Sunday, September 28, 2008

Daring Baking! Lavash with Muhuramma

Apologies for the late posting of this month's challenge, I've been insanely busy! We had my cousin in town, then a friend, then we went to Boulder for the weekend and then this weekend I was in San Luis Obispo for a very fun bike ride in the fog. Not to mention spending every Monday and Tuesday at college and doing an online class in Nutrition, its all kept me on my toes!

The lavash were very tasty, although I'm smitten with the rosemary flatbread from gourmet, they are just so quick and easy that its hard to justify the extra time that these yeasty crackers took.

I always appreciate a new challenge in the kitchen though, and they were fun to make and very much appreciated by my savory inclined husband. They paired wonderfully with my new favourite dip, muhuramma. Please see my post for the recipe!

Thanks very much to shellyfish for the challenge. Please visit her website to see more about the challenge and the recipe. I'm sad I was too busy to try the gluten free recipe, but I'm sure you'll see many who did!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Sunflower Cake and Blogiversary!

Sunflower Cake
Originally uploaded by jennywenny

What better to celebrate a year of blogging, and my colleague, Agnes' Birthday than a delicious malted chocolate cake with pretty sunflowers on it. Its been a great year, I'm really glad I started this blog, I'm sometimes a little humbled by the 'real' bloggers out there, but I really see this as my little place to record my successes and faliures and track my progress as I learn more. I've definitely improved a lot with my presentation of food, and I think my classes have really improved my speed and confidence.

I followed the Chowhound website recipe to a tee, just changing the decoration to a sunflower design inspired by the cupcakes I recently made.

I'd say it made a delicious cake, really moist and flavorful and about 5 mins prep time! I didn't really care for the frosting so much-it seemed just greasy rather than tasty, but people seemed to enjoy that too. The malted powder in the frosting accounted for the rather avocado-like tint of the green under the sunflowers!

Please see chowhound for the recipe, I followed it to a tee

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Mille Fleurs-a new dessert place in Hillcrest!

After a fantastic dinner at Kous Kous, I was determined to try the new swanky dessert place that had cropped up on the corner of 5th and University. It looked really beautiful sparkling in the darkness.

I ordered a spiced jasmine tea and we had the opera cake and a layered chocolate mousse cake topped with white chocolate (sorry, cant remember the name. They were both impeccable, delicious and well worth the money.

The waiters were all very dressed up in their long aprons and ties, there appeared to be more staff than customers even on a busy Saturday night, but I guess their throughput is enough that they can make a go of it.

I think this is a great spot for an afternoon tea and cake, but it was a little on the bright side for evening dessert. We're also looking forward to when they get their liquor licence as a glass of dessert wine is always a nice finish to an evening!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Peanut butter cookies for Ricky

On my bike team, we had a really fun bloke called 'Ricky' who was in the military and was looking for something fun to do before he got shipped off to Iraq, so he joined our bike team and raised a ton of money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, rode his bike around Lake Tahoe, and was a wonderful cheerful influence on us all.

When I saw that someone was getting together a care package for Ricky, I jumped at the chance to bake some treats. I cruised around on the internet and found that just a regular recipe should work out, so I decided for something really traditional and homely. My first stop was Dorie Greenspan, she had the perfect peanut butter cookies. They came out great. I also decided on some big oatmeal raisin walnut cookies, as they are always so much better home cooked!

I hope he and his colleagues enjoy them!

I found these to be pretty sweet, I'd omit rolling in sugar unless you have a very sweet tooth.,

Peanut Butter Crisscrosses from Dorie Greenspan Baking from my home to yours.
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
pinch of nutmeg
2 sticks (8oz) butter
1 cup peanut butter (not natural)
1 cup light brown sugar
3/4 cup white sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups chopped peanuts

Sugar for rolling, if desired.

Preheat oven to 350f, line baking sheets with silpats/parchent

Beat the butter until soft, then add the peanut butter and sugars and beat until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating between additions.

Meanwhile, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg. Add to the wet ingredients and mix on slow until just combined. Add the peanuts and mix one more time.

Form tablespoons of batter into balls, roll in sugar and put on baking sheets. Use a fork to form the criss cross pattern, and flatten out, leaving 2 inches between the cookies.

Bake for around 12 minutes, rotating the cookies at the halfway point.

Cool on a cooling rack and then store in a cookie jar for 5 days or freeze for up to two months

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Fig tart with neufchatel and walnuts

I made a trip to the farmers market in Little Italy for the first time and they had some delicious figs which just begged to be made into a delicious tart. I searched for a nice recipe to showcase them, but didn't come up with anything. I didn't like the sound of marscapone, it is too rich for me, so I ended up adapting the cherry tart I've made may times.

I decided to lighten the recipe up and make it a little healthier by reducing the sugar and replacing the heavy cream with yogurt. This is by no means a low calorie recipe, but I decided the tart yogurt would counter the sweet figs much better for a well rounded and delicious dessert. I think I succeeded, we all had to go back for seconds!

Fig, Neufchatel and Walnut Tart adapted from Everyday food
12 Graham Crackers
1 cup toasted walnuts
2 oz/4 tbsp butter, melted
2 oz water
grated nutmeg
8 oz/1 pack neufchatel cream cheese
1/2 cup low fat yoghurt
2 tbsp honey
1/2 tsp vanilla
Around 10 Fresh figs, sliced

Preheat oven to 350f
Combine graham crackers and walnuts in food processor, pulse until they resemble fine breadcrumbs. Slowly pour in water and butter and pulse until mixed. Press into a flan tin and bake for 15 min. Cool.

Whip cream cheese, then add yoghurt, honey and walnuts. Pour over crust.

Arrange sliced figs, refridgerate for an hour or two to firm up then serve.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

A day of beer and sunshine!

Kit Carson
Originally uploaded by jennywenny

It was a fun day out in Escondido, we visiting the spectacular sculpture garden in Kit Carson Park, which was of course very hot, but there were spots of shade to stand and admire the beautiful details.

We then made our way over to the Stone Brewery where we had a nice lunch followed by a brewery tour. We had a great afternoon. The food was good, if a little pricey, the beer was good for the boys, I found it far too bitter, which worked well as I was the designated driver! We enjoyed some delicious buffalo burgers and some interesting tempeh burgers, I probably wouldn't bother with the tempeh again, but you win some you lose some!

The tour was completely free and a lot of fun, we learned about all the aspects of brewing and I was most interested in the yeast. I thought it would be really fun to try their yeast to make some bread, but apparently their yeast is proprietary so we weren't allowed to try it.

After the tour we were treated to tastes of any of the beer we wanted. I had a sip of the pale ale, but the boys really got their moneys worth by trying absolutely everything and were quite rowdy in the car on the way home!!

We continued the festivities by dropping off the car and checking out the new Toronado in North Park, which I liked, but our friend was disappointed it wasn't as grimy as the original in San Francisco.

The evening finished with a nice dinner at Urban Solace. The BLT went down particularly well. We ordered the red velvet cake and the peanut creme brulee. The creme brulee was surprisingly good, it sounded gross, but somehow the top seemed like peanut brittle and the chocolate at the bottom was tasty. The red velvet cake was dry but came with delicious cream cheese frosting which was interspersed with nutty cocoa nibs.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Spicy Red Pepper and Eggplant Confit with Rosemary Flatbread

Originally uploaded by jennywenny

Mmm. This was a delicious appetizer before we started grilling on Saturday. I had a nice juicy looking eggplant, and some tomatoes from my CSA box, and I had seen some delicious looking flatbread on Smitten Kitchen. A perfect combination!

This recipe can be adapted to whatever you have available, adding and subtracting as you please. I didn't use the whole amount of olive oil, I just drizzled some oil over the veggies and then roasted. I had ready roasted peppers, so I just chopped them and added in the last few minutes of cooking. Its interesting, my husband sampled the same dish in a restaurant the next day and it was too oily, so I'm happy I held back, for taste reasons as well as our health.

The rosemary flatbread was a perfect accompaniment in flavor and very convenient to cook together, I cooked the eggplant and fresh tomatoes for 30 mins, then increased the temperature of the oven to 450 and cooked the three flatbreads one at a time. These are totally delicious and addictive!

Spicy Red-Pepper and Eggplant Confit adapted from Gourmet, May 2006
1 eggplant, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
4 large garlic cloves, smashed
1lb 5oz fresh tomatoes coarsely chopped
Small jar of roasted red peppers
Olive oil to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon dried hot red-pepper flakes
Arrange the eggplant, garlic and tomatoes on a baking sheet, drizzle with oil, salt, pepper and pepper flakes and bake in a 400f oven for around 30 mins, stirring occasionally
Increase oven temp to 450 and cook for a further 20 mins, adding peppers for the last 5 mins.

Crisp Rosemary Flatbread
gourmet July 2008
Please see epicurious for this, I followed the recipe exactly and it was very quick and easy.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Sunshine for Skip and Denise

Originally uploaded by jennywenny
Yesterday I decided to finally open my 'Hello Cupcake' book and bring some sunshine into Skip and Denise's day. I'm so glad I did, these cakes are a lot easier to decorate than I thought, I'll be trying out lots of other ideas soon! I followed the instructions in the book to the tee, although I found that instead of fiddling around with a ziploc bag, I was better off using a proper wilton tip(352) and disposable bag.

A couple of weeks ago I was horrified to find out that Skip had fallen on a tricky descent at the cool breeze century bike ride. He severed his spinal cord and is paralysed from the waist down. I thought it would be nice to take him a treat at the hospital to share with his visitors. I tried to leave it at the front desk as they said they weren't quite ready, but they told me to come down and say 'Hi'. I cant believe how strong and positive he is, it really knocked me for 6 to see such a wonderful guy fighting so hard to get the best mobility he can. He's in a great facility, the Sharp Rehabilitation Center, and they are taking great care of him.