Friday, July 31, 2009

Random Happenings post!

I must start by saying I realize I've actually been very lucky this summer as far as the weather has been concerned. Sure it's rained a lot but I actually like rain and it cools everything off ( and waters my plants for me).

That being said, I have become extremely reluctant to do anything that involves turning my oven on. I made lasagna on sunday and had to go lay in front of a fan while it baked to keep from passing out. I've never lived, let alone baked, without airconditioning before. That is one luxury my mom would never let us do without.

So what I need is inspiration. I need ideas about things I can make and enjoy with heating up the oven. Cause while my marshmallow cookies were delicious they were a total mess when left out out of the fridge. (side not- when the weather cools off I'm going to be making home made marshmallows like a madwoman. So good!)

In other news, I've decided when I go back to sioux city in a few weeks I'm getting a new tattoo. My brother's childhood friend is an artist there. I'll be getting my kitchenaid mixer on my right underarm. I'm pretty excited for that.

Lily came over for dinner a few nights back and she still seems pretty stoked about me making some desserts for an event at the Davis museum. I'm pretty psyched for that too. I need to start doing some research on buying in bulk. Anybody know a good place for buying candy melts in bulk?

And last but not least there's about a month until the district barista competition. I think I've decided on Italian roast as my espresso. Hopefully it'll be slow tonight and I can experiment. I really want to win and get a free trip to Portland. Plus my manager would love me forever cause she'd get to go too. Think happy coffee related thoughts for me!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Daring bakers post

my first daring bakers post and my first iPhone post to boot ! These were delicious but a bit melty in my air conditioning free apartment.

The July Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Nicole at Sweet Tooth. She chose Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies and Milan Cookies from pastry chef Gale Gand of the Food Network.
Mallows(Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies)
Recipe courtesy Gale Gand, from Food Network website

Prep Time: 10 min
Inactive Prep Time: 5 min
Cook Time: 10 min
Serves: about 2 dozen cookies

• 3 cups (375grams/13.23oz) all purpose flour
• 1/2 cup (112.5grams/3.97oz) white sugar
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
• 3/8 teaspoon baking soda
• 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 12 tablespoons (170grams/ 6 oz) unsalted butter
• 3 eggs, whisked together
• Homemade marshmallows, recipe follows
• Chocolate glaze, recipe follows

1. In a mixer with the paddle attachment, blend the dry ingredients.
2. On low speed, add the butter and mix until sandy.
3. Add the eggs and mix until combine.
4. Form the dough into a disk, wrap with clingfilm or parchment and refrigerate at least 1 hour and up to 3 days.
5. When ready to bake, grease a cookie sheet or line it with parchment paper or a silicon mat.
6. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
7. Roll out the dough to 1/8-inch thickness, on a lightly floured surface. Use a 1 to 1 1/2 inches cookie cutter to cut out small rounds of dough.
8. Transfer to the prepared pan and bake for 10 minutes or until light golden brown. Let cool to room temperature.
9. Pipe a “kiss” of marshmallow onto each cookie. Let set at room temperature for 2 hours.
10. Line a cookie sheet with parchment or silicon mat.
11. One at a time, gently drop the marshmallow-topped cookies into the hot chocolate glaze.
12. Lift out with a fork and let excess chocolate drip back into the bowl.
13. Place on the prepared pan and let set at room temperature until the coating is firm, about 1 to 2 hours.

Note: if you don’t want to make your own marshmallows, you can cut a large marshmallow in half and place on the cookie base. Heat in a preheated 350-degree oven to slump the marshmallow slightly, it will expand and brown a little. Let cool, then proceed with the chocolate dipping.

Homemade marshmallows:
• 1/4 cup water
• 1/4 cup light corn syrup
• 3/4 cup (168.76 grams/5.95oz) sugar
• 1 tablespoon powdered gelatin
• 2 tablespoons cold water
• 2 egg whites , room temperature
• 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1. In a saucepan, combine the water, corn syrup, and sugar, bring to a boil until “soft-ball” stage, or 235 degrees on a candy thermometer.
2. Sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water and let dissolve.
3. Remove the syrup from the heat, add the gelatin, and mix.
4. Whip the whites until soft peaks form and pour the syrup into the whites.
5. Add the vanilla and continue whipping until stiff.
6. Transfer to a pastry bag.

Chocolate glaze:
• 12 ounces semisweet chocolate
• 2 ounces cocoa butter or vegetable oil

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Guerilla French Cooking post!!!

It's only about a month late, but I, Shannon, Jennifer's faithful soup chef and gal Friday, am finally posting about the Ina-inspired French dinner I made to celebrate her promotion. 

Menu and table ambiance for the evening.

Soup Course

Vichyssoise with cheese straws.

Cheese Course

(clockwise from top) Mint-honey Greek yogurt, a slice of gruyere, apricot-filled cheese, lemon goat cheese.

Main Course

Chicken with forty cloves and bacon-sauteed brussels sprouts.

Dessert Course
Creme brulee with lavender sugar crust, a dollop of marscapone, blackberries, and a sprig of lavender.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Barefoot Bloggers post: Peach and Blueberry crumble

Dear Ina,
Please marry me. You can keep seeing Jeffrey. I don't mind.

I really love crumble. If I could consume all my daily allotment of fruits in crumble form without dying I totally would. And this one was both really simple and delicious. As always I halved the recipe (except the blueberries which I basically tossed in as many as the dish would hold). I got impatient toward the end and could have probably left it in another ten minutes to let the fruit soften more. But this gets a big thumbs up for me. I'm excited to try it with other fruit combos too. 

For the fruit

  • 2 lbs firm, ripe peaches (6-8 peaches)
  • 2 tsp grated lemon zest
  • 2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries (1/2 pint)

For the Crumble

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 lb (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, diced
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Immerse the peaches in boiling water for 30 seconds to 1 minute, until their skins peel off easily.  Place them immediately in cold water.  Peel the peaches, slice them into thick wedges, and place them in a large bowl.  Add the lemon zest, lemon juice, granulated sugar, and flour.  Toss well.  Gently mix in the blueberries.  Allow the mixture to sit for 5 minutes.  Spoon the mixture into ramekins or custard cups.
  3. For the topping, combine the flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, and the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.  Mix on low speed until the butter is the size of peas.  Rub the mixture with your fingertips until it’s in big crumbles, then sprinkle evenly over the fruit.  Place the ramekins on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper and back for 40 to 45 minutes, until the tops are browned and crisp and the juices are bubbly.  Serve warm or at room temperature.  If you want to make these early, store the unbaked crumbles int he refrigerator and bake before dinner.  Serves 5 to 6.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Little Update

So my computer bit the dust this week. That's why there has been a significant lack of posting. Shannon is being very lovely and generous in letting me use her computer. And I'll still be posting all my Barefoot Blogger and Daring Baker assignments but for now other posts might be few and far between. 
PS- is anyone watching the Top Chef marathon on Bravo? I love Harold so much! They don't show the first season nearly enough.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Barefoot Blogger: Pasta with Sun-Dried Tomatoes

  • 1/2 pound fusilli (spirals) pasta
  • Kosher salt
  • Olive oil
  • 1 pound ripe tomatoes, medium-diced
  • 3/4 cup good black olives, such as kalamata, pitted and diced
  • 1 pound fresh mozzarella, medium-diced
  • 6 sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained and chopped

For the dressing:

  • 5 sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 6 tablespoons good olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, diced
  • 1 teaspoon capers, drained
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 1 cup packed basil leaves, julienned


Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water with a splash of oil to keep it from sticking together. Boil for 12 minutes, or according to the directions on the package. Drain well and allow to cool. Place the pasta in a bowl and add the tomatoes, olives, mozzarella, and chopped sun-dried tomatoes.

For the dressing, combine the sun-dried tomatoes, vinegar, olive oil, garlic, capers, salt, and pepper in a food processor until almost smooth.

Pour the dressing over the pasta, sprinkle with the Parmesan and basil, and toss well.

~The basil and parmesean are omitted in the photo only because I made this to take for lunches when I go to work and I'd rather add those the day of~

I can't lie, I thought I wasn't going to like this. I'm not a huge fan of sun-dried tomato. I have this issue with tomatoes being sweet. But with the saltiness of the kalamata olives, that is an amazing combo. Plus any excuse I can get to buy the tiny little balls of mozzarella (a third of which were eaten before the dish's completion, good thing I got extras).

There is one technical issue I need to work out when I go to do these recipes though. I need to actually look at the dish for what it is and decide if it can be dinner all on it's own. Generally Ina serves a few dishes so it's a well rounded meal. Just like with the gazpacho I felt like this could really use a protein.I'm thinking it would be delicious as a side with a warm steak sandwich or something roast beefy.

Friday, July 3, 2009


Just a heads up, last night to celebrate my promotion at work and my win at our store-level barista competition Shannon made me a very lovely, very French dinner. She did all the work herself and planned it all in like 2 days. So in the next few days she'll be posting on here about it.

Some of the Barefoot Bloggers might be interested, it was very Ina-centric.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Avoiding my landlord AKA Why I can't be left alone at Crate and Barrel

The last thing I wanted to deal with yesterday after my first day as a shift lead (yay! me) was my landlord. I mean, he's a nice guy and everything but trying to explain to him how we can't mow the lawn with 2 weeks of straight rain wasn't really on my list of things I was jazzed to do. So instead I went shopping. Want to see the random but adorable things I bought? Of course you do!

This is my eensy little teapot. Sure it's summer time and I'll probably be drinking ice tea for the next few months, but did you see the little flowers?

This is one of two soup bowls I bought. I fell in love with the one at Sel de la Terre with the lion heads on the side. These have the same basic shape. Plus they'll be cute for serving side dishes.

I got four of these little guys. They are supposed to be condiment bowls, and they might get used for that too. Mostly I bought them for taking cute pictures of my mise en place. How cute will they be with spices in them?

This is the only thing I got that I actually needed. Shannon keeps telling me what great baklava she makes but we didn't have a pastry brush for the butter. I expect to see some immediately :D

I also stopped at BJs Wholesale because I was tired of getting the urge to cook something and realizng I was out of flour or sugar or whatever. I am now the proud owner of 20lbs of flour, 25lbs of white sugar, 4 lbs of brown sugar, 4lbs of confectioners sugar, and 1lb of dried yeast.

On to the food:

For dinner last night we made grilled pork chops with grilled sweet potato wedges and maple dipping sauce. (from this month's Real Simple)

The pork was fantastic. It was just salted and peppered. But it was cooked just perfectly. The sweet potatoes also would have been perfect if I had cut them remotely evenly. But oh my world was the dipping sauce yummy and so simple. It was just a table spoon of maple syrup, one of olive oil, some salt and pepper and we changed out the scallions for chives since we have a chive plant. So good!

We also made coconut sorbet and Ina's outrageous brownies. But it's time for lunch so I'll post about those later :D