Saturday, June 27, 2009

June 2009 Daring Baker Challenge - Bakewell Tart

"The June Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Jasmine of Confessions of a Cardamom Addict and Annemarie of Ambrosia and Nectar. They chose a Traditional (UK) Bakewell Tart... er... pudding that was inspired by a rich baking history dating back to the 1800's in England."

I have to say I was not a fan of this months challenge, too bad I have already missed my 2 for the year do to my relocation to Mexico and that all of my cooking stuff had to be left in Michigan.

here is the recipe for BAKEWELL TART.

Bakewell Tart…er…pudding

Makes one 23cm (9” tart)
Prep time: less than 10 minutes (plus time for the individual elements)
Resting time: 15 minutes
Baking time: 30 minutes
Equipment needed: 23cm (9”) tart pan or pie tin (preferably with ridged edges), rolling pin

One quantity sweet shortcrust pastry (recipe follows)
Bench flour
250ml (1cup (8 US fl. oz)) jam or curd, warmed for spreadability
One quantity frangipane (recipe follows)
One handful blanched, flaked almonds

Assembling the tart
Place the chilled dough disc on a lightly floured surface. If it's overly cold, you will need to let it become acclimatised for about 15 minutes before you roll it out. Flour the rolling pin and roll the pastry to 5mm (1/4”) thickness, by rolling in one direction only (start from the centre and roll away from you), and turning the disc a quarter turn after each roll. When the pastry is to the desired size and thickness, transfer it to the tart pan, press in and trim the excess dough. Patch any holes, fissures or tears with trimmed bits. Chill in the freezer for 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 200C/400F.

Remove shell from freezer, spread as even a layer as you can of jam onto the pastry base. Top with frangipane, spreading to cover the entire surface of the tart. Smooth the top and pop into the oven for 30 minutes. Five minutes before the tart is done, the top will be poofy and brownish. Remove from oven and strew flaked almonds on top and return to the heat for the last five minutes of baking.

The finished tart will have a golden crust and the frangipane will be tanned, poofy and a bit spongy-looking. Remove from the oven and cool on the counter. Serve warm, with crème fraîche, whipped cream or custard sauce if you wish.

When you slice into the tart, the almond paste will be firm, but slightly squidgy and the crust should be crisp but not tough.

Sweet shortcrust pastry

Prep time: 15-20 minutes
Resting time: 30 minutes (minimum)
Equipment needed: bowls, box grater, cling film

225g (8oz) all purpose flour
30g (1oz) sugar
2.5ml (½ tsp) salt
110g (4oz) unsalted butter, cold (frozen is better)
2 (2) egg yolks
2.5ml (½ tsp) almond extract (optional)

15-30ml (1-2 Tbsp) cold water

Sift together flour, sugar and salt. Grate butter into the flour mixture, using the large hole-side of a box grater. Using your finger tips only, and working very quickly, rub the fat into the flour until the mixture resembles bread crumbs. Set aside.

Lightly beat the egg yolks with the almond extract (if using) and quickly mix into the flour mixture. Keep mixing while dribbling in the water, only adding enough to form a cohesive and

slightly sticky dough.

Form the dough into a disc, wrap in cling and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes


Prep time: 10-15 minutes

Equipment needed: bowls, hand mixer, rubber spatula

125g (4.5oz) unsalted butter, softened
125g (4.5oz) icing sugar
3 (3) eggs
2.5ml (½ tsp) almond extract
125g (4.5oz) ground almonds
30g (1oz) all purpose flour

Cream butter and sugar together for about a minute or until the mixture is primrose in colour and very fluffy. Scrape down the side of the bowl and add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. The batter may appear to

curdle. In the words of Douglas Adams: Don’t panic. Really. It’ll be fine. After all three are in, pour in the almond extract and mix for about another 30 seconds and scrape down the sides again. With the beaters on, spoon in the ground nuts and the flour. Mix well. The mixture will be soft, keep its slightly curdled look (mostly from the almonds) and retain its pallid yellow colour.

I am really hoping that July's challenge is a little more exciting

Sunday, June 21, 2009

How to Make Parihuela - Peruvian Seafood Soup

Last week I talked about my attempt to make a wonderful Peruvian seafood soup that we discovered at a restaurant near by called La Mar. While the soup that I attempted was delicious it was nothing like the parihuela that we at La Mar.

The night of my post my husband and I returned to taste that soup again, I was determined to figure out how to make it. As before the soup was WONDERFUL, delivered to our table in a sizzling hot ceramic bowl, the broth bubbling and boiling right in front of us. That first taste, mmmmmmm flavorful and spicy...well that and I burned my mouth and had to grab a quick sip of beer.

I ate that wonderful soup and was not any closer to knowing how to make it then I was before. Stumped and puzzled I ate my meal pondering the possible ingredients of the soup. To tell the truth the second trip to La Mar was a far better experience then the first, this time we knew what to order. We got the soup but we also got a Plancha, the marinara plancha to be precise. it is cooked on a hot cast iron pan with seafood and a garlic butter sauce, so great.

The meal was heaven but I still had no idea how to make that soup so I asked and guess what neither do they. The restaurant makes a tomato based seafood broth and adds a chili sauce that they buy from Peru and I was informed that I would not find the Peruvian chili needed to make the soup. I think maybe next time go I will ask if I can buy the chili sauce they use.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

An Old Wheelbarrow

This is an old wheelbarrow out near the garden at an old family farm in Lake County Michigan.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Daring Cooks Challenge Number Dos

As always I am a day late and a dollar short. today is the second daring cook post date and I am whipping up pot stickers on posting day. I was worried that this was going to be a very involved long process to make pot stickers but they came together very fast and I had fun doing them with my 3 year old son. I made the dough and he kneaded while I put the filling together. then I kneaded the dough a little more for good measure.

Once the dough sat for 15- 20 minutes I cut it into little 1 inch square pieces and Luka rolled them out while I filled them. Filling 3 year old rolled, not so round, pot sticker dough is a bit of a challenge. But towards the end he had is down, making perfect little round rounds to be filled.

I chose to fry them as that is the usual method when I buy them from the store. And everyone enjoyed eating them. I would have gotten a cross section photo but Luka ate them so fast that I did not have a chance to get the camera out for that.

I was not able to follow the exact recipe given in the challenge because here in Mexico City all ingredients are available some of the time they are never ready at a whim. Napa cabbage and shitake mushrooms were nowhere to be found so I left out the mushrooms and replaced the napa with regular green cabbage.

I chopped the green onion (they were a little large) and the cabbage, sauteed them in a pan until they were soft. place in a bowl and added, chopped water chestnuts (bamboo shoots being another no find item) garlic, ginger, soy sauce, sesame oil, corn starch and once cool the ground pork.

I will make these often not that I know how easy and delicious they are.

Chinese Dumplings/Potstickers

pork filling:

1 lb (450g) ground pork
4 large napa cabbage leaves, minced
3 stalks green onions, minced
7 shitake mushrooms, minced (if dried - rehydrated and rinsed carefully)
1/2 cup (75g) bamboo shoots, minced
1/4 (55g) cup ginger root, minced
3 tbsp (40g) soy sauce
2 tbsp (28g) sesame oil
2 tbsp (16g) corn starch

dough: (double this for the amount of filling, but easier to make it in 2 batches - or just halve the filling recipe)
2 cups (250g) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (113g) warm water
flour for worksurface

dipping sauce:
2 parts soy sauce
1 part vinegar (red wine or black)
a few drops of sesame oil
chili garlic paste (optional)
minced ginger (optional)
minced garlic (optional)
minced green onion (optional)
sugar (optional)

Combine all filling ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mix thoroughly (I mix by clean hand). Cover and refrigerate until ready to use (up to a day, but preferably within an hour or two).

Make the dough, Method 1: Place the flour in the work bowl of a food processor with the dough blade. Run the processor and pour the warm water in until incorporated. Pour the contents into a sturdy bowl or onto a work surface and knead until uniform and smooth. The dough should be firm and silky to the touch and not sticky.[Note: it’s better to have a moist dough and have to incorporate more flour than to have a dry and pilling dough and have to incorporate more water).

Make the dough, Method 2 (my mom’s instructions): In a large bowl mix flour with 1/4 cup of water and stir until water is absorbed. Continue adding water one teaspoon at a time and mixing thoroughly until dough pulls away from sides of bowl. We want a firm dough that is barely sticky to the touch.

Both dough methods: Knead the dough about twenty strokes then cover with a damp towel for 15 minutes. Take the dough and form a flattened dome. Cut into strips about 1 1/2 to 2 inches wide. Shape the strips into rounded long cylinders. On a floured surface, cut the strips into 3/4 inch pieces. Press palm down on each piece to form a flat circle (you can shape the corners in with your fingers). With a rolling pin, roll out a circular wrapper from each flat disc. Take care not to roll out too thin or the dumplings will break during cooking - about 1/16th inch. Leave the centers slightly thicker than the edges. Place a tablespoon of filling in the center of each wrapper and fold the dough in half, pleating the edges along one side (see images in post for how to fold pleats). Keep all unused dough under damp cloth.

To boil: Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add dumplings to pot. Boil the dumplings until they float.

To steam: Place dumplings on a single layer of napa cabbage leaves or on a well-greased surface in a steamer basket with lid. Steam covered for about 6 minutes.

To pan fry (potstickers): Place dumplings in a frying pan with 2-3 tbsp of vegetable oil. Heat on high and fry for a few minutes until bottoms are golden. Add 1/2 cup water and cover. Cook until the water has boiled away and then uncover and reduce heat to medium or medium low. Let the dumplings cook for another 2 minutes then remove from heat and serve.

To freeze: Assemble dumplings on a baking sheet so they are not touching. It helps to rub the base of the dumpling in a little flour before setting on the baking sheet for ease of release. Freeze for 20-30 minutes until dumplings are no longer soft. Place in ziploc bag and freeze for up to a couple of months. Prepare per the above instructions, but allow extra time to ensure the filling is thoroughly cooked.

Friday, June 12, 2009

* A Delicious Failure *

For the first time since we moved to Mexico my husband and I were able to go out on a date. We hired a baby setter and simply went out for dinner but I was still the first time the two of us got to do something together in months, without the kids.

We went to a Peruvian restaurant near where we live called La Mar that was highly recommended by some friends and the food was good (not great) and the staff were very helpful and even found and old menu in English for us and a staff member that spoke a little English. After pouring over the menu and asking for suggestions we ordered the clasico seviche and the Parmesan scallops for our starters.

The seviche was ok, it was covered in cilantro and that was all I could really taste and being a person who apparently has the anti cilantro gene the whole dish tasted like soap to me.

The scallops we cooked perfectly but the thick layer of cheese over them over powered the dish, I pulled the cheese off and very much enjoyed the scallop underneath.

For our main courses I had the atun (tuna). This was a tuna steak grilled, placed over a bed of mashed potatoes with a sauce/gravy. As I ate the tuna the center was raw, not rare but raw, I could tell that the tuna was still frozen in the center when they put it on the grill. I think that if that spot in the center had not been frozen when they put the fish on the grill it would have been done perfectly with the right amount of seasoning, the mashed potatoes were nice but the sauce was a little overpowering for the dish.

My husband got the parihuela which is a seafood soup with a tomato chili base and it was WONDERFUL the highlight of the evening. This soup was so good that I now have to figure out how to make it and this post is my first attempt at the soup and it was not even close; however, it was delicious.

After doing a little Internet research on Peruvian cooking I learned that there are a few ingredients that are very common such as chillies, potatoes, onion and seafood. With that information I attempted the following.

I made a fish stock with some great mackerel I found at the market along with some carrots onions and celery.

2 tomatoes
1 large potato, diced
1 large onion
a few dried chilies (guajillo chilies is what I used)
8 cups fish stock
10 shrimp
1 mackerel cut into pieces
fresh parsley or cilantro
salt and pepper

On a hot cast iron pan blacken the tomato, onion and chillies on all sides. Place the blackened vegetables in a food processor or blender with a cup of stock and blend until smooth

In a large soup pot add fish stock, blended vegetable and potatoes. bring to a simmer and cook until potatoes are almost tender, about 8 minutes. Add in the fish and cook for about 3 minutes then add the shrimp, cilantro and salt and pepper to taste. Cook until shrimp is just done. Serve and top with a squeeze of lime and fresh green cilantro or parsley.

While this soup was good it was nothing like the Peruvian soup at La Mar. The base was flat in comparison to the real thing and the chili used was not a good choice. This chili had a rich almost cocoa flavor to it and not the hot crisp chili that this dish needs.

We are going back to La Mar tonight just for some more Peruvian Seafood soup.

Monday, June 8, 2009

I'm a Guest Blogger

I am so excited to announce that I have been asked to be a guest blogger for the first time in my blogging career. Stop over at Rookie Cookie to see what I cooked up for her to serve for dinner.

Thank you Whitney for giving me a place at your table.

Friday, June 5, 2009

-Asparagus Risotto with Fish of theWeek
-Salad with young greens, blue cheese and crisp pancetta
-A little something I saw on Design Sponge - Cottage cheese with strawberry rhubarb compote and reduced balsamic.
-Tofu lettuce wraps
-Seared chicken breast and mushrooms with a white wine cram sauce and fettuccine