Saturday, June 27, 2015

Charlottes Sweet and Otherwise.

Individual Blueberry Charlotte Royale 
I know two little girls named Charlotte and they both go by Charlie. They are both little spit-fired darlings who will change the world some day. They came before Her Royal Princess so I do believe the parents were simply smitten with the name. How do you pick a child's name?

The Daring Baker's Challenge was about making Charlottes. Which are basically about an inner filling and an outer layer. I would say cake and mousse, but they can be savory. My Guacamole Zucchini Charlotte is an example.
Blanched zucchini and diced tomatoes. 

Smooth guacamole made with cream cheese, cumin, lime and cayenne. 

There is a Royale, which has slices of roll cake lining a dome shaped pan, filled and topped with more cake. It is served inverted and sliced.

The Russe, which has a round Lady Finger wall and cake bottom filled with delicious cream. There is typically a wide ribbon festooned around the cake.

Then there is the savory Charlotte. It's hard not to think 1952 Jell-o mold with celery and cottage cheese, but they really are an elegant presentation. In this day when it's a nice touch to scrape the pre-made hummus out of the plastic container into a dish or when the fanciest thing on the pot luck spread is the cheese log rolled in nuts, a Charlotte is breathtaking. Oh, I'm delighted to be invited and I'd never say a thing to anyone, I promise. But it doesn't hurt to try a little.

The Charlotte Royale I made was formed in individual spring form pans. I made a roll cake with blueberry filling and blueberry mousse.

I didn't get a Russe made by the end of the month, time got away from me.

Do you potluck regularly? Do you theme the meal or fly loose and fancy free? Are you more the dinner party type?

Friday, June 5, 2015

Magic Dust Seasoning

Looking for more spice mixes. This one is intriguing.

0.25 cup nutritional yeast
1 T. granulated garlic
1 T. whole cumin seeds toasted and ground
1.5 t. sea salt
1.5 teaspoon sugar
0.5 teaspoon gochugaru (Korean red pepper)

Put in salad dressing or on poultry

Wednesday, May 27, 2015


Successful Lamington 
The Daring Baker's Challenge challenged me once again.

This was a fun history filled baking adventure. Apparently Australia and New Zealand have had some knock out, throw down punches over where the recipe was created but most people put it to Australia. And it's named after a historic figure who wanted cake that didn't sully his fingers. Imagine, to have a cake named after you. Wouldn't that be a thing?

Regardless the challenge for me was getting the guys covered in chocolate without them falling apart. I had to use my experience in cake making to go after a well crafted, not too soft cake, because some cake just doesn't take kindly to handling.

Generally the Daring Bakers give you 100% failproof recipes, but there was debate over cornflour/cornstarch and how the Aussies' might be different than the American's. I didn't want to risk it. This time the challenged allowed for using any recipe, so long as it was dipped in chocolate and rolled in dessicated coconut. So I went after a few. My first go round was a disaster. I will not being sharing pictures.

The one you see pictured below is the Joy of Lamington recipe. I doubled mine to make a 13x9 sized cake, tall. Below are the  measurements I used:

For the cake

3 cups flour
Twenty-four Lamingtons! 
1 tablespoon baking powder
0.5 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup milk


4 cups (1 pound) powdered sugar
0.33 cup Dutch processed cocoa powder
3 tablespoons butter, melted
0.5 cup milk

1 pound dessicated grated (not sweetened, shredded) coconut

13x9 pan, lined with parchment and sprayed. Preheat oven 350 degrees.

In a bowl mix flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside. In a stand mixer cream butter and sugar thoroughly. Add vanilla. Add the flour and milk in third, alternating between the two and scraping after each addition. Mix for an additional minute.
Scrape batter into prepared pan and bake for 35-40 minutes or until a tester comes out cleanly.

Cool. Cut into 24-2 inch cubes.

Combine the powdered sugar, cocoa, melted butter and milk in a bowl. Put over water on the stove to double boil. The frosting should look like thick syrup.

Put a wire rack over a cookie pan (more to control the mess). Pour coconut into a shallow dish. Using 2 forks plop the cake into the frosting and turn it quickly to cover all 6 sides of the cube. Pull it out, balancing on a fork and allow it to drip briefly. Place it in the coconut and using 2 other forks, flick the coconut up onto the cube. Roll it around until all 6 sides are well coconutted. Place on rack to dry.

Once dry you can individually wrap the cakes. Chill until they are ready to eat.

And a shout out to my co-worker Paul Ross, an Australian man who took 20 minutes out of his very busy day to chat up Lamingtons and all the details a person might need to make them successfully. He gave these a passing grade, so I'll take it!

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Creole Seasoning Mix

I love when I combine two recipes to get one thing I really love. 
Years ago I started making my own celery salt. I was inspired from this blog.
Then on the Daring Challenge Cook's edition they had make your own spice blends, The Creole caught my eye. Then I thought "Oh I can use the celery salt!" I also used Hungarian Sweet Paprika, because you know, I'm Hungarian by half. 
Guess what you'll be getting for Christmas. This and the Peanut Coconut Caramel Popcorn. 

Basic Creole Spices
Preparation time: 5 minutes
2 tablespoons (30ml) (33gm) celery salt
1 tablespoon (15 ml) (7 gm) sweet paprika
1 tablespoon (15 ml) (18 gm) coarse sea salt
1 tablespoon (15 ml) (6 gm) freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon (15 ml) (7 gm) garlic powder
1 tablespoon (15 ml) (7 gm) onion powder
2 teaspoons (10 ml) (4 gm) cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon (2½ ml) (1½ gm) ground allspice
Makes ½ cup
Mix together all spices in a bowl. Transfer the spices to a clean container with a tight-fitting lid. Store up to six months.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Beet Tarte Tatin-Or Skillet Upside Down Puff with Beets

Apple Tarte Tatin
The Daring Bakers Challenge once again encouraged me to try my hand at something I've never done before. A Tarte Tatin!

The challenge for March 2015 is a tart developed by the Tatin sisters in France. What one does traditionally, is combine sugar and butter in a skillet until it caramelizes and then cook apple quarters in the caramel. Once that's all bubbly and delicious it is topped it with a round of puff pastry and baked until the pastry is brown. After, the creation is flipped over onto a plate and served.

Yeah, it's scary to flip a 350 degree cast iron skillet filled with molten sugar and apple goo. But it can be done and I did it. Actually mine was particularly gooey with too much liquid from the apples. So I tried it again savory style with beets, onions, thyme, goat cheese and Arugula.

Beet Tarte Tatin

Beet Tarte Tatin is terrifically pretty.
Rough Puff Pastry
5 small beets
1 onion, diced
1 shallot, diced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon brown sugar
0.5 teaspoon salt
pinch white pepper
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
juice of 1/2 of a lemon

2 ounces goat cheese
1 fist full arugula

Clean beets, wrap it foil, bake with the seam side up for 1 hour at 350 degrees. Allow to cool in foil. Peel and cut into fat disks.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
In a 9 inch cast iron skillet saute onions and shallot in oil. When brown add sugar.  Stir often scrapping the bottom of the skillet. Add salt, pepper, thyme. Add beets and toss best you can. arrange tightly in the bottom of the skillet, pulling some of the onions on top. Cut beets into pieces to fit between circles. Sprinkle with lemon juice.

Roll the puff pastry and cut into a 10 inch circle. Lay the pastry over the top of the beets, using the back side of a paring knife handle or other utensil tuck the puff into the pan, between the beets and the sides of the pan. Make slits in the pastry to vent steam. Bake for 40 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown. Remove from the oven. Let stand 5 minutes, flip onto a plate which is larger than the skillet. Dot with cheese and top with arugula. Cut and serve.

I'm excited for the upcoming Daring Baker's challenges. This has been super fun.
Beets with Goat Cheese and Arugula is a classic and delicious.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Short Bread Fans or Fans of Short Bread

Fans, the decorative edges can be done with a fork.
Making short bread in the shape of fans is a traditional way of forming the cookie.  I think baking them scored keeps the edges from drying out. And it's quick to make four fatty cookies, flatten them then score with a fork. They really are not at all fussy.

I have a friend who when she is under the weather I make her these short bread fan cookies, well because my friend is fans of short bread. Plus I always have the ingredients on hand.

Short Bread Fan Cookie

1 cup butter, room temperature
0.25 cup cornstarch
0.5 cup powdered sugar
1.5 cup white flour

kosher salt for sprinkling (optional).

Preheat oven 350 degrees. In a stand mixer or in a bowl with a hand mixer combine the butter, cornstarch, flour, and powered sugar. Start with a light touch and low speed because the ingredients are easily going to fly. I used to beat the sugar into the butter first, but found it's not necessary. It will seem as if the ingredients are dry and powdery for longer than it should, but stick with it. As the butter warms up the crumb gets moister. Stop mixing when you can form a pinch of the dough into a ball easily.

About a half cup of dough is needed per large cookie.
On a parchment lined cookie sheet make four big cookies. Press the tines into the outside half inch of the cookie to be decorative. I used a wavy cookie cutter for the pictured cookies. Score each cookie into 8 wedges, using a fork. Sprinkle lightly with salt if you are using it. Bake for 15-18 minutes, when the edge of a cookie is tan and the centers no longer look oily. Remove, cool, and cut with a sharp knife along the score marks.

Cooling on the parchment, waiting to be cut apart.
Share with friends or hoard for yourself.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Beefy Wine Stew or Beef Bourguignon

Twenty years ago I fell in love with beef cubes cooked in wine. I can't remember where I saw the recipe probably a cooking magazine. It is definitely not the kind of thing my parents would have cooked. There wasn't wine in the house. Beer? Yes, but wine? Nope.

So it was quite a revelation to me to cook with stuff, let alone drink it. Anyway, this has become my tried and true way to go about cooking the stew. It's not Beef Burgundy because that's actually a thing. I used a Tempranillo in this go round.

Beef in Wine Stew
.25 pound bacon, cut into 1inch pieces
2 pounds beef cut into cubes
kosher salt
1 pound mushrooms, quartered
2 onions
1 shallot
2 carrots
2 cups red wine
2 cups chicken broth
white pepper

In a big cast iron skillet fry the bacon until crispy. Remove the bacon, and pour off the fat. Reserve the fat. Toss the diced beef generously in kosher salt. Add 1/3 or 1/2 of it to the skillet to brown. Don't over crowd the pan. Brown on 4 sides best you can. Remove the beef and deglaze the pan with some wine. Scrap the wine and bits into a bowl, save. Cook the remaining meat and deglazing the pan and using a bit of the bacon fat for the next go round. When the meat is cooked, sautee the onions in the skillet. Just after they lose their water, add 1/4 cup of wine. Sautee until it's reduced nearly gone. Reserve the mushrooms separately from the beef and bacon. Add the last bits of bacon grease and onions to the skillet. Cook 8 minutes or so. Add the shallots and carrots. Cook 5 minutes more then add back to the skillet, the meats and the wine deglazing liquid, add thyme and white pepper. Add chicken broth. Most everything should be under liquid, but just.
Place the skillet in a 350 degree oven and cook covered for 2-3 hours. Check that it isn't running dry, add water if needed. Reduce the heat to 275, add the mushrooms and cook for an additional hour. Remove the lid for the last 30 minutes to reduce the liquid. Serve over mashed your favorite starch.