Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Sunday, October 28, 2007
So what do you call this cute cake and custard and chocolate sauce combo? Why a Bostini Cream Pie or course. It’s another fabulous Daring Bakers recipe, chosen for October by the lovely Mary of Alpineberry.
Now that you’ve got the picture, so to speak, you can go to her blog for the whole recipe here or go to the bottom of this post. Be sure to check out the delightful, diligent, and sometimes dangerous Daring Bakers at their various blogs all over the world…just go to the Daring Baker blogroll and have fun!
Thanks to Mary for a wonderful recipe. It goes together easily (once you have all those eggs) and is a delight to eat. I used Meyer lemon for my citrus and found that with that intense chocolate sauce that any citrus will be fine since it becomes a backnote with the chocolate the most prominent flavor and the wonderful combination of texture being the star.
Bostini Cream Pie
(from Donna Scala & Kurtis Baguley of Bistro Don Giovanni and Scala's Bistro)
Daring Bakers Challenge #12: October 2007
Host: Mary (Alpineberry)
Post Date: Monday, October 29
Serving Size: 8 Generous Sevings
3/4 cup whole milk
2 3/4 tablespoons cornstarch
1 whole egg, beaten
9 egg yolks, beaten
3 3/4 cups heavy whipping cream
1/2 vanilla bean (EDITED:vanilla extract is okay)
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 cups cake flour
3/4 cup superfine sugar
1 1/3 teaspoons baking powder
1/3 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup canola oil
1/3 cup beaten egg yolks (3 to 4 yolks)
3/4 cup fresh orange juice
1 1/2 tablespoons grated orange zest
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup egg whites (about 8 large)
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
8 ounces semi or bittersweet chocolate
8 ounces unsalted butter
To prepare the custard:
Combine the milk and cornstarch in a bowl; blend until smooth. Whisk in the whole egg and yolks, beating until smooth. Combine the cream, vanilla bean and sugar in a saucepan and carefully bring to a boil. When the mixture just boils, whisk a ladleful into the egg mixture to temper it, then whisk this back into the cream mixture. Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Strain the custard and pour into 8 large custard cups. Refrigerate to chill.
To prepare the chiffon cakes:
Preheat the oven to 325°F. Spray 8 molds with nonstick cooking spray. You may use 7-ounce custard cups, ovenproof wide mugs or even large foil cups. Whatever you use should be the same size as the custard cups.Sift the cake flour, sugar, baking powder and salt into a large bowl. Add the oil, egg yolks, orange juice, zest and vanilla. Stir until smooth, but do not overbeat.Beat the egg whites until frothy. Add the cream of tartar and beat until soft peaks form. Gently fold the beaten whites into the orange batter. Fill the sprayed molds nearly to the top with the batter.Bake approximately 25 minutes, until the cakes bounce back when lightly pressed with your fingertip. Do not overbake. Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack. When completely cool, remove the cakes from the molds. Cover the cakes to keep them moist.
To prepare the glaze:
Chop the chocolate into small pieces. Place the butter in a saucepan and heat until it is just about to bubble. Remove from the heat; add the chocolate and stir to melt. Pour through a strainer and keep warm.
Cut a thin slice from the top of each cake to create a flat surface. Place a cake flat-side down on top of each custard. Cover the tops with warm chocolate glaze. Serve immediately.
Saturday, October 27, 2007
So now that it is fall, the Gravensteins have come and gone, but there are still lots of apples being harvested. Above is a truck that was picking up wooden boxes filled with fresh apples one morning this week. I passed it on the way to work.
Some apples are processed into apple juice, apple sauce, and used for apple cider vinegar. Others go into pies and fresh apples from local farms are sold at local grocery stores and farm stands for eating out of hand and for baking. When was the last time that you made something with fresh apples? Apple pie is a classic, but a baked apple, stuffed with some nuts, raisins, and brown sugar is really easy and tasty. If you bake it in the microwave, you can have it ready to eat in minutes.
If you are going to make a pie or chop up apples for a Waldorf salad or other apple dishes, you need to removed the core.
How to easily core an apple
There are lots of different ways to peel an apple, including using one of those appliances you can find at a good hardware store. I often leave the skin on when I cook and bake with apples because I like the skin and more of the nutrients are retained that way. Before you core the apple, you should peel the apple, (if you are going to remove the peel).
There are also lots of ways to remove the core and stem and blossom end from an apple. The one that I like, because it is quick and easy, is to cut the apple in half through the stem and blossom ends. Take a melon baler tool – it has a handle and on each end are metal half balls, usually in two sizes – and choose the end that seems the right size for your apple. Use the half ball to scoop the core out. Then use a paring knife to cut a small triangle piece out at the stem and blossom end.
Done! Ready for slicing or cutting for whatever recipe you are using.
Monday, October 22, 2007
Sunday, October 21, 2007
Yesterday was the first nice day we have had in about a week. The sun came out, the trees were wearing the myriad shades of red and gold of autumn, and I met for lunch with Anna of Anna's Cool Finds. Anna writes the best restaurant reviews of lots of places in Marin County, so it is always a little daunting to write a review of a place where we have lunched together. She is also looking really good...due in part, no doubt, to her adherence to the South Beach Diet. Way to go Anna! No photos yet since she is getting better and better looking each time I see her, so the best is surely yet to come. She is also a super nice person and good conversationalist. I'll admit that we talked about a lot of things besides the food.
Anna had the same soup and salad combo, but she chose a savory herbed clam chowder to go with her salad. They had other salads to choose from but, as you can see from the photo, this one was really a great choice. The dressing was light, the cheese pungent, the grapes very seasonal, and those nuts were just a little spicy and nicely crunchy.
As I had suspected, the tomato soup had a full, deep tomato flavor, plus a nice complexity from basil and garlic. The texture was velvety and light, but not watery. On top there was a chiffonade of basil which added a good basil punch, and a few herbed croutons that added a nice crunch.
Although they had a nice array of dessert offerings, we both found that the salad and soup were enough for lunch. The service was good and the restaurant itself was airy and bright, if a bit noisy from the nearby large group which were giving sports team awards to some delightful kids.
If you find yourself in Sonoma, CA, the town, do try the Red Grape Restaurant, just off the square. Next time I'm going to try the pizza...I'll let you know how it is.The Red Grape Restaurant
529 First Street West
Sonoma, CA 95476
Open daily for lunch and dinner from 11:30 am
Friday, October 19, 2007
and an open-faced hot turkey sandwich with stuffing and mashed potatoes and gravy (call in the carb police!) last night.
If I had roasted a turkey myself for that meal I might be eating a grilled turkey sandwich for lunch tomorrow, turkey a' la king with rice for dinner, and some turkey rice soup by Monday. To change the flavors a bit, I could make spaghetti sauce with true Italian flavors with ground turkey, or make teriyaki meatballs for an Asian dinner, also with ground turkey. There is also the joy of a turkey pastrami sandwich on rye....I could go on and on.
One of the reasons that I can have turkey so often is that a local family, the Benedettis, grow turkeys commercially locally and have a Willie Bird's retail store about a 10 minute drive away. There they sell fresh turkey products from a refrigerated case, to order, but there are also packs of frozen turkey products, usually at a lower price than a similar item can be found in the grocery stores. They also make great sandwiches to go.
Those turkey apple sausages came from the freezer case. We are trying to empty the freezer and fridge in preparation for tenting the house for termites (termites just LOVE Sonoma County), so these sausages joined some frozen green beans, some apples off the tree, and some red potatoes from the pantry for a warm and cozy dinner on a wet and gray evening.
The wonderful turkey dinner with all those carbs can be found, year 'round, at Willie Bird's Restaurant in Santa Rosa. It is almost a throwback to the 50's or 60's restaurant with booths, those little wrapped butter pats brought with the bread basket, and they even have liver on the menu for dinner...and it's very nicely cooked liver, the way you wish Mom used to make it.
Since it is that time of year, you can also pre-order a fresh turkey for Thanksgiving, although the lines to pick up the bird can be a dozen or so people sometimes. Still, a fresh turkey is superior to my taste to a frozen turkey, and it supports local agriculture.
Turkey Apple Sausages with Potatoes and Apples
This is a classic flavor combination
1 pound sausage in casings - turkey apple is a favorite - Willie Bird's if you can get it
1 tablespoon grapeseed or safflower oil
1 1/2 pounds red potatoes, scrubbed, halved, and sliced in 1/4 inch slices
1-2 tablespoons grapeseed or safflower oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon butter
4 medium apples, halved, cored, and sliced in 1/4 inch slices
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
In a cast iron skillet, heat the oil until hot and saute' the sausages, turning to brown all sides. Remove sausages to a microwave safe plate and keep covered.
Meanwhile put the potatoe slices in a medium saucepan and add water to barely cover. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until potatoes are tender when pierced. Drain the potatoes, then add them to the cast iron skillet once the sausages are removed. Add the additional oil and saute' the potatoes, turning over a few times with a spatula to allow more sides to brown. When browned to desired amount, season with salt and pepper to taste, keep warm, covered.
While potatoes are boiling and sausages are cooking, place the butter in a small cast iron skillet, put the skillet over low heat until the butter melts. Add the apple slices and turn and stir them until the slices have been slicked with the butter. Add the water and sprinkle with the sugar and cinnamon, then stir the apple slices again the distribute the spice over all the slices. Raise the heat to medium-high and saute' the apples for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until apples are tender and a bit carmelized. Add a little more water if needed to keep them from burning.
Take the microwave plate of sausages and cover, leaving a vent for steam to escape. Microwave on 1/2 power, a minute at a time, until cooked through but still tender. If you poke the sausage, it will be resistant when it is done.
Place the sausages, potatoes and apples on a serving platter and serve warm, at once. This meal is good with steamed green beans or a green salad with a light dressing.
Willie Bird's Restaurant
1150 Santa Rosa Avenue
Santa Rosa, CA 95404
If you phone the Restaurant, they can give you information for the retail store.
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Recently I had three colors of tomatoes: green zebra, yellow pear, and red costolluto. I cut them into chunks, made a fresh sauce, and then stirred in tri-colored tortellini that had been cooked al dente. With some fresh Parmesan cheese grated over, it made a wonderful side dish for the local salmon that Sweetie had grilled. Some lightly steamed green beans filled out the plate.
1/2 medium onion, chopped
Monday, October 15, 2007
Bake another 25 to 30 minutes until the crunch topping is golden brown and crunchy.
Tuesday, October 09, 2007
In Charlottesville we ate at an Himalayan restaurant and had the buffet. Since we were talking up a storm with Sweetie's sis and John, I completely forgot to take any photos, but the food was good and lots of it very spicy. Does anyone have a recipe for a soupy rice pudding flavored with coconut, probably an Indian recipe? I would love to have it if you do...Sweetie really enjoyed that dessert.
On the last day before we flew home, we wanted to find a little something to take home to the dear friends who were taking care of our animals. A Penzey's spice store had just opened up 3 weeks before our visit...how handy is that?...so we bought a variety of small containers of cinnamon at Penzey's. They have sample to sniff or taste. The sniff I took of the double vanilla extract was enough to convince me that I need to mail order some, plus some vanilla bean. Didn't want to take them home on the plane, but Penzey's has a great catalog.
Saturday, October 06, 2007
Sweetie and I had eaten lunch there the previous day since it was across the street from the hardware store that had a tile drill bit. We had enjoyed it so much that we suggested it for dinner.
A secret food craving of mine is pulled pork...the kind that has been cooked over hickory wood and is moist and tender and somewhat stringy since it has been cooked long enough that it can be pulled right off the bone and then pulled apart into chunks. Imagine my delight when I discovered pulled pork on the menu of this bright and inviting cafe'. The best usually comes from North Carolina, but The Stray Cat Cafe served a mighty fine pulled pork sandwich which I had at lunch. That was pulled pork #1.
In addition to all this meaty goodness, on Saturday after that dinner, we had the birthday cake and birthday pie. I had made a peach shortcake, shown here with candles and peach slices on top, while sister #2 (daughter #3) came up from Maryland and she made a blast from the past...a Chocolate Rum Marble Pie from the Woman's Day Encyclopedia of Cookery. Since the cake was mostly a box of yellow cake mix, fresh sliced peaches, and whipped cream, the recipe will be for that wonderful, rich, creamy pie.
The photo does not do justice to sister #2's creation. It was super yummy! Can you guess which # daughter I am?
Marbled Chocolate Rum Pie
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
1 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, separated
1 cup milk
1/4 cup rum
12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup heavy cream
Standard pastry for one-crust 9-inch pie, baked
In top part of double boiler mix gelatin, 1/4 cup sugar, and the salt. Beat in egg yolks, milk, and rum. Cook over boiling water, stirring constantly, until slightly thickened. Remove from heat and stir in chocolate until thoroughly blended. Chill until thickened but not set.
Beat egg whites until they are foamy. Gradually add 1/2 cup sugar and beat until very stiff. Fold into the chocolate mixture.
Whip cream with remaining 1/4 cup sugar and vanilla until stiff.
Alternate the two mixtures in cold pie shell. Swirl with spoon. Chill until firm.
Makes 6-8 servings.
Note from sister #2: When I saw that it made "only" 6-8 servings, I thought, "Oh, well,
we'll just have really small pieces, or maybe some people won't want
some." But at Mom's when I cut it in 12 pieces, I thought they were
pretty reasonably sized pieces, for as rich as this pie is.
I'm glad you're home safe and sound. That was a fun party, wasn't it?
Friday, October 05, 2007
Mom used a boxed mix to make the lemon bars we gave to the plumbing supply guy (see below), but here is a recipe from The San Francisco Chronicle Cookbook for Zesty Lemon Bars that are very similar, but probably better since there is fresh lemon juice and zest in this recipe:
Zesty Lemon Bars
1 cup all-purpose flour
11/4 cup powdered sugar
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, chilled
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup sugar
½ teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
3 tablespoons powdered sugar
Adjust the rack in the lower third of the oven; preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Grease a 9-inch square baking pan.
Crust: Briefly blend the flour and sugar in a medium bowl to combine. Cut in the butter until the mixture resembles oatmeal. Using your fingertips, press the mixture into the bottom of the pan.
Bake for 15 minutes, or until pale gold.
Filling: Briefly blend the flour, sugar and baking powder to combine. Blend the eggs, lemon juice and lemon zest in a medium bowl. Add the dry ingredients and blend until thoroughly combined.
Pour the filling over partially baked crust and bake 25 minutes. Cool. Sprinkle powdered sugar over top and cut into bars.
Yields 18 bars
The poor blog has been neglected of late. The reason is that Sweetie and I flew back to ‘Old Virginny’ for a combination of work and play vacation.
When you return to places from your childhood it is not uncommon for rooms and yards and playgrounds that once seemed huge to now seem very small and you wonder at your memories.
I returned last week to the house in Northern Virginia where I grew up. The back yard did seem smaller, perhaps because the maple trees are now huge, but the bathroom really is small and looked about the same.
Since it is so small, it was a challenge to find a new sink to replace the old wall hung one that had become cracked over time. The bracket it was hanging on was also rusted and had broken apart at the end closest to the bathtub. Fortunately, my Mom chose a beautiful pedestal sink with nice clean lines at a home store way out Route 66.
Unfortunately, Sweetie and I discovered that installing such a sink was more difficult for us than installing a sink with cabinet combo. For one thing, you are working in a very tight space and trying to tighten up pipes with that dang pedestal surrounding them on three sides. For another thing, we didn’t have all of our usual tools, so we spent a lot of time rounding up tools in the basement and purchasing more.
Then we turned off the water to remove the old sink
and to put in new quarter turn angle stop valves for the water supply lines for the sink,
but the return of water pressure afterwards seemed to loosen up some grit and gravel from the water lines, so the flush mechanism of the toilet was damaged, so that had to be replaced, too.
Good thing that there was another bathroom downstairs. For the first 15 years I lived there we all shared one bathroom…and eventually “we” was 10 people. Now you know why I’m so good at sharing and time management!
By the third day the folks at Brown’s Hardware
knew us very well since we were in and out of there too many times to count. And just think, the entire project was done during an Indian summer bout of heat and humidity…reminding me yet again why I don’t live there year round.
We also established a relationship with a local plumbing supply store where this guy was very helpful with tools. A gift of some of Mom’s homemade lemon bars when we finished seemed a fitting thank you for such trust and generosity to strangers. He also supplied us, finally, with the proper gasket to stop the leaking that should not have been happening with all new pipes.
Mom was truly grateful and I knew that if we had not done the work that she would probably have waited until the old sink fell off the wall before she replaced it, so it felt good to get the job done.