Thursday, January 29, 2009

Daring Baker's Challenge for January 2009 - Fortune Cookies! (aka: Tuiles) with Bonus Video

The red cutout is by No Thank You Boy. It's the Chinese symbol for spring (or so he's told) and they did it in school.

This month's Daring Baker's challenge is brought to us by Karen of Bake My Day and Zorra of 1x umruehren bitte aka Kochtopf. They have chosen Tuiles from The Chocolate Book by Angélique Schmeink and Nougatine and Chocolate Tuiles from Michel Roux.

The Challenge was not a recipe per se, but more of a technique used to make tuiles. "Traditionally, tuiles are thin, crisp almond cookies that are gently molded over a rolling pin or arched form while they are still warm. Once set, their shape resembles the curved French roofing tiles for which they're named."

Okaaaaaay. So, I went a-searching for what the heck to make since the butterfly example and the use of a template didn't really float my boat, when I realized... EGAD! These are fortune cookies! AND Chinese New Year was Monday, January 26! Happy Year of the Ox! (So tonight we're gonna party like it's 1999 4707).
You so know I would have inserted a link to an appropriate music video here, but His Royal Purple Badness has threatened to sue YouTube if they put any up, and goodness knows we don't want to get Himself's knickers in a twist, not that he probably wears any. But again, as usual, I digress.

Here's the "how-to" on the fortune cookies. Recipe and tweaks to follow.

Part I : Baking Prep

Part II : Cookie Formation

My modified fortune cookie/tuiles recipe is below or you can find the original one at Bake My Day here. Additional equipment needed to make fortune cookies: muffin tins, cotton gloves, coffee mug, spatula and fortunes printed on little paper slips. You can see how I used the equipment in the above video. For fortune cookies, the batter is best if it's a little runny, but I did chill it for about an hour (30 minutes is fine, I just got busy doing other stuff) to let the flour integrate and then pulled it out of the fridge and let it re-soften for about 30 minutes. You need the thin cotton gloves to safely handle the hot cookies without burning your fingers and the mufin tin is so that they hold their shape; they will unbend if you don't put them in there. Store in an air tight container.

Confucious say:
Try make cookies. Much fun and you can do with ease.
Man who run in front of car get tired.
Man who run behind car get exhausted.
Man with one chopstick go hungry.
Celebration of Lisa's 100th post with giveaway coming soon.

I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.
(Confucious really say this last one)

yes, I did wrap the tripod (Joby's Gorillapod) around the cabinet frame to shoot the video :D

Thanks to Karen and Zorra for selecting this month’s Daring Bakers Challenge. You can find the complete recipe on their sites.

To see what all the other DBer’s did, you can find the blogroll here and if you’d like to join the monthly party, info about that can be found on that page as well.

Fortune Cookies
Following is a recipe adapted from a book called “The Chocolate Book”, written by female Dutch Master chef Angélique Schmeinck.

Preparation time: batter 10 minutes, waiting time: 60 minutes, baking time:10-12 minutes per batch. I made a double batch and got about 28 cookies.

¼ cup softened butter (not melted but soft)
½ cup sifted confectioner’s sugar
1 dash of vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 large egg whites (slightly whisked with a fork)
½ cup sifted all purpose flour
Butter/spray to grease baking sheet or use silicone baking mat or parchment paper

Unique Equipment:
muffin tin(s)
thin cotton gloves
coffee mug
fortunes printed on slips of paper
tablespoon measuring spoon

Using a handheld mixer or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle (low speed), mix/cream butter, sugar and vanilla and almond extract to a paste. Keep stirring while you gradually add the egg whites. Continue to add the flour in small batches and stir to achieve a homogeneous and smooth batter/paste. Be careful to not overmix.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to an hour to allow the flour to incorporate. Take it out 30 minutes before you plan to use it. (This batter will keep in the fridge for up to a week).

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Using a tablespoon measure, spoon out tablespoonfuls of the batter onto the baking sheet. I did 6 at a time. Swirl the batter into a fairly uniform circle about 3 ½ inches in diameter. Don’t worry if the batter seems a little see-through in places; it will even out in the oven. Bake for about 10 – 12 minutes, checking at the 9 or 10 minute mark. You want to see that the edges are turning golden brown.

Before you're ready to pull them out, have your cotton gloves, muffin tins, fortunes, mug and spatula at the ready. Pull the pan out of the oven. Working quickly, use the spatula to lift one of the circles off the sheet and lay it in your gloved hand. Take a slip of fortune paper and lay it on one half of the circle. Fold the cookie in half, gently holding the outside edges. Move to the coffee mug and bend it in half over the edge. Voila! Fortune cookie!

Place the newly bent cookie in the muffin tin so that it will hold its shape and not unbend. You may have to put some of the remaining cookies back into the over for a few minutes to re-soften so that they bend nicely.

Pin It
Bookmark and Share

Monday, January 26, 2009

Shirley's Beef Stew

Not that Shirley, our friend Shirley who used to live down the street until we moved. We still go over there every Friday (we have Date Night with her) and sit and visit after the kids get home from school. No matter what she makes for dinner, the kids eat it. I've made stuff at home and smuggled it into her house and she's served it as if it was hers and they've licked the plates clean, whereas at MY house they would turn their noses up at it.

This is her recipe for beef stew. It's rather a loose recipe, and I've used my imagination along the way and adapted it for what I have on hand, so feel free to morph it yourself and judge quantities based on your family and number of servings.

Shirley's Beef Stew

1 lb. beef stew meat, cut into bite size cubes
flour for coating meat
vegetable oil for browning meat and sauteeing veggies
2 ribs celery, chopped
1 onion, chopped
a couple of handfuls of peeled, baby carrots, cut in half
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup red wine
2 cans of diced tomatoes (14 oz)
4 cups beef broth / beef stock /or water with Better Than Bullion swished in it to make 4 cups
1 cup dry pasta, shape of your choice
parmesean and crusty bread for topping

Take the bite size cubes of meat and flour them all sides - I throw them in a plastic grocery bag (check for holes first!) along with a cup or so of flour, a teaspoon of salt and a couple of grinds of black pepper. Leave some air in the bag and tightly twist the top to seal. Over the sink please, shake, shake, shake until all pieces are evenly coated. Add more flour if needed. Reserve some of the flour for thickening the stew if needed at the end.

Brown the meat all sides in a large dutch oven or pot, working in batches so that the pot doesn't cool off and so that any extra moisture doesn't steam the meat. Remove all meat from the pot and set aside.
Take your chopped veggies and garlic and saute them in a little vegetable oil until the onions are soft.

Pour in the beef stock and red wine, deglazing the pan if needed. Add the meat back to the pot, cover, reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour.

After 1 hour, add the dry pasta to the pot and cook for time indicated on the package. Add more liquid if needed, or conversely use some of the reserved flour to thicken.

Serve with crusty bread and a dusting of parmesean cheese.


Pin It
Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Pizza... Thingies

Yesterday we were at a friend's house and she had Rachael Ray on. Rach (Raych?) was making these pizza thingies and I mentally noted them. Fast forward to tonight where SURPRISE! I have nothing planned for dinner for the kids. (MY dinner is a completely different post, let's say it shall be thusly called "Lettuce Topped With Precisely 2 Tablespoons of Fat Free Salad Dressing, Equaling 2 Points Total, Since the Prescribed Allotment of Points for the Day Has Already Been Consumed". Ah, well there goes that scintillating post.)
Messy One ate FIVE Thingies, No Thank You Boy ate FOUR (yahooo!) Thingies and the Little One ate TWO. DH gets the last one, unless Messy One gets there before bedtime. Without further ado, I present you with -

Pizza Thingies
Easy! Fast! Fun! Customizable! Winner Winner Winner!
Use one tube of Pillsbury (or whoever) croissants (I used the giant croissant 6 pack, but you could use biscuits just as well) and unroll all the sheets flat. Preheat the oven according to the package directions.
Take each of the 3 rectangles (equalling 2 croissants) and divide into quarters. Ditto for the other 2 sections.
Lightly spray a muffin/cupcake pan with cooking spray. Shape each of the dough pieces into a circle shape and press into the pan.
Bake the dough for the time shown on the package or until they become browned. My time was less. Remove from oven and using the back of a spoon (or Pampered Chef wooden dumbbell looking item) make a hollow in the dough, deflating it a little.
Brush the dough with olive oil and spoon a little spaghetti sauce into the well, exact amount to taste, but maybe a tablespoon or two. (This isn't an exact recipe ya know)

Fill up the wells with your choice of "toppings". We used various combinations of pineapple, pepperoni, ham (ala sliced up lunch meat), Parmesan cheese and mozzarella cheese.

Bake for 10 minutes or until cheese is melted. Pop out your mini Pizza Thingies with a spoon and serve.

Pin It
Bookmark and Share

Monday, January 19, 2009

This is Hard Tack

If anyone is seriously considering making this, please comment and let me know and I'll share my cook's notes with you. By the end of this exercise, I used 3 bags of flour and made enough of this stuff for over 150 kids. Most of them thought it was a great joke and had fun pounding their hardtack on their desks. At the end, I had about a dozen kids coming up and begging me for more. Makes me wonder what their parents feed them OR what trouble they were going to get into on the playground...


Courtesy of National Park Service, Gettysburg National Military Park

Hardtack was a biscuit made of flour with other simple ingredients, and issued to soldiers throughout the war. Hardtack crackers made up a large portion of a soldier's daily ration. It was square or sometimes rectangular in shape with small holes baked into it, similar to a large soda cracker.

Would you like to try some hardtack? It's very easy to make and here's the recipe:

2 cups of flour

1/2 to 3/4 cup water

1 tablespoon of Crisco or vegetable fat

6 pinches of salt ;)

Mix the ingredients together into a stiff batter, knead several times, and spread the dough out flat to a thickness of 1/2 inch on a non-greased cookie sheet. Bake for one-half an hour at 400 degrees. Remove from oven, cut dough into 3-inch squares, and punch four rows of holes, four holes per row into the dough. Turn dough over, return to the oven and bake another one-half hour. Turn oven off and leave the door closed. Leave the hardtack in the oven until cool. Remove and enjoy! (And make sure your parents try some!)

Pin It
Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

There Is No Way To Attractively Photograph Cream Cheese Spread

No, there isn't. I tried. Unfortunately, while this looks like the cat had a bad case of indigestion, in fact it was a really great appetizer. If you squint your eyes, you can even see how I even tried to form the cream cheese into a little star shape instead of just plopping the cream cheese down like the brick that it comes in. This was so delicious. Although no one asked me for the recipe, their actions did the talking. After all the crackers (and even the molecule size fragments of crackers) were used like mini-spatulas to get up every last bite, I was seriously afraid one person was going to lick the plate to get the last bits up.

Cranberry and Red Pepper Jelly Spread

1/2 cup red pepper jelly
1/2 cup canned whole cranberry sauce
1 8 oz. brick cream cheese

Combine jelly and cranberry sauce in a separate bowl, stirring well to combine completely. Spoon over cream cheese. Serve with crackers.

Pin It
Bookmark and Share

Thursday, January 8, 2009


For those of you with a quirky sense of humor, you simply must go check out this style commentary blog. It's called "Go Fug Yourself: Because Fugly Is The New Pretty".

One of the TWD people who posted their CV a while ago mentioned it (I forget who) and I've been hooked ever since. Some recent comments (and Cathy for some reason YOU keep rolling thru my mind as being a connoisseur of tidbits such as these):

* "this look is evocative of a tangerine that's been cross-bred with a Vegas waitress."
(scroll down to the bottom)

* "it reminds me a tad too much of the really ugly interpretive stained-glass windows in one of the churches my mom used to go to -- "

* This one you just need to read for yourself.

* OH! this one too. Speechless.

RUN! Go check it out now. You'll thank me in the morning.

Pin It
Bookmark and Share

Barefoot Bloggers: Flap, Jack, Do It Again, aka: Ina Garten's Banana Sour Cream Pancakes

Breakfast.... for dinner. This is one of my kids’ favorite “special” treats. Little do they suspect that Breakfast for Dinner is when mommy didn’t think of what to make until it was waaay too late to whip something up and that she was just not in the mood to do so.

Enter Ina Garten’s Banana Sour Cream Pancakes. (Cereal is holds the number 1 spot on the BFD charts, followed closely by Eggos and french toast sticks). We made these on the weekend and froze the leftovers. (Just layer them in between sheets of wax paper and pop the brick of pancakes/waffles/french toast in a ziptop bag and into the freezer for later).

Easy to make and DH and the kids liked them (well, except for the Little One. Apparently he’s a pancake purist and doesn’t like “stuff” of any kind in his pancakes, so we didn’t add bananas to a few just for him; I had a bite and then went back to my oatmeal.) As an aside, we do the same sprinkling of fruit on top of pancakes with blueberries and apple slices. For apples, just core and peel then slice into thin rings and plop them on top of the uncooked side before flipping.

Many thanks to Karen of Something Sweet by Karen for selecting this recipe. If you yourself would like to make these Banana Sour Cream Pancakes, you can find the recipe on the Food Network site here or in Ina Garten’s book, Barefoot Contessa Family Style, page 177. To join the BB community or to see what all the others did with this, please visit the the Barefoot Bloggers site.

Pin It
Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

TWD: Time Off for Bad Behavior

This is not me.

Hello my TWD friends! I've pleaded insanity and gotten a TWD hall pass for the next couple of months. My hips, cholesterol and wallet all need a little time off, but rest assured that I'll come back to worshiping at Ms. Greenspan's feet when things are under control. I WILL keep posting items, just not TWD's. I hope to live vicariously through you and will continue to cheer you on! Allez cuisine!

(This is NOT me either, but I sure feel this way!)

Pin It
Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

and they carved the Roast Beast...

We loooove our beef at Christmas time. It's a family tradition to make prime rib, and since the all kids on my side of the family are at our house, that's where Christmas dinner is. Do you like our matching Jessie Steele aprons? My DS got them for us. Oh yeah, the prime rib is those large swaths of red on the messy counter in the background to the left. We were so overcome by the overwhelming and consuming desire to consume mass quantities of wonderful, juicy, rare beef that we completely forgot to take a proper picture.

The KEY to making a wonderful prime rib is dry aging. Yes, just like you see in fancy restaurants, dry-aged beef. It's a totally brainless method and will give your meat so much more flavor. Order or pick out your prime rib - each rib will feed about 1.5 to 2 people. (Yes, from what I understand there are some .5 people out there). Ask your butcher to cut the ribs off the hunk o' beef and then tie them back on with butcher's twine. This will make carving so much easier and you don't lose that succulent rib meat. drool drool. Clear out a space in your fridge large enough to hold a pan with the meat in it. The pan should be large enough to provide for air circulation around the meat. Rinse and pat dry the beef with paper towels. Fold up several sheets of clean, dry paper towels and put them in the bottom of the pan. Plop the meat on top of the paper towels and put it in your fridge UNCOVERED for 3 - 5 days. It will not rot or get funky if the temperature is where it should be, just below 38 degrees. Change out the paper towels every day. The beef will get a hard, dry (as in dry-aged), crusty layer all around it. This is GOOD! This is where the flavor comes from.

I always use Alton Brown's recipe for prime rib. I must say that the directions in his book I'm Just Here for the Food (I have the original edition, not 2.0) are a different than what's online, and I have never gone to the trouble of finding a terracotta pot to cook the sucker in. I always leave my pizza stone in the bottom of the oven so that the heat is more evenly distributed and so the darn thing doesn't get broken in a cabinet somewhere.

This will melt in your mouth, it's so amazingly good. I'm sooo craving some now, but the leftovers are long, long gone...

Dry-Aged Standing Rib Roast
Adapted From Alton Brown's I'm Just Here for the Food

1 (4-bone-in) standing rib roast, preferably from the loin end
Canola oil, to coat roast
2 Tablespoons Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to cover entire roast
1 cup water
1 cup red wine
1/4 cup thinly sliced leek
1 - 2 Tablespoons garlic or unsalted butter

To dry-age the roast: Place a refrigerator thermometer at the back of the bottom shelf of your refrigerator. Reduce the temperature to just below 38° F. Cover the bottom of a roast­ing pan with several layers of paper towels. Place the roast, bone side down, on the towels, and store-uncovered-at the back of the bottom shelf of your refrigerator. Allow the meat to age for 3 to 5 days, checking the refrigerator temperature often.

When you're ready to roast, let the meat sit out of the refrigerator for 1 hour until it reaches room temperature.

Preheat the oven at 250° F for 1/2 hour. Rub the roast with just enough canola oil to make it shine, then rub with the salt and pepper. Place the meat in a shallow roasting pan, bone side down (to prevent the meat from sitting in liquid). Insert the probe of your thermometer into the center of the roast and set for 118° F. (We are carnivores and like our meat RARE, so we set ours for 110° F and count on 10 – 12 degrees carryover). Place the roast in the oven and keep at 250° F.

When the meat has reached 110° F (about 2-3 hours, depending on how large of a cut of meat you have - monitor it closely), remove the roast and cover lightly with foil. Raise the oven temperature to 500° F. When the oven reaches 500° F, let it heat for another 15 minutes, then return the roast to the oven until the desired degree of crust is achieved, about 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer the roast to a cutting board and cover with foil. Let it reat for at least 10 -15 minutes before until ready to serve or carving

Place the roasting pan with its accumulated juices on the cook-top over medium heat and deglaze the pan with 1 cup of water. (The drippings will be sallll-ty, so test it out before you add the other ingredients – you may need to dilute it with water or supplement with pre-made gravy.) Allow the liquid to come to a boil, scraping occa­sionally until any bits stuck to the pan are freed. Add the wine and then transfer the liquid to a gravy separator. Allow five minutes for separation of fat from juice and then pour the liquid (but not the fat) back into the pan. Add the leek and return to a simmer. Stir in the garlic butter and serve over lovely, red slabs of goodness.

Yield: 10 servings

Temperature chart for beef:
Rare: 120-127 (cook to 110 and count on 10-12 degrees carryover)
Medium Rare: 128 – 135 (cook to 118)
Medium – why bother? Get yourself another cut of meat.

Pin It
Bookmark and Share

Friday, January 2, 2009

YIKES!!! Recipe Analyzer

Quantity (3) Barefoot Blogger Banana Sour Cream Pancakes

OK, so this is good AND bad. I found a free recipe analyzer online and started plugging in some of the recent things I've made and some of the upcoming Barefoot Blogger recipes....

I tested it out using a few online Cooking Light recipes where I could match up what they had listed versus the analyzer. Most things were quite close. If there is an unusual or specific ingredient, the analyzer gets a little confused. I'm not saying it's perfect, but at least it will give you a ballpark figure if you have nothing else to compare to.

Try it for yourself and see what you think. Tuesday's With Dorie might blow its mind.

Here is (1) one TWD Buttery Jam Cookie (assuming a yield of 40 cookies)

Pin It
Bookmark and Share

Barefoot Bloggers: Pappa was a Rolling Stone Al Pomidoro

A thousand pardons. I am a few days late in getting this posted in the month of December, but it is done and thusly sent out into cyberspace. I plead guilty but insane and beg for your understanding and forgiveness.

From Back to Basics: This “is a classic Italian tomato soup that’s thickened with leftover bread”. As usual, I made some modifications to this recipe, based on the ingredients I had on hand. I didn’t have any ciabatta bread or leftover bread of any ilk for that matter, so I used good old Publix whole wheat, cubed up into pieces. Fennel? No gots. Scallions look sort of the same, but different taste and much smaller, but what the hay. Plum tomatoes? Also no gots, but I did have canned diced tomatoes and a whole, fresh tomato. I cubed that up and into the pot it went. Homemade stock? (snicker) Red wine? YES!!! We have wine. I like to cook with wine and sometimes I even put it in the food.* Fresh basil? Alas, my beautiful basil plants are gone for the winter. Dried basil it is. Other than that, I had everything needed.

This was pretty easy to make. I cubed up some more of the wheat bread to make the croutons and I sprinkled parmesan cheese in and on the soup. Messy Boy liked it, I liked it and DH hasn’t tried it yet - he just got home from work. (Update: he likes it.) The Little One and No Thank You Boy turned their noses up at it, but No Thank You Boy did like the croutons.

Many thanks to Natalie of Burned Bits for selecting this recipe. If you yourself would like to make this Pappa Al Pomidoro, you can find the recipe on the Food Network site here or in Ina Garten’s new book, Back to Basics on page 68. To join the BB community or to see what all the others did with this, please visit the the Barefoot Bloggers site.

(*props to WC Fields)

This is one serving, based on the 6 serving size noted.
Go to to analyze YOUR recipes.
The 1/2 cup olive oil is what puts it over the top in the fat category...

Pin It
Bookmark and Share