Tuesday, March 31, 2009

TWD: Coconut Butter Thins

Okay. As you already know if you're reading with ANY regularity here, I. Love. Shortbread.
I love to make them, I love to eat them and now? Now I love to photograph them. Food porn, that's what this is all about, isn't it?

This is so similar to the brown sugar pecan shortbreads...but these are enhanced with lime--leaving flecks of green in the dough--, coriander, coconut and macadamias.

I'll be honest. I cannot quite pick out the macadamias--so maybe I should have gone with something different, but mostly I am determined to follow these to the T. This is my learn to bake year.

Anyway. Here's the secret of good shortbread: DON'T OVERMIX! I love the rolling out in the zip-lock...this is such a neat and clean recipe. Into the fridge overnight..bake before I head out the door, take to office, reap the reward of praise as people devour them.

My one recipe note--Dorie says they turn into something lacy. Not mine...They just turned into nice shortbreads...Nice, delicious shortbreads..Cannot complain about that!

I love coconut. I love lime. I love coriander. Those three tastes totally make this cookie for me. What if I sprinkle the macadamias on TOP of the cookies next time???

Eat up. Visit the other TWD bakers, too! Check it out. Especially check out Jayne of The Barefoot Kitchen Witch. She picked this week's recipe--and you can find it there OR in Baking from My Home to Yours.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Not the Barefoot Blogger...Goat Cheese and Tomato Tart

Okay. So I'm not on the blogroll at Barefoot Blogging any longer, and I don't deserve to be...somehow, cooking what they were cooking WHEN they were cooking it has eluded me. So this is unofficial, unsanctioned Barefoot Blogging...but it was such a success it deserves a post.

The choice of the week is Goat Cheese and Tomato Tart in Puff Pastry from Ina Garten. I've had a recipe and a half of Dorie Greenspan's Perfect Pie Dough in my fridge for a few days and this seemed just right as a subsitution for the puff dough.

I rolled out the dough and lined 6 shallow ramekins with it--the kind usually used for creme brulee. Caramelize onion (black cast iron RULES for this). Sprinkle in grated parm. Top with herbed goat cheese (I stretched 4 ounces over 6 tarts). Top this with slices of the most beautifully ripened tomatoes (thank you, Florida!), then some very good EVOO (Badia a Coltibuono. I won't tell you how much I paid for this, but it is WORTH it)...Basil. Salt (once again, thank you Mark from The Meadow for my sampler of sel gris). Pepper. Top all this with shards of shaved parmesan. Bake until pastry is golden brown.

Things to note about this dinner:
1. This is beautiful.
2. This is delicious
3. My kids LOVED it.
4. DH decided to eat crap at a British pub instead of this...you know, because he had homemade pizza (also with tomato and cheese) the night before. Poor him, right?

A tart, salad and a glass of crisp white wine...Lovely dinner. Try it.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

TWD: Blueberry Crumb Cake

This week's Tuesdays with Dorie choice comes to us from Sihan of Beffudlement.

If there's one thing that gets me about a cake, it's CRUMB...crumble...you know.A great mix of butter, flour, sugar and, sometimes, nuts. Dorie's is a simple blend (I use pecans instead of walnuts because that is what I have on hand and because I find walnuts bitter)...I like this touch: put it into a bowl and then into the fridge. I'm guessing that adds to its "shortness" when if finally gets baked.

I used frozen blueberries bec. the price of fresh was obscene. I probably used a bit extra because if I used just the pint, I would have been left with a 1/2 cup of frozen blueberries...too many blueberries never ruined anything, right?

This is another easy cake: mix wet, add dry, gently fold in blueberries (tossed with some of the flour, which helps keep the berries from all sinking to the bottom while the cake bakes). I tasted the batter and was worried there was too much baking powder/baking soda...the taste was strong...not to worry. It baked out.

I think I baked this at least...I don't know...an hour? An hour and 5 minutes? After the debacle of my uncooked cake before, I was a bit more careful here...

It rose and rose and ROSE. This is a great cake with PLENTY of crumb, just the way I like it...This, a cup of coffee, a great Florida morning...Breakfast anyone?

See the other TWD Blueberry Crumb posts.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

A Gift for My Friends in Frozen Climes

I got to stroll on Bowman's Beach on Sanibel Island yesterday. The sound, the sights were truly soothing. Winter in Florida (okay, just barely Spring) is killer. About 20 seconds of bliss...

Florida Table Video: Make Guacamole

Kelly has edited yet another video: here I'm making guac:

New Florida Table video: Time to make guacamole...

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Tuesdays With Dorie: French Yogurt Cake with Marmalade

Oh, I love a good loaf...Today's TWD is a lemony loaf with ground almonds and yogurt, plus a marmalade glaze to finish it off.

The beauty of this is its ease: whisk dry ingredients together. Work zest into sugar, add eggs, yogurt, then oil and bake. Delicious aroma floating from the oven. Mmm.

But. What's up with the way my cake rose? Kind of like a bridge flat, even a descending approach, big arch, then off again with a flat, even descending approach..not pretty. And, to top it off, it browned up way too quickly, perhaps the fault of dark metal pan?

Because this is such a simple (and very popular recipe in this house) recipe, I'll make it again trying a different pan and, perhaps a lower temp. The crust was a bit tough, but the crumb was a lovely texture. The almonds lend a moist richness to the the loaf that is wonderful.
A note about the marmalade: Dorie asks for lemon marmalade. Umm. Not a single commenter over at TWD could find it. I couldn't find it. I know I've seen it in my lifetime, but not now. Instead I bought the MOST delicious pink grapefruit marmalade. Now I have a nice bit of it left over...If I could just find a perfect baguette to enjoy with it...Maybe I need to bake a baguette..

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

TWD: Lemon Cup Custard

Mmm. Lemon is one of my favorite flavors..So bright, so light, so happy, so tart...Custards are so simple in terms of ingredients (milk, sugar, eggs...This one is flavored with lemon zest)...but the trick is in the cooking: low and slow and in a good water bath.

I love that Dorie has us line the roasting pan with paper towels: DUH. Nothing moves, nothing sloshes. I pour boiling water into the pan AFTER it goes into the 325 oven.Bang on 40 minutes, my custards were done. I've eaten one at room temp...This is the silky smooth--not thick pudding-y--texture that custards should be. My one regret is that I didn't have lemon extract or oil to punch up the flavor, because as is, the lemon flavor is very delicate...

I liked the dried lemon slices I did so much a few weeks back that I tossed a few into the oven here, too...Meh. I like the contrast, but it actually distracts from the silky texture.

Enjoy these. What an elegant, easy dessert.

Check out everyone else's custards, too: Tuesdays With Dorie

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Wake up, Make Soft Pretzels..

For whatever reason, I woke up this morning and thought how much I'd love a home-baked soft pretzel. The weather here is still cool enough to turn the oven on, so I thought I would take advantage. I also thought: good photos. I was right.

I Googled for recipes, and Alton Brown's recipe was top on the list. The man hasn't steered me wrong yet.

As with so many things I've written about here: Why don't I do this more often??? Simplest dough: proof yeast with water and some sugar. Add flour and melted butter. My tip for you readers, don't know where I learned this, but dump it all in. Cover the entire mixer with a dish towel. Turn mixer on to lowest speed and let it run about one minute, incorporating all the flour. The towel keeps the flour cloud at bay. Then turn to medium, knead with dough hook for 5 minutes. Cover with plastic and walk away.

One hour later, return to beautiful dough. Cut into 8 pieces, roll into long pieces (24 inches), shape into pretzels. Drop each one, one at a time, into boiling water with baking soda. Boil 30 seconds..Actually, Alton? Suggest a slotted spatula for this maneuver. You gotta let the extra water drain back into the pan.

Brush with egg wash, top with salt--I had no pretzel salt so used Sel Gris I had in a sampler pack from The Meadow (Thanks, Mark!)...Quick bake at 450F for 12 to 15 minutes.Cool (only a little...these are so great WARM)...and EAT.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Tuesdays with Dorie: Chocolate Armagnac Cake

Or is that chocolate RUM cake? Because that is what was in my cupboard. And I couldn't stand the thought of making another stop for the brandy.

Oh, and do you know any other 13-year-old who got chocolate rum cake for her birthday cake? That's right, readers, I am so obsessed with TWD that I did not even ask her what kind of cake she would like. She was getting chocolate armagnac (or rum) cake that got Dorie fired. And no, in answer to your question, of COURSE she didn't know there were prunes in the cake.I had to make this while I was also making bimini bread, dressing for a salad, cutting papaya, frying hominy (don't ask. I fried three times and will probably fry again tomorrow.), making coleslaw, watermelon granita...is there anything else? Because today was prep day for a photo shoot. And my back is KILLING me.

Back to the cake. It was easy...I love these one layer cakes. They aren't always pretty.Burning off the rum was interesting...because it burned and burned and burned. Guess there's a lot of alcohol in there. Yum. (Yes, it's out of focus, but I couldn't resist trying to get the flame.)

Here's the thing. I timed it perfectly so it should have come out of the oven at the exact time I had to drop Bryn off at dance class. I came tearing in, timer was going off, I ran up the steps...it got about 5 minutes extra and was looking pretty toasty on top (and my oven really is 375. I have an oven thermometer in there.), but when I moved it, it jiggled. Like undone jiggled. But Dorie's instructions say it should be wet still...I don't think she meant jiggling.

Okay. So. Cool ten minutes, take ring off, flip over, take bottom off, flip back upright. Except, a crack and oozing batter appeared when I did that.The cake is now a Chocolate Rum MOLTEN Cake. Not Dorie's at all. Oops.
But. It is even better than I could have expected. I love how easy the glaze was. It's like a truffle coating. As if it needed something extra. (Ha.) And really, it's barely molten at all once it was in the fridge. It's super rich, but it was a huge hit. Bryn didn't suspect the prunes, not one bit.

And it goes great with a glass of Marques de Caceres Rioja 2004. By the way.