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Preview: My Year To Get Skinny - The Diary of a Fat Girl

My Year To Get Skinny - The Diary of a Fat Girl

Or The Diary of a Chubby Mama. Bitching, venting, baking, cooking, eating, exercising, and getting to my goal weight. There may even be some bitching, venting, laughing, and loving everything else in my life too! This is my year to be able to walk into an

Updated: 2017-10-08T01:43:12.556-06:00


Daring Bakers - October ~ Doughnuts!


The October 2010 Daring Bakers challenge was hosted by Lori of Butter Me Up. Lori chose to challenge DBers to make doughnuts. She used several sources for her recipes including Alton Brown, Nancy Silverton, Kate Neumann and Epicurious.

I'm having some major blog troubles. Hopefully things should be back to normal in a bit.

Daring Bakers - September ~ Decorated Sugar Cookies


The September 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Mandy of “What the Fruitcake?!” Mandy challenged everyone to make Decorated Sugar Cookies based on recipes from Peggy Porschen and The Joy of Baking.Agnes and I decided to bust out the Star Wars cookie cutters. We had such a fun time making these together! The dough is absolutely perfect for detailed cookies because it doesn't spread or raise too much. I will use this recipe a lot! Preparation Time30 minutes: Making dough & rolling1 hour min: Refrigeration8-15 minutes: Baking per tray depending on size of cookiesBasic Sugar Cookies:Makes Approximately 36x 10cm / 4" Cookies200g / 7oz / ½ cup + 6 Tbsp Unsalted Butter, at room temperature400g / 14oz / 3 cups + 3 Tbsp All Purpose / Plain Flour200g / 7oz / 1 cup Caster Sugar / Superfine Sugar1 Large Egg, lightly beaten5ml / 1 tsp Vanilla Extract / Or seeds from 1 vanilla beanDirections:• Cream together the butter, sugar and any flavourings you’re using. Beat until just becomingcreamy in texture.• Tip: Don’t over mix otherwise you’ll incorporate too much air and the cookies will spread duringbaking, losing their shape.• Beat in the egg until well combined, make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl.Add the sifted flour and mix on low until a non sticky dough forms.• Tip: I don’t have a stand mixer so I find it easier to switch to dough hooks at this stage to avoidflour flying everywhere.• Knead into a ball and divide into 2 or 3 pieces.• Roll out each portion between parchment paper to a thickness of about 5mm/1/5 inch (0.2 inch)• Refrigerate for a minimum of 30mins.• Tip: Recipes commonly just wrap the whole ball of dough in clingwrap and then refrigerate it for anhour or overnight, but by rolling the dough between parchment, this shortens the chilling time andthen it’s also been rolled out while still soft making it easier and quicker.• Once chilled, peel off parchment and place dough on a lightly floured surface.• Cut out shapes with cookie cutters or a sharp knife.• Arrange shapes on parchment lined baking sheets and refrigerate for another 30mins to an hour.• Tip: It’s very important you chill them again otherwise they’ll spread while baking.• Re-roll scraps and follow the above process until all scraps are used up.• Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C Fan Assisted) / 350°F / Gas Mark 4.• Bake until golden around the edges, about 8-15mins depending on the size of the cookies.• Tip: Bake same sized cookies together otherwise mixing smaller with larger cookies could result insome cookies being baked before others are done.• Tip: Rotate baking sheets half way through baking if your oven bakes unevenly.• Leave to cool on cooling racks.• Once completely cooled, decorate as desired.• Tip: If wrapped in tinfoil/cling wrap or kept in airtight containers in a cool place, un-decoratedcookies can last up to a month.Royal IcingIngredients:3 tablespoons Meringue Powder4 cups (about 1 lb.) confectioners' sugar6 tablespoons warm waterMakes: About 3 cups of icing.Instructions:Beat all ingredients until icing forms peaks (7-10 minutes at low speed with a heavy-duty mixer, 10-12 minutes at high speed with a hand-held mixer). NOTE: Keep all utensils completely grease-free for proper icing consistency.* For stiffer icing, use 1 tablespoon less water.**When using large countertop mixer or for stiffer icing, use 1 tablespoon less water.[...]

Daring Bakers - July ~ Swiss Swirl Ice Cream Cake


The July 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Sunita of Sunita’s world – life and food. Sunita challenged everyone to make an ice-cream filled Swiss roll that’s then used to make a bombe with hot fudge. Her recipe is based on an ice cream cake recipe from Taste of Home.This was a super fun challenge! It was a lot of work but the final bombe was the BOMB!! I used marionberry ice cream, vanilla ice cream, and huckleberry ice cream to fill the bombe. YUM!! Swiss Roll Ice Cream CakeIngredients:6 medium sized eggs 1 C caster sugar 8 oz + extra for rolling 6 TBS. a pinch over 1.5 oz of all purpose (plain) flour 5 TBS. a pinch under 1.5 oz of natural unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted together 2 TBS. boiling water a little oil for brushing the pans For the filling: 2 C whipping cream 1 vanilla pod, cut into small pieces of about 1⁄2 cm (or 1 tsp vanilla extract) 5 TBS. caster sugarDirections:1. Pre-heat the oven at 200 deg C /400 deg F approximately. Brush the baking pans (11 inches by 9 inches) with a little oil and line with greaseproof baking paper. If you have just one pan, bake one cake and then let the pan cool completely before using it for the next cake.2. In a large mixing bowl, add the eggs and sugar and beat till very thick; when the beaters are lifted, it should leave a trail on the surface for at least 10 seconds.3. Add the flour mixture, in three batches and fold in gently with a spatula. Fold in the water.4. Divide the mixture among the two baking pans and spread it out evenly, into the corners of the pans.5. Place a pan in the center of the pre-heated oven and bake for about 10-12 minutes or till the center is springy to the touch.6. Spread a kitchen towel on the counter and sprinkle a little caster sugar over it.7. Turn the cake on to the towel and peel away the baking paper. Trim any crisp edges.8. Starting from one of the shorter sides, start to make a roll with the towel going inside. Cool the wrapped roll on a rack, seam side down.9. Repeat the same for the next cake as well.10. Grind together the vanilla pieces and sugar in a food processer till nicely mixed together. If you are using vanilla extract, just grind the sugar on its own and then add the sugar and extract to the cream.11. In a large bowl, add the cream and vanilla-sugar mixture and beat till very thick.12. Divide the cream mixture between the completely cooled cakes.13. Open the rolls and spread the cream mixture, making sure it does not go right to the edges (a border of 1⁄2 an inch should be fine).14. Roll the cakes up again, this time without the towel. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge till needed, seam side down.Vanilla Ice CreamIngredients:2 and 1⁄2 C whipping cream 1 vanilla bean, minced or 1 tsp vanilla extract 1⁄2 C granulated sugarI added some marionberries and huckleberries. Delish!! Directions:1. Grind together the sugar and vanilla in a food processor. In a mixing bowl, add the cream and vanilla –sugar mixture and whisk lightly till everything is mixed together. If you are using the vanilla extract, grind the sugar on its own and then and the sugar along with the vanilla extract to the cream.2. Pour into a freezer friendly container and freeze till firm around the edges. Remove from the freezer, beat till smooth and return to the freezer. Do this 3-4 times and then set completely.Assembly1. Cut the Swiss rolls into 20 equal slices (approximately 2 cms each).2. Cover the bottom and sides of the bowl in which you are going to set the dessert with cling film/plastic wrap.3. Arrange two slices at the bottom of the pan, with their seam sides facing each other. Arrange the Swiss roll slices up the bowl, with the seam sides facing away from the bottom, to cover the sides of the bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and freeze till the slices are firm (at least 30 minutes).Soften the ice cream. Take the bowl out of the freezer, remove the cling film coverand add the ice cream on top of the cake slices. Spread it out to cover the bottom and si[...]

Bugaboo Bakery


Bugaboo Bakery is officially open for business! Bugaboo Bakery offers custom cakes, cheesecakes, cupcakes, and other sweet treats!

Check out the website! We are also on Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr.

Cheesecake of the Month is always announced early on so come on over and become a fan.

Daring Bakers - May ~ Piece Montée or Croquembouche


The May 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Cat of Little Miss Cupcake. Cat challenged everyone to make a piece montée, or croquembouche, based on recipes from Peter Kump’s Baking School in Manhattan and Nick Malgieri.I had such high hopes for this challenge. But my dreams were not to come true! I have been making cream puffs for years so I am not sure what happened. Since my puffs weren't exactly how I liked them I decided to dip the whole things in chocolate. Good, right? Well, sure but then I couldn't get them to stack up properly so my photos look like a plate of little chocolate doughnuts. LOL I like to call it THE LEANING TOWER OF LITTLE CHOCOLATE DOUGHNUTS!Ingredients:For the Vanilla Crème Patissiere (Half Batch)1 cup (225 ml.) whole milk2 Tbsp. cornstarch6 Tbsp. (100 g.) sugar1 large egg2 large egg yolks2 Tbsp. (30 g.) unsalted butter1 Tsp. VanillaDissolve cornstarch in ¼ cup of milk. Combine the remaining milk with the sugar in a saucepan; bring to boil; remove from heat.Beat the whole egg, then the yolks into the cornstarch mixture. Pour 1/3 of boiling milk into the egg mixture, whisking constantly so that the eggs do not begin to cook.Return the remaining milk to boil. Pour in the hot egg mixture in a stream, continuing whisking.Continue whisking (this is important – you do not want the eggs to solidify/cook) until the cream thickens and comes to a boil. Remove from heat and beat in the butter and vanilla.Pour cream into a stainless steel/ceramic bowl. Press plastic wrap firmly against the surface. Chill immediately and until ready to use.For Chocolate Pastry Cream (Half Batch Recipe):Bring ¼ cup (about 50 cl.) milk to a boil in a small pan; remove from heat and add in 3 ounces (about 80 g.) semisweet chocolate, finely chopped, and mix until smooth. Whisk into pastry cream when you add the butter and vanilla.It is at this point that you will add in the next egg. Repeat until you have incorporated all the eggs.Piping:Transfer batter to a pastry bag fitted with a large open tip (I piped directly from the bag opening without a tip). Pipe choux about 1 inch-part in the baking sheets. Choux should be about 1 inch high about 1 inch wide.Using a clean finger dipped in hot water, gently press down on any tips that have formed on the top of choux when piping. You want them to retain their ball shape, but be smoothly curved on top.Baking:Bake the choux at 425◦F/220◦C degrees until well-puffed and turning lightly golden in color, about 10 minutes.Lower the temperature to 350◦F/180◦C degrees and continue baking until well-colored and dry, about 20 minutes more. Remove to a rack and cool.Can be stored in a airtight box overnight.Filling:When you are ready to assemble your piece montée, using a plain pastry tip, pierce the bottom of each choux. Fill the choux with pastry cream using either the same tip or a star tip, and place on a paper-lined sheet. Choux can be refrigerated briefly at this point while you make your glaze.Use one of these to top your choux and assemble your piece montée.Chocolate Glaze:8 ounces/200 g. finely chopped chocolate (use the finest quality you can afford as the taste will be quite pronounced; I recommend semi-sweet)Melt chocolate in microwave or double boiler. Stir at regular intervals to avoid burning. Use the best quality chocolate you can afford. Use immediately.Assembly of your Piece Montée:You may want to lay out your unfilled, unglazed choux in a practice design to get a feel for how to assemble the final dessert. For example, if making a conical shape, trace a circle (no bigger than 8 inches) on a piece of parchment to use as a pattern. Then take some of the larger choux and assemble them in the circle for the bottom layer. Practice seeing which pieces fit together best.Once you are ready to assemble your piece montée, dip the top of each choux in your glaze (careful it may be still hot!), and start assembling on your cake board/plate/sheet. Continue d[...]

Daring Bakers - February ~ Tiramisu


The February 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen and Deeba of Passionate About Baking. They chose Tiramisu as the challenge for the month. Their challenge recipe is based on recipes from The Washington Post, Cordon Bleu at Home and Baking Obsession.This recipe was labor intensive! It took a few days to get everything put together. I am not sure I would ever make the WHOLE thing again but there are definitely a few components that will be made again. The homemade Mascarpone cheese is one the best things I have ever eaten in my entire life. It is easy enough to make that I don't think I will ever buy the stuff from the store. The pastry cream was divine that Sean and I were licking bowl! There were a couple of problems for me. My tiramisu didn't look very pretty. It was super soft and kind of slid around a bit after I took it out of the pan. I think I may have dipped the ladyfingers too long in the coffee. This problem is one reason I don't know if I would do the whole recipe again. The other reason is it was really lemony. If I were to make it again I would definitely leave the lemon out. On to the recipe....TIRAMISU(Recipe source: Carminantonio's Tiramisu from The Washington Post, July 11 2007 )This recipe makes 6 servingsIngredients:For the zabaglione:2 large egg yolks3 tablespoons sugar/50gms1/4 cup/60ml Marsala wine (or port or coffee)1/4 teaspoon/ 1.25ml vanilla extract1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zestFor the vanilla pastry cream:1/4 cup/55gms sugar1 tablespoon/8gms all purpose flour1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest1/2 teaspoon/ 2.5ml vanilla extract1 large egg yolk3/4 cup/175ml whole milkFor the whipped cream:1 cup/235ml chilled heavy cream (we used 25%)1/4 cup/55gms sugar1/2 teaspoon/ 2.5ml vanilla extractTo assemble the tiramisu:2 cups/470ml brewed espresso, warmed1 teaspoon/5ml rum extract (optional)1/2 cup/110gms sugar1/3 cup/75gms mascarpone cheese36 savoiardi/ ladyfinger biscuits 2 tablespoons/30gms unsweetened cocoa powderZabaglione: Heat water in a double boiler. If you don’t have a double boiler, place a pot with about an inch of water in it on the stove. Place a heat-proof bowl in the pot making sure the bottom does not touch the water.In a large mixing bowl (or stainless steel mixing bowl), mix together the egg yolks, sugar, the Marsala (or espresso/ coffee), vanilla extract and lemon zest. Whisk together until the yolks are fully blended and the mixture looks smooth.Transfer the mixture to the top of a double boiler or place your bowl over the pan/ pot with simmering water. Cook the egg mixture over low heat, stirring constantly, for about 8 minutes or until it resembles thick custard. It may bubble a bit as it reaches that consistency.Let cool to room temperature and transfer the zabaglione to a bowl. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight, until thoroughly chilled.For the pastry cream: Mix together the sugar, flour, lemon zest and vanilla extract in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan. To this add the egg yolk and half the milk. Whisk until smooth.Now place the saucepan over low heat and cook, stirring constantly to prevent the mixture from curdling.Add the remaining milk a little at a time, still stirring constantly. After about 12 minutes the mixture will be thick, free of lumps and beginning to bubble. (If you have a few lumps, don’t worry. You can push the cream through a fine-mesh strainer.)Transfer the pastry cream to a bowl and cool to room temperature. Cover with plastic film and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight, until thoroughly chilled.For the whipped cream:Combine the cream, sugar and vanilla extract in a mixing bowl. Beat with an electric hand mixer or immersion blender until the mixture holds stiff peaks. Set aside.MASCARPONE CHEESE(Source: Vera’s Recipe for Homemade Mascarpone Cheese)Ingredients:474ml (approx. 500ml)/ 2 cups whipping (36 %) pasteurized (not ultra-pasteurized), prefer[...]

Daring Bakers - January ~ Nanimo Bars


The January 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Lauren of Celiac Teen. Lauren chose Gluten-Free Graham Wafers and Nanaimo Bars as the challenge for the month. The sources she based her recipe on are 101 Cookbooks and challenge was fun and ever so tasty. The gluten free graham wafers were easy enough to make but I am not sure I would go through the process again unless someone needed them to be gluten free. My favorite part of this challenge was locating Bird's Vanilla Custard Powder. I wasn't sure I would be able to find it here in Portland so I had my international friends queueing up just in case. But I found some at a local grocery store that has an entire British shelf! Heaven in a can!!For Gluten-Free Graham WafersIngredients1 cup (138 g) (4.9 ounces) Sweet rice flour (also known as glutinous rice flour)3/4 cup (100 g) (3.5 ounces) Tapioca Starch/Flour1/2 cup (65 g) (2.3 ounces) Sorghum Flour1 cup (200 g) (7.1 ounces) Dark Brown Sugar, Lightly packed1 teaspoon (5 mL) Baking soda3/4 teaspoon (4 mL ) Kosher Salt7 tablespoons (100 g) (3 ½ ounces) Unsalted Butter (Cut into 1-inch cubes and frozen)1/3 cup (80 mL) Honey, Mild-flavoured such as clover.5 tablespoons (75 mL) Whole Milk2 tablespoons (30 mL) Pure Vanilla ExtractDirections:1. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, combine the flours, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt. Pulse on low to incorporate. Add the butter and pulse on and off, until the mixture is the consistency of a coarse meal. If making by hand, combine aforementioned dry ingredients with a whisk, then cut in butter until you have a coarse meal. No chunks of butter should be visible.2. In a small bowl or liquid measuring cup, whisk together the honey, milk and vanilla. Add to the flour mixture until the dough barely comes together. It will be very soft and sticky.3. Turn the dough onto a surface well-floured with sweet rice flour and pat the dough into a rectangle about 1 inch thick. Wrap in plastic and chill until firm, about 2 hours, or overnight.4. Divide the dough in half and return one half to the refrigerator. Sift an even layer of sweet rice flour onto the work surface and roll the dough into a long rectangle, about 1/8 inch thick. The dough will be quite sticky, so flour as necessary. Cut into 4 by 4 inch squares. Gather the scraps together and set aside. Place wafers on one or two parchment-lined baking sheets. Chill until firm, about 30 to 45 minutes. Repeat with the second batch of dough.5. Adjust the rack to the upper and lower positions and preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (180 degrees Celsius).6. Gather the scraps together into a ball, chill until firm, and reroll. Dust the surface with more sweet rice flour and roll out the dough to get a couple more wafers.7. Prick the wafers with toothpick or fork, not all the way through, in two or more rows.8. Bake for 25 minutes, until browned and slightly firm to the touch, rotating sheets halfway through to ensure even baking. Might take less, and the starting location of each sheet may determine its required time. The ones that started on the bottom browned faster.9. When cooled completely, place enough wafers in food processor to make 1 ¼ cups (300 mL) of crumbs. Another way to do this is to place in a large ziplock bag, force all air out and smash with a rolling pin until wafers are crumbs.Nanaimo BarsIngredients:For Nanaimo Bars — Bottom Layer1/2 cup (115 g) (4 ounces) Unsalted Butter1/4 cup (50 g) (1.8 ounces) Granulated Sugar5 tablespoons (75 mL) Unsweetened Cocoa 1 Large Egg, Beaten1 1/4 cups (300 mL) (160 g) (5.6 ounces) Gluten Free Graham Wafer Crumbs (See previous recipe)1/2 cup (55 g) (1.9 ounces) Almonds (Any type, Finely chopped)1 cup (130 g) (4.5 ounces) Coconut (Shredded, sweetened or unsweetened)For Nanaimo Bars — Middle Layer1/2 cup (115 g) (4 ounces) Unsalted Butter2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons (40 mL) Hea[...]

Daring Bakers - December ~ Gingerbread House


The December 2009 Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to you by Anna of Very Small Anna and Y of Lemonpi. They chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ everywhere to bake and assemble a gingerbread house from scratch. They chose recipes from Good Housekeeping and from The Great Scandinavian Baking Book as the challenge recipes.I used the Scandinavian recipe. The recipe worked really well. We made a huge batch because not only were we going to build a house but Sean wanted a gingerbread outhouse too! I also added some melted sugar windows to the house. I put a strand of Christmas lights under the house so the windows light up and it looks like there is a fire inside! I am really proud of my windows! :) Y's Recipe:Scandinavian Gingerbread (pepparkakAstuga)from The Great Scandinavian Baking Book by Beatrice Ojakangas 1 cup butter, room temperature [226g]1 cup brown sugar, well packed [220g]2 tablespoons cinnamon4 teaspoons ground ginger3 teaspoons ground cloves2 teaspoons baking soda½ cup boiling water5 cups all-purpose flour [875g]1. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until blended. Add the cinnamon, ginger and cloves. Mix the baking soda with the boiling water and add to the dough along with the flour. Mix to make a stiff dough. If necessary add more water, a tablespoon at a time. Chill 2 hours or overnight.2. Cut patterns for the house, making patterns for the roof, front walls, gabled walls, chimney and door out of cardboard.3. Roll the dough out on a large, ungreased baking sheet and place the patterns on the dough. Mark off the various pieces with a knife, but leave the pieces in place.4. [I rolled out the dough on a floured bench, roughly 1/8 inch thick (which allows for fact that the dough puffs a little when baked), cut required shapes and transferred these to the baking sheet. Any scraps I saved and rerolled at the end.]5. Preheat the oven to 375'F (190'C). Bake for 12 to 15 minutes until the cookie dough feels firm. After baking, again place the pattern on top of the gingerbread and trim the shapes, cutting the edges with a straight-edged knife. Leave to cool on the baking sheet.Royal Icing:5 tablespoons meringue powder 1/3 cup water 1 pound confectioner's sugar (about 3 3/4 to 4 cups) Combine all of the ingredients in a mixing bowl. Use a paddle attachment and beat SLOWLY until stiff peaks form. When ready, the icing turns pure white, not fluffy and slaps against the bowl. Should NOT be shiny. Don't overbeat. If you do, it gets spongy. If it sits for awhile, it becomes spongy, so stir before using it every time. Don't rebeat because it will break icing down. If it dries and flakes, it's too dry. Add a few drops water. If you don't use the icing immediately, cover with a damp cloth over the bowl.Here is how we put it all together ~ Miss Agnes helped cut out the pieces with the templates we made. THE GINGERBREAD OUTHOUSE! We definitely have a new holiday tradition! I can't wait to make another one next year!![...]

Daring Bakers - October ~ French Macaroons


The 2009 October Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to us by Ami S. She chose macarons from Claudia Fleming’s The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern as the challenge recipe.I have found my baking nemesis. The French macaroon. It is a cruel torture. All I wanted to see were little feet and instead I had flat cookies. I will master these one day....OH YES I WILL!!Here are a couple of links to what they should look like - Famed purveyors of the French macaroon include the legendary Ladurée and Pierre Hermé.French macaroons are notorious for being difficult to master. Type in “macaroon,” “French macaroon” or “macaron” in your search engine of choice, and you will be inundated not only with bakeries offering these tasty little cookies, but scores and even hundreds of blogs all attempting to find the perfect recipe, the perfect technique. Which one is right? Which captures the perfect essence of macaroons? The answer is all of them and none of them. Macaroons are highly subjective, the subject of passionate, almost Talmudic study and debate. Chewy? Crisp? Age your egg whites? Ground the nuts or use nut meal or nut flour? Cooked sugar syrup, or confectioners’ sugar? In the words of a therapist, what do you think is the ideal macaroon? The answer lies within you.Macaroon making is somewhat labor intensive, yet simultaneously less difficult than you think it will be. One thing you must do is have your egg whites at room temperature. This ensures they beat up properly, as texture is an integral component to macaroons. You will be piping the batter onto parchment paper or nonstick liners, and some home bakers use stencils to make sure their macaroons are uniform in size. It’s your choice.Be aware that you are beating your egg whites first to soft peaks. Soft peaks means that the peaks of the meringue curl over when you lift up the beaters. After you add the granulated sugar to the soft peak meringue, you will beat the mixture to stiff peaks, which, true to their name, stand straight up. Be careful not to overbeat your eggs.You will also be folding the nut flour into the meringue. As with most recipes when you combine something with beaten egg whites, be gentle in your mixing to keep the egg whites light.Some recipes call for drying the piped macaroons on the counter prior to baking for 30 minutes to an hour. This recipe stipulates that you bake the macaroons at a low temperature for 5 minutes, then take them out of the oven, raising the temperature, and baking them for an additional 7 to 8 minutes. Drying is necessary to get the trademark “feet” on your macaroons. Experiment to find the best technique for you.If you plan on using parchment paper rather than nonstick pan liners, be careful when removing the macaroons from the paper, as they can stick and are very delicate. Some recipes suggest lifting up a corner of the paper and letting a drop of water fall onto the hot baking sheet, thus producing steam, which helps the macaroons release.Preparation time: Not taking into account the amount of time it takes for you to bring your egg whites to room temperature (I left my egg whites out overnight), the whole baking process, including making the batter, piping and baking will probably take you about an hour to an hour and a half. How long it takes to make your filling is dependent on what you choose to make.Actual baking time: 12 minutes total, plus a few minutes to get your oven from 200°F to 375°F.Equipment required:• Electric mixer, preferably a stand mixer with a whisk attachment• Rubber spatula• Baking sheets• Parchment paper or nonstick liners• Pastry bag (can be disposable)• Plain half-inch pastry bag tip• Sifter or sieve• If you don’t have a pastry bag and/or tips, you can use a Ziploc bag with the corner snipped off• Oven• Cooling rack• Thin-bladed[...]

Daring Bakers - September ~ Vols-au-Vent


The September 2009 Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Steph of A Whisk and a Spoon. She chose the French treat, Vols-au-Vent based on the Puff Pastry recipe by Michel Richard from the cookbook Baking With Julia by Dorie Greenspan.I made three different fillings-Grilled beet salad with goat cheese and walnuts in a honey balsamic vinaigretteCurried chicken salad with fresh tarragon from our gardenMascarpone cheese with freshly picked huckleberries* topped with brown sugar and cinnamonPrep Times:-about 4-5 hours to prepare the puff pastry dough (much of this time is inactive, while you wait for the dough to chill between turns…it can be stretched out over an even longer period of time if that better suits your schedule)-about 1.5 hours to shape, chill and bake the vols-au-vent after your puff pastry dough is completeForming and Baking the Vols-au-VentYield: 1/3 of the puff pastry recipe below will yield about 8-10 1.5” vols-au-vent or 4 4” vols-au-vent-well-chilled puff pastry dough (recipe below)-egg wash (1 egg or yolk beaten with a small amount of water)-your filling of choiceLine a baking sheet with parchment and set aside.Using a knife or metal bench scraper, divided your chilled puff pastry dough into three equal pieces. Work with one piece of the dough, and leave the rest wrapped and chilled. (If you are looking to make more vols-au-vent than the yield stated above, you can roll and cut the remaining two pieces of dough as well…if not, then leave refrigerated for the time being or prepare it for longer-term freezer storage. See the “Tips” section below for more storage info.)On a lightly floured surface, roll the piece of dough into a rectangle about 1/8 to 1/4-inch (3-6 mm) thick. Transfer it to the baking sheet and refrigerate for about 10 minutes before proceeding with the cutting.(This assumes you will be using round cutters, but if you do not have them, it is possible to cut square vols-au-vents using a sharp chef’s knife.) For smaller, hors d'oeuvre sized vols-au-vent, use a 1.5” round cutter to cut out 8-10 circles. For larger sized vols-au-vent, fit for a main course or dessert, use a 4” cutter to cut out about 4 circles. Make clean, sharp cuts and try not to twist your cutters back and forth or drag your knife through the dough. Half of these rounds will be for the bases, and the other half will be for the sides. (Save any scrap by stacking—not wadding up—the pieces…they can be re-rolled and used if you need extra dough. If you do need to re-roll scrap to get enough disks, be sure to use any rounds cut from it for the bases, not the ring-shaped sides.)Using a ¾-inch cutter for small vols-au-vent, or a 2- to 2.5-inch round cutter for large, cut centers from half of the rounds to make rings. These rings will become the sides of the vols-au-vent, while the solid disks will be the bottoms. You can either save the center cut-outs to bake off as little “caps” for you vols-au-vent, or put them in the scrap pile.Dock the solid bottom rounds with a fork (prick them lightly, making sure not to go all the way through the pastry) and lightly brush them with egg wash. Place the rings directly on top of the bottom rounds and very lightly press them to adhere. Brush the top rings lightly with egg wash, trying not to drip any down the sides (which may inhibit rise). If you are using the little “caps,” dock and egg wash them as well.Refrigerate the assembled vols-au-vent on the lined baking sheet while you pre-heat the oven to 400ºF (200ºC). (You could also cover and refrigerate them for a few hours at this point.)Once the oven is heated, remove the sheet from the refrigerator and place a silicon baking mat (preferred because of its weight) or another sheet of parchment over top of the shells. This will help them rise evenly. Bake the shells unt[...]

Daring Bakers - August ~ Dobos Torte


The August 2009 Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Angela of A Spoonful of Sugar and Lorraine of Not Quite Nigella. They chose the spectacular Dobos Torte based on a recipe from Rick Rodgers' cookbook Kaffeehaus: Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Caffés of Vienna, Budapest, and Prague.The Dobos Torta is a five-layer sponge cake, filled with a rich chocolate buttercream and topped with thin wedges of caramel. (You may come across recipes which have anywhere between six and 12 layers of cake; there are numerous family variations!) It was invented in 1885 by József C. Dobos, a Hungarian baker, and it rapidly became famous throughout Europe for both its extraordinary taste and its keeping properties. The recipe was a secret until Dobos retired in 1906 and gave the recipe to the Budapest Confectioners' and Gingerbread Makers' Chamber of Industry, providing that every member of the chamber can use it freely.Equipment2 baking sheets9” (23cm) springform tin and 8” cake tin, for templatesmixing bowls (1 medium, 1 large)a sievea double boiler (a large saucepan plus a large heat-proof mixing bowl which fits snugly over the top of the pan)a small saucepana whisk (you could use a balloon whisk for the entire cake, but an electric hand whisk or stand mixer will make life much easier)metal offset spatulasharp knifea 7 1/2” cardboard cake round, or just build cake on the base of a sprinfrom tin.piping bag and tip, optionalPrep timesSponge layers 20 mins prep, 40 mins cooking total if baking each layer individually.Buttercream: 20 mins cooking. Cooling time for buttercream: about 1 hour plus 10 minutes after this to beat and divide.Caramel layer: 10-15 minutes.Assembly of whole cake: 20 minutesSponge cake layers6 large eggs, separated, at room temperature1 1/3 cups (162g) confectioner's (icing) sugar, divided1 teaspoon (5ml) vanilla extract1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (112g) sifted cake flour (SUBSTITUTE 95g plain flour + 17g cornflour (cornstarch) sifted together)pinch of saltChocolate Buttercream4 large eggs, at room temperature1 cup (200g) caster (ultrafine or superfine white) sugar4oz (110g) bakers chocolate or your favourite dark chocolate, finely chopped2 sticks plus 2 tablespoons (250g) unsalted butter, at room temperature.Caramel topping1 cup (200g) caster (superfine or ultrafine white) sugar12 tablespoons (180 ml) water8 teaspoons (40 ml) lemon juice1 tablespoon neutral oil (e.g. grapeseed, rice bran, sunflower)Finishing touchesa 7” cardboard round12 whole hazelnuts, peeled and toasted½ cup (50g) peeled and finely chopped hazelnutsDirections for the sponge layers:NB. The sponge layers can be prepared in advance and stored interleaved with parchment and well-wrapped in the fridge overnight.1.Position the racks in the top and centre thirds of the oven and heat to 400F (200C).2.Cut six pieces of parchment paper to fit the baking sheets. Using the bottom of a 9" (23cm) springform tin as a template and a dark pencil or a pen, trace a circle on each of the papers, and turn them over (the circle should be visible from the other side, so that the graphite or ink doesn't touch the cake batter.)3.Beat the egg yolks, 2/3 cup (81g) of the confectioner's (icing) sugar, and the vanilla in a medium bowl with a mixer on high speed until the mixture is thick, pale yellow and forms a thick ribbon when the beaters are lifted a few inches above the batter, about 3 minutes. (You can do this step with a balloon whisk if you don't have a mixer.)4.In another bowl, using clean beaters, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in the remaining 2/3 cup (81g) of confectioner's (icing)sugar until the whites form stiff, shiny peaks. Using a large rubber spatula, stir about 1/4 of the beaten whites into the egg yolk mixture, then fold in the remainder, leaving[...]

Check out This Mama Cooks! She is having a contest!


Worried about high fructose corn syrup? I freaking hate the stuff with a passion. I don't have one item in my fridge, freezer, or pantry that contains it. I truly think it is the downfall of the American diet. I am willing to pay a few pennies more for items that don't have it. It is in everything. You need to check label carefully. Next time you buy something like bread crumbs check out the label...HFCS is in there!

The good thing is companies are starting to listen to consumer concerns and Pepsi is one of those companies. They have come up with Pepsi Natural. A soda with all natural ingredients. Sounds good to me!

If you would like to try for free and get a yoga mat head over to This Mama Cooks! for her contest. She will pick one lucky winner to receive a 4 pack of the soda, a yoga mat tote, and a yoga mat!!


Daring Bakers - July ~ Milan Cookies


The July Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Nicole at Sweet Tooth. She chose Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies and Milan Cookies from pastry chef Gale Gand of the Food Network.Since we aren't big marshmallow fans I only made the Milan cookies. I have included the marshmallow cookie recipe at the end of this entry in case you want to try them . The Milan cookies are amazing! OMG! They were so good. I will be making these again. I need to tweak the batter a bit so I can get them crispier. I made two kinds. I made milk chocolate and butterscotch. The butterscotch ones were to die for! I LOVE butterscotch so very, very much!!Milan CookiesRecipe courtesy Gale Gand, from Food Network websitePrep Time: 20 minInactive Prep Time: 0 minCook Time: 1 hr 0 minServes: about 3 dozen cookies• 12 tablespoons (170grams/ 6 oz) unsalted butter, softened• 2 1/2 cups (312.5 grams/ 11.02 oz) powdered sugar• 7/8 cup egg whites (from about 6 eggs)• 2 tablespoons vanilla extract• 2 tablespoons lemon extract• 1 1/2 cups (187.5grams/ 6.61 oz) all purpose flour• Cookie filling, recipe followsCookie filling:• 1/2 cup heavy cream• 8 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped• 1 orange, zested1. In a mixer with paddle attachment cream the butter and the sugar.2. Add the egg whites gradually and then mix in the vanilla and lemon extracts.3. Add the flour and mix until just well mixed.4. With a small (1/4-inch) plain tip, pipe 1-inch sections of batter onto a parchment-lined sheet pan, spacing them 2 inches apart as they spread.5. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 10 minutes or until light golden brown around the edges. Let cool on the pan.6. While waiting for the cookies to cool, in a small saucepan over medium flame, scald cream.7. Pour hot cream over chocolate in a bowl, whisk to melt chocolate, add zest and blend well.8. Set aside to cool (the mixture will thicken as it cools).9. Spread a thin amount of the filling onto the flat side of a cookie while the filling is still soft and press the flat side of a second cookie on top.10. Repeat with the remainder of the cookies.Miss Agnes and I enjoyed them with tea. That is her little tea set in the background. Mallows(Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies)Recipe courtesy Gale Gand, from Food Network websitePrep Time: 10 minInactive Prep Time: 5 minCook Time: 10 minServes: about 2 dozen cookies• 3 cups (375grams/13.23oz) all purpose flour• 1/2 cup (112.5grams/3.97oz) white sugar• 1/2 teaspoon salt• 3/4 teaspoon baking powder• 3/8 teaspoon baking soda• 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon• 12 tablespoons (170grams/ 6 oz) unsalted butter• 3 eggs, whisked together• Homemade marshmallows, recipe follows• Chocolate glaze, recipe follows1. In a mixer with the paddle attachment, blend the dry ingredients.2. On low speed, add the butter and mix until sandy.3. Add the eggs and mix until combine.4. Form the dough into a disk, wrap with clingfilm or parchment and refrigerate at least 1 hour and up to 3 days.5. When ready to bake, grease a cookie sheet or line it with parchment paper or a silicon mat.6. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.7. Roll out the dough to 1/8-inch thickness, on a lightly floured surface. Use a 1 to 1 1/2 inches cookie cutter to cut out small rounds of dough.8. Transfer to the prepared pan and bake for 10 minutes or until light golden brown. Let cool to room temperature.9. Pipe a “kiss” of marshmallow onto each cookie. Let set at room temperature for 2 hours.10. Line a cookie sheet with parchment or silicon mat.11. One at a time, gently drop the marshmallow-topped cookies into the hot chocolate glaze.12. Lift out with a fork and let excess chocolate drip back into the bowl.13. Place on the prepared pan and let set at room temperature[...]

Woo-hoo...Look at me guest blogging!!


I was asked by the fabulous girls of Where's My Damn Answer to write a guest blog entry. I love their blog so I was totally blown away they would want me!!!

Anyhoo, stop by their blog sometime. They absolutely ROCK!!

Holy Cow!!


It has been almost a month since I last posted. Life has a strange way of keeping me busy! The classes I am teaching having really been picking up, I go swimming almost everyday, we went to Colorado for a few days, I have been busy making 350 gumpaste daisies, and I just got done making a baby shower cake. I am suppose to be working on a guest blog entry for the gals over at Where's My Damn Answer but I think it can wait until tomorrow. I think for now I am going to kick my feet up, watch Mythbusters, and lounge.

Here are some pictures of the baby shower cake. I am absolutely thrilled with how it turned out. I love the surprise under the bow!!


Do you ever...


Do you ever wonder where time goes? I have been so busy the past couple of months that I haven't been able to keep up with my blog. It makes me sad. I have made some great friends through the many blogs I read, contribute to, and lurk. Hopefully in July I will be able to play more. I really miss participating in My Kitchen, My World. I can't wait to start cooking with them again!

Do you ever just feel left out? A few things have happened that I wasn't included in and a few things are going to happen, which I won't be included. You would think by the time you hit 38 things like this wouldn't bother me anymore...but they do. These things have a way of making me feel depressed and blue. Sometimes it is just easier to ignore these disappointments than have to deal with them but I guess life doesn't let you just run away.

Do you ever...

Daring Bakers - May ~ Apple Strudel


The May Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Linda of make life sweeter! and Courtney of Coco Cooks. They chose Apple Strudel from the recipe book Kaffeehaus: Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Cafés of Vienna, Budapest and Prague by Rick Rodgers.I took pictures through the entire process of making it but...when I went to take the memory card out of my camera guess what...NO MEMORY CARD!! I feel like a fool!Apple strudelfrom “Kaffeehaus – Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Cafés of Vienna, Budapest and Prague” by Rick Rodgers2 tablespoons (30 ml) golden rum3 tablespoons (45 ml) raisins1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon (80 g) sugar1/2 cup (1 stick / 115 g) unsalted butter, melted, divided1 1/2 cups (350 ml) fresh bread crumbsstrudel dough (recipe below)1/2 cup (120 ml, about 60 g) coarsely chopped walnuts2 pounds (900 g) tart cooking apples, peeled, cored and cut into ¼ inch-thick slices (use apples that hold their shape during baking)1. Mix the rum and raisins in a bowl. Mix the cinnamon and sugar in another bowl.2. Heat 3 tablespoons of the butter in a large skillet over medium-high. Add the breadcrumbs and cook whilst stirring until golden and toasted. This will take about 3 minutes. Let it cool completely.3. Put the rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Line a large baking sheet with baking paper (parchment paper). Make the strudel dough as described below. Spread about 3 tablespoons of the remaining melted butter over the dough using your hands (a bristle brush could tear the dough, you could use a special feather pastry brush instead of your hands). Sprinkle the buttered dough with the bread crumbs. Spread the walnuts about 3 inches (8 cm) from the short edge of the dough in a 6-inch-(15cm)-wide strip. Mix the apples with the raisins (including the rum), and the cinnamon sugar. Spread the mixture over the walnuts.4. Fold the short end of the dough onto the filling. Lift the tablecloth at the short end of the dough so that the strudel rolls onto itself. Transfer the strudel to the prepared baking sheet by lifting it. Curve it into a horseshoe to fit. Tuck the ends under the strudel. Brush the top with the remaining melted butter.5. Bake the strudel for about 30 minutes or until it is deep golden brown. Cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing. Use a serrated knife and serve either warm or at room temperature. It is best on the day it is baked.Strudel doughfrom “Kaffeehaus – Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Cafés of Vienna, Budapest and Prague” by Rick Rodgers1 1/3 cups (200 g) unbleached flour1/8 teaspoon salt7 tablespoons (105 ml) water, plus more if needed2 tablespoons (30 ml) vegetable oil, plus additional for coating the dough1/2 teaspoon cider vinegar1. Combine the flour and salt in a stand-mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix the water, oil and vinegar in a measuring cup. Add the water/oil mixture to the flour with the mixer on low speed. You will get a soft dough. Make sure it is not too dry, add a little more water if necessary.Take the dough out of the mixer. Change to the dough hook. Put the dough ball back in the mixer. Let the dough knead on medium until you get a soft dough ball with a somewhat rough surface.2. Take the dough out of the mixer and continue kneading by hand on an unfloured work surface. Knead for about 2 minutes. Pick up the dough and throw it down hard onto your working surface occasionally.Shape the dough into a ball and transfer it to a plate. Oil the top of the dough ball lightly. Cover the ball tightly with plastic wrap. Allow to stand for 30-90 minutes (longer i[...]

Agnes' 4th birthday cake and cupcakes.


This is the cake I made for Agne's 4th birthday. She wanted a Backyardigans- The Tale of a Mighty Knight cake. She had to have a red dragon on it too. Her imaginary friend is a red dragon named Dough Dragon. :) I have more photos of all the figures. If anyone wants to see them let me know and I can post them too. :)

She took the cupcakes to school to share with all her friends. I airbrushed them with purple and sprinkled them with edible glitter.

Four Years Ago Today


The most perfect little girl was born. I can't believe it has been four years since Agnes arrived in my life. It has been the best four years of my entire life. She is the most amazing, smart, funny, sympathetic, beautiful, loving, and wonderful little girl in the world. I am honored to be her mommy. Every year I repost my birth story. I have a friend who doesn't understand birth stories but she will in October when she has her first baby. She will love her story and it will bring her so much joy when she thinks of it. I love my birth story. It is my story. It is Sean's story. And, most importantly it is Agnes' story. This was first posted on April 28, 2005 at 9:38 p.m. She was 4 days old. ______________________________________________________________________________________Hi everyone, Wow, I never knew how in love I could be with someone. Miss Agnes is the most wonderful gorgeous little girl I have ever been around. Okay, on with the birth story. It is a long one. Friday we went for our OB appt. and they did an ultrasound. My amniotic fluid was low so the OB said “You are going to be induced today!” We headed over to Labor & Delivery and we were EXCITED! We got into our room and they gave me something called Mizo (?) to get my cervix softened. By Saturday morning I was still at 2 cm. I was a bit bummed, so they gave me Pitocin and said I would have the baby that afternoon. I called Laura (my birth assistant) and she came down to the hospital to help Sean with the hypnobirthing affirmations and massage. Well, about 3 hours later they had the Pitocin so high, the nurses and doctors were a little freaked out that my surges weren’t killing me. So, I was having loads of contractions but I just wouldn’t dilate. That night they gave me Progesteglandin (SP, excuse my spelling of this stuff my mind is mush LOL) to get my cervix going. They checked Sunday morning I was still only 2 cm. At this point I was so tired I was convinced I was never even pregnant. The doctor on call gave me 3 options at this point. 1. Go home (don’t think so), 2. Have a C-section, or 3. Break my waters. I opted for number 2 because I was extremely exhausted and just wanted my baby out, but then the doctor said they don’t really like to perform them unless they are absolutely necessary. Fine, but why did they offer it? The broke my water and hooked me up to Pitocin and away we went. In 3 hours I was 6 1/2 cm dilated and we were excited! It was at about this time I decided to have an epidural. The hypnobirthing completely worked, I was not in any pain. The reason I took one is because my body was tired and not really responding what I was telling it, I don’t know if that makes any sense at all. Got the epidural and 3 hours later I was at 9 1/2 cm!! Woo-hoo!! Our families came flying down to the hospital, nurses and family members were taking bets on when she would come out, and all was good. It was around this time the epidural ran out Sean and Laura worked with me and we continued with massage, music, and hypnobirthing affirmations. It was absolutely amazing how well it worked. I was completely relaxed and ready to accept whatever turn my birthing took. However, I was not expecting what happened. I was stuck at 9 1/2 cm for 3-4 hours. The doctors told me I had to have a c-section (hmmm, wouldn’t this had been easier 9 hours earlier??). Anyhoo, they wheel me into the OR and my only request was everyone be laughing when we brought into the world. I have always thought it would be the best way to be born. At 8:30 p.m. they pulled her out, we were all laughi[...]

Super yummy, Super, easy, Super soup


I made this for dinner last night and we ate it for leftovers tonight. It is really, really good. Sean is not a big fan of soup and he had two big bowls last night. This is a definite keeper.

Meatball Minestrone ~

1 cup chopped onion
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 (15 oz) can cannellini beans**, undrained
1 (32 oz) container of chicken or vegetable broth (I used chicken)
1 (1.4 oz) package of dry vegetable soup mix (Knorr makes a good one)**
1 (16 oz) package of frozen meatballs (I used Trader Joes mini-meatballs)
2 (14.5 oz) cans of Italian diced tomatoes**, undrained
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper - optional
1 cup ditalini pasta**, uncooked
1 (10 oz) package of fresh baby spinach

1. In a large pot over medium heat, cook onion and garlic in olive oil until they are tender. About 5 minutes
2. Stir in the beans and chicken broth, bring to a boil.
3. Stir in vegetable soup mix until dissolved. Add meatballs, tomatoes, and red pepper (if using), and return to a boil.
4. Add ditalini and cook, stirring often for 15 minutes until ditalini are tender. If the soup seems too thick add water until it is to the consistency you like.
5. Add the spinach and stir until it is wilted, about minute.

If there are any leftovers, you may wish to enjoy the thickened results as a stew, or reconstitute the soup with addition broth or water (that is what I used) to your desired consistency. We even had leftovers from tonight so I put it in a ziplock and put it in the freezer.

**Cannelli beans are white kidney beans.
**I am fortunate to have a grocery store that sells a lot of bulk food. I used their dry veggie soup mix but the Knorr one would work just as well.
**Ditalini pasta are little short tubes. If you google the image to see a pic. You could also use elbow macaroni.

April Fool's!


Agnes wanted to fool her daddy today so we made meaty cupcakes. We had so much fun piping the mashed potatoes on like icing. Little did Sean know that when he bit into them they were meat-loaf iced with mashed potatoes! Agnes could barely stop laughing to ask him "How are your cupcakes? They aren't cupcakes! They're meat!!" She is just so awesome!

Petition for Better Food Regulations


Hi everyone!

My friend Alex just launched an online petition to defeat House Bill HR875. I want all my friends to sign it! Go to to learn more and sign the petition. House Bill HR875 will change our food laws to hinder the local farmer and make it harder to produce and buy organic foods and buy fresh, local produce at farmers markets.

Here is a link to his blog for more information -

Please let your friends know about this House Bill and pass this petition on!! This is such an important issue so please post the petition in your blogs.


Wow. Just wow!


I was reading Cooking with Rosie when I came across a recipe that made me drool. It is a recipe for Capellini con Prosciutto e Mascarpone. I knew I had to make it for dinner this week. Well, I couldn't wait until later this week...I made it tonight. Oh. My. God. It was a bowl of perfection. Sean gave it a 4 out of 4 stars. Miss Agnes ate a HUGE bowl full. The recipe includes on a few simple ingredients but the outcome is perfection. I added a couple of things to the recipe. I threw in about 1/2 clove minced garlic and a couple handfuls of fresh spring peas. YUM!!Capellini con Prosciutto e Mascarpone160 g capellini or angel hair pasta (about 4 bunches)3.5 tbsp butter1 small or medium onion, finely chopped100 g prosciutto cotto or cooked ham, finely chopped250 g (2 3/4 cup) mascarponesalt to taste1. Bring to boil a medium pot of salted water but don't add the capellini yet (they cook quickly).2. In another medium saucepan, melt butter over medium-low heat and add the chopped prosciutto and onion. Let gently simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.3. Place a medium heat-proof bowl over the cooking prosciutto-onion mixture and add the mascarpone. Using a spoon, gently stir the cheese until it is melted. (I put my bowl over a separate small pot of simmering water). 4. The mascarpone will take a few minutes to melt, but it will still be cool to touch. Don't be tempted to heat in the microwave because it will be heated through once the hot, drained pasta is added. 5. Once the mascarpone has melted, cook the capellini pasta for a few minutes and then drain well. I threw the peas in with the pasta. Miss Agnes stirring the peas. She loves to help me cook!6. Add the pasta and prosciutto-onion mixture to the mascarpone and stir until well blended.7. SERVE IMMEDIATELY before it starts to cool down. Garnish with parmesan (if desired) and fresh chopped herbs.Thanks Rosie![...]

Daring Bakers - March ~ Lasagne of Emilia-Romagna (Lasagne Verdi al Forno)


The March 2009 challenge is hosted by Mary of Beans and Caviar, Melinda of Melbourne Larder and Enza of Io Da Grande. They have chosen Lasagne of Emilia-Romagna from The Splendid Table by Lynne Rossetto Kasper as the challenge.I followed the recipe for the pasta and Béchamel sauce. We were given the option to use whatever fillings we wanted so I made an artichoke & sausage lasagna that my family loves. I don't make it very often so I thought this was the perfect time! Plus, as you can see in the pasta pictures it was a cold and rainy Pacific NW day, which is perfect for lasagna. Lasagne of Emilia-Romagna (Lasagne Verdi al Forno)Spinach Egg Pasta (Pasta Verde)Preparation: 45 minutesMakes enough for 6 to 8 first course servings or 4 to 6 main course servings, equivalent to 1 pound (450g) dried boxed pasta.2 jumbo eggs (2 ounces/60g or more)10 ounces (300g) fresh spinach, rinsed dry, and finely chopped; or 6 ounces (170g) frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry3&1/2 cups (14 ounces/400g) all purpose unbleached (plain) flour (organic stone ground preferred)Working by Hand:A roomy work surface, 24 to 30 inches deep by 30 to 36 inches. Any smooth surface will do, but marble cools dough slightly, making it less flexible than desired.A pastry scraper and a small wooden spoon for blending the dough.A wooden dowel-style rolling pin. In Italy, pasta makers use one about 35 inches long and 2 inches thick. The shorter American-style pin with handles at either end can be used, but the longer it is, the easier it is to roll the pasta.Note: although it is not traditional, Enza has successfully made pasta with a marble rolling pin, and this can be substituted for the wooden pin, if you have one.Plastic wrap to wrap the resting dough and to cover rolled-out pasta waiting to be filled. It protects the pasta from drying out too quickly.A sharp chef’s knife for cutting pasta sheets.Cloth-covered chair backs, broom handles, or specially designed pasta racks found in cookware shops for draping the pasta.Mixing the dough:Mound the flour in the center of your work surface and make a well in the middle. Add the eggs and spinach. Use a wooden spoon to beat together the eggs and spinach. Then gradually start incorporating shallow scrapings of flour from the sides of the well into the liquid. As you work more and more flour into the liquid, the well’s sides may collapse. Use a pastry scraper to keep the liquids from running off and to incorporate the last bits of flour into the dough. Don’t worry if it looks like a hopelessly rough and messy lump.Kneading:With the aid of the scraper to scoop up unruly pieces, start kneading the dough. Once it becomes a cohesive mass, use the scraper to remove any bits of hard flour on the work surface – these will make the dough lumpy. Knead the dough for about 3 minutes. Its consistency should be elastic and a little sticky. If it is too sticky to move easily, knead in a few more tablespoons of flour. Continue kneading about 10 minutes, or until the dough has become satiny, smooth, and very elastic. It will feel alive under your hands. Do not shortcut this step. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap, and let it relax at room temperature 30 minutes to 3 hours.Stretching and Thinning:If using an extra-long rolling pin work with half the dough at a time. With a regular-length rolling pin, roll out a quarter of the dough at a time and keep the rest of the dough wrapped. Lightly sprinkle a[...]

My Kitchen, My World - Ireland


Happy St. Patrick's Day! Well, it is a few days late but better late than never! Guess what we had for dinner? That's right we had corned beef and cabbage. Now, let me stop you before you say "But corned beef and cabbage isn't even Irish!". Guess What? You're wrong! It is an Irish dish. It may not be a very popular dish in Ireland but it is most certainly an Irish dish. I did some research on this because I was tired of people informing me it wasn't Irish. I figured the tradition had to start somewhere so I decided to find out the answer. I found a great article written by Megan O. Steintrager. The entire article can be found at Epicurious. Here are some highlights from her article~ Americans still think we live on corned beef and cabbage over here," says Irish cookbook author and teacher Darina Allen.In fact, the dish that's synonymous with St. Patrick's Day and all things Irish in the U.S. is so rarely eaten in Ireland—for the holiday or otherwise—that some people wonder if it's actually Irish. In Irish Country Cooking, Malachi McCormick says he likes corned beef, but then adds: "But our national dish? No, it's a New World dish!" Furthermore, thanks to the many awful versions served in bars in the U.S.—and washed down with plastic cups of green beer—this one-pot meal is often reviled by Irish Americans and Irish-for-a-Day Americans or, at the very least, relegated to a sloshy once-a-year tradition.So let's set a few things straight: First, corned beef and cabbage is most definitely Irish. Second, when properly made it's "delicious," says Allen Third, with the current multicontinent trend of chefs looking to the past for inspiration coupled with a craze among food-lovers for all things cured, this briny classic is poised for a comeback.Although corned beef is "almost a forgotten flavor in Ireland," according to Allen it was once an extremely popular and important food for all classes. To "corn" something is simply to preserve it in a salty brine (the term corn refers to the coarse grains of salt used for curing). In the days before refrigeration, corning was essential for storing meat, especially from large animals like cows. Historically, beef that was slaughtered and corned before the winter was served with the first fresh spring cabbage to break the Lenten fast on Easter.Corned beef has always been associated with Cork City, because, Allen explains, "that was the provisioning port for boats before they crossed the Atlantic." In fact, between the 1680s and 1825, corning beef was Cork City's most important industry. The meat was exported to Britain, continental Europe, and as far away as Newfoundland and the West Indies.These days in Ireland, corned beef is still most associated with County Cork, where Allen's Ballymaloe Cookery School and the Ballymaloe House and restaurant started by Allen's mother-in-law, Myrtle Allen, are based. Corned beef is sold at the English Market, a huge covered market in Cork City, and is also available at the Farmgate Café within the market—Allen says Ballymaloe House also serves it occasionally for lunch. "So there are people who eat it all the time."But even in Cork, Allen says, corned beef "seems to be a flavor that a lot of older people enjoy more than younger people." Why, then, has corned beef dwindled in popularity? "The Irish economy is very, very strong, and with that comes changes in people's diets," she says. Yet for Irish i[...]