When in Doubt…Leave it at 350

baking, cooking, and other adventures

The Daring Bakers’ Challenge: Apple Strudel May 28, 2009

Filed under: Baking,The Daring Bakers' — pastrybrush @ 4:46 pm
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daring-bakersThe May Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Linda of make life sweeter! and Courtney of Coco Cooks. They chose Apple Strudel from the recipe book Kaffeehaus: Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Cafés of Vienna, Budapest and Prague by Rick Rodgers.

Yes, I know I am a day late.  But better late then never.

I don’t know why I kept putting off making this challenge.  I wrote it in my calendar to make it on my day off and I just flaked on it.  I guess the dough part is what was putting me off.  Funny thing is the dough was actually really easy to make and I didn’t have any trouble with anything. (more…)


Tuesdays with Dorie: Chipster-Topped Brownies May 26, 2009

Filed under: Baking,Cookies,Tuesdays With Dorie — pastrybrush @ 11:41 am
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tuesdayswithdorieThis weeks Tuesdays with Dorie was chosen by Beth of Supplicious.  She chose Dorie’s Chipster-Topped Brownies which is located on pages 94-95 in Baking: From My Home to Yours. Every time I read the title of the recipe I get so confused.  So when I saw that we were making these I actually had to pick up the cookbook just to see what it really was.


I have been calling these Chocolate Chip Cookie Topped Brownies, but I guess that title is too long so Dorie shortened it 🙂  Every time I thought about this recipe before I even made it all I thought was, “How am I suppose to spread the cookie dough over the brownie layer without it going BLAH.”  I figured I would pass that bridge when I came to it.  I was going to make this recipe on Saturday and when I started looking for all the ingredients I realized that I didn’t have butter. (more…)


Tuesdays With Dorie: Fresh Mango Bread May 19, 2009

Filed under: Baking,Muffins,Tuesdays With Dorie — pastrybrush @ 10:45 pm
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tuesdayswithdorieI am really sorry that I am posting this late on Tuesday, but life has been a little crazy and I have been extremely lazy 🙂  Hey, that rhymed.

This weeks Tuesdays with Dorie was chosen by Kelly of Baking with the Boys.  It is located on page 45 of Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours.  When I saw this recipe was listed the first thing I thought was, “I had no clue this was even in the book.”

Before I made the recipe I started looking through what some of the other members did and a few people added coconut and I thought that was a great idea.  I didn’t want to add too much because 100_2138some of my friends don’t really like the texture of it, so I only added 1/2 cup of sweetened shredded coconut.  I also reduced the amount of cinnamon and ginger since some individuals thought it took away from the mangos.  I think I ended up using 1 tsp ground ginger and 3/4 tsp cinnamon.  I also decided that muffins were the best option for these babies because it would photograph better and you could just grab one and walk out the door.  In an essence it is a convenience food for me 🙂  To make the muffins look prettier I sprinkled the tops GENEROUSLY with sugar 🙂

When they came out of the oven they were fantastic.  I had a small muffin warm and another one at room temperature and they were just as good.  I ended up making 6 giant muffins and 4 regular sized muffins.  The giant muffins baked for 35 minutes at 350°F, the last 15 minutes I covered them in foil so they wouldn’t brown too much.  The regular muffins baked for 20 minutes at 350°F.


The Daring Cooks Challenge: Zuni Ricotta Gnocchi May 16, 2009

Filed under: Main Courses,The Daring Cooks' — pastrybrush @ 12:08 am
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100_2133This months FIRST EVER Daring Cooks Challenge is brought to you by Lis and Ivonne!  They chose Zuni Ricotta Gnocchi fromThe Zuni Café Cookbook by Judy Rodgers.  When I saw this challenge I was very happy because I have made Gnocchi before; however, I have never made Ricotta Gnocchi.  It was actually pretty straight forward and easy to make.

I did have some problems: 1) I kept putting off making it so, 2) I am late 😦 , and 3) I experienced the dreaded busting of the gnocchi.  Which is a ritual all cooks like to preform to put them in an extra bad mood :/  So yeah, it happened.  Which really means too much moisture in the little guys.  When I finally got my little guys not to explode for joy, I made a lime cream sauce to go with them.

LIME!!! you ask.  Yeah, I ran out of lemons :/ So lime cream sauce it was and it actually turned out pretty good.  I garnished the gnocchi with chopped parsley.  The whole entire time I was tasting the gnocchi, I kept thinking CHEESE!!  They were yummy, but I couldn’t eat too many because the sauce made it a little rich.  So all in all, it wasn’t a complete disaster for the first ever Daring Cooks Challenge.

Below is the original recipe for this months challenge.  For the gnocchi flavorings, I actually used sage.  Enjoy 🙂

Zuni Ricotta Gnocchi

Source: From The Zuni Café Cookbook.

Yield: Makes 40 to 48 gnocchi (serves 4 to 6)

Prep time: Step 1 will take 24 hours. Steps 2 through 4 will take approximately 1 hour.

For the gnocchi:

1 pound (454 grams/16 ounces) fresh ricotta (2 cups)
2 large cold eggs, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon (1 ounce) unsalted butter
2 or 3 fresh sage leaves, or a few pinches of freshly grated nutmeg, or a few pinches of chopped lemon zest (all optional)
½ ounce Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated (about ¼ cup very lightly packed)
about ¼ teaspoon salt (a little more if using kosher salt)
all-purpose flour for forming the gnocchi

For the gnocchi sauce:

8 tablespoons (227 grams/1/4 pound/8 ounces) butter, sliced
2 teaspoons water

Step 1 (the day before you make the gnocchi): Preparing the ricotta.

If the ricotta is too wet, your gnocchi will not form properly. In her cookbook, Judy Rodgers recommends checking the ricotta’s wetness. To test the ricotta, take a teaspoon or so and place it on a paper towel. If you notice a very large ring of dampness forming around the ricotta after a minute or so, then the ricotta is too wet. To remove some of the moisture, line a sieve with cheesecloth or paper towels and place the ricotta in the sieve. Cover it and let it drain for at least 8 hours and up to 24 hours in the refrigerator. Alternatively, you can wrap the ricotta carefully in cheesecloth (2 layers) and suspend it in your refrigerator for 8 to 24 hours with a bowl underneath to catch the water that’s released. Either way, it’s recommended that you do this step the day before you plan on making the gnocchi.

Step 2 (the day you plan on eating the gnocchi): Making the gnocchi dough.

To make great gnocchi, the ricotta has to be fairly smooth. Place the drained ricotta in a large bowl and mash it as best as you can with a rubber spatula or a large spoon (it’s best to use a utensil with some flexibility here). As you mash the ricotta, if you noticed that you can still see curds, then press the ricotta through a strainer to smooth it out as much as possible.

Add the lightly beaten eggs to the mashed ricotta.

Melt the tablespoon of butter. As it melts, add in the sage if you’re using it. If not, just melt the butter and add it to the ricotta mixture.

Add in any flavoring that you’re using (i.e., nutmeg, lemon zest, etc.). If you’re not using any particular flavoring, that’s fine.

Add the Parmigiano-Reggiano and the salt.

Beat all the ingredients together very well. You should end up with a soft and fluffy batter with no streaks (everything should be mixed in very well).

Step 3: Forming the gnocchi.

Fill a small pot with water and bring to a boil. When it boils, salt the water generously and keep it at a simmer. You will use this water to test the first gnocchi that you make to ensure that it holds together and that your gnocchi batter isn’t too damp.

In a large, shallow baking dish or on a sheet pan, make a bed of all-purpose flour that’s ½ an inch deep.

With a spatula, scrape the ricotta mixture away from the sides of the bowl and form a large mass in the center of your bowl.

Using a tablespoon, scoop up about 2 to 3 teaspoons of batter and then holding the spoon at an angle, use your finger tip to gently push the ball of dough from the spoon into the bed of flour.

At this point you can either shake the dish or pan gently to ensure that the flour covers the gnocchi or use your fingers to very gently dust the gnocchi with flour. Gently pick up the gnocchi and cradle it in your hand rolling it to form it in an oval as best as you can, at no point should you squeeze it. What you’re looking for is an oval lump of sorts that’s dusted in flour and plump.

Gently place your gnocchi in the simmering water. It will sink and then bob to the top. From the time that it bobs to the surface, you want to cook the gnocchi until it’s just firm. This could take 3 to 5 minutes.

If your gnocchi begins to fall apart, this means that the ricotta cheese was probably still too wet. You can remedy this by beating a teaspoon of egg white into your gnocchi batter. If your gnocchi batter was fluffy but the sample comes out heavy, add a teaspoon of beaten egg to the batter and beat that in. Test a second gnocchi to ensure success.

Form the rest of your gnocchi. You can put 4 to 6 gnocchi in the bed of flour at a time. But don’t overcrowd your bed of flour or you may damage your gnocchi as you coat them.

Have a sheet pan ready to rest the formed gnocchi on. Line the sheet pan with wax or parchment paper and dust it with flour.

You can cook the gnocchi right away, however, Judy Rodgers recommends storing them in the refrigerator for an hour prior to cooking to allow them to firm up.

Step 4: Cooking the gnocchi.

Have a large skillet ready to go. Place the butter and water for the sauce in the skillet and set aside.

In the largest pan or pot that you have (make sure it’s wide), bring at least 2 quarts of water to a boil (you can use as much as 3 quarts of water if your pot permits). You need a wide pot or pan so that your gnocchi won’t bump into each other and damage each other.

Once the water is boiling, salt it generously.

Drop the gnocchi into the water one by one. Once they float to the top, cook them for 3 to 5 minutes (as in the case with the test gnocchi).

When the gnocchi float to the top, you can start your sauce while you wait for them to finish cooking.

Place the skillet over medium heat and melt the butter. Swirl it gently a few times as it melts. As soon as it melts and is incorporated with the water, turn off the heat. Your gnocchi should be cooked by now.

With a slotted spoon, remove the gnocchi from the boiling water and gently drop into the butter sauce. Carefully roll in the sauce until coated. Serve immediately.


Tuesdays With Dorie: Tartest Lemon Tart May 12, 2009

Filed under: Baking,Tarts,Tuesdays With Dorie — pastrybrush @ 1:50 pm
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tuesdayswithdorieThis weeks Tuesdays with Dorie was chosen by Babette of Babette Feasts. She chose Dorie’s Tartest Lemon Tart which is located on page 336 in Baking: From My Home to Yours.  Like every other recipe the past few weeks, I scaled this one down to make a third of the recipe.  It would have made 3 tarts but I only decided to make two. (more…)


Cinco de Mayo – 2 days late May 7, 2009

I was actually unable to celebrate Cinco de Mayo this year because I was working that night 😦

For the past couple of years I have celebrated Cinco de Mayo by making Chicken Tortilla Soup, Refried Beans, Mexican Rice, and Homemade Tortillas.  This year I celebrated it on the 6th and made a completely different assortment of food.  Well, except for the tortillas.  I can’t stand store bought, so I always cave and make my own. (more…)


To Dad

Filed under: Uncategorized — pastrybrush @ 1:06 am

100_2090 and I love you 🙂