Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Creme Brulee ala Orange.....

I love Creme Brulee, always have! But my DH has never been that impressed with it, so I decided to change the flavor for him. Instead of using one of Dorie's wonderful flavors I decided to use orange zest and Gran Marnier liquor.

I zested one large orange and put the zest in with the cream and milk, brought it to a boil and let it steep for 30 minutes. Then strained the liquid into a 2 cup measuring cup. I put the cream back on the stove and brought it to a boil. Instead of the vanilla I used Gran Marnier liquor. Everything else was the same as the recipe. I finally got to use my kitchen torch that someone gave me 2 years ago and it worked...perfectly caramelized sugar.

Ready for the oven...

Cooling....please hurry...yummmmmmmmmmm!

DH loved the flavors of the orange zest and the liquor; he actually wanted more! I have never made creme brulee but this was so easy I will make it more often. Many thanks to Mari of Mevrouw Cupcake for a fun recipe.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Lavash with Mango Ginger Cream Cheese Dip.....

I am a new DB and this is my first challenge, WOW, this was fun! And what a nice change to make something savory. I already had the book and probably would never have tried the lavash recipe, just because I bought the book to make bread. The lavash was very easy to make and came together quickly.

I love recipes that indicate weight and measurement; I feel weighing is much more accurate in baking. In the past my "chi" for the day would determine if the flour in the cup was spooned in with care or dipped with gusto, so I was probably off by a few ounces more or less in my recipes.
It took about 12 minutes to kneed and have the dough at 81 degrees; then off to the garage, because that is the warmest place in the house, to rise. After the 1 1/2 hours the dough had doubled and I was ready to roll out. I use a LARGE silpat mat to roll out dough 'cause I have tile and hate cleaning grout. I sprayed the mat with oil and shaped the dough into a rectangle; I started rolling and when the dough measured 12 x 15 it was still very thick! The recipe did say paper thin, so I cut the dough in half and rolled each half very, very thin. I sprayed the dough with water and using many of the suggestions on the forum, rolled my seeds and spices into the dough. On first half I used cumin seed, Gram Marsala and sea salt. I cut this half with a pizza cutter into strips.

The second half I used poppy seeds, smoked paprika and sea salt. I really rolled this half thin and then put it into the refrigerator while the first one baked. I baked this half whole and broke it into serving pieces when it had cooled. I think the next time I make this recipe, and I defiantly will, I will try olive oil, instead of water, and see if the seeds and seasonings stick better. Also, may put the seeds into the dough when kneading.

This recipe is adaptable for any taste, just use your imagination. I can't wait for the holidays to serve this with different dips and spreads.

Speaking of dips!!! Here is a recipe I came up with when I decided to use the cumin and Gram Marsala on the lavash. I kept thing of chutney and cream cheese, something with an Eastern flavor; my DH said it was very good and I hope you do to!!! I really wanted to use Major Grey's Chutney but this was all TJ's carried; use what flavor chutney you like.

Chutney Cream Cheese Dip or Spread

8 oz Cream Cheese room temperature
1 - 2 Tablespoons milk, or more
9 oz bottle of Mango Ginger chutney, I used Trader Joe's
3 Tablespoons caramelized onions*
Salt and Pepper to taste
Using a hand mixer, mix cream cheese until smooth. Add milk to desired consistency, or leave out all together and use it like a spread. Add the bottle of chutney and mix until well blended. Add the caramelized onions, keeping a few out for garnish, and blend by hand until mixed in. Add salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate for 1 - 2 hours. Let sit out for 30 minutes before serving. Garnish with onion.
If you would like a more tangy taste you could use Greek yogurt.
* You will need about 1/4 cup (or less) of thinly sliced onions. In a small frying pan put about 1 tablespoon of butter and let melt on med/low heat. Add onions and slowly saute until very dark brown and caramelized. Don't rush. Let cool and use.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Dimply Plum Cake...

I really liked the change this week, I was actually getting a bit tired of cookies and chocolate. I can't believe I just made that statement, but I speak the truth! My market had the Italian prune plums; they were very small, so I see how Dorie got 8 of them on her cake! However, when I went to Whole Foods yesterday, their plums were a bit larger and looked much better than what I purchased at my local market!

This is a great base recipe that opens up many uses for fruits from all the seasons. I have decided, after using plums in several recipes, I don't really care for cooked plums and would definitely use peaches, apples, berries or whatever my imagination comes up with the next time I make this cake!

The cake came together fast and the directions were accurate, didn't change a thing. I used the Cardamon because I love the flavor and always have it on hand; it adds such a sweet, mellow interesting flavor in baked goods.

You need to eat the cake the day it is made, it really is best when fresh. The next day the cake seemed denser and dryer, so I don't think I would make it ahead of time for a breakfast or brunch. Many, many thanks to Michelle of Bake-en for choosing a fun and different recipe.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Dorie's Chocolate Chunkers.....

Another yummy cookie that everyone liked! I took some to work and my boss said "now that's a cookie". The only change I made was to use Craisins instead of raisins because I had a bag open and needed to use them in something. I'm glad I used the Craisins, they helped cut the sweetness; if I made these again I would not add the chocolate chips just because of how sweet they were. These are very rich, chocolaty cookies; one or two were enough, they were very filling. The cookies did not spread very much when cooked, so I gave them a slight tap with a spatula when they came out to flatten a bit. I left them on the parchment paper on racks to cool down before trying to remove them. They definately need to be cool or they may crack! Thanks to Claudia at Fool for Food for picking a winner!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Chocolate Malted Whopper Drops.....

I love Whoppers! They are my go to candy when I go to the movies; I just can't stop eating them! I made the recipe as written except I did not add the bittersweet chocolate, the recipe seemed to have enough chocolate without the extra chips. I know, I know, but as I explained before, I am not a chocoholic! These cookies came together fast and disappeared fast; so fast I had to make them a second time. They actually did disappear from my camera and the serving plate. In the second batch I added more Whoppers and just rough chopped them, did not get too crazy about quartering each one like I did in the first batch. I got 36 nice sized cookies and would have had about 3 more except the dough tasted really good!!!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

MacGregor to the rescue.....

Several years ago my mom was very sick and constantly in the hospital; since I am an only child I had to take care of my dad and his needs plus mom and her illness. Dad felt bad that he couldn't help, but he had given up driving several years prior and relied on mom to take them everywhere. At the time I had a full time job, was president of my quilt guild and had a home to keep clean; my husband helped when he could but his work took a lot of time. Needless to say I was pulled in every direction and thought life couldn't get much more hectic! When I came home I was always greeted by J.J., my cat of 18 years; what more can I say, he was my buddy. He always knew when I needed a nudge and a rough lick on my nose; he could always get me smiling and feeling better! My mom passed away a few years ago, a couple of weeks after Christmas and then J.J. had to be put to sleep two weeks later, he lasted long enough to help me through my mom's passing. I felt nothing could ever replace J.J., but my husband felt I should look for another cat (he does know what he is talking about.....sometimes, LOL). I went to different animal shelters but could not bring myself to replace J.J., just wouldn't be the same. A few months later there was a cat show and I asked my husband if we could go and just see (as in, I think I am ready) what cats might be for sale. The cat show was large and believe it or not, there was only ONE kitten in the whole show for sale, and it was a Scottish Fold, the breed of cat I had always wanted! He was four months old and was very different from J.J.; he knew he was special and was probably not sure if he wanted me for a mom. He had no choice, he came home with us and we adapted to him, LOL. I named him MacGregor, he is Scottish after all. At times my husband changes his name to pain-in-the-ass, but I have see him scratch Mac's head when he thinks I am not looking. Mac definatly has an attitude and a personality! I have taught Mac to sit and give me a high five; in return he expects me to feed him at 3:30 in the morning seven days a week, who has who trained? Mac is now my buddy, we understand each other; he came to my rescue several years ago and when his time comes I know I will never be able to replace him. But, another cat will come along and maybe not replace, but fill the gap just as well.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Chunky Peanut Butter & Oatmeal Chocolate Cookies.....

I love cookies!!! Who doesn't and it's easy to find homes for them, so I had no problem with a recipe that made 60 cookies. The only problem I had with this weeks recipe was I forgot to take pictures of the final plate of cookies and now they are all GONE. I do have some in progress pictures, but that's it, sorry. Instead of 9 ounces of chopped chocolate I used 4.5 ounces of mini semi-sweet chocolate chips and 4.5 ounces of Skor Toffee Bits. The two flavors went well with the oatmeal and peanut butter; I will make these again with ALL toffee bits because I really like the taste of toffee or caramel. Don't get me wrong and please don't send hate mail, lol, but I don't eat a lot of chocolate; I know weird!

Here they are ready for the oven, again I used a #40 portioning scoop and got 60 cookies. A portioning scoop or disher really makes it easy to make perfectly sized cookies! I let the dough cool for 2 hours in the refrigerator and did not pat down, they came out perfect, slightly crisp on the edges and chewy in the middle. Thank you for a great pick to Stefany of Proceed with Caution.