Tuesday, January 28, 2014

TWD-Vanilla Chiffon Roll

Before I even thought about starting this recipe, I looked for the PBS video of Julia and contributing baker, Mary Bergin, making this roll.  I always like watching the contributing bakers make the recipe, so I can understand the recipe better.  Occasionally (which sounds better than 'a lot of times'), I find the recipes in this book a bit hard to understand.  Watching the video generally (which sounds better than 'sometimes') clears up any confusion incurred during reading of said recipe.  Here is the link for the video.

This really is a beautiful cake.  I am a little intimidated with the process of rolling the chiffon cake (without cracking it).  But I'll worry about that later.  (Just  kidding, I will continue to worry until I actually get to the rolling stage.)
Set your phasers to worry.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Simple Chocolate Whiskey Tart with Whiskey Whipped Cream

Kick (s)Tart My Heart

Okay, let's just cut to the chase with this post.  This tart is redonk!  Redonkulously good that is!  I thought it was good the day I made it...but then I put it in the fridge overnight and 'Bam' this tart got way better.  The chocolate filling got way more intense in flavour.  The flavour of the crust even went up a notch (the salt becoming more pronounced).

I am shocked at how good this tart was.  (Just in case that first paragraph didn't read clear.)  And even more shocking, was just how easy this tart was to make.  Thank  you to my taste testers at work.  I was convinced to make it again this weekend for a dinner with friends.

Follow me along this journey to tarty goodness.

The crust is made with shortbread cookies, butter, sugar and salt.  And just like a superstitious baseball player, I wore the same underwear I wore the first day I made it bought the same shortbread cookies for the second coming making of this tart.

The cookies just need to be smooshed up finely in the processor. 

That's some fine smooshing.

Next, the butter, sugar and salt get mixed into the cookie crumbs.  Yep, a 1/2 tsp of salt.  Not much really, but it is one of the flavours that shines through and brings out the flavour of the chocolate.

I didn't have a 9 inch springform pan, so I used my 9 inch tart pan.
This crust (before it goes in the oven) needs to sit in the freezer for 5 minutes.  I did that the first time I made it. (That's all I'm saying.)

I've assembled the ingredients for the tart filling.  Both milk chocolate and bittersweet chocolate are used.  And true to the name of the tart, whiskey makes an appearance.  Can I get a woot, woot!

The milk and the cream were heated and then the chocolate gets melted into it.
Once this mixture cools, the eggs, flour and whiskey get whisked in.

Whisking in progress.

Once completely whisked, the filling...well the filling does what it is named for...it fills...and in this case, it fills the shortbread crust.  Then, this tart is baked for 25 minutes.

Fresh from the oven.  Air bubbles and all.  Dang.  Even my second tart had bubbles (and I banged it before I put it in the oven).  Baking Tip: Tapping the pan on the counter before baking is supposed to get rid of the air bubbles.  So when you're working in a kitchen and someone walks by your work station and says 'I'd tap that'...you can assume they see air bubbles in your tart.

Our first tasting of this tart, was about an hour or so after it was baked. (So room temperature.)  The Baked Note indicates there is a debate about the best way to serve this tart (room temperature or directly from the refrigerator).  I thought it was very good at room temperature.  And then the next day, I took it to work and had my testers sample it (straight from the refrigerator) and everyone loved it.  I did save two little pieces at home (to test on hubbie and I).  And I gotta say, straight from the fridge is the winner.  The filling became denser.  The salt in the crust was more pronounced which brought out more of the chocolate flavour. (Yes, I said all this in the first paragraph...but love makes you do and say things you never thought you'd say once, let alone twice.)  Yep, I fell for a tart.  Interestingly, that was going to be the title of this post, 'I fell for a tart'.  But then hubbie came up with a play on words, for this song title 'Kick Start my Heart'.  Clever hubbie...I think I'll keep him!

Oh and I didn't even mention the whipped cream!  See, I'm delirious...in my love of this tart!  The whipped cream is made with whiskey too. (Yep, the name of the recipe didn't lie.)
And finally, a little cocoa powder gets sifted over the top of the whipped cream.

So head over to Baked Sunday Mornings to see how the rest of the gang liked this tart, and to get the recipe.   

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

TWD-Country Bread

Yay, a bread recipe!  I love bread.  And I love the idea of making bread.  I will probably always say this when starting a bread recipe. (You've been warned.)  I want to be a bread maker.  Sometimes I do feel like a bread maker (at least when the bread I'm making turns out).  There is nothing better than a warm slice of freshly baked bread, slathered with butter.  I don't think there is anything more satisfying than bread.  I will say, bread is my most basic comfort food.  It is something I search out in our city (Ottawa) and where ever we go.  As I've mentioned numerous times, my all time favourite bread (in Ottawa) is from True Loaf.  I know I'll never master the art of bread making (at least at the level of a true baker) and I'm okay with that, because I have found places that make incredibly good bread.

Okay Julia, let's get baking.

The first thing that needs to be made, is a sponge.

Not this sponge.

That's right ladies, I do live in a pineapple.

Is it just me, or does anyone else think of Burt Reynolds looking at Spongebob laying like this?  Come on!  Do you think they have Cosmo (magazine) under the sea. (Yeah, you know what I'm talkin' about.)
So I'm making a sponge for the bread.  The sponge consists of water, yeast and flour. (Three flours to be exact; bread flour, whole wheat and rye.)

Ingredients for the sponge, are the same as the ingredients for the bread.  But after I mix these ingredients together for the sponge, I leave it to sit at room temperature for 6-8 hours.  (Definitely not a 'quick' bread.)

 After the yeast got all nice and creamy in the water (no Spongebob involved), it was time to mix the flours into the mixture.

Pretty simple process for the sponge.

Now it needs to sit for 6-8 hours at room temperature.  Or it can be put in the fridge overnight.  I am going to let it sit for 6 hours at room temperature and then I will probably put it in the fridge until tomorrow. (Otherwise I'll be up until 3am and this old lady needs to be in bed before 10pm.)

This is what it looks like two hours in.  (The bread making magic has begun.)

Now that the sponge has been sitting around fermenting overnight, it is ready to be mixed up with the rest of the ingredients. (More water, yeast, flour and some salt.)

I will save you from the floury mess that I made in the kitchen.  (Kitchen tip:  don't dump all the flour into the mixture and then turn on the kitchenaid to medium and then turn your back on it...unless you have  the broom and dust pan handy.)  It was like a silent messy explosion of flour.  Good times.

After ten minutes of mixing with the dough hook, my kitchenaid is still alive (and very hot and bothered).  Glad it survived, as my upper back could not have handled any kneading this week.

 This ball of dough needs to rest for about 2 hours. 

Times up!  Let's take a look.

Whoa!  That is some good rising.

Next, the dough gets put onto a lightly floured surface and flattened.  Then the edges are folded and patted down.  This gets the air out of the bread.

The edges keep getting folded and patted down until it is formed into a ball.

Damn.  I'm thinking I put the dough into the floured cloth the wrong way.  Well, I've got an hour and a half to confirm that....do'eth.

Yep, I should have put the smooth side down, so that it was protected.  And then when I took it out, the bottom would become the top of the bread when I moved it to the pan.  (That may only make sense to me.)
Oh well.  Besides, would it really be a post (of mine) if I didn't in some way not follow the instructions?  Hmm?

Moving on.

I put a few slashes into the top of the dough.  Perhaps a smidge too deep.  (Beware of the Slasher.)  Perhaps someone needs to stop watching the show Grimm.  Just sayin'.

Oven and pizza stone have been preheated.  Rather than bake it right on the pizza stone, I left it on the baking sheet (that was sprinkled with cornmeal).  I threw a few ice cubes in the oven before I put the bread in the oven.  That may sound like a random thing to do, but honestly it's a bread baking thing.  And the bread will bake for about an hour.

It is smelling rather good in the kitchen.  I sure hope this turns out!

Here it is straight from the oven.  I took its temperature and it measured 200 degrees as suggested in the recipe.  If bread could talk, there would have definitely been a 'hey, where you puttin' that thermometer lady', moment.  (Thankfully bread cannot talk.)

Well, I think the bread looks fabulous.  It feels like it is going to be super crusty. (Not in a salty old sailor sort of way.)  I see many, many crumbs (in my future) on the floor, after this bread is cut.  But that step needs to wait until it is completely cooled.  (Cookbook says so, and I'm all about following instructions...Mmm Hmm...ask anyone who doesn't know me and/or has never read my blog, they'll agree.)

This bread is good.  It is a true country loaf, with a rustic feel.  The outside is crusty and chewy while the inside has a tender crumb.  This is a bread you want to cut into thick slices and eat alongside a big bowl of soup.  (Dipping the crust into the hot soup.)  And that is exactly what we did for dinner.  Bowls of tomato soup with thick slices of this beautiful bread (and some sharp cheddar).  Perfection.
I have to admit, this bread makes me a little melancholy as it reminds me of the loaves of bread my mom would buy.  She loved the crusty country loaves.  And I know she would have loved this one too.(And not just because I made it!)

Sunday, January 05, 2014

Lemon Lime Champagne Granita

Sunshine in a Glass

This recipe sounds lovely.  And what do you know, I have some champagne leftover from the holidays.  Correction:  I  have prosecco.  Correction:  I had prosecco; and then we drank it so I had to go get another bottle of it.  I also have champagne, but that is being saved for a night with friends. (woot, woot)

I don't think we could have asked for an easier recipe to start this new year.  Sounds very refreshing after an overabundance during the holidays.  But then again, one can never go wrong with champagne.  A huge treat for me, is a bottle of champagne and a bowl of ripple chips.  Yep, you read right, chips and champagne.  Truly a perfect combination.  On our trip to Paris a few years back, we bought a lovely bottle of champagne and a bag of chips after a long day of sightseeing.  (It was a perfect treat to unwind after a full day.)  It was actually a 'must do' on my list of things I wanted to do while in Paris.  (Yup) 

This was a display we came across in Paris, when looking for Champagne. 
We were in awe (to say the least) of all those bottles of champagne, just sitting out there so nonchalantly.(Yes, I think inanimate objects can convey nonchalance...and it is only the keen eye that can detect it).  <cough>  And look at the size of that one bottle!! (Needless to say, we didn't buy one of those.)

There really isn't much to say about this recipe.

I dissolved the sugar in water on the stove (this is simple syrup), then put it in the fridge to cool.  And then I took a break...'cause that's how I roll.
But mostly because I had to let this cool before I could use it.  

 This turned into a two day project, because I ran out of time and because it seemed way too dark in the kitchen to take pictures.  But lo, it must have been a Festivus miracle; because when I walked into the kitchen this morning, it was bright, really bright!  Of course, it could have been the hubbie changing all the bulbs last night as I slept (and totally unaware of these fine and good deeds being done).  He's my hero.  What do you think, should I start singing Bette Midler's song 'Wind Beneath My Wings' when he gets out of bed??  Hmm, that just might send him back to bed. 

I've decided against singing.  Instead, I think I'll tempt him with a little orange juice (fortified with prosecco of course).

Back to the recipe.  Zesting and juicing completed.

 Processo has been measured out.  Yum.  It would be wrong to just stop here and drink this, right?
I know, it's early in the morning and the only way to make it right, is to add orange juice.  (I'm way ahead of you...and on my second glass of fortified OJ.)

Now all that needs to be done, is add the lemon and lime zest and juice to the prosecco along with the simple syrup.  Couldn't be any easier.  (And there is no need to mention that I almost forgot to add the simple syrup.)  It's a new year, but my old issues (of missing ingredients) remains strong.

Oh and I added some mint leaves...'cause the Baked Boys said I could.  And I just happened to have mint leaves in the fridge.  Who the devil just happens to have mint leaves in the fridge??  Why the person who sees mint in the produce aisle and immediately thinks Mojito. (Guilty)

Finally, this mixture gets poured into a cake pan.  Just need to cover it with some aluminum (pronounced in the proper British way, Al-u-min-i-um) foil and pop it in the freezer.

One hour in, and it needs to be forked.  What?  That's what the recipe says.  Okay, it may say 'use a fork to scrape or stir the mixture'.  (Same dif.)

Okay, barely any of it got frozen in the first hour.  Just gave it a bit of a stir and popped it back in the freezer for another hour.

Two hours in and a little bit around the edges has frozen.

Another stir with the fork and perhaps a taste (as I was supposed to taste it before I froze it).  Umm...yum!  This is like a frozen margarita.  I swear, I could drink this right now.  (Brain freeze be damned!)  All right, I'll put it back in the freezer for another hour.  But am now thinking this would be really good with tequilla...or rum.  Oh yum!

Three hours in and more of it has been frozen.  Another stir and back to the freezer.  But I think I better taste it again to ensure it is still okay.  Hubbie thinks it is a smidge tart, but I think it is heavenly.

Four hours in and it is getting to be very slush-like.  And yep, I like it very much.  Perhaps one more hour should do it.

Five hours in, and I'd say this slush puppy is ready to serve.  Oh yeah, that's the slushy stuff!  This is an awesome light, fat free dessert to have after a heavy meal.  It is so good!!

Tastes like summer she says as she looks outside and sees this.

Feck...it's snowing again.

Nope, can still see the snow.