Category Archives: baking

Quiche Lorraine

I don’t do crust. I need to learn to do it though because really, homemade pie crust is so much better than anything store bought. That said, I present to you one of Saturday’s efforts. quiche lorraineYes, it’s quiche. How ’80s can I get? Well, I don’t care. I love quiche. Also I had a fair amount of the ingredients already.

I used Smitten Kitchen’s recipe. Only thing I did differently was sub out Canadian bacon for the ham. It came out quite well, but in retrospect I wish I’d made the effort to make my own pie crust. Maybe next time. Her recipe called for sour cream and it really did add a nice richness to the custard.

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For the win!

They say you shouldn’t try out new recipes for parties without a test run and normally I am a firm believer in that rule. But every so often I break it usually with lackluster results. Sometimes though, there are wondrous exceptions. Here is one of those exceptions: Jam Crostata

Doesn’t it look splendid? This would be the Italian Jam Crostata from Chow. This one has more of a shortbread like dough. Came together quite simply per the directions. There was one ambiguous direction — you halve the dough; take one half and press it to a plate, cover it with plastic;  and put it in the freezer, but it doesn’t say for how long. After some frantic internet searching, I went with 7-10 minutes and hoped for the best.

I probably shouldn’t have taken it out of the springform pan as I was taking it somewhere and travel became a bit interesting…

Tasted pretty awesome. I used some Wilton’s seedless raspberry jam. I didn’t use any mods to the recipe. Next time I may change up the proportions of the extracts to give the almond a bit more oomph.

Birthday Feast!

It was my mother’s birthday yesterday. My present to her was her favorite meal: homemade pasta and sauce.

So we have a green salad (courtesy of my mom), rosemary olive bread (more on that below), meatballs, pasta, tomato sauce and my go-t0 green beans with lemon zest and pine nuts.

Making pasta is one of those things looks harder than it is. Really when you come down to it, it’s more tedious to make than it is difficult. It’s worth the effort though. There is nothing quite like it. The meal came out well, I think.

I  really wish I did not have to use canned tomatoes for the sauce. They’re ok, but not the same as sauce from fresh.

So this summer I am determined to get a bushel of tomatoes from a farmer’s market and make and freeze sauce from scratch.

Anyhow, I am really really proud of the bread. 

I have made the Mark Bittman no-knead bread before, but I’ve always done the shortened version (the one that takes about 12 hours). This time, I went for the 24 hour version. Half whole wheat flour, half white. flour. I added in chopped, pitted oil cured olives and fresh rosemary. Coated the dough in olive oil and let rise for 18 -20 hours. This is the result (well there’s another rising in there, but you get the idea).

It was great to celebrate with friends and enjoy this meal.

And now, I think I am going to go enjoy some salad and a slice of this bread for my supper.

A little bowl of heaven

As a result of the recipe organizing project, I became reacquainted with the fish stew creation posted on Chicagoist.

I also decided to make a loaf of the No Knead Mark Bittman bread.

Feel free to drool…

So, this was my second time making the stew. I ended up using about a pound of Tilapia and a half pound of shrimp. On the advice of a friend, I opted to use some cilantro in lieu of the celery and a little bit of lime. I think I may have overdone it with the lime, but it was really quite wonderful.

The bread is apparently impossible to mess up because I thought the water I added was too warm and I was afraid I’d killed the yeast. No problems.  My kind of recipe.

Ginger snaps

Made these. Added a little cayenne to give them some kick. The flavor was perfect, but they weren’t crispy enough.

Pasta and my new go-to dessert

So I had the family over for my mother’s extremely belated birthday dinner. Per her request I made homemade pasta, which is not all that hard.

Fresh Pasta

3 cups sifted flour
1 tsp salt
4 eggs
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp water

Put the sifted flour and salt in the food processor and gradually add one egg at a time. Add the olive oil and water, and pulse until the mixture forms a dough. Wrap in plastic wrap and put in the fridge for at least an hour.

Cut the dough into four quarters which will make it easier to work with. Take one quarter and using flour to make it more pliable run it through the pasta machine until the dough is somewhat translucent and almost like a really soft piece of leather. Then use whatever die on the machine to form the pasta you want (mine only does spaghetti and linguine).

(If you don’t have a pasta machine, you can still do this. Roll out the dough by hand. You are still looking for the same qualities you’d get above. When you’re happy with the thickness, roll up the dough as you would a jellyroll. Slice into whatever thickness you want. Unroll and you have pasta!)

Cook in boiling salted water for about 3 minutes.

I served this with Giada DeLaurentiis’ Basic Marinara sauce and some sauteed zucchini and garlic, along with a salad.

But, reader, the dessert! A friend recommended making a pavlova, which involves a meringue shell that is then filled with whipped cream and fresh fruit. It is named after Anna Pavlova, the ballerina. Apparently it was created and served in her honor in New Zealand.

So here’s the recipe I used (I have got to get my hands on the Silver Palate Cookbook from whence this came).

The meringue came together quite well and I had high hopes when it came out of the oven.

Pavlova shell
Pavlova shell  from the oven

Getting it out of the springform pan was more of a task. I will be more liberal with the butter on the inside of the pan next time.

Pavlova unsprung

I’m afraid I’m not much of a decorator when it comes to desserts, but no one seemed to mind.

the Pavlova!

Everyone had seconds and thirds! So this one is a keeper.

Easy as pie

So I was at a lovely brunch my friend hosted (baked french toast and a caramel syrup–I so want that recipe) and she was looking for a dessert to bring to a gathering. Cookies aside, dessert is not my strong point. I have, however, a sinfully rich and easy sure-fire recipe adapted from Everyday Italian. I’m kind of over Giada DeLaurentiis. I like her recipes, but I am really tired of seeing how far down the neckline’s gonna go. The over-enunciation and the huge shark-like smile…over that too.

Personality aside, her recipes usually work out and I rather like this one.

Chocolate-nut tart

(original recipe here, my adaptation is below)

1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups peeled, chopped, and toasted nuts (pecans, walnuts, or hazelnuts)
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips (about 1 cup)
1 cup corn syrup
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 store bought pie crust (I prefer the kind that roll out)

Toast the nuts for about 10 minutes. Hazelnuts are called for in the original recipe, but they’re usually expensive and to be honest, I prefer pecans.

Preheat the oven to 325F.

Press the crust into either a tart pan or a pie pan. This is a really rich dessert so I prefer the tart pan as you end up with a shallower tart and also, it looks quite elegant. Cut off excess crust.

Melt the butter and allow to cool slightly (you do not want to make scrambled eggs here).  Beat the eggs.  Gradually add the sugar, melted butter, corn syrup, and vanilla. Mix the flour and salt together and add to the liquid mixture. Add the chocolate and the nuts. Stir well. Pour the mixture into the pie crust. Bake for 1 hour.

Cool the tart for at least 30 minutes before serving.