . Or, if you want to make just part of the recipe now, you can use as much of the dough as you'd like and freeze the remainder. Reduce the
glae recipe accordingly).
With a chef's knife, using a gentle sawing motion, trim just a tiny bit from the ends of the roll if they're very ragged or not well filled, then cut the log into 1-inch thick buns. (Because you trim the ragged ends of the dough, and you may have lost a little length in the rolling, you will get 15 buns, not 16.) Fit the buns into the pan cut side down, leaving some space between them.
Lightly cover the pan with a piece of wax paper and set the pan in a warm place until the buns ahve doubled in volume, about 1 hour and 45 minutes. The buns are properly risen when they are puffy, soft, doubled and, in all likelihood, touching one another.

Getting ready to bake: When the buns have almost fully risen , center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Remove the sheet of wax paper and put the pan on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat. Bake the sticky buns for about 30 minutes, or until they are puffed and gorgeously golden; the glaze will be bubbling away merrily. Pull the pan from the oven.
The sticky buns must be unmolded minutes after they come out of the oven. If you do not have a rimmed platter large enough to hold them, use a baking sheet lined with a silicone mate or buttered foil. Be careful - the glaze is super-hot and super-sticky.

What You'll Need for the Golden Brioche Dough (this recipe makes enough for two brioche loaves. If you divide the dough in half, you would use half for the sticky buns, and you can freeze the other half for a later date, or make a brioche loaf out of it!):
2 packets active dry yeast (each packet of yeast contains approx. 2 1/4 teaspoons)
1/3 cup just-warm-to-the-touch water
1/3 cup just-warm-to-the-touch whole milk
3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature but still slightly firm

What You'll Need for the Glaze (you would brush this on brioche loaves, but not on the sticky buns):
1 large egg1 tablespoon water

To Make The Brioche: Put the yeast, water and milk in the bowl of a stand mixer and, using a wooden spoon, stir until the yeast is dissolved. Add the flour and salt, and fit into the mixer with the dough hook, if you have one. Toss a kitchen towel over the mixer, covering the bowl as completely as you can-- this will help keep you, the counter and your kitchen floor from being showered in flour. Turn the mixer on and off a few short pulses, just to dampen the flour (yes, you can peek to see how you're doing), then remove the towel, increase the mixer speed to medium-low and mix for a minute or two, just until the flour is moistened. At this point, you'll have a fairly dry, shaggy mess.
Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula, set the mixer to low and add the eggs, followed by the sugar. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat for about 3 minutes, until the dough forms a ball. Reduce the speed to low and add the butter in 2-tablespoon-size chunks, beating until each piece is almost incorporated before adding the next. You'll have a dough that is very soft, almost like batter. Increase the speed to medium-high and continue to beat until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl, about 10 minutes.
Transfer the dough to a clean bowl (or wash out the mixer bowl and use it), cover with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature until nearly doubled in size, 40 to 60 minutes, depending upon the warmth of your room.
Deflate the dough by lifting it up around the edges and letting it fall with a slap to the bowl. Cover the bowl with the plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator. Slap the dough down in the bowl every 30 minutes until it stops rising, about 2 hours, then leave the uncovered dough in the refrigerator to chill overnight. (After this, you can proceed with the recipe to make the brioche loaves, or make the sticky buns instead, or freeze all or part of the dough for later use.)

The next day, butter and flour two 8 1/2-x-4 1/2-inch pans.
Pull the dough from the fridge and divide it into 2 equal pieces. Cut each piece of the dough into 4 equal pieces and roll each piece into a log about 3 1/2 inches long. Arrange 4 logs crosswise in the bottom of each pan. Put the pans on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat, cover the pans lightly with wax paper and leave the loaves at room temperature until the dough almost fills the pans, 1 to 2 hours. (Again, rising time with depend on how warm the room is.)
Getting Ready To Bake: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

To Make the Glaze: Beat the egg with the water. Using a pastry brush, gently brush the tops of the loaves with the glaze.

Bake the loaves until they are well risen and deeply golden, 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer the pans to racks to cool for 15 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the pans and turn the loaves out onto the racks. Invert again and cool for at least 1 hour.

Thursday, May 15, 2008


Oh Kauai, oh vacation. How I miss you both together. I'm now left with some photos and many great memories of thoses 10 days in paradise-the beautiful flowers, delicious fruits, perfect ocean water, rain showers at night, laughing harder with my husband than we had in months and finally the evil know as jet lag. The time difference is only 4 hours, but it does a number on this girl. I'm finally returning to my right self after 4 days home. I can't deny that I spent my first few days back at work doing a very good form of sleep walking. The worst thing about vacation is when it ends.

BUT-what a fabulous time we had! Paul's aunt who has a heart of gold had rented a private home in the hills of Kilauea on the island of Kauai. The home sat on about 5 acres; 5 acres that were brimming with avocado, mango, meyer lemon, lime, grapfruit and pommello trees. Of course there were also plumeria, gardenia, hibiscus and an amazing view of the ocean below us. It was pure paradise. Oh, and I have to mention the salt water pool, which initially I didn't think I would care for; I thought who needs a pool when you have an ocean- that is until I slinked in there one evening and realized how spectacular that pool would be treating us for the rest of the stay.

We spent 10 days at our favorite beaches-Hanalei, Tunnels, Kee, swimming, snorkeling and surfing in the ocean. Yes, I finally learned how to surf and that means I got up on that board and road waves in! It was so fun- I loved knowing that when I fell off, and I did fall off, I was only dropping into 75 degree water and not onto an icy or snow packed mountain like with skiiing or snowboarding.

We also took short breaks from the beach to visit the "sunshine markets". Fresh pineapple, cold coconuts (I simply can't pass those up), papayas, lychees, jackfruit, cacao pods and passionfruit awaited us. I love those markets. Everything is so bright and flavorful and fresh. The farmers are usually very willing to let you try fruits that you've never had before and we found some wonderful ones. One was brown and small and round and had firm flesh that tasted like molasses and cinnamon.

Island life I like you, I really really like you. I have a feeling I would fit right in-just like this beautiful Honu, who lives the dream.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Happy Leis to You

We're off! It is our one year wedding anniversary and we are heading back to the island where we were married, Kauai. We both love Kauai. In our opinion, it is the very best of the Hawaiian islands. Visiting Hawaii is so nice because its so easy. There is no language barrier or currency exchanges and you feel like you're really away from it all. I used to be the kind of person (still am somewhat) who thinks that going to the same place every year is BORING. The reason we go back to Kauai, repeatedly, is that it truly is a vacation. I come back feeling so refreshed, so positive, so alive. What can beat that?

My next 10 days include fresh papaya every morning, snorkeling, sunbathing, drinking mai tais and learning to surf. What a great break we have ahead of us.

This means no baking for a couple of weeks and I'm now missing out on two delicious recipes from Tuesdays with Dorie- the Fluted Polenta Cake that I really could have made but didn't and the Peanut Butter Torte that's up for this coming week. I've been hoping the torte would be selected soon as I adore peanut butter and chocolate. I won't complain any more about that though.


Sunday, April 27, 2008

An Ode to an Old Favorite

I grew up in a Boston suburb in New Hampshire and that makes me an official New Englander. If you're from New England, or happen to live there, you must know that more ice cream is consumed in that part of the country than anywhere else. I remember eating ice cream every day in the summer. I'm glad I have that memory and need to remember not to try that this year as the metabolism of a 34 year old is much different than that of an adolescent. Anyway, the soft-serve, vanilla and chocolate swirl cone could often be seen in my hand- especially if we were at the beach. This cone to me is the perfect ending to a day basking in the sun and playing in the water.

You can't get the swirl cone anywhere around here. We're filled with Coldstones, Dairy Queens and Baskin Robbins in this part of Montana. Most people in the Northwest don't get as visibly excited for ice cream as they did back east and its definitely a seasonal treat here. That doesn't stop me from busting out my Cuisinart ice cream maker 12 months out of the year to create new and old favorites.

Lately, I've been really nostalgic for New England-I get this way about twice a year. As I write, my mom is visiting my grandmother in Chesterfield, New Hampshire- a charming, small, perfectly New England town(she also left the east coast and is now in Seattle, a great town in itself). She called me this morning to fill me in on their beautiful, spring morning that was kicked off by a delicious plate of lobster benedict. My heart and stomach growled simultaneously. Of course I don't just miss the lobster and soft-serve. I miss forsythia bushes in bloom in the spring, the heart-stopping beauty of a perfect foliage season, and the character and class that the east coast just oozes.

Enough about that and on to the cupcakes. I leave for vacation in 2 days and know that inevitably my close to 2 week absence will cause some coworkers to scowl and may even cause some extra work to fall into their laps. So, I'm hoping to buy some forgiveness and patience with some sugar. Its been done before. I'll lay these suckers out tomorrow morning in our kitchen, right in front of the coffee pots and listen to them all mumble "maybe just one" or "I really shouldn't but.." or "Oh, why not". Hopefully, this will do the trick.

I used a vanilla cupcake recipe from here. Its sturdy, and has a nice flavor and it pulls away from the paper with ease, but its a little too dense. The cupcakes are really good, and they will be eaten, but I won't use this recipe again. Why is it so hard to find a great, vanilla cupcake recipe? If you have one, please share. I topped them with Cook's Illlustrated vanilla buttercream and Gale Gand's chocolate frosting. Oh, there's also some chocolate pudding in the center. Both frostings were left over from my husband's birthday cake that I had frozen. Freezing left over frosting is a great time saver, esp. when you're in a rush to make cupcakes for a bribe. The birthday chocolate cake and the frostings were AMAZING and I am comfortable saying this is the best chocolate cake recipe I have ever had. You can find the recipe here. Make it for that chocolate lover in your life and while you're at it, make sure its served with ice cream, preferably home made.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Tuesdays With Dorie, Bill's Big Carrot Cake

I had one of those sinking feelings that I should not have ignored. I know that not every cake recipe will make a good cupcake- I know this. I also know I read more than one comment on the Tuesdays with Dorie website from others who had had the same experience I was yet to: The Incredible Sinking Cupcake.

But, what did I need a whole carrot cake for? And if I halved the recipe and made just one layer, I would still end up with half a cake that I really didn't have a need for. Hence the cupcakes. They are the perfect "bring to work giveaways". I work at a bank and there's no better way to my co-workers hearts than through their growling, desk-sitting tummies. So, even though I had the feeling, and I had read the comments, I decided I would forge ahead with my cupcakes. Luckily, I did decide to halve the recipe, so I ended up with only 16 sunken cupcakes, instead of 32. Phew.

I did at least try the cake on its own. I had added coconut, pecans and cranberries. Although the cake was good, I found it was a little too sweet. There's something about The Silver Palate's that is hard to beat as far as I'm concerned. I do like this cake better today than I did yesterday when I baked it, but you know what? I'll probably never make this one again.

So, when life gives you sunken cupcakes, make a trifle. My husband joked that a trifle, really should be called a tri-fail as this is what they are usually the result of. My trifle, thankfully was a hit. I layered the cake with creme fraiche that I sweetened only lightly with honey and added a layer of chopped pineapple in the middle. I also sprinkled the cake layers with Sherry- dry or cream, either will work. Topped with toasted coconut, it was a great ending to my boring dinner of chicken and spinach salad.

This week's recipe was chosen by Amanda of Slow Like Honey. Thanks Amanda! You can view the recipe on her site.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Great Grains

I love Tabbouleh. Plus, the truth is my husband and I leave for our Kauai vacation in 2 weeks and after a winter of baking, this really is the kind of food I need to be eating right now. If you've never had Tabbouleh, you should try it. The flavors meld together really well and it is a guiltless, meatless, delicious dish and it is so easy. I do eat meat, but I'm really quite picky about what kind and where it lived before it came to me. There's nothing like a great pulled pork sandwich though, is there?

I tried the new tricks for photography this time around. Flash off, steady hand, zoom in- I think it is a VAST improvement. Now, I like my camera a little more. I'm still searching for the manual and software though that conveniently disappeared over the past few months.

Okay, back to the grains. This is the kind of food we should all be eating.


1 cup raw bulgur wheat

3 cups finely minced parsley

1/2 cup finely chopped mint

1/4 diced red onion

1/4 tsp. black pepper

1/4 tsp. cumin

3 vine-ripened tomatos chopped into 1/2 inch pieces

1 cucumber seeded and chopped

4 Tbsp. lemon juice

3 Tbsp. olive oil

1 tsp. salt

Prepare the bulgur:

Place the bulgur in a bowl and pour 1 cup of hot water over. Allow the bulgur to sit until all water is removed, approximately 1/2 hour. When the bulgur is ready, you should have 2 cups now.

Mix your tabbbouleh:

In a large bowl, mix all ingredients together, gently, except the lemon juice and oil. When all dry ingredients are combined, add the lemon juice and oil. You'll want to place this mixture in the refrigerator for a couple of hours at least. The flavors will soften and the dish will become delicious. Serve with crackers, in pita, or eat out of a bowl with an extra squeeze of lemon.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Dorie Greenspan's Lemon Cream Tart

The snow continues to fall here in Montana and it really feels like this winter will never end. I did do some snowboarding yesterday and it made me not mind the snow so much. Today, however, I declare that I am finished with it. This tart was the perfect dessert to get me in the mood for spring. Its light and tart and sweet and creamy and really, really satisfying.

This week's challenge for Tuesdays With Dorie was selected by Mary of Starting From Scratch. She chose "The Most Extraordinary Lemon Cream Tart". The lemon cream is indeed extraordinary. I also found it quite simple to make. I chose to make her nut crust, which replaced some of the flour with almond meal, and I also used a whole wheat pastry flour instead of the all purpose. The dessert turned out light, flavorful and the crust had a wonderful crunch to it. I made 6 individual tarts and found I really liked this approach- I've been able to hand out a tart here or a tart there. I do have some lemon cream left over and I think I may stir in some coconut milk and churn it up in my ice cream maker. Doesn't that sound delicious? This lemon cream really is versatile- I've already thought of so many uses for it. I'm sure I'll fill some cupcakes with it, top a cheescake, and use it in a trifle. It would be perfect for all of them. It is so deceptive I noticed- its very light and smooth- so light that you forget how much butter there is in it. This is not a health food.

I made the raspberry coulis and just dotted the top with it. I also tried it with creme fraiche and truthfully this wasn't my favorite coupling. Once again, my issues with food photography come into play here. I knew I should have read that camera manual! How do you all make your photos look so beautiful? I would love any tips you are willing to share.

The Most Extraordinary Lemon Cream Tart

adapted from Dorie Greenspan's Baking From My Home to Yours

Lemon Cream

Zest of 3 lemons
1 Cup of Sugar
3/4 Cup Lemon Juice
4 Eggs
2 Sticks of Unsalted Butter plus 5 Tablespoons at room temperature, cut into pieces

To Make the Lemon Cream you'll want to get all your necessary gadgets together: a bowl, metal or glass, a saucepan to set the bowl atop, a whisk, a thermometer, and a blender or a food processor. I used my food processor.

Set a saucepan filled with a couple inches of water on the stove and bring to a simmer.

In a large bowl (I used a glass pyrex bowl) rub the lemon zest and sugar together with your fingers. Whisk in the eggs, then the lemon juice.

Set the bowl on the saucepan and whisk slowly at first then more rapidly as your cream comes up to temperature. You're going to keep this up until your cream reaches 180 degrees ( I actually took mine a little higher to make it a bit thicker). I prefer to judge the readiness of the cream based on the look of it, not just the temperature as you never know when your thermometer may be off. You're looking for a noticeable thickness, and for the whisk to leave "tracks"- this means you'll see the lines in the cream the whisk leaves when you drag it through. It is very important to keep whisking away- you don't want your eggs to scramble. Once your cream is at the right stage, remove it from the heat.

Now strain the lemon mixture into your blender pitcher or the bowl of your food processor. Let the cream cool- you're looking for it to come down to about 140 degrees. Stir it every now and then.

When the mixture is at the proper cooled temperature, turn your machine to high, (with the lid on) and drop about 5 pieces of the softened butter in the feeder at a time. Keep going until you've incorporated all of your butter. At this point, keep the machine going on high for another 3 full minutes. This will ensure the butter is fully emulsified. Pour the cream into a bowl and place a piece of plastic wrap directly on top of the cream-touching the surface, then chill in the fridge for at least 4 hours. Don't be impatient now- this cream needs to be served cold and it will firm up as it chills.

While your cream chills, you can make your crust.

Nut Crust

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup almond meal (grind whole almonds in a food processor until they resemble coarse flour)
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 sticks plus 1 Tablespoon frozen butter ,cut into small pieces
1 1/2 egg yolk

Butter either one large tart shell or 6 individual tart shells with removable bottoms.

Place the dry ingredients in the bowl of your food processor and pulse for a few seconds to incorporate all the ingredients. Sprinkle the butter over the flour. Using the pulse button again, pulse about ten times to mix in the butter. It should look broken up but there can still be some bigger pieces at this point. Add the egg yolk a little at a time through the feeder tube and pulse it in. Once the yolk has been added, the dough may appear really really dry- don't despair. You're going to need to pulse your machine for 10 seconds at a time. Do this until you see your dough come together. You'll also notice a change in the way the machine sounds when the dough is ready.

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and using a light hand knead the dough to make sure all ingredients are incorporated.

Press the dough into the shells and again, be gentle while doing so. You want your crust to be light and flaky and if you're rough during this stage it won't be. Prick the bottoms lightly iwth a fork. Place the crusts in the freezer and freeze for at least 30 minutes before baking.

Center a rack in the middle of your oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Remove the tart pans from the freezer and place on a baking sheet. For this dessert you'll need a fully baked crust- look for it to become a light golden brown- about 25 minutes for the large crust and about 15 minutes for the individuals. If the crust has puffed when you remove it from the oven, press it lightly with the back of a spoon.

Place on a cooling rack and cool to room temperature.

Assemble the tart by removing the tart shell from the pan and place it on a serving dish. Fill the shell with your cold lemon cream just before serving. Garnish with a lemon slice and enjoy!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Gooey Chocolate Cake

I just finished making these. I chose to make them in individual ramekins that were buttered and floured.I think next time, I'll butter and dust them with cocoa instead- I don't particularly like seeing the white dusting of flour against the dark chocolate cake when they are inverted and released from the ramekin. Of course, I found a solution to the evident flour- ice cream, warm huckleberry sauce and a dusting of powdered sugar. How yummy- so good in fact that before I had a chance to take out the camera, Paul had dug into it and finished it right up! I did manage to take a not so great photo, posted above, of the second version, that we ate with a warm pear/cinnamon caramel sauce and vanilla ice cream, again.

These had a melted center, somewhat, but not like I expected. The chocolate stayed on top and didn't find its way to the center like I had imagined. They were really good, but not as molten as I thought they would be. I would say that you need to do exactly as Dorie says- cook these for 13 minutes only if you know your oven temp. is right on.

The great thing about this recipe is how easy it is- no Kitchenaid, no food processor-just a whisk, spoon, a couple of bowls and a few other things. This is a recipe you can make when you have very limited kitchen tools- these are important recipes to have and I wish I had known how to make this back in my college days. If you don't have a double boiler, it is really easy to improvise- just put a glass or metal bowl over the top of a small saucepan filled with about an inch of water. You don't want the bottom of the bowl to come into contact with the water.

I did make a couple of changes: I added a tsp. of espresso powder in with the chocolate while it melted. I also added 2 tsp. of vanilla extract. I also added about 2 tablespoons of a delicious Port that was given to me by a friend to only one of the cakes, and truthfully we've yet to eat that one, but I have a feeling it will be heavenly.

Gooey Chocolate Cakes
Adapted from Dorie Greenspan, Baking From My Home to Yours

My version of the recipe is:

1/3 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, 4 ounces coarsely chopped, 1 ounce very finely chopped (I used Chocolove, 70%)
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces

1 teaspoon espresso powder
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
6 tablespoons vanilla sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Position your rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Butter and dust with cocoa 6 cups of a regular-size muffin pan, or 4 ramekins and place on a baking sheet.

Sift the flour, cocoa and salt together.

Using a double boiler, put the coarsely chopped chocolate and the butter in the top and stir occasionally over the simmering water just until they are melted. Remove the bowl from the pan of water as soon as the chocolate mixture is melted and smooth.

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and yolk until they come together. Add the sugar and whisk until well blended, about 2 minutes. Add the dry ingredients and, still using the whisk, stir them gently into the eggs. Add the melted chocolate slowly- I added about a 1/3 at a time and folded it in ( I basically made a figure 8 with the whisk to incorporate the chocolate). Divide the batter evenly among your ramekins or muffin cups and sprinkle the finely chopped chocolate over the batter.

Bake the cakes for 13 minutes. While still on the baking sheet, move these to a rack to cool for 3 minutes. While these cool, gather your ice cream/whipping cream/creme anglaise/caramel/powdered sugar, etc.

If you have baked these in individual ramekins, now is a good time to grab your guests and allow them to invert their individual cakes themselves. I think its a nice gesture and makes everyone comfortable and excited about what they are about to eat next. Pick up the ramekin with one hand- it shouldn't be too hot now and grab a plate with the other. Place the plate on top of the ramekin and flip. When you flip the two over the ramekin will be on top, and with a gentle shake, the cake should come out easily.

If you've used a muffin tin, place a cutting board on top of the tin and invert the same way you would for the ramekins. You'll then be able to gently place each individual cake on the plate.

These are pretty dusted with powdered sugar, and served with cold ice cream. We tried them both with fresh huckleberry sauce and caramel and both were fantastic.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Treats for the Monkeys

We really are dog dorks, but I urge you to take a long hard look at these two and how could you not be?

Molly, the black one, recently had knee surgery and she's been living like a zoo animal in a cage in our living room. This has to go on for 8 weeks! Its been hard on all of us- she's our first dog and she's oddly humanistic in many ways. Molly is special and really, really loved. Abby, is our Golden and she's as sweet as cotton candy. We found her at a rescue shelter about 8 hours away and when she came to us, she had recently had a litter of puppies and she was so sickly. Someone had found her on the side of the road. She probably wasn't even a year old yet. We refer to her as Molly's dog, in jest, because really that's what she is first and foremorst and its her choice. She worships Molly and that's how Molly likes it.

When I have some free time, I like to make them doggie treats. I usually have the ingredients I need in the cupboard and I never follow a recipe. I just kind of mix things together, until they're similar to a biscotti or a cookie dough. Sometimes I bake them like biscotti, so they get extra crunchy. This time, I used the doggie cookie cutter and made them "pumpkin cookies".

My ingredients were, approximately:

2 Cups Cornmeal
1 Cup Whole Wheat Flour
1/4 Cup Oat Bran
1 Egg
3/4 Cup Pumpkin
1 Tablespoon Chicken Stock Concentrate
1 Tablespoon Miso Paste
1 teaspoon onion powder

I mix it together in a large bowl and add more pumpkin if the mixture is too dry, or I'll add more flour if its too wet. The greatest thing about this is you don't have to worry about the look in your husbands or co-workers eyes when you hand them their cookie. Our dogs LOVE all of the treats we make.

Roll out the dough on a floured board and I sometimes use a cookie cutter, or if I'm in a rush, I'll cut them in strips, lengthwise and crosswise and make little rectangular or square treats. The dogs don't care. Bake on parchement covered or greased cookie sheets at 350 degrees until they seem done. I usually over bake them, because I want them to keep longer and stay crunchy. These are good enough for us to eat, and that's what I like to feed our two furry friends.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Tuesdays with Dorie

Well, I've done it- I've joined a blogging group called Tuesdays With Dorie. We're cooking our way through her wonderful book, Baking From My Home to Yours , one recipe at a time. I really like this idea because I know I will be inspired to try recipes that I wouldn't have tried before and how's that for expanding your horizons?

This weeks recipe is Gooey Chocolate Cakes from pages 261-262. My husband Paul is a huge chocolate fan, like most of us are and I know that these will be a hit on our new "Saturday Night Eat Whatever You Want Date". This really is his new thing, not mine, but it seems to be working (for him at least). Paul's very disciplined with his eating throughout the week- lately he's been talking a lot about his beloved grain, quinoa, and the virtues it extolls (quinoa really is amazing and delicious and if you've never tried it you must). So, he's decided that if he eats healthy all week, then on Saturday he can eat whatever he wants all day long and believe me he will eat whatever he feels like. Pizza from our town's newest pizzeria is usually included- its really just like New York pizza, and since he's a New Yorker, he just can't stay away. I really can't either. It's that good. Pizza is a perfect food in my book and even bad pizza is good pizza. Since moving to Northwest Montana years ago, I've really missed great food. We have okay food here, but people come here for the scenery, the quiet, the mountains, the lakes, the contemplation, the fishing, the skiing- they don't come here to eat. So, we're rejoicing in our new pizzeria. Its the little things, you know?

This weekend I'll be busy making my chocolate cakes and some amazing brown butter cookies to send to my mom for her birthday. I'm so excited its Friday. Now, back to the banking world....... my lunch break is over.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Happy Easter, Happy Spring

Its that time of year isn't it. Pastels and chocolate bunnies abound. Here in Montana we still have snow on our ground and its falling still. I’m just not feeling the early Easter! In an attempt to reconnect myself to this holiday, I made a bread that my mom used to make when I was young. It is a pretty, braided egg bread that you tuck your dyed eggs into before baking. The cool thing is that you dye your eggs when they are raw and they steam through as the bread bakes around them. The finished product tastes really good- so good that I just ate a third of it all by myself. Iknow the memories of this bread make it taste even better.

I ate mine when still warm and served with melted honey butter. If you don't like to bake bread, or are afraid of this venture don't be! I’m not very skilled with yeast breads, and this came out wonderfully. Its a great recipe to try and fun to make with young children.

Braided Easter Bread


2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
1/4 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast, or 2.5 teaspoons of yeast
2/3 cup milk
2 tablespoons butter
2 eggs
5 whole raw eggs, dyed if desired
egg wash- one egg yolk whisked with some cream and a tiny pinch of salt
sugar to sprinkle on top


1. In your Kitchenaid mixer with the whisk attachment, combine 1 cup flour, sugar, salt and yeast; stir well.
2. Combine milk and butter. Heat in a small saucepan or in your microwave until milk is warm and butter is softened but not melted(if the butter melts, its not a big deal).
3. With the mixer running on medium low, gradually add the milk and butter to the flour mixture. If you need to scrape the bowl go ahead and do so.
4. Turn mixer off, and add two eggs and 1/2 cup flour; mix well on medium speed.
5. Add the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, mixing well after each addition.
6. Switch from your whisk attachment to the dough hook and turn on high for about 6 minutes to knead. This is a wet, sticky dough, so don’t expect it to look like a regular bread dough that is made with only flour,water and yeast.
7. Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.
8. Gently deflate the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough into two equal size rounds; cover and let rest for 10 minutes.
9. Roll each round into a long roll about 36 inches long and 1 1/2 inches thick. On your greased baking sheet (I used butter, but parchment would work fine too)loosely braid the two pieces of dough by simply overlapping them lengthwise. Seal the ends of the ring together by pinching and use your fingers to slide the 5 eggs between the braids of dough. As the dough bakes and rises, the eggs tend to push themselves up and out, so start the bread with the eggs worked down between the braids to counteract their movement.
10. The dough will need to go through its last rise, which takes about 45 minutes or so. Cover with a damp towel and put in a warm spot. If you don’t have a warm place, just let the dough rise a bit longer.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
1. Brush risen loaf with egg wash, but don’t brush anything over the eggs-if they’re brushed with anything they may bleed their color onto the bread. Sprinkle with your choice of sugar-colored is pretty this time of year.
2. Bake in the center of your preheated oven for 50 to 55 minutes, or until golden. If your bread starts to get too brown, place some foil on top of it until its time to come out.
Let the bread cool for at least 5 minutes before digging in. You’ll also want to let the eggs continue to steam and avoid eating them for the first 20 minutes or so while they set up.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

My New Endeavor into the Blogging World

Well, here it goes-my new endeavor as a blogger! We’ll see how long this lasts. I’m a girl of many ideas- its a topic of conversation among friends actually, an eye-rollling topic of conversation. I mean, I get really excited about these new ideas, plans, jobs, places, people…but I don’t have much of a follow through. I’m really thrilled to have my very own blog, aptly named Passionfruit and Pineapple because I love tropical fruit.

For now I have great expectations for this. Maybe I’ll learn some new things, try new recipes, meet new friends and enliven my world. What has inspired me and brought me here is all the amazing food blogs out there! The first one I discovered was Tartlette, -her writing, her baking, her photos; I felt like I found a new friend (except this friend has no idea about this fan in Montana!). I then discovered Orangette, -she seems like someone a little closer. A person I could relate to, go to the farmers market with, attempt new recipes together, get to know. The list then goes on. I don’t know how long this will last- maybe I’ll be on our vacation in Kauai next month and will forget all about my blogging world, but until then, I hope this new chapter sees me through the last few weeks of winter here. That’s all I can hope for for now.