Thursday, December 31, 2009
Sunday, December 27, 2009
Auntie Lee's Gingerbread House
2 3/4 cup sifted flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ginger
2/3 cup molasses
1/8 tsp cloves
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamom
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup oil
3 egg whites at room temperature
1 lb (4 cups) icing sugar
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
Beat thoroughly in a mixing bowl until the icing stands in peaks, then keep the bowl covered at all times with a damp cloth, as this icing dries very quickly and becomes very hard.
Decorate with a variety of hard candies.
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Salt Dough Recipe
2 cups flour
1 cup salt
3/4 cups water
Mix all ingredients and knead to make a pliable dough. If the dough is too sticky...add more flour. If it seems crumbly....add a few more drops or water. Roll dough to desired thickness and place on cookie sheet to bake. I found it helpful to put a layer of parchment under the cut outs. Push a wire loop into the top of the ornament to use for hanging. We took a paper clip and cut it into a U shape 1/2 inch long to make the hanging loop.
Dry in oven at 170F. Allow one hour or drying time per 1/4 inch thickness of dough.
Once cooled, paint and varnish.
Friday, December 18, 2009
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Wishing you all a very sweet holiday:)
Monday, December 14, 2009
It should be no surprise at all that this month I chose to make the alternate Beef Wellington. Although I do have a whole salmon sitting in my freezer right now.....I also have several hundred pounds of beef and just last month I had noticed one small brown package labeled 'tenderloin'. When I noticed that package....I decided immediately that it would be set aside to make the Wellington. The tenderloin package contained three pieces of tenderloin weighing in at just over 500g in total......so I made three small packets. With left over puff pastry, and a freezer full of beef this Challenge turned out to be not that intimidating at all. And I must mention that making a Beef Wellington has also been on my to do list for many years. I'm pleased to say that now it can be crossed off my list........and even more please to tell you that it was OMG delicious. That was a remarkably tender piece of 4H beef.
I followed the recipe as outlined below using herbs de Provence in the crepe, adding some minced onion and garlic to the pan fried mushroom filling as well as some thyme. I also did not have any English mustard...so I used some Dijon which is always a nice pairing with thyme. It was ridiculously delicious. So much so that I will most definitely be making it again. Again I used my meat probe to measure the temperature of the meat while it cooked....LOVE that tool! It would be a wonderfully dependable recipe to serve for company, and I would have no reservations trying to make it for company. The recipe lends itself well to preparing ahead. If you think you'd like to try it yourself.........wait no longer.......it was dead easy! I hope you'll try it. It would make a beautiful holiday meal.
Instructions for Beef Wellington (serves 4)
Button mushrooms - 17.6 ounces/500gr (stalks removed and finely chopped)
Olive oil - 2-3 tbsp
thyme - 1 sprig
Beef fillet, center cut piece - 21.16 ounce/600 gr
English mustard - 1 tbsp
puff pastry (all butter pastry pack) - 17.6 ounce/500 gr
parma ham (prosciutto) - 3 slices
egg yolk - 1 pcs, beaten
For the herb crepes:
plain (all purpose) flour - 0.3 cup/1.76 ounce/50 gr
milk - 0.5 cup/125 ml
mixed herbs - 1 tbsp (chopped, use herbs such as cervil, chives and tarragon
butter - 0.5 tbsp
1. To make the crepes, whizz the flour, egg and milk with a pinch of salt in a blender or processor until smooth. Pour into a jug and stir in the herbs and some seasoning. Leave to rest.
2. Fry the mushrooms in a little oil until they give up all their moisture and it has evaporated, leaving you with a thick paste. Add the thyme leaves and some seasoning and keep cooking for a few minutes. Cool.
3. Stir the melted butter into the crepe batter, heat a 15 cm crepe pan and oil it lightly. Pour in enough batter to make a thin layer on the base of the pan, cook until the top surface sets and then turn over and cook briefly. Remove and repeat with the rest of the batter. This will make a couple more than you need so choose the thinnest ones for the recipe.
4. Sear the beef all over in a little oil in a very hot pan. Brush with the mustard, season and allow to cool.
5. Lay a large sheet of cling-film on a kitchen surface and put two crepes down on it, overlapping a little. Lay over the parmaham (prosciutto). Spread the mushroom mixture over the ham and put the beef in the centre. Roll the cling-film up, taking the crepe with it, to wrap the beef completely into a nice neat log. Chill for 1 hour.
6. Heat the oven to 200°C/390F. Roll out the pastry, remove the clingfilm and wrap the beef in the pastry like a parcel, with the ends tucked under. Trim to keep it nice and neat. Brush with egg, score with shallow lines across the top and chill for 20 minutes.
7. Cook for 20 minutes. The best way to test if the meat is done to your liking is to neatly and carefully stick a skewer into the beef, count to three and then test it against your inner wrist. If it is cold, the beef will be raw, if it is warm then the beef will be rare and if it’s hot, it’ll be cooked through. Leave to rest for 20 minutes before carving.
Saturday, December 5, 2009
If you have only 20 minutes to spare, you could make some of these swirl scrubbies in a festive green and white mix or an equally delicious looking red and white mix. I have listed the link for the swirl scrubbies pattern on knitability on the older post as well.
Monday, November 30, 2009
Saturday, November 28, 2009
While I am not a fan of deep frying...partly because it seems so terribly bad for you....and partly because since I don't deep fry very often....it seems like such a waste of oil.....I don't have issues with trying something deep fried now and again. I was pretty interested to try this one out. It was not difficult, but with all the fillings and preparation....it was time consuming. Will I ever do it again??....probably for some special occasion, maybe even the neighbourhood Christmas dinner.
The recipe is provided below, plus a delicious sounding Pumpkin filling that I will try in the future.........for now, I chose to fill my cannoli with English custard using eggnog and rum flavouring rather than milk and vanilla, and omitting the sugar as the eggnog was more than sweet enough. I found the small amount of cocoa in the recipe below was enough to make the dough quite chocolaty in colour and you did need to be careful not to brown them too much. So far the Khrustyky have two thumbs up from the boys and the verdict is still to come back from the neighbours on the filled cannoli. If you'd like to see the results of some other Daring Bakers, have a look here, there are lots to choose from.
2 cups (250 grams/8.82 ounces) all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons(28 grams/1 ounce) sugar
1 teaspoon (5 grams/0.06 ounces) unsweetened baking cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon (1.15 grams/0.04 ounces) ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon (approx. 3 grams/0.11 ounces) salt
3 tablespoons (42 grams/1.5 ounces) vegetable or olive oil
1 teaspoon (5 grams/0.18 ounces) white wine vinegar
Approximately 1/2 cup (approx. 59 grams/approx. 4 fluid ounces/approx. 125 ml) sweet Marsala or any white or red wine you have on hand
1 large egg, separated (you will need the egg white but not the yolk)
Vegetable or any neutral oil for frying – about 2 quarts (8 cups/approx. 2 litres)
1/2 cup (approx. 62 grams/2 ounces) toasted, chopped pistachio nuts, mini chocolate chips/grated chocolate and/or candied or plain zests, fruits etc.. for garnish
Note - If you want a chocolate cannoli dough, substitute a few tablespoons of the flour (about 25%) with a few tablespoons of dark, unsweetened cocoa powder (Dutch process) and a little more wine until you have a workable dough (Thanks to Audax).
2 lbs (approx. 3.5 cups/approx. 1 kg/32 ounces) ricotta cheese, drained
1 2/3 cups cup (160 grams/6 ounces) confectioner’s sugar, (more or less, depending on how sweet you want it), sifted
1/2 teaspoon (1.15 grams/0.04 ounces) ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon (4 grams/0.15 ounces) pure vanilla extract or the beans from one vanilla bean
3 tablespoons (approx. 28 grams/approx. 1 ounce) finely chopped good quality chocolate of your choice
2 tablespoons (12 grams/0.42 ounces) of finely chopped, candied orange peel, or the grated zest of one small to medium orange
3 tablespoons (23 grams/0.81 ounce) toasted, finely chopped pistachios
Note - If you want chocolate ricotta filling, add a few tablespoons of dark, unsweetened cocoa powder to the above recipe, and thin it out with a few drops of warm water if too thick to pipe.
DIRECTIONS FOR SHELLS:
1. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer or food processor, combine the flour, sugar, cocoa, cinnamon, and salt. Stir in the oil, vinegar, and enough of the wine to make a soft dough. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and well blended, about 2 minutes. Shape the dough into a ball. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest in the fridge from 2 hours to overnight.
2 Cut the dough into two pieces. Keep the remaining dough covered while you work. Lightly flour a large cutting or pastry board and roll the dough until super thin, about 1/16 to 1/8” thick (An area of about 13 inches by 18 inches should give you that). Cut out 3 to 5-inch circles (3-inch – small/medium; 4-inch – medium/large; 5-inch;- large. Your choice). Roll the cut out circle into an oval, rolling it larger and thinner if it’s shrunk a little.
3 Oil the outside of the cannoli tubes (You only have to do this once, as the oil from the deep fry will keep them well, uhh, oiled..lol). Roll a dough oval from the long side (If square, position like a diamond, and place tube/form on the corner closest to you, then roll) around each tube/form and dab a little egg white on the dough where the edges overlap. (Avoid getting egg white on the tube, or the pastry will stick to it.) Press well to seal. Set aside to let the egg white seal dry a little.
4. In a deep heavy saucepan, pour enough oil to reach a depth of 3 inches, or if using an electric deep-fryer, follow the manufacturer's directions. Heat the oil to 375°F (190 °C) on a deep fry thermometer, or until a small piece of the dough or bread cube placed in the oil sizzles and browns in 1 minute. Have ready a tray or sheet pan lined with paper towels or paper bags.
5. Carefully lower a few of the cannoli tubes into the hot oil. Do not crowd the pan. Fry the shells until golden, about 2 minutes, turning them so that they brown evenly.
8. Lift a cannoli tube with a wire skimmer or large slotted spoon, out of the oil. Using tongs, grasp the cannoli tube at one end. Very carefully remove the cannoli tube with the open sides straight up and down so that the oil flows back into the pan. Place the tube on paper towels or bags to drain. Repeat with the remaining tubes. While they are still hot, grasp the tubes with a potholder and pull the cannoli shells off the tubes with a pair of tongs, or with your hand protected by an oven mitt or towel. Let the shells cool completely on the paper towels. Place shells on cooling rack until ready to fill.
9. Repeat making and frying the shells with the remaining dough. If you are reusing the cannoli tubes, let them cool before wrapping them in the dough.
DIRECTIONS FOR FILLING:
1. Line a strainer with cheesecloth. Place the ricotta in the strainer over a bowl, and cover with plastic wrap and a towel. Weight it down with a heavy can, and let the ricotta drain in the refrigerator for several hours to overnight.
2. In a bowl with electric mixer, beat ricotta until smooth and creamy. Beat in confectioner’s sugar, cinnamon, vanilla and blend until smooth. Transfer to another bowl and stir in chocolate, zest and nuts. Chill until firm.(The filling can be made up to 24 hours prior to filling the shells. Just cover and keep refrigerated).
ASSEMBLE THE CANNOLI:
1. When ready to serve..fill a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain or star tip, or a ziplock bag, with the ricotta cream. If using a ziplock bag, cut about 1/2 inch off one corner. Insert the tip in the cannoli shell and squeeze gently until the shell is half filled. Turn the shell and fill the other side. You can also use a teaspoon to do this, although it’s messier and will take longer.
2. Press or dip cannoli in chopped pistachios, grated chocolate/mini chocolate chips, candied fruit or zest into the cream at each end. Dust with confectioner’s sugar and/or drizzles of melted chocolate if desired.
1/2 cup (123 grams/4.34 ounces) ricotta cheese, drained
1/2 cup (113 grams/4.04 ounces) mascarpone cheese
1/2 cup (122.5 grams/4.32 ounces) canned pumpkin, drained like ricotta
3/4 cup (75 grams/2.65 ounces) confectioner’s sugar, sifted
1/2 to 1 teaspoon (approx. 1.7 grams/approx. 0.06 ounces) pumpkin pie spice (taste)
1/2 teaspoon (approx. 2 grams/approx. 0.08 ounces) pure vanilla extract
6-8 cannoli shells
1. In a bowl with electric mixer, beat ricotta and mascarpone until smooth and creamy. Beat in confectioner’s sugar, pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice, vanilla and blend until smooth. Transfer to another bowl, cover and chill until it firms up a bit. (The filling can be made up to 24 hours prior to filling the shells. Just cover and keep refrigerated).
2. Fill the shells as directed above. I dipped the ends of the shells in caramelized sugar and rolled them in toasted, chopped pecans.
Saturday, November 21, 2009
America's Test Kitchen Yorkshire Puddings
3 large eggs beaten well
2 cups low fat milk warmed to 110F
3 T butter melted and set to cool
2 cups bread flour or all purpose
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
Preheat oven to 400F.
In a medium bowl, beat eggs well and then beat in the milk and melted butter. In a separate bowl, mix all the dry ingredients. Add 3/4 of the egg mixture into the dry ingredients and mix well with a whisk to remove the lumps. Add remaining egg mixture and stir till smooth. Cover bowl and let sit at room temperature for 1 hour. Stir batter before using. Pour batter into 6 greased and floured pop over pans, or 12 muffin cups.
Put pan in oven for 20 minutes at 400F....then reduce heat without opening the door of the oven down to 300F. Bake an additional 30 minutes. Remove from oven and poke a hole down through the top of each pudding with a skewer. Return to oven for another 10 minutes until nicely browned.
Remove from oven and serve immediately.
Sunday, November 15, 2009
Saturday, November 14, 2009
We ended up making the 'sushi' on Remembrance Day and to my surprise, my local grocery store carried sashimi grade tuna....complete with instructions on how to slice it. Christine made rolls with California type fillings, and some with smoked salmon mixed with a bit of mayonnaise. The rolls all turned out well, but I found that forming the nigiri is a skill that I need a little practice with. Never the less, the rolls and nigiri were consumed without complaint. If you would like to see some other Daring Cooks and their creations check them out here.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
I have not knit much in my life........and certainly not much since I was little. All I knew were the few stitches my grama had taught me. I remember sitting in her rocking chair knitting mittens in the round without a pattern many times with all her left over balls of colourful acrylic yarns. Grama was thrifty about many things and practical too, and without a doubt one of the most interesting people I've had the privilege to know (although I bet she never knew it). No doubt, for her, acrylic yarn offered a good long life to her many projects. I wonder if she would find my attraction to wool yarns wasteful. With this project I did manage to learn a new cast on and a new bind off and it's the first time I've used the technique of holding stitches by knitting them onto scrap yarn, so it has been a learning experience as well. Thank goodness for utube! So helpful to see a stitch being done....much more so than reading about how to do it.
Soon my little project will be done and I can show you the finished product and stop taunting the cat with what appears to be a delicious ball of yarn!
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Saturday, October 31, 2009
Well Ike was right....it is a big day with lots to do. After pumpkin carving, there will be some baking to do, supper to make, a big clean up from sewing and cooking projects, house and yard decorating, dressing up time, trick or treating with friends in a new neighbourhood this year.......followed up by fireworks at another friends home. Good thing it's on a weekend this year! Happy Halloween everyone:)
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Aunt Lucille's Rice Pilaf
1/4 cup butter
3/4 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped celery
1 envelope (about 2 tsp) of chicken soup base
2 1/2 cups water
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp sage
1/4 tsp thyme
1 cup rice (uncle Ben's Converted)
Melt butter over medium heat and cook onions, celery until translucent. You may also add in chopped peppers and mushrooms as I did this time if you like. Add all remaining ingredients except the rice. Bring to a boil. Add rice, stir and turn down to a simmer and cook with the lid on for 20 minutes. Remove lid, stir and cook about 3 minutes further with the lid off.
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Yesterday, I finished up the Baker's Challenge just in the nick of time so at least that is out of the way. Now, two more quick swaps to get in the mail and I'm done for a bit. Anyway, here is a photo of the Annie doll......well part of her anyway. She has now arrived to my partner in Brasil just in time for Halloween! She is dressed up for Halloween this year as a black cat. She has a warm fleece black top and bottom with tail attached....because Halloween is a bit chilly here. Hmmm she may be a bit over dressed for Halloween in Brasil.
The Halloween apron swap arrived back in Ontario for my partner as well....now if I can only figure out how to turn the photo right side up........I'll have to come back and fix this.....but you get the picture!
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
My attempts yielded some experimental mishaps and unintentional snacks as I figured out the proper size and spacing required for the given baking times. The time required until beginning to become golden was a little more difficult to judge as I had added cocoa and vanilla bean sugar to the batter. A quick filling with some milk chocolate ganache and they were complete. In the end it was not as time consuming as I has thought it would be, but for the next go around, will definitely get the proper size piping tip and go with parchment over silpat. After several batches....some of which had a bit of sticking issues, I discovered that it was the undercooked batch that stuck, and that the silpat offered no real advantage over the parchment in this application. I eventually did learn to identify the slight browning called for as a signal that they were done....and at this point in baking....no sticking issues. After all that trial and error...and eating my mistakes....I can say that I enjoyed each and every degree of doneness.....whether over or under baked....and with all the limitless flavouring options....I will most certainly be trying these again. Next time I may look for the almond flour rather than processing my own as it might just give them more height. The recipe that follows is quite simple and really worth giving a try!
Confectioners’ (Icing) sugar: 2 ¼ cups (225 g, 8 oz.)
Almond flour: 2 cups (190 g, 6.7 oz.)
Granulated sugar: 2 tablespoons (25 g , .88 oz.)
Egg whites: 5 (Have at room temperature)
1. Preheat the oven to 200°F (93°C). Combine the confectioners’ sugar and almond flour in a medium bowl. If grinding your own nuts, combine nuts and a cup of confectioners’ sugar in the bowl of a food processor and grind until nuts are very fine and powdery.
2. Beat the egg whites in the clean dry bowl of a stand mixer until they hold soft peaks. Slowly add the granulated sugar and beat until the mixture holds stiff peaks.
3. Sift a third of the almond flour mixture into the meringue and fold gently to combine. If you are planning on adding zest or other flavorings to the batter, now is the time. Sift in the remaining almond flour in two batches. Be gentle! Don’t over fold, but fully incorporate your ingredients.
4. Spoon the mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a plain half-inch tip (Ateco #806). You can also use a Ziploc bag with a corner cut off. It’s easiest to fill your bag if you stand it up in a tall glass and fold the top down before spooning in the batter.
5. Pipe one-inch-sized (2.5 cm) mounds of batter onto baking sheets lined with nonstick liners (or parchment paper).
6. Bake the macaroon for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and raise the temperature to 375°F (190°C). Once the oven is up to temperature, put the pans back in the oven and bake for an additional 7 to 8 minutes, or lightly colored.
7. Cool on a rack before filling.
Thursday, October 22, 2009
As I mentioned, I also made time for some baking as well. I had received a recipe from a recipe swap that I wanted to give a try and last night was the night. I found it to be an interesting method, and really liked the cake it produced. Very moist and fairly dense cake. Very delicious with a glass of cold milk or a cup of hot tea.....or even coffee if that's your thing. Give it a try....I think you'll like it!
Texas Sheet Cake
2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1/4 cup cocoa
1 tsp baking soda
Sift all the above together and set aside.
In a medium sauce pan place:
1 cup water
1 cup butter or margarine
Bring water and butter to a boil and remove from heat. Add the sifted flour mixture to the pot and stir well.
Add to the pot:
1/2 cup buttermilk or sour cream
2 beaten eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
Beat thoroughly and bake in a greased sheet cake pan (10" X 15") for about 25 minutes at 350 F. (Until toothpick in center comes out clean)
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1/4 cup cocoa
6 tbsp cream or milk
Heat above icing ingredients in a saucepan to simmer. Remove from heat and add 1 lb of icing sugar (confectioners sugar or powdered sugar). Beat smooth with mixer. Spread on hot cake and sprinkle with 3/4-1 cup crushed pecans if you like. My husband won't eat them so I didn't put them on...but I would like them I think.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
1 4 gallon crock, rinsed carefully in warm water and dried, must be clear of any soap residue
1 sturdy glass pint or preserving jar for pressing kraut
10 lbs mature, firm cabbage (winter or summer) fine shred (about 8 med solid heads)
8 medium size cooking onions, fine slice
1/2 cup coarse pickling salt
2 tablespoons pickling spice in cheese cloth pouch, prep, set aside
2 tablespoons whole allspice in cheese cloth pouch, prep, set aside
3 whole bay leaves, interspersed through crock
Choose mature, firm heads of cabbage. Remove two/three outer layer of leaves down to a clean cabbage head. Quarter cabbages and cut out core. Shred cabbage finely on a large old style grater (see photo) or put through processor if you have the kitchenaid (fine) shredding disc. This disc is a separate purchase and does not come with the appliance. You will be shredding cabbage intermittently as you layer it in the crock.
Fine slice the onions, set aside on a tray.
Begin by putting down a 3 inch layer of shredded cabbage. Place both pouches of pickling spice and whole allspice on top. Sprinkle sliced onion, add a three inch layer of cabbage, sprinkle a tablespoon of salt over top, then apply pressure and twist the bottom of your jar on the cabbage to create moisture (see photo) you will see the cabbage is moist on the surface.
Repeat this process with sliced onion, another 3 inch layer shredded cabbage, 1 tablespoon coarse salt, and then firm pressure on the cabbage, push and twist the bottom of the jar. You may have about 7 to 8 layers which should end at about 4 inches from the top of the crock. (be careful with the salt as it has to last through all layers. Lay the bay leaves randomly at different levels as you fill the crock.
When crock has been filled, invert a heavy plate over the cabbage and fill and cap a gallon glass jar with water to be placed over the plate. Cover with a clean tea towel over top. The water jar will hold the cabbage down and allow the fermentation process to release water up and over the cabbage. For safety, place the crock into a large tray to catch any spill (which is not too likely). The water may climb close to 1 inch from the top but at this point will begin to recede down slowly until you do not see liquid from the top at all. The crock should be kept in a room at about 60 degrees F. or even a few degrees lower. At a higher temperature the sauerkraut will ferment sooner, but the quality will be inferior.
During the fermentation process, residue will form on the surface for the first week. It should be removed with a clean spoon every other day as needed. Gradually there will be less and less residue. The cabbage will require 2 to 4 weeks for fermentation depending on room temp. When fermentation has ceased (approx 3 weeks) you will notice that the liquid has descended down below the cabbage. This sauerkraut can now be consumed. Even though it is very fresh, it makes a nice side salad with a few drops of oil and a splash of vinegar.
To store simply fill a plastic container (e.g. clean margarine container) fit securely with lid, label the year and keep in the freezer. Stored this way, they have have kept very well for four years without any appearance of freezer burn.
Hint: when using one container from this batch, place it in the saucepan, cover kraut with water and bring to a boil. Drain off this water which will remove any excess salt and it is ready for preparing a meal.
As sauerkraut is so complementing to pork, you can brown up a few fresh pork chops or some smoked spareribs, lay the meat singly over oblong bake ware, spread the sauerkraut over the top of the meat, sprinkle two/three tablespoon water over, cover with foil. Bake 350 degrees for 1 to 1 1/2 hrs. till fork tender. This is delicious comfort food along with some crusty fresh bread. I can almost taste it as this was a family favourite as a child growing up.
Also forgot to mention that a tried and true tradition in the Ukraine is to put about 7 whole apples randomly through out the layering. I wish I had remembered in time. Maybe I can sneak a couple carefully in. The apples pick up amazing flavour and are used as a side with the sauerkraut meal. I neglected to do this. I remembered as an after thought.
Saturday, October 17, 2009
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
For the Chicken Pho Broth:
2 tbsp. whole coriander seeds
4 whole cloves
2 whole star anise
2 quarts (2 liters/8 cups/64 fluid ounces) store-bought or homemade chicken stock
1 whole chicken breast (bone in or boneless)
1 3-inch (7.5 cm) chunk of ginger, sliced and smashed with side of knife
1 to 2 tbsps. sugar
1 to 2 tbsps. fish sauce
1 lb. (500 grams/16 ounces) dried rice noodles (about ¼ inch/6 mm wide)
2 cups (200 grams/7 ounces) bean sprouts, washed and tails pinched off
Fresh cilantro (coriander) tops (leaves and tender stems)
½ cup (50 grams/approx. 2 ounces) shaved red onions
½ lime, cut into 4 wedges
Sriracha chili sauce
Sliced fresh chili peppers of your choice
- To make the Chicken Pho Broth: heat a frying pan over medium heat. Add the coriander seeds, cloves and star anise and toast until fragrant, about 3-4 minutes. Immediately spoon out the spices to avoid burning.
- In a large pot, add all the ingredients (including the toasted spices) and bring to a boil.
- Reduce the heat to medium-low and let simmer for 20 minutes, skimming the surface frequently.
- Use tongs to remove the chicken breasts and shred the meat with your fingers, discarding the bone if you have used bone-in breasts.
- Taste the broth and add more fish sauce or sugar, if needed. Strain the broth and discard the solids.
- Prepare the noodles as per directions on the package.
- Ladle the broth into bowls. Then divide the shredded chicken breast and the soft noodles evenly into each bowl.
- Have the accompaniments spread out on the table. Each person can customize their own bowl with these ingredients.
Saturday, October 3, 2009
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Sunday, September 27, 2009
Without a doubt, this has got to be my favourite challenge to date. Thanks so much to Steph of A Whisk and a Spoon for coming up with a truly challenging and interesting challenge. This recipe is taken from the cookbook Cooking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan and was created by Michel Richard.
Puff pastry is just the kind of recipe that has been on my mind as something I'd like to try some day for more years than I care to confess......Well that some day is now here! It was pretty straight forward and not really intimidating at all to my huge and happy surprise. The very moment I saw what this months challenge was......I knew straight away what I would fill mine with......Chicken a la King. It is the only recipe that I serve in Vols au Vent. Sorry if it seems a little lack luster......but my boys would have cried if I'd made anything else.
Just in case you'd like to give it a go too.........here is what you'll need to do.
Michel Richard’s Puff Pastry Dough
From: Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan
Yield: 2-1/2 pounds dough
Steph’s note: This recipe makes more than you will need for the quantity of vols-au-vent stated above. While I encourage you to make the full recipe of puff pastry, as extra dough freezes well, you can halve it successfully if you’d rather not have much leftover.
There is a wonderful on-line video from the PBS show “Baking with Julia” that accompanies the book. In it, Michel Richard and Julia Child demonstrate making puff pastry dough (although they go on to use it in other applications). They do seem to give slightly different ingredient measurements verbally than the ones in the book…I listed the recipe as it appears printed in the book. http://video.pbs.org/video/1174110297/search/Pastry
2-1/2 cups (12.2 oz/ 354 g) unbleached all-purpose flour
1-1/4 cups (5.0 oz/ 142 g) cake flour
1 tbsp. salt (you can cut this by half for a less salty dough or for sweet preparations)
1-1/4 cups (10 fl oz/ 300 ml) ice water
1 pound (16 oz/ 454 g) very cold unsalted butter
plus extra flour for dusting work surface
Mixing the Dough:
Check the capacity of your food processor before you start. If it cannot hold the full quantity of ingredients, make the dough into two batches and combine them.
Put the all-purpose flour, cake flour, and salt in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade and pulse a couple of times just to mix. Add the water all at once, pulsing until the dough forms a ball on the blade. The dough will be very moist and pliable and will hold together when squeezed between your fingers. (Actually, it will feel like Play-Doh.)
Remove the dough from the machine, form it into a ball, with a small sharp knife, slash the top in a tic-tac-toe pattern. Wrap the dough in a damp towel and refrigerate for about 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, place the butter between 2 sheets of plastic wrap and beat it with a rolling pin until it flattens into a square that's about 1" thick. Take care that the butter remains cool and firm: if it has softened or become oily, chill it before continuing.
Incorporating the Butter:
Unwrap the dough and place it on a work surface dusted with all-purpose flour (A cool piece of marble is the ideal surface for puff pastry) with your rolling pin (preferably a French rolling pin without handles), press on the dough to flatten it and then roll it into a 10" square. Keep the top and bottom of the dough well floured to prevent sticking and lift the dough and move it around frequently. Starting from the center of the square, roll out over each corner to create a thick center pad with "ears," or flaps.
Place the cold butter in the middle of the dough and fold the ears over the butter, stretching them as needed so that they overlap slightly and encase the butter completely. (If you have to stretch the dough, stretch it from all over; don't just pull the ends) you should now have a package that is 8" square.
To make great puff pastry, it is important to keep the dough cold at all times. There are specified times for chilling the dough, but if your room is warm, or you work slowly, or you find that for no particular reason the butter starts to ooze out of the pastry, cover the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate it . You can stop at any point in the process and continue at your convenience or when the dough is properly chilled.
Making the Turns:
Gently but firmly press the rolling pin against the top and bottom edges of the square (this will help keep it square). Then, keeping the work surface and the top of the dough well floured to prevent sticking, roll the dough into a rectangle that is three times as long as the square you started with, about 24" (don't worry about the width of the rectangle: if you get the 24", everything else will work itself out.) With this first roll, it is particularly important that the butter be rolled evenly along the length and width of the rectangle; check when you start rolling that the butter is moving along well, and roll a bit harder or more evenly, if necessary, to get a smooth, even dough-butter sandwich (use your arm-strength!).
With a pastry brush, brush off the excess flour from the top of the dough, and fold the rectangle up from the bottom and down from the top in thirds, like a business letter, brushing off the excess flour. You have completed one turn.
Rotate the dough so that the closed fold is to your left, like the spine of a book. Repeat the rolling and folding process, rolling the dough to a length of 24" and then folding it in thirds. This is the second turn.
Chilling the Dough:
If the dough is still cool and no butter is oozing out, you can give the dough another two turns now. If the condition of the dough is iffy, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least 30 minutes. Each time you refrigerate the dough, mark the number of turns you've completed by indenting the dough with your fingertips. It is best to refrigerate the dough for 30 to 60 minutes between each set of two turns.
The total number of turns needed is six. If you prefer, you can give the dough just four turns now, chill it overnight, and do the last two turns the next day. Puff pastry is extremely flexible in this regard. However, no matter how you arrange your schedule, you should plan to chill the dough for at least an hour before cutting or shaping it.
Forming and Baking the Vols-au-Vent
Yield: 1/3 of the puff pastry recipe below will yield about 8-10 1.5” vols-au-vent or 4 4” vols-au-vent
In addition to the equipment listed above, you will need:
-well-chilled puff pastry dough (recipe below)
-egg wash (1 egg or yolk beaten with a small amount of water)
-your filling of choice
Line a baking sheet with parchment and set aside.
Using a knife or metal bench scraper, divided your chilled puff pastry dough into three equal pieces. Work with one piece of the dough, and leave the rest wrapped and chilled. (If you are looking to make more vols-au-vent than the yield stated above, you can roll and cut the remaining two pieces of dough as well…if not, then leave refrigerated for the time being or prepare it for longer-term freezer storage. See the “Tips” section below for more storage info.)
On a lightly floured surface, roll the piece of dough into a rectangle about 1/8 to 1/4-inch (3-6 mm) thick. Transfer it to the baking sheet and refrigerate for about 10 minutes before proceeding with the cutting.
(This assumes you will be using round cutters, but if you do not have them, it is possible to cut square vols-au-vents using a sharp chef’s knife.) For smaller, hors d'oeuvre sized vols-au-vent, use a 1.5” round cutter to cut out 8-10 circles. For larger sized vols-au-vent, fit for a main course or dessert, use a 4” cutter to cut out about 4 circles. Make clean, sharp cuts and try not to twist your cutters back and forth or drag your knife through the dough. Half of these rounds will be for the bases, and the other half will be for the sides. (Save any scrap by stacking—not wadding up—the pieces…they can be re-rolled and used if you need extra dough. If you do need to re-roll scrap to get enough disks, be sure to use any rounds cut from it for the bases, not the ring-shaped sides.)
Using a ¾-inch cutter for small vols-au-vent, or a 2- to 2.5-inch round cutter for large, cut centers from half of the rounds to make rings. These rings will become the sides of the vols-au-vent, while the solid disks will be the bottoms. You can either save the center cut-outs to bake off as little “caps” for you vols-au-vent, or put them in the scrap pile.
Dock the solid bottom rounds with a fork (prick them lightly, making sure not to go all the way through the pastry) and lightly brush them with egg wash. Place the rings directly on top of the bottom rounds and very lightly press them to adhere. Brush the top rings lightly with egg wash, trying not to drip any down the sides (which may inhibit rise). If you are using the little “caps,” dock and egg wash them as well.
Refrigerate the assembled vols-au-vent on the lined baking sheet while you pre-heat the oven to 400ºF (200ºC). (You could also cover and refrigerate them for a few hours at this point.)
Once the oven is heated, remove the sheet from the refrigerator and place a silicon baking mat (preferred because of its weight) or another sheet of parchment over top of the shells. This will help them rise evenly. Bake the shells until they have risen and begin to brown, about 10-15 minutes depending on their size. Reduce the oven temperature to 350ºF (180ºC), and remove the silicon mat or parchment sheet from the top of the vols-au-vent. If the centers have risen up inside the vols-au-vent, you can gently press them down. Continue baking (with no sheet on top) until the layers are golden, about 15-20 minutes more. (If you are baking the center “caps” they will likely be finished well ahead of the shells, so keep an eye on them and remove them from the oven when browned.)
Remove to a rack to cool. Cool to room temperature for cold fillings or to warm for hot fillings.
Fill and serve.
*For additional rise on the larger-sized vols-au-vents, you can stack one or two additional ring layers on top of each other (using egg wash to "glue"). This will give higher sides to larger vols-au-vents, but is not advisable for the smaller ones, whose bases may not be large enough to support the extra weight.
*Although they are at their best filled and eaten soon after baking, baked vols-au-vent shells can be stored airtight for a day.
*Shaped, unbaked vols-au-vent can be wrapped and frozen for up to a month (bake from frozen, egg-washing them first).