Jun 29, 2008

My First Daring Bakers Challenge - Sherry Yard’s "Danish Braid"

My first Daring Bakers challenge hosted this month by Kelly of Sass & Veracity and Ben of What’s Cookin’? , and I have enjoyed it so very much! I loved the braid, it is aromatic, and delicious. Can't wait for next challenge!

I have made two braids, one with pastry cream, one with plum jam. Here is the process to making Danish braid, and it is not half as hard as you think, and every bit enjoyable, especially when your whole house smells like heaven, and then you get to bite into it!!! :)

Right now I am somewhere on my way to Florida for some much deserved "me time"! Well, as much as the kids will alow it! :)


Makes 2-1/2 pounds dough

For the dough (Detrempe)
1 ounce fresh yeast or 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1/2 cup whole milk
1/3 cup sugar
Zest of 1 orange, finely grated
3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped
2 large eggs, chilled
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
3-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt

For the butter block (Beurrage)
1/2 pound (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour

Combine yeast and milk in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on low speed. Slowly add sugar, orange zest, cardamom, vanilla extract, vanilla seeds, eggs, and orange juice. Mix well. Change to the dough hook and add the salt with the flour, 1 cup at a time, increasing speed to medium as the flour is incorporated. Knead the dough for about 5 minutes, or until smooth. You may need to add a little more flour if it is sticky. Transfer dough to a lightly floured baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Without a standing mixer: Combine yeast and milk in a bowl with a hand mixer on low speed or a whisk. Add sugar, orange zest, cardamom, vanilla extract, vanilla seeds, eggs, and orange juice and mix well. Sift flour and salt on your working surface and make a fountain. Make sure that the “walls” of your fountain are thick and even. Pour the liquid in the middle of the fountain. With your fingertips, mix the liquid and the flour starting from the middle of the fountain, slowly working towards the edges. When the ingredients have been incorporated start kneading the dough with the heel of your hands until it becomes smooth and easy to work with, around 5 to 7 minutes. You might need to add more flour if the dough is sticky.

1. Combine butter and flour in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and beat on medium speed for 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and the paddle and then beat for 1 minute more, or until smooth and lump free. Set aside at room temperature.
2. After the detrempe has chilled 30 minutes, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough into a rectangle approximately 18 x 13 inches and ¼ inch thick. The dough may be sticky, so keep dusting it lightly with flour. Spread the butter evenly over the center and right thirds of the dough. Fold the left edge of the detrempe to the right, covering half of the butter. Fold the right third of the rectangle over the center third. The first turn has now been completed. Mark the dough by poking it with your finger to keep track of your turns, or use a sticky and keep a tally. Place the dough on a baking sheet, wrap it in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
3. Place the dough lengthwise on a floured work surface. The open ends should be to your right and left. Roll the dough into another approximately 13 x 18 inch, ¼-inch-thick rectangle. Again, fold the left third of the rectangle over the center third and the right third over the center third. No additional butter will be added as it is already in the dough. The second turn has now been completed. Refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes.
4. Roll out, turn, and refrigerate the dough two more times, for a total of four single turns. Make sure you are keeping track of your turns. Refrigerate the dough after the final turn for at least 5 hours or overnight. The Danish dough is now ready to be used. If you will not be using the dough within 24 hours, freeze it. To do this, roll the dough out to about 1 inch in thickness, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and freeze. Defrost the dough slowly in the refrigerator for easiest handling. Danish dough will keep in the freezer for up to 1 month.

Makes enough for two braids

4 Fuji or other apples, peeled, cored, and cut into ¼-inch pieces
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
4 tablespoons unsalted butter

Toss all ingredients except butter in a large bowl. Melt the butter in a sauté pan over medium heat until slightly nutty in color, about 6 - 8 minutes. Then add the apple mixture and sauté until apples are softened and caramelized, 10 to 15 minutes. If you’ve chosen Fujis, the apples will be caramelized, but have still retained their shape. Pour the cooked apples onto a baking sheet to cool completely before forming the braid. (If making ahead, cool to room temperature, seal, and refrigerate.) They will cool faster when spread in a thin layer over the surface of the sheet. After they have cooled, the filling can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Left over filling can be used as an ice cream topping, for muffins, cheesecake, or other pastries.

Makes enough for 2 large braids

1 recipe Danish Dough (see below)
2 cups apple filling, jam, or preserves (see below)

For the egg wash: 1 large egg, plus 1 large egg yolk

1. Line a baking sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper. On a lightly floured surface, roll the Danish Dough into a 15 x 20-inch rectangle, ¼ inch thick. If the dough seems elastic and shrinks back when rolled, let it rest for a few minutes, then roll again. Place the dough on the baking sheet.
2. Along one long side of the pastry make parallel, 5-inch-long cuts with a knife or rolling pastry wheel, each about 1 inch apart. Repeat on the opposite side, making sure to line up the cuts with those you’ve already made.
3. Spoon the filling you’ve chosen to fill your braid down the center of the rectangle. Starting with the top and bottom “flaps”, fold the top flap down over the filling to cover. Next, fold the bottom “flap” up to cover filling. This helps keep the braid neat and helps to hold in the filling. Now begin folding the cut side strips of dough over the filling, alternating first left, then right, left, right, until finished. Trim any excess dough and tuck in the ends.

Egg Wash
Whisk together the whole egg and yolk in a bowl and with a pastry brush, lightly coat the braid.

Proofing and Baking
1. Spray cooking oil (Pam…) onto a piece of plastic wrap, and place over the braid. Proof at room temperature or, if possible, in a controlled 90 degree F environment for about 2 hours, or until doubled in volume and light to the touch.
2. Near the end of proofing, preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Position a rack in the center of the oven.
3. Bake for 10 minutes, then rotate the pan so that the side of the braid previously in the back of the oven is now in the front. Lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees F, and bake about 15-20 minutes more, or until golden brown. Cool and serve the braid either still warm from the oven or at room temperature. The cooled braid can be wrapped airtight and stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days, or freeze for 1 month.

Dough, and braid B4 oven...

Danish pastry 1Danish pastry 2

Danish with pastry cream, then plum jam, and jam itself :)
Danish pastry 3Danish pastry 13Plum jam 2

Plum jam cooked by reduction:

Cook washed and pitted plums with sugar over medium to high heat until it starts boiling (your choice how much, I don't put much, they are sweet already). Later reduce to low, and cook until thick. Can as usual. Simple as that! :)

Pastry cream:

2 cups milk
3 egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar
3 Tbsp corn startch
1 Tsp vanilla extract

Mix yolks with sugar, thenh add corn startch, vanilla extract, and mix until smooth and silky. Bring milk to boil, then add the yolk mixture, reduce heat to low, and cook for few minutes, stiring until it thickens. Cool completely before using!

Jun 27, 2008

Beef Stew - Goulash

I only wish I could deliver to you the awesome aromas that are hugging my kitchen now, as well as the taste of this wonderful stew! Mhmmmm, mhmmmm! Yum!!!

Beef Stew - Goulash

1 ½ lb beef for stew, cut up into cubes
5-6 medium to large onions
1 bay leaf
Salt, ground black pepper, favorite seasoning
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1 Tbsp Paprika
1 Tbsp flour
Oil for sautéing
1 ½ to 2 lb potatoes

Put beef into cold water, until needed. Chop onions, and sauté them in a pot, in just enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan. Sauté them only until they are wilted, then add drained beef, and water to about an inch above the beef. Bring to boil, then reduce heat, and cook for 1 ½ to 2 hours, or until the meat is tender. As it losses water, keep adding boiling hot water to same height, just about an inch above the meat.

Peel potatoes, cut into quarters, and cook in a separate pan, then drain. In the meantime, finish the stew. Add bay leaf, salt, pepper, tomato paste, seasonings to taste. Let it come to a boil while you make the thickening agent.

In a frying pan heat some oil, just to cover the bottom, add 1 ½ Tbsp flour, and mix it well. Then add 1 Tbsp paprika seasoning, mix well, and transfer to stew. Mix well, remove from heat, let it set for a while, then add cooked potato quarters to it. Enjoy!

Tarte Tatin

I have been meaning to make this for quite some time now, and now I know I will be making it again. You know I’m a sucker for simple, and a major sucker for apples! : )

Tarte Tatin
(adapted from Desserts, 500 delicious recipes)

8 oz/ one sheet puff pastry
10-12 large apples
Lemon juice
½ cup butter
½ cup caster sugar
½ tsp ground cinnamon
Crème fraiche or whipped cream to serve

Thaw pastry according to directions, then roll it out on a lightly floured surface to the size of the pan in which you will be making the tarte (11 inch round). Transfer to a lightly floured baking sheet (parchment paper is great), and chill until needed.

Peel, core and cut apples in half lengthwise. Sprinkle with lemon juice.
In the pan which you will use for tarte, cook butter with sugar and cinnamon, until sugar is dissolved, stirring occasionally. Continue cooking for 6-8 minutes, or until the mixture starts resembling caramel.

Remove from heat, arange apples tightly in the pan(they will shrink), and return to medium heat to simmer the apples in the pan for 20-25 minutes or until they start to brown. In the meantime, preheat oven to 450 F. Remove apples from heat, and cool down slightly.

Place pastry on top of the apple filled pan, and tuck the edges of the pastry inside the edge of the pan. Pierce pastry in 2-3 places, then bake for about 25-30 minutes, or until pastry is golden. Cool for 15 minutes.

Cover the pan with a serving plate, and carefully invert the pan, and the plate together over a sink (in case some caramel drips), and then lift the pan. Serve warm as is, or with some cream. Enjoy!
More apple recipes available here:
Apple cake with whole apples
Apple bundt cake
Apple dumplings
Batter fried apple rings

Jun 26, 2008

Carob Cubes

My dear foodies. I am sorry I have been absent for a while, but I have checked some of your blogs, and have tried to keep up with the latest developments in our foodie world!
I have had a lot on my plate lately, and I am now getting ready for a Florida vacation! Yeah!!! Finally!

I will stay for about 2 weeks, or so I hope, but I will have my laptop with me, so keep in touch, and I will too. I have rented a house, so kitchen will still be available to me, you never know, maybe I whip up something while having fun on Marco Island!

Thanks for visiting, and here is a cake made of ground carob, which I loved to snack on when I was little. It is great, next time I am thinking about making an entire torte out of it, with cream, and the whole nine yards… : )

Carob Cubes
(Recipe adapted from Franck d.d. ground carob package)

3 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 cup milk
1 cup flour
1 cup ground carob
5 Tbsp oil
5 Tbsp spiced rum
2 Tsp baking powder
Grated rind of one lemon

Preheat oven to 405 F. Mix egg yolks with sugar, adding sugar little by little. Add milk, flour mixed with baking powder, ground carob, oil, rum, and lemon rind. Mix well.
Mix egg whites until stiff, fold them in the mixture. Pour into regular rectangular cake pan (11x7x2), and bake for about 30 minutes. Cool down, cut into cubes, and dust with powdered sugar. Enjoy!

Jun 16, 2008

Yellow for Bri

This is my entry for this month’s Click special event is - Click Yellow for Bri!
Briana Brownlow is about my age, and reading about her struggle with breast cancer so young, and learning that at a very young age of 15 she has lost her mother to the disease, has saddened me deeply. You are in my prayers Bri!

This is an appeal on behalf of a group of food bloggers who are friends of Briana Brownlow @ Figs With Bri.
Bri was diagnosed with breast cancer two and half years ago. A mastectomy, chemotherapy and two years of relatively good health later, the cancer is back. It has metastasized to other parts of her body. At the age of 15, Bri lost her 41-year old mother to the disease. Now, she’s waging her own war against breast cancer. More about it here.
She is going through intensive chemo and other treatments and needs to focus single-mindedly on healing and finding what treatment works best for her. Her health insurance, unfortunately, does not cover holistic alternatives which she would like to try. Bri and her husband Marc have enough on their plates right now in addition to worrying about her medical bills.
The team organising the
JUNE edition of CLICK at Jugalbandi has organised a fundraiser to help Bri and her family meet her out-of-pocket medical costs for ONE YEAR.
CLICK is a monthly theme-based photography contest hosted by Jugalbandi. This month’s theme is: YELLOW for Bri
Yellow is the colour of hope. Through the work of the
LiveStrong Foundation, it has also come to signify the fight against cancer.
The entries can be viewed
HERE. The deadline for entries is June 30, 2008. The fundraiser will extend until July 15, 2008.
The target amount is 12,000 U.S. dollars. We appeal to our fellow bloggers and readers to help us achieve this. Bri deserves a chance to explore all options, even if her insurance company thinks otherwise.
There’s a raffle with exciting prizes on offer. After viewing the list, you may make your donation HERE or at the Chip-In button on any participating site.
Your donation can be made securely through credit card or Pay Pal and goes directly to Bri’s account.
This month’s photo contest also has some prizes. Details
You can support this campaign by donating to the fundraiser, by participating in CLICK: the photo event, and by publicising this campaign.

Pineapple (fruit) Torte

For the cake:
7 eggs
7 tbsp of sugar
5 tbsp of flour
10 tbsp ground walnuts
2 tsp baking powder

Preheat oven to 395 F. Mix egg whites with sugar until stiff. Add yolks, walnuts, flour with baking powder. Bake in a round spring form pan, for about 25-30 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.

Cool down, and then cut into two layers. Sprinkle cake layers (generously) with juice from the pineapple can. Spread about half the cream, then fruit, then cream again. Leave some cream for the outside of the cake. Optionally, spread whipped cream all around, and decorate as you wish.

3 eggs
2 tbsp corn starch
2 tbsp flour
1 1/3 cup sugar
2 ¼ cups milk
6 tsp vanilla sugar
1 ½ sticks butter or margarine, unsalted
1 can of sliced pineapple or fresh pineapple slices, or some other fruit, can be just cut up fruit, anything works : )

To make the cream:
Mix eggs with sugar, add corn starch and flour, and add to boiling milk. Reduce heat, and mix well until thickens. Cool completely down, then mix in butter or margarine cut up into slices. Mix until nice and creamy.

Jun 8, 2008

Six word memoir

I got tagged for this one some time ago by Farida from Farida’s Azerbaijani Cookbook, but couldn’t get to it, and then I forgot all about it. I should add forgetful, in the list below : )))
Now I got tagged again, by Chriesi of Almond Corner, and I thought I must find time to do it, so here it is ladies, me in six words:

Restless (Sagittarius:)

I am very just, and honest, and it is hard for me to live in the world today where there is not much justice…

I am restless; yes, I love being home, cooking, baking, all that, but when the nice weather is here, the highway is calling me, and I love to travel, and get away!

I'm a perfectionist, but not extreme kind. As much as I can be with 2 kids and a big baby husband! I do love organizing, and constantly changing stuff around the house, never pleased with one display/layout for a long time. Constantly changing!

Very impulsive, which is sometimes good, but most of the times makes me jump to conclusions…
OK, this was supposed to be a “6” word memoir!!!!! Sorry! Have a fun day!

Now, I am supposed to tag 6 fellow food bloggers, and the lucky 6 are:

Marija from Palachinka
Cathy from Noble Pig
Susan from Food Blogga
Antonio from Olive Juice
Familia Bencomo from Familia Bencomo
Kate from Aaplemint

If you have already been tagged, do excuse me, I cannot go through so many pages, and check, and if you have done it, maybe just provide a link, if you want to, no biggie, so you need not do it again, but we (me) still get to read... :)

Rainbow Trout - Potato Pancakes - Summer Feta Salad

Quick, and easy summer Sunday dinner. For fish, sometimes I use regular flour, sometimes cornmeal; I guess in the moment it depends on which one is closer.

Rainbow trout

If I do cornmeal, I use:
1 cup cornmeal
1 Tsp paprika
1 Tsp black pepper

Cut, and salt the fish to taste. Coat in cornmeal mixture, and fry on medium heat for few minutes on each side, or until desired doneness. Transfer onto paper towel, and sprinkle with lemon juice.
Italian style potato pancakes
(adapted from Gemma’ homestyle Italian cooking, November 2002 issue)

3 medium/large potatoes
1 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed
1egg, slightly beaten
Salt to taste
1 cup Italian style breadcrumbs
A handful of parsley, finely chopped up
½ cup canola oil for frying

Cook potatoes, and mash them, Add the egg, corn, and some salt, and mix well.
Add parsley to breadcrumbs (optional, but I like it). Now, spoon out some mixture into the crumbs, and coat well, take it with your hands, and fry few at a time, over medium heat.
Flatten them, as they fry, but let fry 2 minutes before turning, and turn very carefully, to retain the shape. Fry 2 minutes on other side, and as they are done, transfer onto baking sheet, into the oven (200F) to keep warm, until they are all done.

Summer Feta Salad

Bell peppers
Cucumbers ( I didn’t have any, works fine without them)
Feta cheese, crumbled
Some salt, and black pepper
Oil, and vinegar

Cut up the veggies into small cubes, about equal amount of each, salt to taste. Sprinkle with black pepper, oil, and vinegar, all to taste. Top with crumbled feta cheese. No kissing after this, but Yum!!!!!!

Jun 2, 2008

Asparagus cheese bake

One of the first things I baked, when I was about maybe 10 years old, was an oven baked French omelet from an old cookbook. It included flour, 1 tablespoon for each egg, and same amount of sugar. That was easy for starters, and I would make it for my brothers, and I can never forget how happy that made me! I have served it with our homemade jams.

Now, my husband likes asparagus with eggs ( and I grew up on asparagus), and I thought why not make savory bake with cheese too? Normally I just cook asparagus, and serve them as a salad/side sort of thing with hard-boiled eggs, or grilled, so it’s about time to give it a try with some other method.

So many recipes out there, but I thought of my easy omelet, and thought to make it like that, savory of course, and burden it with cheese.

Well, I have presented you with how great it looks, here is the recipe should you decide to give it a try, it is nothing special, and every bit yummy!: )

Asparagus cheese bake

½ lb asparagus approx. (1 bunch)
Butter to grease the baking dish
2 eggs
2 tbsp of flour
¼ Tsp baking powder
Salt to taste
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese ( or other kind)

Boil asparagus till just slightly tender, do not overcook. Drain. Preheat oven to 425 F.
Lightly grease the baking dish (small casserole kind) with butter.

Mix egg whites until stiff, then add yolks, and then flour, one by one tablespoon, some salt, and baking powder. Arrange asparagus any way you like in the baking dish, then pour the egg mixture in. Bake for about 10 minutes or until the toothpick comes out clean. Sprinkle with cheese, and bake until cheese melts. Enjoy! Simple, and yummy, just the way I like it!