Monday, September 28, 2009

Goodness Gracious Cake Balls of Fire

I wanted to make cake balls one time before I left Los Angeles. I did not want to leave without Jacob's coworkers experiencing the joy and wonder of the cake ball.

I absolutely love these things. I especially love them straight out of the fridge. Delicious! The only thing is that they are kind of a pain to make. But after all that trouble, the first bite makes it all worth it.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

DB: Vols-au-vents

The September 2009 Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Steph of A Whisk and a Spoon. She chose the French treat, Vols-au-Vent based on the Puff Pastry recipe by Michel Richard from the cookbook Baking With Julia by Dorie Greenspan.

This was my first time ever making puff pastry, but I had heard about making it, and I was anxious to try. Not too anxious though (I waited until the very last minute to make these, which I guess is my style.).
It turned out to be easier than I thought it might be, but it required regulated time in the fridge. Waiting is not my speciality, so this was the most difficult part.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Bon-Bonning Finds

While I was visiting my parents in Maryland, I got to do my favorite activity with my mom: going bon-bonning. Now this is probably a new term to most of you, but I've grown up with it all my life. It just means that we got to go to thrift stores and try to find some good bargains.

My mother has some kind of bon-bon radar because no matter where we are, where we live or where we visit, she seems to know exactly where the bon-bon shops are. It is incredible. I wish she could come to every place I have lived so that she can show me where the treasure shops are.

Anyways, on this trip, we visited the book bon-bon. It's a part of the library in Olney (where my mom lives), and they sell used books and magazines.

I found these cooking magazines on their shelves. And do you know how much they were? 10 cents a piece! And if you bought 15, which of course I did, you only paid a dollar. Amazing! And these weren't magazines from the dark ages, these were only a few months to a year old. But even if they were older, old recipes rock the house, so any way you look at it, it's a winner.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

TWD: Cottage Cheese (Sour Cream) Pufflets

This week's Tuesday's with Dorie, I actually made while I was still in Los Angeles. These were chosen by Jacque of Daisy Lane Cakes. I was trying to clean out my fridge, and I didn't have cottage cheese, but I did have sour cream. So that's what I used.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

So it's the first thing I've baked in Libya, and let me tell you, it was really difficult finding the ingredients and equipment to make these. I'm definitely looking forward to when all my baking supplies arrive from DHL, but they are being really dumb right now. I asked them if I needed to do anything else, and they said no, then, days later, they said that they haven't shipped it yet because they need some other documentation. Argh! But we finally got everything sorted through, and my boxes should be on the way.

So without my regular baking supplies,

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

TWD: Flaky Apple Turnovers

So I'm a little late with this week's Tuesday's with Dorie. But I blame it on being in another country. This recipe was chosen by Julie of Someone's in the Kitchen. Be sure to check out her blog for the recipe, because these are delicious!


Monday, September 14, 2009

A Caribbean Dinner and My Sister

This is my sister, Trisha.And I'm sure she'll be really pleased that I put this picture up, but I really could have chosen much worse.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

A Balsamic Strawberry Jam Session

We're in Libya now!

This creation came out of the necessity of cleaning out my freezer right before we left for Libya. I had some strawberries that I had frozen earlier this summer in there, and I was anxious to use them before I left. And I thought a jam would be a perfect solution.

I've never made jam before, but always wanted to try. I didn't have any canning equipment, but that was okay because I wasn't planning on keeping it long. I ended up using almost all of it in my Cottage Cheese Pufflets that I made for TWD (coming soon).

But even though this was my first time, I thought the jam turned out awesome. I didn't have any pectin, and I didn't want to buy any, so I searched for a recipe that didn't call for any, and I came across this recipe. It called for balsamic vinegar, which I was a little hesitant doing, especially when I smelled it while cooking, but it turned out just fine, good in fact.

This came together quite easily, and it actually set up like a jam. I was so pleased. And the flavor was great, too. Easy and tasty, you can't beat that combination. So try this recipe out!

Easy Balsamic Strawberry Jam Recipe
from Savory Sweet Life

2 cups of chopped strawberries
1 cup of sugar
2 Tbl. of balsamic vinegar

Cook strawberries, sugar, and balsamic vinegar in a medium pan on med heat for about 20 minutes stirring occasionally. I usually eye-ball the thickness of the sauce to determine when it is done. When the jam mixture has reduced to the consistency of thick honey or 220 degrees F. ( I don't know if mine ever got to a thick honey stage, but I waited until it thoroughly coated the spoon and tried to remember what heated up jam looked like.) Remove from heat and allow to cool. Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

TWD: Chocolate Souffle

Today I am actually on a plane to Libya, but this is what I did before I left. Enjoy!

This was my first time making a sweet souffle, so I was really excited when it came up in the TWD rotation. Check out Susan's blog She's Becoming DoughMessTic to get the recipe. I was excited because they always look so nice, and I've always wanted to try them. So try them I did.

But...there's a problem. The recipe was for one big souffle, but I really did not want to do that because my husband and I just can't eat that much in one sitting, and the idea of reheating sunken souffle was not really appealing to me. So I wanted to do individual souffles. The only problem is, I don't have ramekins. I've always wanted to get some, but I never have. So, I needed to get some.

I'm doing a lot of baking trying to get ready to leave, so I wanted to make this but again needed ramekins. I didn't have time to drive somewhere to get them, so I walked to the Asian market that is just down the street from my apartment. There I found a cute tea set that was the right price, and I just prayed that it would be oven safe. Thankfully, my prayers were answered, and I got nice little souffles.

I thought I would be super impressed with these little cakes, but I really wasn't. The cake was just "okay" to me and I wanted it to be out of this world. It just needed to be more decadent to me. And I really wished I had halved the recipe because my husband and I are still working on it.

But now I know, and I've conquered the sweet souffle. Now let's see if I can conquer life in Libya. :)

Monday, September 7, 2009

Pear Butter (Round Three: Me vs. Fruit Decay)

This is the final round, for a while at least, of me versus fruit decay, and I must say, I totally won this round. I actually got to the pears in this pear butter before they started to go. I'm really quite proud of myself.

I saw this on foodgawker and thought it would be perfect for the pears that had been sitting on my counter. And I was right.

This recipe produces a nice fragrant sauce that is great for putting on yogurt. It didn't think it was quite thick enough to be labeled a fruit butter, but I was still happy with the results.

Pear Butter
from Feasting on Art

4 TB apple juice (I didn't have it so I used water)
1 1/2 TB fresh lemon juice, divided
5 large ripe pears
3/4 c brown sugar
1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp coarse kosher salt

Add the apple juice and 1/2 TB of lemon juice in a large pot. Prepare pears by peeling, coring, and chopping into 1/2 inch pieces. To prevent the pears from browning, add to the juice mixture as soon as you mix pears into juice mixture in pot as soon as pears are cut, to prevent browning.

Over high heat cook the fruit until the juices begin to boil. Stir continuously for about 15 minutes. Reduce the heat and simmer until the pears are tender. Continue to stir frequently for an additional 20 minutes.

Remove from heat and pass the pear through a sieve or food mill back into the pot. Add the remaining lemon juice, brown sugar, nutmeg, and salt. Over medium heat bring back to a boil and stir until the sugar is dissolved.

Reduce heat and continue to simmer until thickened and reduced to 2 cups. Be sure to stir ever couple of minutes to prevent the bottom from burning.

Pour the hot mixture into sterilized canning jars. Leave 1/4 of an inch of space from the top. Wipe the rim clean with a damp cloth and screw on the lids. Process in a hot water bath for about 10 minutes. Will keep in a dark cool place for 1 year.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

TWD: Espresso Cheesecake Brownies

Today's Tuesday with Dorie is a great combination of cheesecake a brownie, chocolate and coffee. It was chosen by Melissa of Life in a Peanut Shell. Check out her blog for the recipe. Be sure to check out the other TWD bakers to see how theirs turned out.

I decided, like usual, to make it for Jacob's work, so instead of baking it in a 9x9 pan, I used doubled the recipe and put it in my large jelly roll pan. This produced a thinner than intended bar, but I think the proportions turned out well.

I realized later that the point where I poured the cheesecake mixture in made the brownie spread away to almost nothing, so if I did it again, I would pour small amounts around the pan.

I also didn't do the sour cream topping. I was going to, and I had grand dreams of piping fleur di lis on them to make them classy and creamy, but... I made this right before I left for my parents house and I simply did not have the time to do it without missing my plane. I made these early because I'm trying to get it all ready for when I move to Libya in one week exactly. I don't know how I'm going to bake over there, and I expect that it might take me a little time to figure that out, so I'm trying not to fall behind.

Also, as a result of barely getting them made, I didn't get to try them. It's quite a bummer because based on my husband, his coworkers, and other TWDers, it seems like a missed out on a scrumptious treat. I guess I'll just have to drool over the pictures until I get to make it again.