Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Pecan Sour Cream Biscuits

I hardly wanted to turn the oven today since it is unseasonably warm outside (in the 80s! And just 2 weeks ago we had snow!). But I was invited to Tom's for the weekly brunch. I've missed the past couple of weeks; Tom exaggerates when he complains that it's been weeks since there's been a decent scone or biscuit on his table.

Biscuits go together quickly, which I like. These have a lovely flavor owing to the sour cream and pecans. Quite yummy. My oven must be hotter than Dorie's, however, because I always have to pull biscuits out a couple of minutes before the shortest time in her range. I love making Dorie's biscuits!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Banana-Coconut Ice Cream Pie

As if right on cue, our weather turned from winter to summer with high temperatures in the eighties predicted for all this week. I'm delighted to make this week's Tuesdays with Dorie pick, Banana-Coconut Ice Cream Pie.

I had to buy some fancy, French butter cookies, Le Petit Beurre, although only 5 of them are crushed and used in the crust. Primarily melted butter and coconut, the crust was the first fun part of this recipe. Once the butter is melted, you add two cups of shredded coconut and stir constantly until it is golden brown. I stirred a bit and nothing much was happening when all of a sudden, like magic, the coconut turned golden brown! It looked great.

After the crust sat in the freezer overnight, I mixed up the filling which is pureed bananas, a little bit of rum, even less lemon juice and a pint of good chocolate ice cream. I thought I was being really clever in slitting the container of ice cream rather than trying to scoop it out--the ice cream was really hard, after all. My food processor would have appreciated smaller pieces! I stirred in some broken pieces of good chocolate just because you can't really have too much chocolate. I sliced a banana and put the pieces in the crust, then poured the delicious chocolate ice cream mixture on top of the banana.

This was yummy!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Apple-Apple Bread Pudding

I've always been suspicious of bread pudding. Served buffet style in a cafeteria or at a potluck, bread pudding usually looks gloppy and unappealing. And then just think about it: it's made with bread and pudding? This always sounded like a strange combination to me. But Dorie Greenspan says she's always been intrigued by its "cozy name" and has always loved it.

I have faith in Dorie so I began making this recipe with an open mind.

This recipe has many steps:
  • stale the bread
  • carmelize the apples
  • layer the bread (spread with apple butter) and apples
  • cook the custard of milk, cream, eggs and vanilla
  • pour the custard over the bread and apples
  • set the pan on the counter and give it the "back-of-the-spoon" treatment to push the bread into the custard
  • wait 30 minutes and repeat the back-of-the-spoon treatment
  • put the pan in a roasting pan half filled with hot water
  • put the whole set-up in the oven and bake nearly 90 minutes
  • cool
  • eat
But let me tell you, this is worth it! The yummy smell that filled the kitchen was warm, cozy and delicious. And it tasted just as good as it smelled! I can enthusiastically endorse Dorie's bread pudding although having tasted something this good, I suspect that cafeteria bread pudding will fall far short by comparison!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Quick Classic Berry Tart

This week's Tuesdays with Dorie pick is the Quick Classic Berry Tart. I've made this once before for Lydia's birthday and it was a big success. Lydia's birthday is in July when fresh berries are plentiful, at their peak, and relatively inexpensive. This being May, I had less fruit to choose from and what was available was pretty pricey.

However, making the tart is just plain fun. I made the crust ahead and froze it. The cream filling is also easy to make and I did so early in the morning. The really fun part to making this tart is decorating with fruit. I took a tour of our Wegman's superstore bakery case for ideas and decided to use fresh pineapple, kiwi, strawberries, raspberries and blueberries. It did look beautiful! And the volunteers who ate it at the Thanksgiving Contra Dance Planning meeting thought so too.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Lots-of-ways Banana Cake for Bekah

I made this cake for Bekah's birthday. It's a deliciously moist cake and I personally love the toasted coconut in it. I used Dorie's chocolate whipped cream frosting and intended to top the cake with chocolate curls. Dorie says that chocolate curls aren't hard, but that you won't get them right the first time. And when you don't, you can use the chocolate shavings for decoration or save it for another recipe. So here's Bekah's cake decorated with chocolate shavings!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Granola Grabbers

You can almost convince yourself that these cookies are healthy. I made the batter with my own home-made granola and added raisins, coconut, a bit of wheat germ, and some salty peanuts. There is a bunch of butter, of course, but not much sugar. The cookies are slightly crisp on the outside, nice and soft inside with a lovely crunchiness due to all the nuts. None of the flavors overpowered the others. I took these cookies to the contra dance and they were happily consumed.

Pecan Honey Sticky Buns

Ok, so what's not to like about home-made Pecan Honey Sticky Buns? Even imperfect, the aroma of the freshly baking bread, and the wonderful combination of brown sugar, butter and pecans, is a wowzer sensation.

Since it was Mother's Day, I decided to use the cinnamon roll dough I had frozen a couple of months ago to make sticky buns. Dorie says the roll can be frozen. Let it thaw in the refrigerator overnight, then cut and let rise in a warm place for 1 3/4 hours. I followed those instructions but had a really hard time finding a "warm" place in my kitchen Mother's Day morning, what with the snow falling outside. I ended up turning on the oven briefly, letting it cool down to 80 and letting the rolls rise there. Still, it took longer than the predicted 1 3/4 hours.

I used Dorie's recipe for the honey glaze which is just like the glaze I have used in the past except that honey replaces corn syrup. I think I prefer the glaze I normally use. Nothing against honey, but the chemistry wasn't right. In my glaze, corn syrup is used not so much for sweetness but more to make the glaze smooth. The honey glaze I had an opportunity to go beyond sticky and turn hard on the rolls that we didn't eat right away.

My second thought is that the rolls coming out of the refrigerator were just too cold. And then they had to rise more than 2 hours and bake another 30 minutes. I was getting entirely impatient for this Mother's Day treat to be ready to eat! So next time, I think I'll defrost during the day, make the glaze and cut the rolls in the evening, cover them well and let them rise in the refrigerator. Then let them come to room temperature and pop them in the oven. Should be yummy!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Burnt Sugar Ice Cream

This week's pick for the Tuesday's with Dorie crowd is Burnt Sugar Ice Cream. I made two of Dorie's ice creams for my birthday last August and they were scrumptious. I was excited about trying this caramel-y ice cream.

As with most caramel recipes, you start with sugar and a little bit of water, cooking it until the sugar dissolves and then cooking it some more until the caramel begins to turn color. And then continuing to cook until it changes from light amber to dark amber. I've only burned caramel once, but that experience spooked me and I was a bit cautious in making this ice cream.

Dorie warns that the caramel will seize up when the milk and cream are added. And it did! But I just kept stirring and it smoothed out nicely. In a separate bowl, you whisk some egg yolks, then pour the hot creamy mixture into the yolks, then pour everything back into the pot to cook some more. Mine thickened just a bit but was at the correct temperature (175) so I took it off the stove, added the vanilla, and put it into the refrigerator to chill.

A couple of hours later I poured it into the ice cream maker and started the churning process. By the time the ice had melted in the ice cream maker, I figured out that the ice cream was not thickening up as expected. I put it into the freezer and hoped for the best. Two hours later, we were eating delicious, just right ice cream.

I do think that I could have cooked the caramel a bit longer and I also think I could have cooked the whole mixture a bit longer. Nevertheless, it was not a hardship to eat this delicious ice cream,

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Chocolate Pudding

After moving mulch for several hours yesterday, I was feeling at loose ends. I felt like baking, but didn't feel like making a big production. Dorie's Chocolate Pudding seemed like the perfect solution. I had all the ingredients and it didn't produce large quantities which I'd only have to give away.

This pudding is fun to make. One thing I love about Dorie's recipes is that you have to be really active when you're cooking, and this is certainly true about the pudding. I used a food processor, saucepan, double boiler (to melt the chocolate), bowl to separate the eggs and various whisks, spoons, and rubber spatulas. The result was a countertop with 6 lovely puddings, waiting to go into the refrigerator.

And a countertop full of various bowls and pots to clean up! I must admit that I didn't mind that there were so many bowls involved--all the more for me to lick.