Sunday, June 29, 2008

Queens Blend Danish

Danish, that is a great Daring Baker Challenge. I have always wanted to try my hand at a layered dough such as this and now I have my chance.
I am finding that the kids prefer a DBer recipe that includes kneading, they almost push each other off the chair trying to be sure that they get their turn at the push and fold.



I have never mentioned this before but I have a lot of rolling pins. A few years back I told my Grandfather that I would like for him to pick me up a couple of rolling pins at the yard sales he goes to in Florida and he has not stopped getting them for me and the count it up to 8 or 9 now. this year he brought be a marble rolling pin. I found that the heavy marble rolling pin was the perfect tool for rolling out the danish dough, only after using my wooden one for the first 2 rolls.





I the beginning of the month the kids and I went to IKEA and the Jams looked so good that I got them just for making this danish. I got the gooseberry for the danish; however, the Queens Blend was so yummy and had such a beautiful color I had to use it.







I was so happy when the danish came out and it had all these beautiful layers in each of the braids.



Unfortunately I took it out of the oven a minutes too soon and it was a little doughy in the inside or maybe I did not roll it thin enough so next time I will let the dough rest a good long time and then roll it out extra thin and add more filling.

DANISH DOUGH
Makes 2-1/2 pounds dough

Ingredients:
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 scraped2 large eggs, chilled
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
3-1/4 cups all-purpose flour1 teaspoon salt

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



DOUGH
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.

BUTTER BLOCK

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.



DANISH BRAID
Makes enough for 2 large braids

1 recipe Danish Dough
2 cups Jam or other filling

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.

Because the oven, and the house, was already hot and I had some egg whites in my refrigerator I tried my had at making french macarons. I will post this adventure at a later date .



When I was all done and the kids were in bed I ended the day with a home made Mojito, mmmmmmm!

To see more Daring Bakers go here.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Chicken Fried Rice



I am not sure if I mentioned it before but we eat a lot of Asian food in our house and I don't think it is because my Hubby works for Nissan and has gone to Japan a few times. We love it's versatility, ease and not to mention it tastes great.


For years I tried to make "Chinese" food and failed. I knew that I wanted an alternative to the buffets full of fat, MSG and who knows what else, but I just could not pull it off. As time went on Hubby and I discovered Thai and then Japanese and we loved them too. A few years ago Hubby got me a wok for Christmas and then the magic began...well to tell the truth a lot of practice took place and some raised brow, fake smile mmmmmms happened and after some time the flavors started to come together. Today (2 1/2 years later) I can through together some pretty good chow, it may not always be authentic but we can breath while we eat and the wok is nicely seasoned now too.


This time we had a fried rice, not the first fried rice I have tried my hand at, but one of the best and it was made with whatever I happened to have in my refrigerator.

Ingredients:
1/2 large yellow onion, sliced
1/2 green pepper, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 stalk broccoli, stem and tops. Peel the stalk and cut it into rounds and cut the florets into bite size pieces.
2 medium ribs bok choy, chopped
3 or 4 white mushrooms, sliced
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
2 to 3 cloves minced garlic
1/4 cup water or stock
1 chicken breast, cut into small chunks
2 cups left over cooked rice
1/3 cup peanuts
1 egg beaten
Sesame oil
vegetable oil
Mushroom flavored soy sauce

Method:

Heat wok on high flame until very hot add 1 tablespoon vegetable oil and 1 tablespoon sesame oil and the chicken. stir once or twice and add a pinch of ginger and garlic stir for another 30 second and add a few dashes of soy sauce stir for another 30 seconds remove from wok and set aside. add beaten egg and stir until soft scrambled and remove from wok and set aside.

add another tablespoon of sesame oil and add in the carrots and broccoli stir a few times and add the water or stock and a few dashed of soy sauce and another pinch of ginger and garlic stir and place a lid over the wok and let steam for about 45 seconds. Add the onion, peppers, mushrooms and bok choy and cook until just short of being done, remove from pan and set aside with the chicken and egg.

add the rice and the rest of the ginger and garlic and stir a for about 20 seconds. return all the ingredients back to the wok and stir them together adding a few more shakes of soy sauce and a few drips of sesame oil peanuts and serve. Top with green onion (I did not have any so I did not add them) and enjoy.

It sounds like it is a lot of work but as long as you have everything ready to go before you even get the wok out it is really fast and it doesn't feel like that much work at all.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Is This Steak?

There was a time when I thought I hated steak. If I had it I would order it well done and when I would try to eat it, I felt as if I were gnawing on a shoe. Steak, YUCK! Then one day, by chance, I had prime rib medium rare. It was not what I had ordered but I was traveling for work and in mixed company so I bit my tongue and ate my bloody meat. I took my first bit and could not believe what my mouth was telling me. Could this be? Was this…Steak? I learned that day that beef was good, now I admit that I still only eat steak 3 or 4 times a year but when I do make one I enjoy it. However, I am only able to eat a few ounces. The steak pictured here was more then enough to feed our family of 4

I simply season the steak with salt and pepper and just a touch of olive oil. I get my grill popping hot and sear the steak for 4 minutes on each side and then let it set covered for about 10 minutes. This almost always gives me the perfect pink, tender, juicy and flavorful.



I admit I do enjoy many other things on the grill such as corn, still in its husk, soaked in water and placed on the grill. Asparagus tossed in olive oil with course salt, pepper and rosemary; onions cut in half and charred to sweet perfection and roasted peppers simply placed over the flames of the coals until blackened on all sides and placed in a sealed bowl until the skin becomes loose and easy to pull off. This all makes for a wonderful dinner.

I have also found that adding blue cheese to a nice steak is a wonderful complement to each other. Below is a steak I made for my Birthday in April.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Hot and Sour Soup


My husband loves Thai hot and sour soup and his favorite comes from Bangkok Kitchen in Farminton Hills. While this soup is not quite like the one at Bangkok Kitchen it is a great start and I would found it here. My Hubby thought this has a little too much vinegar and it needed chicken or tofu. I confess I did not have chicken or tofu on hand and I agree that it would have been nice and I could not find the chilli garlic sauce at the store. This is a make again dish for sure; however, I will start to make some changes




6 cups vegetable stock
3 slices ginger
2 fresh shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced (I used dried, rehydrated because that was what was available)
1/2 cup enoki or straw mushrooms
1 wood ear mushroom, rehydrated, cut into thin strips
1/2 cup fresh bamboo shoot, slivered (I don't care for these so I did not add, I think I will next time)
1 cup firm tofu, diced (missed this too will add this or chicken in the future)
1 carrot, julienned
1 stalk celery, thinly sliced
1/4 cup fresh water chestnuts or sunchokes, diced
2 TB soy sauce1 TB mushroom-flavored dark soy sauce
1/2 TB sesame oil
1/2 cup white vinegar
1 TB chili garlic sauce (I could not find this at the store, maybe did not know where to look)
1 TB sugar
1 tsp. white pepper
1 tsp. roasted chili powder (optional)

4 TB cornstarch dissolved in
4 TB cold water
1 egg, beaten (optional) (really only need 1/2 an egg)
green onions, chopped, for garnish
cilantro, for garnish (I must have the anti-cilantro gene because it tastes like soap to me so I used parsley)


Add stock and ginger to pot, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove ginger and add all remaining ingredients except cornstarch mixture, egg, and garnishes. Simmer for 20-30 minutes. Add cornstarch mixture and bring to a boil until thickened. Immediately remove from heat and begin dripping spoonfuls of the beaten egg into the hot soup as you stir the soup with the other hand (this creates a nice ribbon effect). Ladle into bowls and serve. Garnish with chopped green onions, a sprig of cilantro, and a few drops of chili-sesame oil (rayu).
I think a squeeze of lemon or lime juice at the end would be nice too, maybe.

I hope to some day get close the to Thai soup that Hubby so loves but until then we have this, which was a great chinese hot and sour soup.


Tuesday, June 3, 2008

My Big Fat Vacation


How did I gain 15 pounds in 15 days let me count the ways...

1.


This is THE CAKE the one that my hubby measures all cakes against the one that we had as our wedding cake, the cake I had no idea how to make until this months Daring Baker Challenge, thanks by the way. This cake has a total of something like 42 eggs, yes almost 4 dozen eggs. The cake has chocolate, nuts, butter and you guessed it and then the butter cream (to tell the truth I did not know that was butter cream until the May Daring Baker Challenge, I told yeah, I'm a cooker not a baker). I don't know how my in-laws do it but there are something like 20 eggs in the butter cream and the cooked sugar and butter and what ever else goes in there then nuts. The rest of what goes into this cake I am still not sure of but I have a start. By the way Hubby does not like "American Cakes".

2.





The Bet bread ever! I think I had at least 4 loaves, it is like the middle eastern bread I have had in restaurants around where I live but thicker, about 2 inches, and slightly chewy on the inside. it was so good and I will learn how to make this! I mean look at it.


3.



Lemon Meringue Pie, my father-in-laws favorite and I make it every time I visit.

  • 1/4 cup corn starch

  • 2 Tablespoons flour

  • 1 1/4 cups sugar

  • 1 1/2 cups boiling water

  • 3 eggs, separated

  • 1/3 cup lemon juice

  • 2 tablespoons butter

  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest

  • 1 baked 8" pie crust

Blend corn starch, flour, and sugar in a sauce pan; add the boiling water, gradually blend well. Cook stirring constantly until thick and clear, about 3 minutes.


Beat egg yolks and temper with the clear liquid and pour back into pan. Cook stirring for 2 more minutes.


Remove from Heat and add lemon juice, butter and zest and mix well. Pour into prepared pie shell.


For Meringue:



  • 3 egg whites

  • 1/3 cup sugar

  • pinch of salt

In a large glass or metal bowl, whip egg whites until foamy. Add sugar and salt gradually, and continue to whip until stiff peaks form. Spread meringue over pie, sealing the edges at the crust. brown in a 400 for about 10 minutes.




2 8" Pie Crusts:



  • 2 1/2 cups flour

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1 tablespoon sugar

  • 1 cup cold butter

  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup ice water

Combine dry ingredients. Cut in butter with a pastry blender and then add water one Tablespoon at a time combining with a fork until dough comes together. Divide dough in to equal parts, press into a disk, wrap dough in plastic and chill for at least 30 minutes. Turn dough out on a floured surface and place in pie dish. If blind baking bake at 450F for 12 minutes or until brown.


4.


Strawberry Pie.


5.


This wonderful coffee chocolate cream dessert that was made by a close family friend. It was wonderfully rich and creamy.

6.

And lots and lots of meat and potatoes, but boy was it good food.

Asparagus Frittata




One of my favorite vegetables is asparagus and one of my daughter's is asparagus but she likes hers blanched, ice bathed and course salt added to it. I am happy that this time of year it is everywhere and we are eating it like crazy.
One evening last week I decided to make Frittata; unfortunately, it did not go over well with the family, but I liked it. I believe that the reason this did not go over so well is there was too much asparagus, I did use a whole pound.

you will need:


  • 5 or 6 stalks of Asparagus
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup cream or milk ( I used cream because I had some left over from The Daring Baker Challenge)
  • 1 cup finely grated cheddar cheese
  • salt & pepper

First cut the asparagus into smaller pieces and blanch for 2 minutes in salted water and drain and set aside.

Turn on the broiler to low.

Heat an 8" cast iron pan and add in the butter and asparagus. In a bowl beat the eggs and add the cream half of the cheese and seasoning and whip a little air into the eggs with a fork. Pour the eggs over the asparagus. Shake and stir the eggs a little until set on the bottom. Cover the frittata with the rest of the cheese and place under the broiler until the eggs rise, set and brown a little.