Daring Bakers do Beurre Noisette

The August 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Elissa of 17 and Baking. For the first time, The Daring Bakers partnered with Sugar High Fridays for a co-event and Elissa was the gracious hostess of both. Using the theme of beurre noisette, or browned butter, Elissa chose to challenge Daring Bakers to make a pound cake to be used in either a Baked Alaska or in Ice Cream Petit Fours. The sources for Elissa’s challenge were Gourmet magazine and David Lebovitz’s The Perfect Scoop.


This was my first Daring Bakers Challenge. I signed up at the beginning of July and then anxiously awaited the challenge. When I found out what it was I felt a mixture of both excitement and dread. Excitement because I had never made ice cream before and dread because I don’t own an ice cream maker. I’ve heard horror stories of crunchy ice cream that was impossible to scoop. I considered buying an ice cream maker but storage is an issue in my apartment, so I decided to try the machine free way (this is a challenge after all).

Next up was deciding if I wanted to do both the baked Alaska and the petit fours, or just one. Would I have time to make both? Could I eat both and not gain a million pounds? Once again I decided to go for it; I’m a Daring Baker!

The final decision was what kind of ice cream to make. At first I wanted to do vanilla with cinnamon chips or maybe something fruity. Then I read a post about mango tea ice cream and decided I needed to make tea flavoured ice cream, Earl Grey to be exact. (To the author of that post: I’m so sorry, I really can’t remember who you are but thanks for the inspiration!) When I got to work on the ice cream I realized that doing it without an ice cream maker actually made it pretty easy to make two small batches of different flavours so I made a batch of raspberry along with the Earl Grey. I thought the raspberry would go nicely with the chocolate ganache covering the petit fours, and it turns out it was. Plus the pink stripe looked pretty cute too.

Step one in the process was to make the ice cream. I made the Earl Grey by steeping some tea bags in the milk and sugar mixture. I also added a little Grand Marnier which went really nicely with the citrusy flavour of the tea. For the raspberry I just added some raspberry puree to the vanilla recipe. Making ice cream without an ice cream maker is surprisingly easy, all you have to do is blend the custard every thirty minutes while its freezing. Both flavours turned out very well; easy to scoop and no crunchy bits! It is time-consuming though, so if you don’t have several hours to kill I wouldn’t recommend it.

Once the ice cream was done I moved on the to beurre noisette pound cake. The smell of butter simmering is possibly one of the best smells there is. I really need more brown butter in my life. The pound cake was light and fluffy, not at all what I was expecting, and the butter gave it an amazing flavour. I think the cake was my favourite part of the challenge.

You can find all the recipes for this months challenge at Elissa’s site.

All in all I think this was a very succesful first challenge. I can’t wait for the next!

American Pie

The celebration of American Cuisine is finally here. Casey of Eating, Gardening, & Living in Bulgaria has invited food bloggers to share what they think American Cuisine is. I thought long and hard about this one, I even asked other bloggers for their opinions. Some people seem to think American cuisine doesn’t exist. I disagree, but I think it suffers from multiple personality disorder. The regional differences in cuisine in the states makes it hard to pinpoint one thing that could be called American cuisine. I think what all of these regional cuisines have in common is that are all looking for ways to innovate an incorporate new techniques and ingredients. I guess that’s what makes them american.

So when it came time to choose something to make I went with I feel is a traditional American meal, Thanksgiving dinner. Since it’s the middle of the summer, and I’m just cooking for myself, I made this a little more low-key than your typical Thanksgiving meal. Instead of roasting a whole bird, I just roasted a turkey breast stuffed with caramalized onions, goat cheese and cranberries (what’s Thanksgiving without cranberries and stuffing?). On the side there was sweet potato hash and roasted carrots.

And of course there was pie. I decided to make a pie with seasonal fruit instead of apple or pumpkin, and after Smitten Kitchen’s description of cherry pie as “epic, iconic, and it even has a metal song dedicated to it“, my choice was clear.

I have to say this pie kicked my butt. My original plan was to use this recipe from the New York Times, which calls for a prebaked crust. I got to work making my favourite crust (all butter, of course). At this point I should specify that it was ridiculously hot the day I made the pie, and I never actually read the recipe instructions. It took forever to make the crust, because I kept having to put all the ingredients back in the fridge to cool (cold ingredients make the best pie crusts). I finally got in all done, chilled and rolled. I put it in the oven and got to work on the filling. After about 15 minutes I took a peak at the crust and realized it shrank, like, a lot. So I stopped the oven and started making more pie crust dough. This time I stuck with the traditional soggy bottomed fruit pie technique, and I have to say it was pretty darn tasty (except for the burnt bits). I actually kinda like the soggy bottom in a fruit pie. And because of the crust do-over it wasn’t ready on time to bring to my parents for dinner, so I had to eat the whole thing all by myself.

Cherry Pie

Crust

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 to 5 tablespoons ice water
  1. Blend together flour, butter, and salt in a bowl with your fingertips or a pastry blender (or pulse in a food processor) just until most of mixture looks rough and crumbly.
  2. Sprinkle 3 Tbsp ice water evenly over mixture and gently stir with a fork (or pulse) until combined
  3. Press some of the dough together. If it doesn’t hold together add more water.
  4. Form a disk with the dough and chill for at least 4 hours.
  5. Roll out the dough and place in pie plate. Chill again for about 20 minutes.
  6. Save excess dough for topping pie.

Cherry Filling

  • 4 cups pitted cherries
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  1. Toss cherries with other ingredients, make sure cherries are well covered.
  2. Pour into chilled pastry dough.
  3. Cover filling with excess dough.
  4. Bake at 375 for 50 minutes to 1 hour, until cherry filling is bubbling.

All in all, I think my american cuisine meal was quite delicious. Thanks again to Casey for hosting the event. Check out her site on July 4th for the round up of what everyone made!

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A Taste of Portugal

Portugal Day is finally here!

One of my favourite places to eat is Jano, a Portuguese grill on St Laurent. Everything is always perfectly cooked, with a wonderful grilled flavour. And the piri piri sauce .. oh. my. god. soo good.

I thought I had seen piri piri sauce at Loblaws, but its turns out all they have is piri piri chips (also delicious). So I decided to make my own piri piri. (Can you tell I like saying piri piri?).

Piri Piri

  • 1/2 cup hot peppers
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup vinegar
  • 1/2 oil
  • tsp salt

Directions

  1. Finely dice the hot peppers and garlic. I used 2 scotch bonnet, which is less than what the recipe calls for, but those little guys are HOT.
  2. Combine all ingredients in a small jar. Stir and let sit in the fridge for one week for the flavours to combine.
  3. Use a brush to spread over grilled meats.

Scotch Bonnets are cute but really hot. Based on my experience with these I would say leave the hot sauce making to the professionals. Or at the very least, wear gloves while working with them. My hands were burning for hours after dicing them.

The solution to the burning? Hand sanitizer. Because I didn’t use actual piri piri peppers (an African pepper), the sauce tasted a little different than the original, but still quite good.

Piri Piri sauce goes great with chicken, but I wasn’t able to find a recipe that I liked, so I just used a smoked paprika marinade and roasted the chicken, and made a portuguese side dish, Peixinhos da Horta, deep-fried green beans. The recipe for the green beans and the piri piri both come from Leite’s Culinaria.

Deep Fried Green Beans

  • 1/2 pound green beans, cleaned and blanched.
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • salt
  • oil for frying

Directions

  1. Combine the flour, water, egg, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Mix until smooth.
  2. Dip green beans in batter, cover completely.
  3. Fry in 350 F oil for 3 to 4 minutes, turning the green beans to make sure they brown evenly.

I also made Pasteis de Nata, using this recipe, but they were an epic baking fail. The recipe says to bake them at 300 F for 15, but after 15 minutes they weren’t even close to done. I bumped the temp up to 350 for another 15 minutes, still not enough. The custard never set, and the puff pastry was barely cooked through. I think they need to be baked at at least 400 F to get that caramalized top. One recipe I found after the disaster even said 550 F. I will try again, as the custard itself tasted great. And honestly, ordering more than one of these in a restaurant is a little embarrassing, but I could eat at least 10 all to my self.  At least.

Trying out different portuguese recipes was a lot of fun. Thanks to Casey for organizing the event. Be sure to check out her blog on June 1oth to see what everyone else made!

Portugal Day

Casey of Eating, Gardening & Living in Bulgaria is hosting an event called Portugal Day on June 10th. The idea behind it is pretty simple, make a portuguese recipe, blog about it, that’s it. If you want to participate, contact Casey and she will add you to the blog roll. Submissions need to be in by June 9th.

I love Portuguese food, but have never attempted to make it. This is going to be fun! The question now is do I make dessert (Pasteis de Nata anyone?) or a meal (mmm grilled chicken with piri piri…)? So much to think about! Stay tuned for the results.