Search This Blog

Sunday, June 26, 2005

IMBB #1 - Eggs

During the week I was working ridiculous hours, attempting to somewhat entertain my mother who was visiting, plus getting ready to fly away on vacation. With all this commotion going on, I knew I would be at my best when it came time to put together my IMBB entry. This was my first IMBB. My first opportunity to prove (if only to myself) that I do indeed have a 'food blog'. I think I did okay.

Eggs showed up at every stage of this dessert. Yolks in the lemon curd and pastry base; whites in the meringue.

Lemon Meringue Beehives from Gale Gand's Just a Bite
You will find Gale's original comments in (parenthesis) and my comments in [brackets].

You'll need:
A 2-inch round cookie cutter
A cookie sheet lined with parchment paper
A small ice cream scoop or melon baller, about 1-1/2 inches across
A pastry bag fitted with a small plain tip (1/4 inch or less)
A kitchen torch (optional)

For the Pastry Bases
4 TB cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 Cup all purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1 egg yolk
1/4 creme fraiche [or plain yogurt]

For the Lemon Curd
3 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
Freshly grated zest of 1-1/2 lemons
1/2 Cup fresh lemon juice (from about 3 lemons)
6 TB cold unsalted butter

For the Meringue
1/2 cup egg whites [I recommend Whippin' Whites* since the meringues are not heated enough to kill salmonella bacteria]
1/2 Cup sugar

Make the pastry bases: Mix the butter, flour, and salt in a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment until sandy. In a separate bowl, blend the egg yolk and creme fraiche [or yogurt]. Add to the flour mixture and mix until barely combined. Form the dough into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate it for at least 2 hours or up to 3 days.

Make the lemon curd: Bring 2 inches of water to a simmer in a saucepan. Whip the eggs and sugar in a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment until light and fluffy. Add the lemon zest and juice and place the bowl over simmering water (without letting the bowl touch the water; pour some water out if needed). Cook until the curd is thickened, whisking occasionally. Remove it from the heat and whisk in the butter. Let the curd cool to room temperature, cover, and freeze overnight or up to 3 days.

Bake the pastry bases: Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Flour a work surface. Roll out the dough to 1/8 inch thick and cut out 2-inch rounds. Transfer the rounds to the cookie sheet and prick them all over with a fork. Bake until they are light golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool. (the whole recipe can be made up to this point up to 3 days in advance.) [If bases have puffed, prick again while hot and place a heavy Pyrex pan on top of the bases to flatten them slightly as they cool.]

Up to 6 hours before serving, assemble the dessert: Arrange the pastry bases in a pan that will fit in your freezer (use two if needed). Use the small ice-cream scoop to place a ball of frozen lemon curd (it won't be frozen solid) onto each round. Freeze until needed.

Whip the egg whites until foamy, then add the sugar and continue whipping until stiff and glossy. Transfer to the pastry bag. Pipe the meringue around the base of each pastry round, spiraling around and up the lemon-curd dome and gradually enclosing the top to create a beehive. Heat the broiler to very hot (or fire up your kitchen torch) and broil until the meringue is lightly browned all over. Return to the freezer until ready to serve, up to 6 hours.

I had my own version of lemon curd left over from a batch I had made and frozen a while back so I had to make some adjustments since my curd is very solid when frozen. I HIGHLY recommend freezing the pastry bases topped with lemon curd for at least a couple of hours before adding the meringue. I also recommend using a kitchen torch, if you have one, over an oven broiler since my lemon curd melted a bit in the oven.

What this recipe has taught me: Follow directions! (lol) Also - Whippin' Whites (a pasteurized egg product formulated for excellent whipping) cannot be frozen for use later (also a follow directions lesson since it clearly states on the label: KEEP REFRIGERATED). Due to my inability to follow directions, my merigue did not inflate properly but I was able to save it with the addition of powdered meringue.

All things considered, these turned out really well. They are very cute even though slightly squatty due to my lemon curd melting a bit. They are also extremely tasty. The pastry base stays nice and flaky even directly from the freezer, which was unexpected.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Cherry Pickin'

I have many food passions, I'm the first to admit it. No wonder my doctor keeps yelling at me to lose weight (I won't explain that he's a marathon runner, that's not relevant). I have early memories of delightful foods that I have never tasted since and may never taste again but I believe those memories drive me to cook and to bake.

One such memory is that of cherries. Years ago, my mother and I had a lovely neighbor who regularly offered us free reign on her jars of cherries. I'm guessing these were sour cherries but she had preserved them in a way that made them taste like a summer day with the fresh pop when bitten, they were only slightly tangy and were not packed in a syrupy sauce... more like cherry-water. What a treat in the middle of winter!

My love of fresh cherries continues and my reddish-brown fingertips have convinced me to actually buy a cherry pitter... next year (I reserve the right to change my mind any time I'm in a kitchen-gadget store staring at a cherry pitter). For the moment, I'm cherry-stuffed. I made a super easy Bing Cherry Crumble and the only hard part was pitting the cherries with a knife... a labor of love but one that I would only do for my family, believe me.

Bing Cherry Crumble

Preheat oven to 350*

1/2 TB flour
1 TB sugar
1 TB brown sugar

Mix lightly then toss with:
1 tsp. raspberry wine vinegar
1/2 tsp. Kirsch
1/2 tsp. Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla
1/2 pound fresh Bing cherries, pitted & halved

Place in a shallow 1 qt. baking dish, buttered or sprayed.

1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/3 cup oatmeal
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. nutmeg

Stir lightly then cut in with pastry blender:
5 TB cold butter, unsalted.

Gently fold in:
1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted

Sprinkle topping over fruit mixture. Bake 40 - 45 minutes.

I'm also attempting my first 'canning' with cherries. We'll see how that turns out in a few weeks, if it's good, I'll post the technique I used.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Strawberry Scented

This is what I did yesterday, multiplied by 750. Yes, that's right... 750 bite-sized strawberry shortcakes along with 1,500 other mini desserts for a promotion. I have to admit this was a collaborative effort by three of us in the bakery over the last 2 days. And yes, my hands do still smell of strawberries... better than onions, I say.

For the mini strawberry shortcakes:

Our standard pound cake was baked in sheet pans and cut out with a 1-inch fluted cutter. Cake bites were brushed with a strong mixture of simple syrup and rum, then piped with restaurant-style whipped topping (which is basically the equivalent of Redi-whip) hence, the need for the rum. Strawberries were cut in halves or quarters then carefully sliced 1/8-inch from the base of the strawberry to the tip to create the fan effect then brushed with apricot glaze. Apricot glaze acts as a preservative for the strawberries as well as making the strawberries very glimmery. However, when kept refrigerated for more than a couple of days even glazed strawberries will begin to shrivel and look unappealing.

If you wished to make these at home, any dense yellow or pound (or even chocolate, for that matter) cake will work for this. Just bake in a jellyroll or half-sheet pan. Real whipped cream would, of course, be better than fake whipped topping.
For Apricot glaze: You may have to adjust the amount of water based on the consistency of the jam. Heat it until it is liquid enough to apply it with a pastry brush.

1/4 cup apricot jam
1 tablespoon water

Mix the apricot jam with the water in a small microwaveable bowl and heat on high power or in a non-reactive 1-quart heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat until liquid. Brush it on with a pastry brush. The glaze can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

If I were to make these with chocolate cake, rather than fan and glaze the strawberries, I might try to find very small strawberries to dip in dark chocolate, then drizzle with white chocolate before placing them on the whipped cream. Actually, chocolate-dipped marachino cherries with stems would make a very nice presentation as well... simply replace the rum with kirsch.

In my best Julia Child, "Class dismissed."

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Virgin Prepares to Take the Plunge

I've been reading a lot of other food blogs that participate in cooking events. I think it sounds pretty cool! Here's what happens... by one method or another, they pick a topic, an ingredient (or in some cases, several ingredients), and a date by which you need to submit your prepared food item. One that looks like it's been going on a while started at Is My Blog Burning [IMBB]. It looks as though the IMBB event has begun taking up a lot of the site originator's time so he has asked other sites to host the event. There is one event per month and whomever is honored with hosting the event gets to choose the food item or topic for the month. Typically, bloggers participating in the event will take pictures of their creation and list ingredients used and cooking methods and sometimes a little story to go along with the entry. Then they email the host and let them know they are participating.

This is a pretty crazy month for me: a visit from my mother for a week and then we're off to a family reunion and week-long visit to Wisconsin. So I was thinking, "Why not add my first attempt at IMBB to the mix?" LOL

This month's topic: Eggs Hosted by Seattle Bon Vivant

I will be making my recipe next week while Mom is here and since the entry deadline is between Friday, June 24th and Sunday, June 26... the time when we'll be flying to Wisconsin and having the reunion, I'll have to blog from my auntie's house. Nothing like adding a little more stress to my travel plans... hehehe

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Got Ebay?

Is there some big Toast Art collectible craze I don't know about? I found these for sale in the next 2 days on Ebay.

I guess you can get any toasty image you want if you keep looking. I found something for everyone just with a little searching.

George Bush --------------- Deep Throat -------- Saddam in Undies


The Pope ---------------------- Jesus

Current Events/Stars

Pregnant Brittney Spears ---- Brittney's Ultrasound ---- Elvis

Michael Jackson and the verdicts of his molestation trial

John Lenon [this one looks more like Planet of the Apes to me]


Jack Skellington from The Nightmare Before Christmas

Lots of Yoda fans, apparently.




Extreme Makeover ---------------- ebay ------------- Got Milk?

I'm sure there were many many more available for auction over the next week but I got tired of all the clicking and copying.

This one sums up what I think of all those sucked into bidding actual money for these:

Friday, June 10, 2005

My Bad

A few folks showed up and said they were here for an intervention.

They felt I was ruining my life with a terrible drug. One that seemed innocent enough (even given to children on occasion) but was highly addictive for me. They informed me that my bank account was in serious danger, my family relationships were beginning to suffer and my job may be next if I didn't quit immediately.

I know better! I'm just fine. I can stop any time I want. My family is NOT suffering... look at them. Standing there with spoons as if I owed it to them! Who do they think they're kidding?? They just got this bunch of bullies together to harrass me so they can take away my stash. Well they can forget it!

I don't see this as a problem... what do YOU think?

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Ready For Vacation

A friend emailed *waves to BadSam* and wrote about a camping trip he took over the weekend. I'm not a big camper myself, in fact, I haven't been camping nor had any desire to camp for years. That said, I suddenly have a desire to go river rafting (even better if it included rock climbing). I have never been river rafting OR rock climbing and am not in physical shape to do either. My excuse for not being in shape is that I have a herniated disc in my neck which left me nearly incapacitated last winter. I'm feeling a lot better now thanks to my chiropractor, who I'm sure would advise me NOT to go rock climbing, much less bouncing around river rapids for a week.

I still want to.

I'm no longer restricted against exercise. I'm also not restricted against the ice cream in my freezer. Most days the ice cream wins the battle for my affection. If I had a goal... a reason to exercise (other than feeling and looking better, which we all know is no incentive to begin an exercise program) maybe it would be easier to get out of bed an hour early.

Since MrG is not a camper and I suspect would not enjoy a trip through Grand Canyon rapids, maybe my adventurous in-laws would go with me. Rick? Robin? Hmm? This isn't the type of trip I'd want to take alone; and CheesePuff, though a wild thing, isn't old enough for something like this and by the time she would be, I'd probably be too old.

It's settled then. I'm going to get in shape and attempt to drag my in-laws on a trip with me that in reality, I probably don't want to take! LOL

Here's another place I'd love to visit:

Mesa Verde in Colorado. I'm completely fascinated by these cliff dwellings and the people who seem to have left them so abruptly. But this may be a blog for another day.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Wild One At It Again

I had a little chat with CheesePuff's teacher recently and it went something like this...

T: She has been awfully naughty.
me: Oh? (bracing myself for the impact)
T: She told me she had a headache and asked if she could see the school nurse.
me: ...
T: When I told her she could, she jumped out of her seat, yelled, "YEAH!" and danced out of the room.
me: *snirt* ahem. I'll talk to her about that 'truth' thing.

School is almost out. I'll give a little "yeah" myself. I have been warned all year that my dear Sweetums acts quite immature and to expect that she won't be passing the First grade. I found it quite difficult to expect her to do homework some nights when we had other appointments and things when I knew it mostly didn't matter. I know that's a terrible example to set for my child so I made her muddle through all the homework anyway. It wouldn't be so awful to make HER muddle through the homework, except that I have to muddle through it also. I'm pretty sure I went through all this once a long time ago... why do I have to learn this all AGAIN?!? Oops... that's right I'm teaching my child to be a better student than I was, right.

The school sent home a book to help her get ready for Grade 2. The school sent home a flyer about the library's summer reading program. It's summer. She's supposed to run and play OUTSIDE. Aren't schools getting the message that kids are too fat today from not getting enough exercise? Now they're supposed to spend beautiful summer days reading?
What? Rain days? Oh. Nevermind.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Ebay Jackpot

Mystery sheet auction for my husbands money
He slept with my sister now im giving his 15k away

Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.

Whoa Nelly! Just to clear up any confusion... NO this is not me selling MY husband's stuff. MrG and I are just fine, thankyouverymuch!