Monday, January 28, 2008

Daring Bakers January Challenge

Daring Bakers, who are we?
we're an online community of bakers who, once a month, receive a recipe chosen by that month's host, make the recipe without modifications (unless allowed by the host), and then blog about the experience on the same day. By following the same recipe, we have a good basis for comparing our results and we get to flex our baking muscles.
We have a separate blog with the links to the participants' blogs!

Lemon Meringue Pie Challenge

So this month we rolled back our sleeves and dived in to some Lemon Meringue Pie. Pie happens to be my favorite kind of dessert; so as you could guess I was very excited. On top of that Jen at The Canadian Baker
Chose a fantastic Lemon Meringue Pie recipe for us. Thankyou Jen it was FANTASTIC!

So I've never made Meringue before or lemon meringue pie it was something new, something daring, something absolutely delicious. The great part was even though this took a lot of arm power and coordination the recipe steps themselves are very simple. The lemon curd though is stirred forever in a pot gradually adding ingredients. I stirred mine a lot and felt like my arms were going to fall off. Wicked though gave me some advice to make sure i cook the curd and bring it to bubbling where it says in the recipe. Many people had mentioned that theres were turning out watery and she thought they might not have cooked it long enough.
I don't know if she was right, but her advice seems to have worked because my pie turned out perfect. The curd stood up to perfect consistency the meringue was delicious and the only problem was its soo good there just isn't enough to satisfy everyone.
Also this recipe would be easy to modify and use for other styles of pie. Definitely a keeper in my book.
Here is the Recipe for those of you who DARE!
Lemon Meringue Pie

Makes one 10-inch (25 cm) pie

For the Crust:

¾ cup (180 mL) cold butter; cut into ½-inch (1.2 cm) pieces

2 cups (475 mL) all-purpose flour

¼ cup (60 mL) granulated sugar

¼ tsp (1.2 mL) salt

cup (80 mL) ice water

For the Filling:

2 cups (475 mL) water

1 cup (240 mL) granulated sugar

½ cup (120 mL) cornstarch

5 egg yolks, beaten

¼ cup (60 mL) butter

¾ cup (180 mL) fresh lemon juice

1 tbsp (15 mL) lemon zest

1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla extract

For the Meringue:

5 egg whites, room temperature

½ tsp (2.5 mL) cream of tartar

¼ tsp (1.2 mL) salt

½ tsp (2.5 mL) vanilla extract

¾ cup (180 mL) granulated sugar

For the Crust: Make sure all ingredients are as cold as possible. Using a food processor or pastry cutter and a large bowl, combine the butter, flour, sugar and salt. Process or cut in until the mixture resembles coarse meal and begins to clump together. Sprinkle with water, let rest 30 seconds and then either process very briefly or cut in with about 15 strokes of the pastry cutter, just until the dough begins to stick together and come away from the sides of the bowl. Turn onto a lightly floured work surface and press together to form a disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for at least 20 minutes.

Allow the dough to warm slightly to room temperature if it is too hard to roll. On a lightly floured board (or countertop) roll the disk to a thickness of ⅛ inch (.3 cm). Cut a circle about 2 inches (5 cm) larger than the pie plate and transfer the pastry into the plate by folding it in half or by rolling it onto the rolling pin. Turn the pastry under, leaving an edge that hangs over the plate about ½ inch (1.2 cm). Flute decoratively. Chill for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350ºF (180ºC). Line the crust with foil and fill with metal pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Carefully remove the foil and continue baking for 10 to 15 minutes, until golden. Cool completely before filling.

For the Filling: Bring the water to a boil in a large, heavy saucepan. Remove from the heat and let rest 5 minutes. Whisk the sugar and cornstarch together. Add the mixture gradually to the hot water, whisking until completely incorporated.

Return to the heat and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly until the mixture comes to a boil. The mixture will be very thick. Add about 1 cup (240 mL) of the hot mixture to the beaten egg yolks, whisking until smooth. Whisking vigorously, add the warmed yolks to the pot and continue cooking, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil. Remove from the heat and stir in butter until incorporated. Add the lemon juice, zest and vanilla, stirring until combined. Pour into the prepared crust. Cover with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming on the surface, and cool to room temperature.

For the Meringue: Preheat the oven to 375ºF (190ºC). Using an electric mixer beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar, salt and vanilla extract until soft peaks form. Add the sugar gradually, beating until it forms stiff, glossy peaks. Pile onto the cooled pie, bringing the meringue all the way over to the edge of the crust to seal it completely. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden. Cool on a rack. Serve within 6 hours to avoid a soggy crust.

Daring Bakers Extra Challenge
Free-Style Lemon Tartlets

Prepare the recipe as above but complete the following steps:

To roll out tartlet dough, slice the dough into 6 pieces. On lightly floured surface, roll each circle of dough into a 5 inch disk. Stack the disks, separated by pieces of plastic wrap, on a plate, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

To bake the dough, position rack in oven to the centre of oven and preheat to 350ºF (180ºC). Place the disks of dough, evenly spaced, on a baking sheet and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden brown. Cool completely.

To finish tartlets, first place oven rack in the upper third of the oven and increase heat to 425ºF.

Divide the lemon filling equally among the disks, mounding it in the centre and leaving a 1-inch border all the way around.

Spoon the meringue decoratively over each tartlet, right to the edges, in dramatic swirling peaks. Return tartlets to oven and bake for about 5 minutes, until the meringue is golden brown.


You can make one pie or tartlets (in a tin or free-form)

You can compliment your pie with a sauce. For example, you can serve it with raspberry or white chocolate sauce.

You can use a piping bag to apply the meringue if you like.

Decoration is up to you - lemon zest or fruit are totally acceptable.

Pie recipe courtesy of Wanda’s Pie in the Sky by Wanda Beaver, 2002
Tartlet recipe courtesy of Ripe for Dessert by David Lebovitz, 2003

Friday, January 25, 2008

Think Spice- Think Garlic!

So decided to try the monthly think spice challenge hosted by Sunita's World.
It was when i saw the clove of garlic I couldn't resist. Garlic is one of my favorite things to cook with whether dried and ground, fresh chopped, baked, broiled, sauteed it is a savory spice that goes with almost everything. Often my mother would drill into me how healthy garlic is. She even eats it raw when she is sick, and every time she ends up over her sickness faster then anyone else. You can see the challenge guidelines here.

So I present Angel's Garlic Baked Chicken.

OK so the recipe is something I made up as I went along. I tend to love cooking as a more ad lib affair. I Put the chkin in a baking dish and covered it in soy sauce. I added some extra soy sauce on the bottom of the dish (but didn't have them soaking in it). I cut up two large cloves of garlic fresh and sprinkled liberally on top of the chkn. Then I added some savory, and some fresh ground Coriander. The coriander is the secret to the flavors here since it has a interesting flavor that complimented the garlic perfectly. I then added about a 1/4 a cup or less of water to the bottom of the pan, covered it in foil and baked at 375 degrees for an hour. Baking it like that made the chkn turn out very tender, and it was super savory. Didn't need any salt at all.

We then served it on a plate of sauteed mixed chinese vegi's.

This Dish is super simple, but also amazing flavors in the chkn. Garlic being the main performer.
Thankyou Sunita for a Fantastic highlight of Garlic.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Comfort Food

Nothing like warm irish stew on cold winter days like this to bring you comfort.

I was going to submit this for the comfort food challenge but unfortunately my stupid computer refused to upload the picture for it until it was too late. sigh.
It's been snowing here more then any year I've seen, and it was so nice to have my sweet heart come home out of the cold to some warm stew with hot garlic bread to dip in the broth.
The greatest part about stew is it's warm comforting, simple to make, and feeds a lot of people.
This has large chunks of Yukon gold potatoes, Carrots, stewing beef, and lots of herbs.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Stuffed Acorn Squash

A Fantastic Dinner for two. Made by yours truly.

So I wanted to make one of the guys I'm dating a fantastic meal to come home to. So on the menu tonight was Stuffed Acorn Squash... My own recipe tada!
Served with garlic sourdough bread toasted with thyme. A fresh green salad with avocado sliced on top, Blueberry Cranberry juice to drink.
We had his favorite for dessert which is cheese cake.

the Acorn squash is slightly sweet and tastes really good with the salty sausage and herb filling.

Ooh doesn't it just make you want to take a bite.

Two easily made bentos from the leftovers. There is salad dressing in the blue snowmen.
Angel's Stuffed Acorn Squash Recipe

three acorn squash
1lb Italian Sausage
1 package of cream cheese
two cloves of garlic
1/4 of a red onion chopped finely
1/4 tsp sage
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp rosemary and thyme
Mozzarella cheese shredded

Directions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees
Take the acorn squash cut them in half and scoop out the inards.
place them on a baking pan (I put mine in a cake pan so i can steam them a bit towards the end)
Chop up garlic and onions very finely and add to cream cheese mix in a mixing bowl. Then add all the herbs and mix some more. Then add the Sausage (raw) into the cream cheese mix and continue mixing until the sausage is completely covered with the cream cheese mixture.
Scoop meat mixture into the little bowl area of the acorn squash. Put in oven and bake uncovered at 400 for 30 minutes.
Then turn down temperature to 300 degrees (or 250 depending on your oven) add some water in the bottom of the pan, cover with foil and put back into oven for another 25 minutes. This will moisten and steam the squash up a bit.
Then take out uncover, and add the mozzarella cheese to the top of each squash. Put back in the oven for 5 minutes just to melt the cheese. (this is also when i put the garlic toast in the oven to melt the butter and toast up a bit.)

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Back from the Holidays

Hey everyone,

Wanted to leave a quick note to let you know that I haven't abandoned the blog.
I've been away for the holidays visiting family. Christmas was pretty fantastic, and one of the best ones I've had in many years. I have adorable nephews and a very fun family.
I also did make out like a bandit. I received much in the way of baking pans, a kitchen scale, a candy thermometer, very fancy and sharp knives in their own cutting block and with a matching cutting board, and to top it all off the Stainless steel cooking set I've been dreaming about for years. I will hopefully get around to taking some pictures to show it off.
I do have some old pictures I was supposed to post before I left and didn't get around to it.
So Hopefully this week I'll get those out even if its just a montage of pictures.
Hope everyone had a fantastic wonderful holiday!!