Thursday, October 27, 2011

October Highlights


Well, it's almost Halloween, my girls' second favorite holiday after Christmas. We've had our traditional ghost milkshakes (with more whipped cream than milkshake this year!) and the costumes are ready.

It's been a busy time, and I wanted to highlight a few things that happened in October.

Natalie MacLean, Ottawa's award-winning wine writer, is promoting her new book: Unquenchable. She's touring Canada and the United States, so check out her schedule.


I have to thank Natalie for a shout-out in Ottawa Magazine this month. I'm honored to be mentioned along with Holly Burns of Wine Out Loud, another respected wine writer and blogger from Ottawa.


While you're checking out Natalie's wine picks, videos, and blog, you can also read my October column: Shrimp, Watercress, Bacon and Walnut Salad Recipe Paired with Coopers Creek Chardonnay, New Zealand. The mini Potato Chèvre Sandwiches that garnish this salad steal the limelight.


Also, just for fun, to practice my photography and to keep inspired, I've started a blog called Laugh Play Live. Last year, though I was going through a separation and dealing with thyroid cancer, it helped to be inspired by words and photography. Facing cancer brings with it a new perspective, and I hope to continue to see the wonderful, wild and whimsical through the lens and in words.


November is looking good. I'm off to Mazatlan, Mexico for a Gran Fiesta and Culinary Tour. Let's hope the hurricanes hold off while I'm there!



Monday, October 24, 2011

Cilantro Salad


Not all salads are easy. This one is. Just a simple vinaigrette with fresh ingredients. And if you love cilantro, you'll love this combination.

Cilantro is also known as Chinese Parsley and comes from the leaves of the coriander plant. I know there are people who find cilantro soapy tasting, and it does have a strong flavor, but let it grow on you and you may find that you crave it.


The Chinese used the herb in love potions believing it provided immortality.

Recipe

Makes 6 servings

For the vinaigrette:
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 clove garlic, minced
salt and pepper, to taste

For the salad:
4 cups butter lettuce, cleaned and torn into bite-sized pieces
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

Whisk the ingredients for the vinaigrette. Mix the salad ingredients. Just before serving, mix the vinaigrette with the salad.



Monday, October 17, 2011

Caramel Apple Tarts


Wondering what to do with puff pastry? Make Caramel Apple Tarts.

At this time of year when the apples are falling off the tree, I crave caramel apples. At every fair, it's the one treat I look forward to. This is just caramel apples in a crust. Yum!

If you don't have puff pastry in your refrigerator, just use a regular pie crust. If you don't have that, just make caramel apples!

Recipe

Makes one pie or 12 individual tarts

1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, cut into pieces
3/4 cup sweeted condensed milk (or 300-mL can)
2/3 cup golden corn syrup
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt

6 apples, peeled and diced

Puff Pastry

In a heavy saucepan over medium heat, stir all ingredients until a temperature probe reaches 236°F. Make sure you stir constantly and ensure the mixture doesn't stick to the bottom and start to burn. Let cool.

Meanwhile, peel and dice the apples. Stir the apples into the cooled caramel mixture.

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Roll out the puff pastry.

Fill the tart shell (or individual tart shells). Bake for 50-60 minutes (30-40 minutes for individual tart shells). Let cool. Serve with vanilla ice cream.


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    Monday, October 10, 2011

    Puff Pastry


    Puff pastry is a magical dough that requires sweat and muscle. Through the layering (or laminating) of butter and dough, the butter gets trapped. When the dough is rolled out, shaped and put in the oven, the butter tries to escape by pushing apart the layers of dough.

    The tricky part when making the dough is keeping the butter between the layers of dough. It tends to want to squish out as you're rolling, which is where patience and the refrigerator help. Though the method says to roll and fold twice, I'm happy if I get one roll and fold in and then put it in the refrigerator before the butter has a temper tantrum and starts smearing my rolling pin.



    Now that I have a block of puff pastry, what should I make with it?

    Recipe


    1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
    3/4 cup cake flour
    1 teaspoon salt
    2/3 to 3/4 cup water
    2 tablespoons unsalted, butter, melted
    14 tablespoons unsalted butter
    1 egg, lightly beaten, for glazing

    [You can find the recipe for Puff Pastry in the book Le Cordon Bleu at Home or here.]

    In a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the flours and salt. Pour in the water and melted butter. The dough will be shaggy. Bring it together into a ball and score an "x" in the top. Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.

    While the dough is chilling, place the butter between plastic wrap and form it into a square that's 3/4 inch thick.

    To roll the dough, make arms or flaps to form a plus sign. The middle should be mounded slightly. The arms must be long and square enough to cover the middle. (See this post.)

    Place the formed butter in the middle and fold the arms over the butter, stretching the dough if needed. Seal in the butter. Using a rolling pin, press on the dough to seal the edges and flatten the square.

    Roll the dough about 7 inches wide and 21 inches long. Fold the top down and the bottom up to make an envelope. Turn a quarter turn. Roll again to 7 inches wide and 21 inches long. Fold again. Mark the dough with two fingerprints and chill in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.

    Repeat the rolling/folding/turning and then chill. Repeat once more. Now the dough has been turned six times and is ready to be formed into pie crust, cheese sticks, turnovers, napoleons or whatever you fancy. (The dough keeps well in the freezer, too.)

    Next Time
    Danoises (Danish) in Le Cordon Bleu Complete Cook Home Collection page 485

    Links
    White on Rice: Strawberry Danish Recipe
    Not without Salt: Quick Puff Pastry
    Dorie Greenspan: Puff Pastry Pinwheels

    ::Whisk::
    I'm baking my way through a cooking school curriculum using the Le Cordon Bleu at Home cookbook. The "classes" are based on the Le Cordon Bleu curriculum found online and used as a guideline. Not all the items in the curriculum are in the cookbook, but most are. Where the items are not in the book, I try to find a suitable substitution.


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  • To see an index of recipes, click here.
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    To see an index of Julia Child-inspired recipes, click here.



    Monday, October 3, 2011

    Brioche

    If you're patient, in a few hours you can make brioche. You just need a teaspoon of yeast, a half dozen eggs and almost half a pound of butter along with the usual breadlike suspects.

    Brioche is classified as a viennoiserie (Viennese Specialties), which are baked goods made from a yeast-leavened dough that are enriched with milk, sugar, eggs or butter. In this case, lots of eggs and butter. Brioche isn't a low-fat treat but an indulgence.

    The trickiest part of this recipe is the dough's stickiness. But leave the pasty dough to the hook, forget the traditional, hand-kneading method and go check your email. Then, while it's rising, do some gardening. And after you've formed the rolls, go downtown to buy an iPad. Then eat some cake.

    Original: "Qu'ils mangent de la brioche."- Marie Antoinette
    Translation: "Let them eat rich, expensive, funny-shaped, yellow, eggy buns."
    -Urban Legends


    Recipe for Brioche

    Makes 16 individual rolls


    3 tablespoons milk, warmed
    1/4 oz package dried yeast
    3 cups bread or all-purpose flour
    1/4 cup sugar
    1 teaspoon salt
    6 eggs, lightly beaten

    3/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

    1 egg beaten and mixed with 2 tablespoons of water, for glaze

    [You can find the recipe for Brioche in the book Le Cordon Bleu Complete Cook Home Collection.]

    In a small bowl, proof the yeast in some warm milk. In a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, whisk all the ingredients. Add the yeast mixture. Knead until the dough forms a smooth ball. In an oiled bowl, place the dough and cover. Let rise at room temperature for 2 to 2 1/2 hours, or until doubled in size.

    Punch down. In a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, add the room temperature butter to the dough and knead until the dough is smooth again. Cover and let rest for about 5 minutes.

    Form into rolls. Let rise for 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Preheat oven to 400°F. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown. Let cool.

    Here's a video showing how to make it by hand.


    Tasting Notes
    The crust on my brioche was nice and crunchy, but I should have pulled mine out of the oven sooner than I did. Overall, they have a nice texture and warmed in the microwave for about 10 seconds makes them even tastier.

    Next Time
    Puff Pastry in Le Cordon Bleu Complete Cook Home Collection page 542

    Links
    La Tartine Gourmande - Simplest Brioche
    Julia Child's Brioche Dough (video)
    Dorie Greenspan's Brioche

    ::Whisk::
    I'm baking my way through a cooking school curriculum using the Le Cordon Bleu at Home cookbook. The "classes" are based on the Le Cordon Bleu curriculum found online and used as a guideline. Not all the items in the curriculum are in the cookbook, but most are. Where the items are not in the book, I try to find a suitable substitution.


    If you like this post, share it!


    If you like this blog, you can subscribe and get updates automatically.
  • Click here to learn about subscribing.
  • Click here to subscribe.

  • To see an index of recipes, click here.
    To see a visual index of recipes, click here.
    To see an index of Julia Child-inspired recipes, click here.