Tuesday, May 26, 2009

oodles of strudel and some last minute fun with the daring bakers

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 cafes of vienna, budapest and prague by rick rodgers.

so, i knew we were doing strudel when it was posted at the beginning of may, but don't think for a minute that i was organized enough to make this ahead.  no, in true soccermom fashion, i was scrambling to the finish line!  and if i must say so myself, it turned out pretty good.

i made two batches of dough just like the directions suggested.  i covered the table in a cloth and i pulled and pulled but did not quite reach the 2'x3' that the recipe stated.  however, i was close enough and decided to proceed.  doing this reminded me of my days at the cia in our baking class.  we were split into two teams and each team was handed a ball of phyllo dough.  whichever team pulled it and stretched it the most with out tearing it, won.  and that is about all i remembered until i began using the backs of my hands to stretch out this dough...

it was pretty thin but also inconsistent.  the pattern on the cloth made that obvious so i was able to go back to the thick parts and stretch a little more.

for my apple filling i cleaned out the fridge-from left to right we have braeburn, pink lady and granny smith.  a nice sweet/tart combination.

the finished apple strudel

with the extra dough i made a blueberry frangipan strudel.  

my  thanks go to linda of make life sweeter! and courtney of coco cooks, it was fun!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

keeping score

i am a curious person.  i like to know how many people visit my silly little blog so when i started it, i added a free counter that gives me information.  i am also a bit cheap and would not pay for the super duper spy version so i only get vague information, but information none the less.  it is fun to see how people find me, what website directs them my way.  even more fun is seeing what country they come from.  mostly, they are in north america, the u.s. and canada.  but some of them come from europe, the middle east and austrailia, south america too.  

the referring websites most often listed are you want pies with that and the daring bakers, but lately,  phemomenon, bread baking day and sour dough have sent a bunch my way.  the reason, i joined several groups and i bake with all of these folks on a monthly basis and then we all blog about what we have baked.  this sends us to each other's blogs to see what  came from our attempts.  it is fun to look and see how so many different people can interpret the same theme or how even with the same recipe, we all get something a little different.  check them out some time and maybe even join in on the fun.

thanks for stopping by, i enjoy the company so if you like, leave me a note and who knows, maybe will bake something together some time!  and if you also would like a free counter, check out bravenet and my little counter at the very bottom of the page, under the big cartoon.

Monday, May 11, 2009

adding insult to injera...and my lame attempt of becoming a bread baking buddy

as i am blogging on through life, i have encountered many different groups that cook/bake and blog about a specific recipe or theme.  as a graduate of the culinary institute of america and a professional pastry chef, i want to join them all!  i am enjoying the challenges because quite often they are not something that i would normally do at home.  but just because i went to cooking school, and a good one at that, don't think i can't screw up a recipe, repeatedly!  this weekend i went above and beyond the call of duty-as far as screwing up a recipe is concerned.  honestly, i have been a little stressed-it is so busy at the cafe right now between sheer volume and catering that i have not been excited about making anything at home.  then there is the rain, it just seems to be stalled here with no end in sight.  and lastly, what working soccermom do you know has nothing but time on her hands?  not this one.  so here goes my sad tale of injera...

first of all, my thanks to breadchick mary of the sour dough for choosing the bread baking babe's theme of injera this month and to sara of i like to cook for inviting me to join in on the fun as a bread baking buddy when i enquired about participating.

last week for derby day, the husband and i decided we would do the ethiopian theme and maybe invite a few friends over.  well, we didn't have the time to plan for friends and decided to do it just for the two of us after we watched the race.  we went out and picked up the necessary spices and ingredients.  did you know that not all african grocery stores are equal?  i didn't, and the first shop we went to only specialized in products and foods mainly from ghana with a bunch of mexican stuff for good measure-the store is located in an area that has many latino residents and businesses.  so off to the indian marked we went and we found every spice we needed and did not already have including the fenugreek.  we chose to make the wot with chicken and the lentils with sweet potato.  the injera was living on the counter for a few days and it was ready to go, or so i thought.  you see, i didn't start it soon enough and decided to use a different recipe from a book called flatbreads and flavors, a bakers atlas because it seemed so much simpler and quicker.  what a disaster, sometimes recipes work and sometimes they don't and you can generally tell if it was because you made a mistake or the author made a mistake.  i am going to claim the latter and never use that method again.  the husband whipped up a quick batch of basmati rice and we ate the wot over rice-and we enjoyed it!

onto the next attempt.  i got the recipe on breadchick mary's blog and started the injera again.  it seemed to be going well, imagine the scary music here, until we were ready to serve the meal again.  i didn't read the recipe and i mean really read the recipe and i did not realize that you have to make the batter 4-6 hours before you will cook the bread-dinner was in an hour!!!  so there i was, hurrying to get it together so i could salvage my mother's day meal since my husband had already made the wot and the lentils again.  in my haste, i misread the recipe and added too much flour to the starter and then had to add a lot of water to thin it out.  then i had issues with the pan and the first two rounds did not work out well.  but between my husband-another cia grad and a chef and myself, we were able to get some decent rounds of injera to serve with the wot.  despite the snafu, we enjoyed the meal and will probably do it again sometime or we may even venture into one of several ethiopian restaurants in nashville.  yes we actually have a couple here as hard as it is to believe.

alix was skeptical but she was brave enough to try it out.  eating with her hands was not something she enjoyed and she had her wot with rice instead.

the chicken wot on the injera, my husband and i actually cleaned this plate and we made a second because it was pretty tasty even if i screwed up the batter.

devon enjoying a pizza, she was not willing to try it out but she did have fun watching us and laughing at us as we ate it with our hands.

thanks again and see you next month where i promise i will follow the recipe right down to the last dot of an i and cross of the t...

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

time for a quickie...

i bet that got your attention...honestly, you need to clean up your act and get your mind out of the gutter.  what i am trying to say is, it is time for quiche and if it is time for quiche then it must be time for this month's post for you want pies with that.  this month's challenge is hosted by natalie of oven love.  the theme natalie has chosen is family favorites.  sounds easy enough except that in my house, we very rarely have pies.  generally, we go for cookies or ice cream with the occasional cake or muffin thrown in for variety.  the only time i bake pies (outside of work where i bake at least 60 per week) is thanksgiving and somehow, pumpkin pie just didn't seem like something i wanted to bake for this challenge.  i was having trouble deciding on what type of pie to bake so i asked my husband what he thought would be a good choice (why not, he'll end up eating most of it anyway...)i explained the requirements to him-it has to be a pie, any kind of pie it can even be savory, as in quiche.  the lightbulbs went off simultaneously and he quickly said make a quiche!  and since i had to choose a favorite pie for this family, i went with quiche, spinach and mushroom quiche to be precise.  

first on the list after a stop at the grocery store for mushrooms, cream and swiss cheese was to get a crust together.  luckily, i had some dough in the freezer and i set it out to thaw while i made the filling.  

when it came time to roll out the crust, i grabbed my monster rolling pin and my latest acquisition, a funky scalloped baking dish that is vintage california pottery.  when i wrote my first book, sky high, i had the opportunity to participate in the photo shoot.  it was 5 days in new york city with a top photographer-tina rupp and a wonderful food stylist-allison attenborough but one of the things i enjoyed the most was the prop styling.  there were so many plates, cups, silverware, linens and cake stands that it was mind boggling.  now that i am working on what i hope will be my second book, i have begun collecting pieces that could maybe end up in a book or just be fun to use at home.  this little collection of plates, bowls, lazy susans, glasses, coffee cups and baking dishes just keeps growing, much to my husbands dismay.  
after the crust was rolled out and placed in the dish, i added the spinach which had been sauteed with onions, garlic and mushrooms.  on top of the spinach, i placed a layer of swiss cheese and finally topped it all off with the custard of heavy cream, eggs, salt and nutmeg.  into the oven it went...

pie for dinner, that's what i'm talkin about!!!  add a loaf of crusty bread and a salad, what more could you possibly need?