Tuesday, February 21, 2012

TWD - Chocolate Truffle Tartlets

It's Tuesday again with another delicious recipe from Dorie Greenspan as I continue to blog with Tuesdays with Dorie.  The recipe is found on pages 382-383 of her book, Baking with Julia or you can go to the blog of one of our hosts ( StephSpikeJaime and Jessica) to find it.  

A beautiful, rich, seemingly sinful chocolate tart is the perfect dessert for the recent Valentine's Day or just when you want a little guilty pleasure.  This recipe is relatively easy to make and can be done in steps.  Here is how mine went together.

Step 1 is making the tart crusts.

Assemble the ingredients (Mise en place).

Combine in the food processor.  I would recommend
adding an extra tablespoon of ice water as the dough was pretty dry.
Roll out (you'll need to smear the dough together
with the palm of your hand), shape into a rough square and flatten.
Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least 20 minutes.

 While you're waiting, how about dinner?

Roasted chicken and lots of different vegetables.  The chicken pan has onion,
parsnips, carrots, celery and kale.
Now, back to the project at hand.

Spray your tart pans so your pretty little tarts will come out.

Divide the dough into six equal pieces (I used my scale, but you could just eye-ball it).
Roll out your dough into a rough circle large enough to fit your tart pan all the way up the sides.
Gently press the dough into the pan being sure to get
it into the angle. 

Press along the sides to fill the grooves with dough.
Shave off the excess dough. Prick the bottom of the crust
all over with a fork.

Ready for the oven.

Bake until the crust is dry blistery, and firm.  Turn them halfway
through the baking time.  I actually baked mine a little longer than the
directions indicated as I wanted to be sure they were crispy
{but not burned :) }.
Time to make the filling.

Assemble your ingredients.

I used Biscoff for the biscotti because I love it and I didn't have
time to make my own.  Don't chop them too finely.
Be sure to beat the eggs long enough to get to ribbon stage.

Fold the eggs with the chocolate mixture.  Lighten the chocolate
with about a third of the egg mixture first.  Don't be heavy-handed
at this point or you will lose all of the beautiful air you created
in the egg yolks.

Scoop evenly into the tart pans.  Smooth the tops and bake.
Again, I baked a little longer than instructed (it could just be
my oven).

Cool for 20 minutes and they are ready to eat.

I wasn't serving these tarts for an occasion and wasn't prepared to
plate them properly with a sauce and a garnish so I decided
I could at least have a little fun with it. 

I was very pleased with the outcome of this recipe. The dough is a little hard to work with but seems to be very forgiving so you can compensate by piecing and patching.  The filling could be varied by adding different goodies.  Walnuts or brickle would make a nice addition.  Homemade biscotti would also be a nice touch.

Now, I'm off to share these rich and delicious desserts with some friends.

Monday, February 6, 2012

TWD - Basic White Bread

I'm so excited that today is finally here and I'm actually writing my first Tuesdays with Dorie post!  As I said before, a wide-range group of bakers from all over the globe will be baking the same recipe from the book, Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan and then blogging about what they baked.  The rules require that bloggers not include the recipe in their blogs but you can find the recipes in the book as well as on the host's blog.

The recipe that was chosen for this week is White Loaves on pp. 81-82.  The host blog for this recipe is Jules at Someone's in the Kitchen.  On the Tuesdays with Dorie page you can access the links to all of the posts from the participating bloggers.

Now enough of the rules...on to the beautiful bread.  I will tell my story with pictures.

This is a perfect place to begin as so many people are afraid of yeast and afraid to make bread.  In reality it is quite easy.

The recipe only required 6 basic ingredients (water, yeast, sugar, bread flour, salt and unsalted butter) and a mixer.  Most of the steps were your typical bread making steps.  I did a few things differently (shown in red).

Bloom the yeast.

Combine ingredients as directed in the mixer.   I did not add all of the flour!  Instead of 7 cups I used about 6 1/2 cups.  The dough just seemed way too stiff  and dry for all of the flour.

The mixer really had to work hard.  I had to let it, and the dough, rest a few times, but then most bread I've made requires that anyway.  It seemed a little odd to add the butter at the end instead of at the beginning, but it all worked out just fine.

Prepare your bowl by oiling it generously.

When you have finished mixing / kneading your dough in the mixer, pour out onto a floured work surface and knead a little bit more by hand.  This is where you can really work out all of the stress in your life.  Think...push out the bad, fold in the good.  The dough doesn't really need much kneading at this point, but it can certainly shoulder your stress with a little more kneading if YOU need it. :)

When you've shaped your beautiful dough into a ball, put it in the bowl and then turn it over to be sure all surfaces are coated well with the oil you added to the bowl earlier.

Cover the bowl with a clean cloth and set aside in a quiet, warm, undrafty place and let it take a little nap.

After about an hour...wahlah!!!  It has changed into a mound of wonderful, yeasty bread dough.  But you aren't quite ready to get out the butter yet.

Punch it down.

Dump it out on a floured surface.

Divide into halves.

Form into loaves. Dorie does a great job of describing how to do this by first forming a rectangle, then folding the dough 2/3's down and then the last third up to meet the edge.  Pinch it together.  Tuck the ends together and...

Put into two buttered loaf pans seam side down.  Cover with some buttered plastic wrap and let them take another little nap in a warm place for about 45 minutes.

The dough again transforms into nice airy loaves ready to bake.  Dorie advised something regarding baking the loaves that I loved.  About 10 minutes before  you think they are done, turn them out of the pans and return to the oven directly on the rack without the pans.  This step definitely helped the loaves to brown nicely all the way around.  Be sure to temp the loaves when deciding whether they are done and ready to be removed from the oven.  The interior of the loaf should be about 200 degrees.

Let the loaves cool on a rack (My tasters couldn't wait until they were truly cool).  The finished loaves turned out beautiful, cut nicely, had a crunchy crust, nice crumb and a soft center. I thought they could use a little more salt, but other than that they were delicious.

IF you have any left, it makes terrific toast.  A little added honey or peanut butter and jelly makes it even better.  This is a great basic white bread recipe.  I hope my changes (shown in red) will be helpful to you.

Wow!!  I finally made it through this and I guess you did, too.  I promise these posts and the pictures that go with them will get better as we go along this journey.  Thanks for sticking with me.  I welcome your feedback.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

A Little Sneaky Kale

First, I must say that I added a year to my age in the first post.  Maybe a very real sign of my advancing age.  :)

In our home there are two very different eaters.  I will try and usually like a wide variety of food, but I married a real meat and potatoes type of guy.  He has really come a long way in trying new foods and has added many to his list of likes.  I can't say enough about how helpful he has been as a "taster" during my culinary training.  All this said, he still has not wanted to try any kind of greens, but I just can't stop trying. This week I fix a lovely, light pasta dish with just a little kale and he gave it a "thumbs up".  Not only was it tasty, but healthy as well.

Weeknight Pasta with Sausage, Kale, Onions and Peppers

2 cups whole wheat penne pasta
1 T. salt for the pasta water
8 oz. uncooked Italian turkey sausage
1/2 bunch kale, stems and ribs removed, roughly chopped
1 red bell pepper, cut into 3/4 inch squares
1 orange bell pepper, cut into 3/4 inch squares
1 onion, large dice
3 cloves garlic, minced fine
3 stems of fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
1/2 cup(s) shredded Parmesan cheese, Parmigiano-Reggiano recommended

  • Cook penne in salted water according to package directions.  Save 1 cup of pasta water.
  • Meanwhile, remove sausage from casing and cook in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, breaking up sausage as it cooks, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.  Add kale; cook, stirring frequently, until limp, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add peppers, onion and garlic; cook, stirring frequently, about 1 more minute.
  • Add past water to skillet and scrape up browned bits on bottom of skillet with a wooden spoon; season with salt and pepper. Cover skillet and reduce heat to low; cook until kale is tender, about 5 to 10 minutes. Stir in rigatoni and basil; heat through.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Sprinkle each serving with about 2 tablespoons of cheese before serving. Yields about 1 1/2 cups per serving.

  • Hope you enjoy this as much as we did!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Stepping Out

Ok, so at the ripe old age of 63 this is my first serious attempt at blogging.  My motivation is driven by my desire to participate in Tuesdays with Dorie (They've already baked through one of Dorie Greenspan's book and are starting on Baking with Julia in February).  I'm also recovering from a nasty femur fracture that I experienced in November so I'm hoping this will push me to get moving and back in the kitchen.  My posts will probably be a little stiff at the beginning but please bear with me as I cut my teeth on this new experience.

I'll start with a little about me since this is my blog and I guess it can be "all about me".  I spent 32 years in education as a teacher and administrator.  After I retired three years ago I decided to pursue some of the things I had always wanted to do, but had never had the time for.  The most important of these was to enjoy my five grandchildren and the second one was to attend culinary school.  I graduated from the Culinary School of Fort Worth in August of 2010 with the Chef Pro certificate and completed the Pastry Pro requirements in May 2011.  I have been working there as a class assistant since August of 2010.  Enough about me.  Now on to the food which is why we are really here.

My first post needed to be something simple so we're staring with classic Texas Pinto Beans.  Start with a sack (1 pound bag) of pintos (Sorry since I'm new at this I forgot the picture, but you know what they look like...the little brownish spotted things.)  Be sure to sort through them on your prep surface and pull out any little lava looking rocks that might be there.  Give them a good rinsing in a colander then put in a Dutch oven size pan with lots of water.  Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer.  Allow the beans to simmer for about 15 minutes.  Pour back into the colander and rinse again.  This sounds a little silly, I know, but it does eliminate the need to purchase Gas-X to serve for dessert. :)

Now, on to the good stuff that will make your house smell wonderful.  You will need:

1 onion, medium dice
2 stalks celery, medium dice
Several cloves of garlic, minced
3-4 strips of Bacon cut in thin strips
1 can Rotel Tomatoes
6 cups water
1/2 T. Ground Cumin
Bay Leaves
1 bunch fresh Cilantro
Kosher Salt
Ground Pepper

On medium-high heat render the bacon in the Dutch oven you just used (Render is just a fancy word for frying it a little bit.)  When the bacon is sizzling really good.  Add the onion and celery and cook stirring occasionally until they are softened.  Add the garlic, continuing to stir for 30 seconds to a minute. Add cumin, and cook and stir another minute.  Return beans to the pan, add water, Rotel tomatoes and bay leaves.  Give everything a good stir.  Turn heat to high and bring to a boil.  Once bubbles start forming reduce heat to low and simmer beans covered for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours, stirring from time to time.

Walk outside for a few minutes and when you walk back inside you'll smell the most amazing aroma.  Taste your beans and season with salt and pepper as needed.  Most likely they will need quite a lot of salt. 

Pull out the bay leaves.

Add chopped, fresh cilantro.  My family likes a lot of this!

You can serve as a side using a slotted spoon to drain off the liquid or use a ladle and serve in bowls like soup.  Either way they are delicious plain or dressed with sweet relish, and/or diced or minced fresh onion or jalapeño.

Add some cornbread or toasted and buttered, chewy, whole grain bread.      

 Such a delicious, simple meal!!!

Whew!!  The meal was easy but actually writing it down was a lot more difficult for me.  Hope you enjoyed my first post and will continue to follow my food and family escapades.  I'm very excited to be a part of the Tuesdays with Dorie group and look forward to sharing many wonderful days in the kitchen with you.