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Sherry Trifle





Updated: 2016-09-07T21:37:05.074-07:00

 



World Peace Cookies

2009-02-10T04:28:05.345-08:00

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My cookies are only a week late! I feel I'm slinking in through a hole in the fence but I just had to make the World Peace Cookies after seeing them last week on all the TWD blogs.

They are quite seductive - perfect for close on Valentine's Day - the cookie version of molten chocolate cakes. They are also very easy to make. I think I'll get the real Fleur de Sel for my next indulgence - I used sea salt but there is so little in 1/4 teaspoon you don't get to taste the salt with each cookie.

No more ado - must just put them in a container and take them to the office for my co-workers. I have a feeling they are going to go very fast. For the recipe, just check it out on Jessica's blog, Cookbookhabit .



Assorted Pastries for a Reception

2009-02-03T15:07:57.983-08:00

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I didn't get to making the World Peace Cookies for TWD this week as I catered mini-pastries for a reception at my Church on Monday evening (almost 300 pastries) so I'll put the World Peace Cookies on my list for a re-run. Sorry about missing TWD but I'm a bit baked-out.

This was my menu:
Dorie's Buttery Jam Cookies
Dorie's Chocolate Chocolate Cupcakes (mini version)
Lemon cream tartlets using Dorie's Pate Sucre
Chocolate Mocha mini cookies

Does any of these sound familiar? Thanks to our wonderful TWD group and Dorie's recipes I was able to pull off this baking feat. I did manage to take a pic of all but the lemon tartlets. I got lots of complements and each of the cookies got named as a favorite by different guests. It was all so exciting and rewarding.

Next TWD I'm doing will be the cover cake, so I will learn to make yet another beautiful confection.



Tuiles - Daring Bakers

2009-01-29T02:32:40.390-08:00

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This month'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.

This was a fun and light challenge - just as well after the December French Yule Log which quite wore me out! I was a lazy artist as far as making templates of tuiles went - I bought mine from Kerekes in Brooklyn, aka "Paradise." They had all sorts of wonderful tuile templates lined up in boxes against the counter wall and I actually bought not one, but four.

The two I picked for the Challenge were the butterfly and the large flower. The recipe was easy and I applied the dough with an offset spatula onto the tuile shapes. I was as happy as a kid doing arts and crafts class. After baking, the tuiles were easy to mold - I used my rolling pin. Then the most exciting part of all - brushing on petal dust; now I really felt like a kid again - it was most enjoyable.

Oh dear, oh dear, though, I chose to make a blancmange for the dessert part and picked a recipe for a plain simple vanilla blancmange from somewhere on the web - it really turned out so dull and boring. Oh well, as least it served as a backdrop. I also tried raspberry coulis, but it turned out more like a blob of raspberry jam. I think if I had served this dessert to anyone but myself that person would have kept the tuiles for a decoration and sent the rest back to the kitchen. But that doesn't really matter; it was all about tuiles wasn't it?

Thank you Karen and Zorra for this delightful challenge; I will be using my tuile templates again for sure.



Fresh Ginger and Chocolate Gingerbread - Tuesdays with Dorie

2009-01-27T04:39:14.297-08:00

Sunday night - A nice cake to make. The process was quite straightforward, except perhaps for the finely chopped ginger root. I tried chopping it in my coffee grinder but it came out too full of liquid, so I just chopped it with a knife. It's stringy and does not respond well to being cut into tiny pieces - I have a feeling that people are going to get little chunks of ginger with string in their portions. I did not use the ginger in syrup - I thought it would be too much.Of course, I believed I had Grandma's Molasses but it turned out I only had blackstrap so that meant a quick trip to the store about 4 blocks away. After that putting it together went very breezily. I baked it for 40 minutes before testing with a fine knitting needle - it came out with lots of batter on it, so I went for 50minutes. Now I think it might be a bit overdone! Oh well, as long as it tastes good.I've just sampled a small piece that fell off the bottom of the cake when I turned it out - it does not seem to be very sweet and has a strong molasses (somewhat bitter) taste. Hopefully it will settle down tomorrow before we eat it on Tuesday. Right now I'm thinking of real English Gingerbread Loaf Cake with Lyons Golden Syrup (like my mother and grandmother used to make)- it was sweet and absolutely divine.Monday evening - Finished the chocolate ganache part. It set very quickly and looks quite glossy. I sprinkled the top with mini crystallized ginger morsels.I'm really looking forward to it tomorrow, posting day. I'm the "Chooser" this week so here's Dorie's recipe:Fresh Ginger and Chocolate GingerbreadFor the Cake2 tablespoons finely chopped peeled fresh ginger1 tablespoon sugar2 cups all-purpose flour1 teaspoon baking soda2 teaspoons ground ginger3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon1/4 teaspoon ground cloves1 stick plus 3 tablespoons (11 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature3/4 cup (packed) light brown sugar3 large eggs1/2 cup molasses (not blackstrap)6 ounces bittersweet chocolate - 2 ounces melted and cooled, 4 ounces finely chopped1 cup buttermilk1 tablespoon finely chopped stem ginger in syrup (available in Asian markets and supermarkets; optional)For the Icing3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped1 tablespoon strong coffee3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature3 tablespoons confectioners' sugarGetting Ready:Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9-inch square baking pan and put it on a baking sheet. (Pan must be a full 9-inch square size or batter will overflow - measure first).To Make the Cake: Put the fresh ginger and sugar in a small bowl, stir and set aside.Whisk the flour, baking soda and spices together.Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment,or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter and brown sugar and butter together at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for 1 minute after each egg goes in. Don't worry if the mixture looks curdled at this stage. Pour in the molasses and beat until smooth. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the melted chocolate, along with the sugared ginger. Still on low speed, add the dry ingredients in 3 additions and the buttermilk in 2(begin and end with the dry ingredients),mixing the batter only as much as needed to blend the ingredients. Fold in the chopped chocolate and the ginger in syrup. Pour the batter into the pan.Bake for about 40 minutes, or until the cake starts to pull away from the sides of the pan and a thin knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Don't be concerned if the cake has domed and cracked-it will settle down as it cools. Transfer the cake to a rack and cool for 10 minutes, then unmold the cake. Turn right side up to cool to room temperature before icing the cake. (The edges of the cake might be quite brown, but don't fret-you can trim them after you ice the cake.)To Make the Icing: Set a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water, put the c[...]



Lemon Buttermilk Cupcakes

2009-01-20T03:36:08.912-08:00

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Time for some cupcakes, Lemon Buttermilk Cupcakes, from an excellent book 125 Best Cupcake Recipes by Julie Hasson. The recipe uses the creaming method but with egg whites, resulting in a nice light, delicate cupcake. Easy and quick to make and would probably be good for those bite size mini cupcakes that are so popular. This time I made the regular size.

Here's the recipe:

Lemon Buttermilk Cupcakes
Preheat oven to 350F.
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
Pinch salt
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 egg whites
2 tsp. grated lemon zest
1/2 lemon oil or lemon extract
1/3 cup buttermilk (I mixed 1/3 cup of milk with 1 tsp. vinegar - it worked fine)
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice.

In a small bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
In a bowl, using an electric mixer, beat together sugar and butter until well combined. Add egg whites, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add lemon zest and lemon essence, beating well. Alternately beat in flour mixture and buttermilk, making three additions of flour mixture and two ob buttermilk, beating until smooth. Add lemon juice, beating just until smooth.

Scoop batter into prepared pan and bake in preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until tops of cupcakes spring back when lightly touched. Let cool in pan on rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and let cool completely on rack. Top cooled cupcakes with frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting
(This is a half portion of the original from the Joy of Baking website.)
3/4 cups heavy whipping cream
4 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
4 oz. Mascarpone cheese, room temperature
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup confectioners sugar

In food processor or with hand mixer, mix cream cheese and Mascarpone cheese until smooth.
Add vanilla and confectioners sugar and process until smooth.
Transfer mixture to large mixing bowl.

Then, in bowl of electric mixer, or with hand mixer, whip the cream until stiff peaks form. With a large spatula, gently but quickly fold a little of the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture to lighten it. Then fold in the remaining whipped cream, in two stages. Cover and place the frosting in the refrigerator for an hour or two, or until it is firm enough to spread.



Vanilla Apple Cake - Sweet and Simple Bakes

2009-01-18T13:25:32.769-08:00

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This is a most delicious cake, perfect for that morning or afternoon tea or coffee break or for a more formal teaparty. It's from the Brit site Sweet and Simple Bakes(a wonderful site for British cakes). The more I think of my already eaten apple cake the more I can almost taste it; it has a nice sweet, but not overly sweet, crust that forms on the top.

Here's the recipe:

Vanilla Apple Cake

Ingredients
250g/9oz unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
250g/9oz golden caster sugar (or normal caster sugar)
4 eggs, beaten
250g/9oz self-raising flour
1 vanilla pod, split, seeds removed and reserved (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)
3 small Bramley apples, peeled, cored and cut into wedges (or any other type of cooking apple, if not apple of your choice)
2 tbsp Demerara sugar
¼ tsp ground cinnamon

Heat the oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4/350F. Butter a 20cm/8inch springform tin, then line the base with baking paper.

Beat the caster sugar and butter together until the mixture turns pale and fluffy. Add the eggs, flour and vanilla seeds, then beat together quickly to make a smooth batter. Tip into the prepared tin, then lay the apple wedges on top, poking them halfway into the mix. Don’t worry if the apples appear crowded – they’ll shrink as they cook. Sprinkle with the Demerara and cinnamon, then bake for 1 hour 5 mins, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean and the sponge is risen and golden.

Leave to cool for a few mins, then release the tin and cool the cake completely on a wire rack.

I put regular sugar in the coffee grinder to get "caster sugar" - much less expensive and just as good; actually bought some Demerara sugar but a running brown sugar (not the packed kind) will do just as well. Also used Golden Delicious apples.

Definitely worth making again and then again.



French Pear Tart - Tuesdays with Dorie

2009-01-06T04:45:24.793-08:00

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Dorie Greenspan herself has chosen her wonderful French Pear Tart recipe for us to bake this week. I would like to take this opportunity to say a big "Thank you" to Dorie for her outstanding book, Baking From My Home to Yours and also to Laurie and her team for the Tuesdays with Dorie blog. I have learned such a lot: choux pastry, brioche, kugelhopf, creamy mousses and .... I could go on and on - so many delicious recipes that I had never even thought of trying just a year ago.

Well, so it's French Pear Tart. I got up early this morning and blits the pate sucre , which is now sitting in the fridge for this evening's endeavor. I have a trip planned to Citarella for the best baking pears I can get.

After a nice lunch with friends in the City and carrying some Boscobel pears, I wended my way homeward. I was filled with fury when I got home to see there was yet another dunning letter for me - some lousy company harassing me for a payment I don't owe. It took me a while to calm myself before I could start baking. But my mood became so upbeat when I started on the tarts - so creative.

I made minis, using some 2-1/2 inch tartlette pans with removable bases - a delight to work with. The minis look cute but they were certainly a lot more work than a single 9-inch tart. However, they will be easy to handle and easy to eat.

If you would like the recipe for Dorie's French Pear Tart - get the book, get the book! It is truly one of the best.



French Yule Log - Daring Bakers

2009-01-04T08:41:55.211-08:00

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This month's challenge is brought to us by the adventurous Hilda from Saffron and Blueberry
and Marion from Il el faut peu pour etre hereau.
They have chosen a French Yule Log by Flore from Florilege Gourmand.

Whew! Finally, done! I started way late - on Thursday, New Years Day, and it's taken me up until Saturday night to get to the stage of putting it in the fridge until it gets the icing Sunday morning. A lot of work!

Sunday morning - did the icing - lovely - I always wanted to know how to do plastic icing. I loved the praline crisp, the vanilla mousse, and chocolate ganache. That leaves only two elements I wasn't happy with - the creme brulee and the dacquoise, but I think I messed up there (used a tall pan for the dacquoise so it took a long time to bake and got a bit rubbery; I beat the creme brulee instead of just stirring it so I think that's why it came out a bit spongy.) Ran out of mousse and icing, so had to leave out some mousse layers and could only ice part of the log. It would have been fine in an 8x4 pan instead of a 9X5.

Would I make this again, like the opera cake? I'm not sure, but I would certainly make individual elements to put in other creations. Now that I have tasted the completed product, I shiver with delight, in spite of some of my construction faults. It is a real fancy French restaurant dessert. I think it would be perfect cut up into petit four sizes too.

Thank you kind hosts - it was a very challenging and worthwhile experience.



Vanilla Apple Cake - Sweet and Simple Bakes

2009-01-18T05:26:52.358-08:00

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This is a most delicious cake, perfect for that morning or afternoon tea or coffee break or for a more formal teaparty. It's from the Brit site Sweet and Simple Bakes (a wonderful site for British cakes). The more I think of my already eaten apple cake the more I can almost taste it; it has a nice sweet, but not overly sweet, crust that forms on the top.

Here's the recipe:

Vanilla Apple Cake

Ingredients
250g/9oz unsalted butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
250g/9oz golden caster sugar (or normal caster sugar)
4 eggs, beaten
250g/9oz self-raising flour
1 vanilla pod, split, seeds removed and reserved (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)
3 small Bramley apples, peeled, cored and cut into wedges (or any other type of cooking apple, if not apple of your choice)
2 tbsp Demerara sugar
¼ tsp ground cinnamon

Heat the oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4/350F. Butter a 20cm/8inch springform tin, then line the base with baking paper.

Beat the caster sugar and butter together until the mixture turns pale and fluffy. Add the eggs, flour and vanilla seeds, then beat together quickly to make a smooth batter. Tip into the prepared tin, then lay the apple wedges on top, poking them halfway into the mix. Don’t worry if the apples appear crowded – they’ll shrink as they cook. Sprinkle with the Demerara and cinnamon, then bake for 1 hour 5 mins, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean and the sponge is risen and golden.

Leave to cool for a few mins, then release the tin and cool the cake completely on a wire rack.

I put regular sugar in the coffee grinder to get "caster sugar" - much less expensive and just as good; actually bought some Demerara sugar but a running brown sugar (not the packed kind) will do just as well. Also used Golden Delicious apples.

Definitely worth making again and then again.



Tall and Creamy Cheesecake

2008-12-29T21:10:25.656-08:00


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Anne of Anne Strawberry has chosen a wonderful cheesecake for this week's Tuesdays with Dorie. (Please excuse the pic of the cake in its pan still - it was about to go on the subway and I was afraid it would get all squished if I took it out.)

Speaking of pics, todays blog is also starring my little girl cat, Phoebe,who is on show for her Holiday photograph.

I think the cake could well have been named Tall and "Dreamy" Cheesecake - it's a winner, the kind of cake that one is proud to serve to guests after a nice dinner. It is totally delicious and has quite a light consistency (I have had some cheesecake clunkers at times). It is rich - 4 packets of cream cheese, 4 eggs and a generous amount of cream and sour cream give it a melt-in-the mouth flavor, and it's easy to bake! No fuss, no anxiously peering through the oven door glass, just follow Dorie's time instructions exactly and after 2-1/2 hours the cheesecake will be on the table, gradually cooling.

I let mine sit in the refrigerator for 24 hours, drizzled some caramel sauce on and then took it to work. It was a great success and a very nice treat for the Christmas/New Year Holiday period. I could cut 12 generous portions (none of that sliver business) and they disappeared very quickly.

The recipe for the Tall and Creamy Cheesecake is up on Anne's blog. Bake and enjoy!



Christmas Morning Muffins - Sweet and Simple Bakes

2008-12-19T05:39:12.651-08:00

As well as delicious muffins my great, big beautiful cat "Mystery" is featured in this post, taking his ease in his kitty condo. He is truly the master and commander in my house and posed for a special Holiday pic.Sweet and Simple Bakes is one of my favorite blogs, with a great recipe to enter every month. For December we could vote on one out of four Christmas recipes and Nigella Lawson's "Christmas Morning Muffins" won. (I was one of the folks who voted for the muffins recipe). I have just consumed a Christmas Morning Muffin. It's 9:15PM on December 16th but that doesn't matter does it? - I think Nigella will allow me some poetic licence. They were not quite cooled on the rack when I reached out and grabbed one - oh my, delicious! It's all those plump dried cranberries (1/2 lb.) in the mix that did the trick, I think. Some of the ingredients are true British and a bit difficult to get here in the States, but it's nothing that can't be resolved. For caster sugar just pulse some regular sugar in the coffee grinder a few times and presto, it's caster sugar. Demerara sugar can be substituted with "Sugar in the Raw." It's not as sparkly as Demerara sugar but it will taste good. I got fresh dried cranberries at Sahadi's on Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn - just so much better than the dry shrivelled stuff one gets in a packet at the supermarket.I took them to work (all 10 of them as I ate two before work) and placed them alongside the "Buttery Jam Cookies" I had baked for "Tuesdays with Dorie." They were quite the rave (as well as the cookies). An excellent recipe for Christmas time and so easy to put together. Here's the recipe:Christmas Morning Muffins ~ adapted from Nigella Christmas Book Makes 12Ingredients250g (9 oz) plain (all-purpose) flour2½ tsp baking powder½ tsp bicarbonate of soda100g (4 oz) caster (super fine) sugar1 tsp ground cinnamonGood grating of fresh nutmeg (or ¼ tsp ground nutmeg)2 Clementine’s or Satsuma’s *see notes*Approx 125ml (4 fl oz) full-fat milk75g 3 oz) vegetable oil (or melted butter, left to cool slightly)1 egg175g (6 oz) dried cranberriesFor The Topping3 tsp Demerara sugar *see notes*MethodPreheat the oven to 200°C/fan oven 180°C/400°F/Gas mark 6. Line a 12-bun muffin tin with muffin paper cases.Measure the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, caster sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg into a large bowl; grate the zest of the Clementine’s/Satsuma’s over and combine.Squeeze the juice of the Clementine’s/Satsuma’s into a measuring jug, and pour in the milk until it comes up to the 200ml (7 fl oz) mark.Add the oil (or slightly cooled, melted butter) and egg, and lightly beat until just combined.Pour this liquid mixture into the bowl of dried ingredients and stir until everything is more or less combined, remembering that a well-beaten mixture makes for heavy muffins; a lumpy batter is a good here.Fold in the cranberries, then spoon the batter into the muffin cases and sprinkle the Demerara sugar on top.Bake in the oven for 20 minutes until golden brown and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. The muffins are ready to eat now either plain or broken up and smeared with butter and marmalade.* Notes**Cranberries could also be replaced with another dried fruit of choice** Clementine’s/Satsuma’s*If you’re unable to source Clementine’s or Satsuma’s, 1 orange of zest and juice would be adequate.[...]



Buttery Jam Cookies - Tuesdays with Dorie

2008-12-16T04:15:25.921-08:00

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This week's Tuesdays with Dorie is chosen by Heather of Randomosity and the Girl. What a nice easy cookie to whip up - just imagine guests coming for tea and there's nothing to eat - just bake a batch of these Buttery Jam Cookies and you're all organized.

I used my delicious Turkish rose jam so the cookies have a lightly scented flavor and you can really taste the butter in them. Also baked them one tray at a time on the middle rung - seems to work just as well as switching trays around from top to bottom. They have quite a chewy texture with the jam. But aren't they tiny! About three of these would make a normal size cookie.

I think they need prettying up a bit so I have given mine some frosting with a bit of Rose water flavoring, topped with toasted almond pieces. Just right for tea.

Thank you Heather for your choice - they are on my "make again" list.



Operation Baking GALS - Christmas Package

2008-12-14T12:27:54.328-08:00

This is my Christmas mailing package for a brave soldier in Quatar and for a brave nurse in Iraq(two boxes for each recipient). I picked Team Your Place Gourmet to work on - Kim Onstott's a great team leader and gives lots of encouragement and support. Had a real good time baking and tasting this weekend and now everything is all packed up and ready to go. My pics. show(top)Salted Peanut Butter Toffee Cookies ; (middle) Coconut Oatmeal Cookies and (bottom)Oatmeal Raisin Cookies (with some candy packs).*****Five Stars for the Peanut Butter Cookies - the recipe is from one of my favorite blogs, Alpineberry. If you're looking for a special peanut butter cookie, make these - they are divine! Salted Peanut Butter Toffee Cookies(makes about 50 cookies)1 1/3 cups (6 ounces) all purpose flour1/2 tsp baking soda1 tsp coarse sea salt (like fleur de sel)(I used 1/2 teasp.)4 ounces (8 tbsp/1 stick) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature2/3 cup firmly light packed brown sugar1/3 cup granulated sugar1 large egg, at room temperature1 tsp pure vanilla extract1 cup smooth natural peanut butter [Be sure to stir PB well to blend in the oil before measuring]1 cup (5 ounces) toffee peanuts, coarsely chopped (I used Honey Roasted Peanuts)Preheat oven to 325F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.Whisk the flour, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl to combine. Set aside.In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream butter and both sugars on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Mix in egg and vanilla. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Mix in peanut butter. Add the flour mixture and mix until the flour is incorporated.Pour the chopped toffee peanuts in a shallow bowl. Scoop 2 level teaspoons of dough for each cookie and shape into a 1-inch ball. Roll the ball in the chopped peanuts to coat heavily, pressing any bits that fall off. Place the coated balls 2 inches apart on the line cookie sheets.Bake the cookies until they are lightly colored on top, about 14-17 minutes. The cookies will seem soft to the touch but will firm up as they cool.I also liked the Coconut Oatmeal Cookies which I got from Friends Bookclub, a really good site which, altho' no longer active, has retained hundreds of lovely recipes.Coconut Oatmeal Cookies1 Cup Butter or margarine 1 Cup Brown sugar, firmly packedCornstarch 1 Cup Granulated sugar 2 Eggs 2 Tsps. Vanilla extract 2 Cups Sifted all-purpose flour 1 Tsp. Baking soda 1 Tsp. Salt 1 Tsp. Baking powder 1 Cup Rolled oats, quick cooking 2 Cups Coconut Cream butter, add sugar slowly and beat until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla. Beat well. Sift together flour, salt, soda and baking powder; add (stir in) 4 parts. Mix in oats and coconut. Drop by teaspoons onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 375° 12 to 15 minutes, or until golden brown.YIELD: Approx. 5 dozen The Oatmeal Raisin Cookies are from the top of the Quaker Oats box, so I won't be posting the recipe for them. I was not crazy about these by comparison with the other two.So mailing is early tomorrow, Monday morning. Of course I'm hoping it all gets there intact. So far all my packages have arrived at their destinations and I have received some very nice Thank You cards from the recipients - they write me that it is very touching to see the happiness in the eyes of the soldiers when they distribute the cookies to their troops, mainly to those who do not get mail or packages from home. Next month - Round Six. If you would like to send cookie boxes to our Troops, just check out the Operation BakingGALS site.[...]



Grandma's All Occasion Sugar Cookies - Tuesdays with Dorie

2008-12-09T20:05:57.286-08:00

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Ulrike of Kuchenlaten has made a wonderful Christmassy choice for us this week - sugar cookies - Yum! I'm making this a real quick post - it's already the evening of Tuesday and I have just put the oven on and taken the butter and eggs out. Two festive days of going to Handel's Messiah and a Langlais Mass (followed by a nice glass of Merlot last night) have put me out of commission for leisurely baking and blogging. However, I'm determined to get this post in before my carriage turns into a pumpkin.

Done - The cookies are quite cute; a bit small (I used the roll and slice method as it's quick and easy) and they taste rather good. I decorated them with glace cherries and colored sugar. My second batch tastes very good - I baked them for 15 mins. at 350 degrees; the first batch for 11 minutes. The shorter time gave rather a bland cookie, slightly soft. I do have a preference for a nice crisp "biscuit;" nevertheless I think Dorie is sometimes out on her timing - usually under.

If you are looking for a pretty cookie to put out on the Christmas dessert table, you can get the recipe on Ulrike's blog. Next week we will have another cookie recipe suitable for Christmas fare - Buttery Jam Cookies.



Linzer Cookies -Tuesdays with Dorie

2008-12-02T04:29:17.669-08:00

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These attractive cookies were chosen for us this week by Noskos of Living the Life. I take a quick look at the trusty Wikipedia - the cookies are of Austrian/Hungarian origin. They are mini-versions of the Linzer Torte, a tart with a lattice design on top of the pastry. The oldest recipe for the Torte was discovered in the town of Linz and dates back to the 1600's. Right, good, I've learned something today.

Making the Cookies

The dough was quite easy to get together and my rolling out skills are improving slightly. I'm also one of the bakers who thinks the dough should be rolled thinner to say, 1/8 inch, as 1/4 inch is too heavy. Well, it's done now so it's too late this time. I experimented with Dorie's cooking time, first with 15 minutes, then 13 minutes, then 11 minutes. The 15 min. batch was overdone of course, the 13 min. okay but still a bit brownie and the 11 mins. was just fine. (Sounds like The Three Bears and their porridge.)

However, I don't care for the dough very much. I have tasted Linzer cookies before and they are usually quite sweet and buttery and the dough is soft. It's probably me but this dough is hard and quite tough and it does not have anywhere near enough sugar. Also too much cinnamon for my taste. Surely the powdered sugar will make it sweeter, but I still won't use this cookie dough again.

I like the jam filling - I chose Rose Jam, imported from Turkey. I got it at the Turkish deli about 1/2 mile from me. It has a unique, scented, delicate flavor and is quite runny, so I did not add any water to it. It's also a pretty Turkish Delight pink color. Goodness, I hope the guys at work like it, but I know the gals will.

I got 26 doubled-up cookies out of the recipe, even with the dough being a bit thick. Does anyone use those rubber measuring bands on the rolling pin? - I hear they are supposed to give a perfectly even height to the pastry.

Nice creative cookie idea with the jam and the little cut-outs. Noskos has the recipe on website - Living the Life.



Caramel Cake - Daring Bakers

2008-11-29T03:37:08.254-08:00

This is the most absolutely wonderful cake. I whined and worried all the way through the making but in the end it turned out fine. The result - a delicious caramel flavored dense-crumb cake, with a frosting that becomes increasingly addictive the more you taste it. Many thanks to Dolores of Chronicles in Culinary Curiosity for so graciously hosting our challenge this month; also to co-hosts Alex of Blondie and Brownie and Jenny of Foray into Food. This was probably my favorite challenge. And of course thank you, thank you to Chef Shuna Fish Lydon for her wonderful Caramel Cake Recipe . Shuna's blog is Eggbeater. I am still dreaming and drooling, even though we ate it two weeks ago.The Cake ExperienceI started off with the syrup and ended up making it twice as I thought it was supposed to taste like caramel - even though it was a nice amber color it tasted like barley sugar. Thank goodness for our Forum as I got good advice from a fellow DB'er that it's not supposed to taste like caramel - it's only sugar and water; it's butter that gives it a caramel flavor. I also got the tip on the Forum to whisk the syrup mix for 10 minutes before dousing it with the cold water - the recipe did not give us a time span.I was alarmed to see the syrup set like a firm jelly while I dithered around taking breaks, then getting the other ingredients together. I microwaved it for about 15 seconds but it wouldn't liquify, so I had to add gelatinous blobs to the batter and the frosting. NEXT TIME - must work more quickly so as to catch the syrup before it gels - Syrup first; wait until just cooled, then make the batter.The cake came out beautifully, giving off a divine aroma. I baked it for 25 minutes after turning; it probably would have been fine at just over 20 minutes as my cake developed rather brownie edges.For the frosting I played by the rules, even though I was so tempted to try something less sweet (even made a beautiful Swiss meringue buttercream for the cake, which I will freeze as I didn't use it). I don't usually make frosting with confectioners' sugar - it is just too cloying and grainy but as it was part of our Challenge I had to use it if I wanted to play fair (and get credit, of course!). This frosting is admittedly very sweet indeed, but the browned butter and the 2 Tbs. of caramel syrup give it a wonderfully exotic flavor, heightened by about a half-teasp. of sea salt crystals - pretty sophisticated.I halved the portion of frosting as I wasn't sure I was going to use it at first. It's an ample quantity to cover the top of the cake, but as I spred it I couldn't help wishing I could make nice puffy creamy swirls with more frosting.The Verdict: My co-workers loved it and so did I. It is a really special cake. There was such a demand for slices that I had to cut small slivers so people could get a taste. with the full amount of frosting now. This cake is like poetry - it has the power to uplift the spirit and change ones mood. "Cake Day" Tuesday was at work was very upbeat. Will definitely make again for a special occasion, with the full amount of frosting.Here's Shuna's recipe:Caramel Cake[...]



Thanksgiving Twofer Pie - Tuesdays with Dorie

2008-11-25T04:21:15.824-08:00

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Vibi of La Casserole Carrie made this week's pick - it looks like a wonderful choice for Thanksgiving dinner. Vibi has the recipe on her blog, in French first and then translated into English.

However, for me not a very happy evening. I had such great plans to make individual 4" tartlettes, each decorated with a rosette of stabilized cream. But this was not to be. I made a double portion of the "Good for Almost Anything Pie Dough" which was sitting nicely chilled in the fridge when I got back from my physical therapy session (for a conked in knee).

Quite fulfilling - this time my dough rolled out pretty well, with the help of a King Arthur Flour silpat that has circles drawn on it. So feeling confident I cut out nine 4" rounds and placed them carefully in the tartlette pans. While watching how they were doing at 400 degrees I realized the pans were too large for the pastry - I had simply formed dough pancakes.

Attempt no. 2: Rolled out the next batch of cold dough and placed it in a 9 inch Pyrex pie plate; no trouble. I sprinkled some dried navy beans over the base and did the 10 minute thing again. After 10 minutes I was dismayed to see part of the sides had fallen in and then I spent quite a while digging out navy beans from the base as I forgot to cover it with foil. I hope I didn't miss any beans or someone might break a tooth. I really don't know why my dough shrunk in the glass plate; it hasn't happened before.

Another 20 mins. will tell if I have made something halfway edible or not but gone are my visions of producing little French looking tartlettes. There will at best be a crumpled pie. But onward and upward - this Pollyanna says it's a good learning experience and to forge ahead with making Christmas mincemeat pies from Dorie's pie dough.

The taste test remains but it took almost an hour for my pie to bake at 300 degrees. It looks, well, just like a rather ordinary pie.



Kugelhopf - Tuesdays with Dorie

2008-11-11T18:40:10.983-08:00

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Tuesday morning, Veterans Day, and I'm ready to tackle the Kugelhopf, chosen by Yolanda of All Purpose Girl. The Kugelhopf is certainly a full day cake, going into the evening. I won't have time to let it sit in the fridge overnight so a couple of hours will have to do.

I have made the dough - it is a lovely, soft, elastic, sticky dough but much moister I think than the other brioche dough recipes Dorie has given us. After reading the P&Q section, I let mine get beaten up for 15 minutes, instead of the prescribed 10 minutes. Finally it did curl up around the hook. So now I wait for the first rise, with fingers crossed.

Much later, like 9:00PM and after two L--O--N--G rises and some slap downs, my dough was almost at the top of the kugelhopf pan and ready to bake. It felt as light as a feather as I put it in the oven and did the 10 minute/foil tent thing. Now I'm waiting, holding my breath and having heart palpitations (seriously) while it bakes for another 15 minutes.

So now?! What's this - a hat that someone has sat on! Why doesn't it look like a proper kugelhopf like some of you other TWD'ers have made? I'm wondering what could have made it turn into a pork pie. It was so beautiful when I first took it out of the oven. It had better taste good tomorrow! Oh well, next time maybe it'll look nice.



Rugelach - Tuesdays with Dorie

2008-11-04T04:04:28.731-08:00

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This week's baking pick, Rugelach, comes to us from Piggy of Piggy's Cooking Journal. It was an exciting bake - I have never made anything like this before.

I find these pastries to be very European, not Brit or American. My neighbor Mitka, who is from Bosnia, often brings over delicious pastries that usually have fruity, nutty fillings - the Rugelach remind me of her baking. We sit around looking at pictures in baking books, drinking Turkish coffee. A nice little break from the humdrum.

The pastry was a pleasure to make in the food processor (seems Dorie likes the food processor a lot). When it came to rolling the dough however my confidence dimished somewhat as the pastry would not form a circle, rather a map of Spain in the first batch and a distorted rectangle in the second. So the roll-ups are a bit wonky but they have held together and my office consumers will not be not looking for symmetry.

I used three different kinds of jam fillings - raspberry jam, apricot jam and guava jelly, then sprinkled either walnuts or pecans on them, followed by raisins plumped by steeping them in boiled water. Could not get currants anywhere near me. My first batch stayed in the fridge overnight and was a lot easier to handle than the second batch which started getting too soft and tricky to roll - I kept these in the fridge for only 1-1/2 hours. The pastries look as if they'll taste good; I'm looking forward to doing my own taste test tomorrow.

Thank you Piggy for this pick - I think it will be a "make again."



Pistachio Cake

2008-10-31T07:35:30.456-07:00

I made a Pistachio Cake the other day, something I've been dying to try and finally got around to doing. My Blog challenges were done and I had some "free-lance" time. This Pistachio Cake is a very nice cake indeed. It's from Epicurious, amidst at least a dozen other pistachio cake recipes. It had cardamom , my favorite spice, and looked like it wouldn't take too long. Here's the recipe:----------------------------Pistachio Cake - Rick Tramonto3/4 cup unsalted shelled pistachios (approximately 4 ounces; not dyed red)1 cup all-purpose flour2 teaspoons baking powder1 teaspoon ground cardamom1/4 teaspoon salt 1/2 cup whole milk 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened1 cup sugar3 large eggs 2 tablespoons finely grated orange zest (from 3 medium oranges)Arrange oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F.Butter 9-inch-diameter round metal pan and line bottom with waxed paper. Butter paper, then dust pan with flour, knocking out excess. Using food processor, pulse pistachios until finely ground, about 40 seconds.(Do not overprocess, or mixture will become paste.) Add flour, baking powder, cardamom, and salt and pulse briefly to combine. In small bowl, combine milk and vanilla.In large bowl using electric mixer at moderate speed, beat together butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes.Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Reduce speed to low and add pistachio and milk mixtures alternately in batches, beginning and ending with pistachio mixture and beating after each addition just until combined. Add orange zest and beat just until combined. Spread batter evenly in pan and bake until wooden skewer inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 30 to 40 minutes.Cool in pan on rack 10 minutes, then run knife around cake to loosen and invert onto rack. Remove paper and serve warm or at room temperature with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.Add orange zest and beat just until combined. Spread batter evenly in pan and bake until wooden skewer inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 30 to 40 minutes.Cool in pan on rack 10 minutes, then run knife around cake to loosen and invert onto rack. Remove paper and serve warm or at room temperature with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.---------------------------------Some adventures along the way, well one happening: I followed the instructions and measures exactly and waited until the 30 min. checking time before looking in the oven - the cake had risen nicely but needed five more minutes. Next I noticed the darn thing deflating in the middle - it wasn't a crater but it was a wide bell curve. I felt really miffed. In the end, however, it looked okay and I slathered cream cheese frosting over the top so the curve didn't show. The next morning it was tested by my co-workers - they loved it. The skinniest guy had three slices and most of the others (including me) had two (we had a small group this week). They absolutely loved it! But why did it deflate in the middle? - perhaps I could be a bit scientific for a change. I consulted my recently purchased copy of Bakewise by Shirley Corriher. She writes that most problems with deflating are caused by over-leavening (i.o.w. too much baking powder or baking soda). She recommends 1 to 1-1/4 teaspoons of baking powder per one cup of flour. My recipe had 2 teaspoons. I'm going to reduce the baking powder next time I bake the cake to see if it makes a difference. Shirley's book, by the way, is an absolute treasure of beautiful recipes and advice on how to m[...]



Chocolate Chocolate Cupcakes - Tuesdays with Dorie

2008-10-28T02:53:08.431-07:00

Three Little Cupcakes All in a Row. Absolutely super, an absolute delight, absolutely to be made again for any chocky cupcake occasion! Making them was a breeze and I think the buttermilk is what made them so light and fluffy. One little slip, however. I didn't use the mise en place method as I ought to have done (I have even bought a lot of little dishes and bowls to organize my ingredients). The cupcakes were in the oven already; I turned around and saw a small blob of melted chocolate in a cup - the 2 oz. of melted chocolate in the recipe. Too late to do anything about it so I put it in the fridge (ate it the next day - frozen chocolate is quite delicious). But it did not make much of a difference to the lovely chocolately flavor of the cupcakes - this was the kind of chocolate cake I had as a child, with cocoa powder. No-one used chocolate for baking then.I left them in the oven for 20 mins. before taking them out - some of them were not quite baked enough so I put them back in for 2 mins. Dorie's timing is perfect here. For the frosting I used the ganache recipe from Carole Walter's exotic Filbert Gateau* as I already had some in the freezer.---------------------------------------*Recipe for Carole Walter's Ganache GlazeMakes about 1 cup, enough to cover the top and sides of a 9 or 10 inch layer or tube cake 6 oz. (good) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, like Lindt6 oz. (¾ cup heavy cream1 tbsp. light corn syrup1 Tbsp. Grand Marnier, Cointreay, or dark Jamaican rum (optional)¾ tsp. vanilla½ - 1 tsp. hot water, if neededBlend vanilla and liqueur/rum together and set aside. Break the chocolate into 1-inch pieces and place in the basket of a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Transfer into a medium sized bowl and set aside. Heat the cream and corn syrup in a saucepan, on low, until it reached a gentle boil. Once to the gently boil, immediately and carefully pour over the chocolate. Leave it alone for one minute, then slowly stir and mix the chocolate and cream together until the chocolate is melted and incorporated into the cream. Carefully blend in vanilla mixture. If the surface seems oily, add ½ - 1 tsp hot water. The glaze will thicken, but should still be pourable. If it doesn’t thicken, refrigerate for about 5minutes, but make sure it doesn’t get too cold!--------------------------------------------As a decoration I used Bittersweet Chocolate - Guittard Sprinkles from King Arthur Flour. I think they are quite expensive but oh my, is it worth it! Regular baking aisle fare cannot compare to them. After all, they should last pretty long too - how often does one use them?My co-workers were delighted with the Cupcakes, as they were with the Pumpkin Muffins. These last two recipes have been absolute hits. Many thanks to Clara of I Heart Food 4 Thought for picking the Chocolate Chocolate Cupcakes. Clara's lovely blog also has the recipe for them.Next week - Rugelach.[...]



Pizza! - For Daring Bakers October Challenge

2008-10-28T22:35:36.768-07:00

Rosa of Rosa's Yummy Yums chose Pizza for the Daring Bakers October project. What an excellent choice - I have learned so much and maybe I will start making my own pizza now. What freedom of sauces and toppings, quantities and doughs. They say Brooklyn pizza is the best - sometimes it is, but sometimes it isn't, so now I can be independent.This said and done, however, this was one rather difficult, tricky challenge for me, but I had a lot of fun and a great sense of delight at seeing my pizzas cook so nicely in the oven.I'm a real novice with bread making - for one thing, YEAST. My yeast behaved very badly. Last weekend I optimistically planned to get ahead of the game and finish my challenge almost two weeks before the deadline. Not so! I prepared the Peter Reinhart dough with high hopes in spite of some peculiar behavior from my Kitchen Aid and dough hook. [The machine was banging and walking around the table and the dough hook kept on curling all the dough above it.] I survived this performance and finished with a nice batch of dough. I patted the dough into a round, cut six segments and placed them under saran wrap in the fridge.Two days later, no rise; three days later, no rise. Thank goodness for our Q&A section - a fellow Daring Baker advised me the yeast must be old and that I should just graft a bit of new, fresh yeast onto the dough. I would like to have tried this - after all, I'd just used up 4 plus cups of flour, but it was not to be. In New York of all places there was not a package of Instant Yeast to be found. I went to four different shops (two regular supermarkets and two posh ones, as well as one I found to have closed down). They had plenty of Active Dry Yeast but no "Quick Rise" so I could not get an add-on to enliven my dough. This is a cautionary tale - do not use yeast that you cannot remember when last you bought it except that it must have been at least 18 months ago!My Confession - I had to use another dough recipe (this one from Epicurious) that required the Active Dry Yeast and a warm rise. In fact, I'm a bit leery of a cool rise now but my fellow DB'ers do not seem to have a problem with it. I promise, I promise to try the Reinhart dough again someday, but by now I was actually in a state of panic - only a couple of days to go before posting. So this time I made less dough and let it rise for nearly three hours on my kitchen table; thank goodness it came out bouncy and puffy.The tossing? I get an "E" for effort, but I did try to toss up my oddly shaped dough - I "tossed" them with mouse like timidity - they got a couple of inches in the air but I was so nervous they would fall on the floor I quickly let them land on my hands again. I have such a lot to learn about bread baking.The outcome of my first pizza making adventures can be seen in my pics - wonky pies in odd sizes, but the baking is the part I loved. It was just wonderful to choose toppings and sauces and then to gaze into the oven, watching the sauce bubbling up and the dough giving a slight rise. I feel proud that I have actually completed this challenge, well, sort of. My first pie is made with a "Tomato Herb Sauce" topped with mozzarella cheese and mushrooms; my second pie, the wee one, is made with "Pesto Sauce" topped with feta cheese and pepperoni. I can't wait to try them.Thank you so much Rosa for this rigorous and exciting challenge - I plan to improve and make my own pizza for when friends come over.The sauce recipes are from Great Party Recipes. They're rea[...]



Pumpkin Muffins - Tuesdays with Dorie

2008-10-21T04:32:07.683-07:00

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This weeks choice is brought to us by Kelly of Sounding My Barbaric Gulp. I love pumpkin loaf, pumpkin scones, and now I love Dorie's Pumpkin Muffins. They have just cooled enough for me to have a little gobble - very good indeed. The texture is dense and soft, perfect for muffins. I love the crunchy walnuts and the golden raisins. The tops are a little bit too crusty for my taste - I think it must be the baking at 400 F. I think I'll bake them at 375 F next time.

I've wrapped them in Saran wrap and they're ready to go to work - they will really be delicious with butter and slightly warmed if any of my co-workers want to try them that way. The recipe is on Kelly's blog and in Dorie's wonderful book, Baking From My Home to Yours.

Thank you, Kelly. Excellent choice!



Lenox Almond Biscotti - Tuesdays with Dorie

2008-10-14T03:48:24.541-07:00

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This fabulous choice is picked for us by Gretchen of Canela & Comino

So far so good. Saturday night and starting my Lenox Almond Biscotti. I have rolled the dough into two 12x1-1/2 inch rolls and am keeping them in the fridge overnight before baking.

Sunday afternoon and back from my pilates class - I'm ready to do the first baking. Well, it took 25 mins. not 15, but then I had them in the fridge all the time, so this must have made the difference. They are out on the countertop now, looking quite nice (keeping my fingers crossed). Thank you Melissa of Baking a Sweet Life for your P&Q advice - it worked well for me.

2nd baking - have turned my oven down to 300 F and half of them are in the oven. I got almost 30 biscotti out of the dough. I kept them in the oven for 25 minutes; half way through I turned them on to their other side.

Great success - I am so excited; I can now make biscotti! They came out beautifully and taste delicious. I was thinking of including them in my next Operation BakingGALS package but they are quite delicate and I think they may crumble in transit; it might be better to take them to work. We have quite a few Italian-American guys at work so I'm interested in what they will say. Their wives are great cooks, judging from the delicious aromas of homecooked lunch meals, so the bar will be set high.

Now onward to Pumpkin Muffins for next week.



Bobotie

2008-10-13T18:13:45.585-07:00

BobotieBobotie is an Afrikaans recipe very popular in South Africa. It originated with the Malaysian population who, in the 17th century, brought with them to the Cape from the East Indies many delicious spicy recipes. Bobotie is essentially ground meat with a variety of spices served on a bed of rice.Here's the recipe, first the original in Afrikaans then my translation and adaptation in English (pretty free translation). It is from an excellent recipe book Kook en Geniet -by S.J.A. de Villiers, published in 1980 (11-th publication; first published in 1951). The measurements are all metric as S.A. went metric in the early sixties but Mrs. de Villiers has provided imperial measures alongside. Bobotie l kg (2 pd) gemaalde skaap-of beesvleis (of oorblyfsels van koue, gebraaide vleis) 2 uie 1 sny brood 250 ml (l k) melk 2 eiers 12,5 ml (1 e)kerriepoeier 18,5 ml (1-1/2 e) suiker10 ml (2 t) sout; 2,5 ml (1/2 t) peper6 ml (1/2 e) borrie25 ml (2 e) asyn of die sap van 1 suurlemoen6 amandels, in kwarte verdeel125 ml (1/2 k) ontpitte rosyne4 suurlemoen-of lourierblare of die gerasperde geel skil van 1 suurlemoen37,5 ml (3e) blatjang 1. Dop die buitenste droe skilletjies van die uie af, sny die uie dan in dun skyfies en kerf dit fyn. Braai dit effens bruin in warm vet en indien rou vleis gebruik work, braai dit saam met die uie tot dit net effens gaar en los is. 2. Week die brood in die melk en druk weer die melk uit. Maak die brood fyn.3. Meng al die bestanddele, behalwe 1 eier, 1/2k melk en die lourierblare.4. Sit die mengsel in 'n gesmeerde, vuurvaste bakskottel, rol die blare op en steek hulle in the mengsel sodat hulle regop staan.5. Bak dit 1 uur lank in 'n matige oond by 180 C (350 F) as rou vleis gebruik word en 45 minute lank as gaar vleis gebruik word.6. Klop die orige eier en 125 ml (1/2 k) melk en gooi dit oor die vleis 'n halfuur voordat dit uit die oond gehaal word.7. Dien dit op met gekookte rys en blatjang.Bobotie2 lbs. ground meat (lamb or beef) or left-over, cold, cooked meat2 onions4 Tbs. vegetable oil1 slice bread1 cup milk2 eggs1/2 Tbs. curry powder1-1/2 Tbs. sugar1 teasp. salt; 1/2 teasp. pepper1 teasp. turmeric2 Tbs. vinegar or juice of one lemon1/4 cup of sliced almonds1/2 cup of seeded raisins 4 lemon leaves or bay leaves or grated peel of one lemon3 Tbs. chutney1. Remove the outer peel from the onions, then cut the onions in thin slices and chop finely. (I used my food processor - didn't feel like cutting up tiny bits of onion). Saute until translucent in hot oil. If using uncooked meat, fry on low flame together with the onions until it is slightly done and a bit crumbly.2. Soak the bread in the milk and squeeze most of the the milk out. Cut the bread in fine pieces.3. Mix all the ingredients - except remaining egg and the 1/2 cup milk and the bay leaves.4. Place the mixture in a buttered, fireproof casserole, roll up the bay leaves and place them upright in the mixture.5. Bake one hour in a moderate oven (350 F) if using uncooked meat and 45 minutes if using cooked meat.6. Beat the remaining egg and the 1/2 cup milk and pour over the meat half way through the baking. Remove dish from oven after one hour and let cool in casserole. 7. Serve with boiled or steamed rice and chutney.I've just eaten the dish in the photo for supper. I put half a sliced banana on it and a teaspoon of Major Grey's Mango Chutney. It's a long time since I've tasted Bobotie, and a very[...]