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Tuesdays with Dorie: My Favorite Pecan Pie December 29, 2009

Filed under: Baking,Pie,Tuesdays With Dorie — pastrybrush @ 1:39 pm
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Last weeks Tuesdays with Dorie was brought to you by Beth of Someone’s in the Kitchen with Brina.  She chose Dorie’s Favorite Pecan Pie located on page 327 in Baking: From My Home to Yours. Okay, I love pecan pie.  I think it is just fantastic and I almost didn’t make this one because Mike doesn’t really like nuts and neither do members of his family.  I made Mike call his parents and ask if they like Pecan Pie.  His mom loves it and his dad doesn’t really like it but said that since there was chocolate in it he would give it a try.  So, I actually did make this recipe last week and took it over to his parents.

Sorry for the craptastic picture.  I was using my camera phone because I forgot to bring my real camera with me 🙂

It was still a little warm when we cut into it, and the pieces came out of the pie plate without too much struggle.  I ended up only having a small pie.  Mike and I really liked the addition of the cinnamon, but I think that I would back off on the chocolate next time.  There isn’t even that much chocolate in the recipe (3 oz), but I think I would like more pecan pie flavor then chocolate next time.  All in all I really like the recipe, but next time I might reduce the chocolate to 2 oz and give it a shot


The Daring Bakers’ Challenge: Gingerbread House December 27, 2009

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The December 2009 Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to you by Anna of Very Small Anna and Y of Lemonpi. They chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ everywhere to bake and assemble a gingerbread house from scratch. They chose recipes from Good Housekeeping and from The Great Scandinavian Baking Book as the challenge recipes.

I was very excited about this challenge because I have never made a gingerbread house before.  I knew exactly which kind of candy that I wanted to use for roof tiles and I knew that I wanted to incorporate a Tardis into the design 🙂  There was no way that I was going to make a Tardis Gingerbread house.  I decided that I would ask for a Tardis for Christmas and then put it in the front yard of the Gingerbread House to make it look like The Doctor was visiting for Christmas.  I made the house, and the Tardis never came.  Maybe next year The Doctor can visit for Christmas 🙂 (more…)


Merry Christmas!!!!! December 25, 2009

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To see the post on the making of the Gingerbread House go HERE 🙂


Daring Cooks Challenge: Chicken en Croute and The MIA Daring Bakers’ Challenge: Cannolis December 14, 2009

The 2009 Daring Cooks challenge was hosted by Simone of Junglefrog Cooking. Simone chose Salmon en Croute (or alternative recipes for Beef Wellington or Vegetable en Croute) from Good Food Online.

For this challenge I change up the recipe A LOT ended up subbing the chicken for the salmon, used only spinach, and subbed herb and garlic feta for the cream cheese.

Now you ask me why did you not use Salmon or making Beef Wellington.

Answer: Salmon and I have a bad history together….REALLY bad.  It goes back to an incident in my childhood and we just don’t get along.  Now, I have discovered over the past few years that I am completely fine with eating raw salmon at sushi places but once you cook it or smoke it, it is all over.  At one point in my life, I also worked in a seafood restaurant in the kitchen and would often have to cook my Nemesis Salmon and that didn’t bode well either.

Now, no Beef Wellington because I made it once and my husband said he really didn’t care for it.  But he fessed up later that he really doesn’t like things encased in pastry.  Then I had to remind him of the lamb and potato pies that we had in New Zealand, that he couldn’t get enough of 🙂

So, it came down to chicken, spinach, and herb/garlic feta because it was A LOT less expensive and I love the combination.  I ended up making a little packet for each of us and we actually enjoyed it a lot.  I used a small package of frozen spinach that I squeezed on the excess water, a small log of feta, and put it in a food processor and pulsed until combined.  Then I spread half of the spinach mixture on one piece of pastry and half on the other.  I laid one boneless-skinless chicken breast on top of the spinach mixture for each pastry, brushed egg whites on the edges of the pastry, and wrapped the dough around the chicken to seal it.  I cut a vent hole in the top of each pastry and baked it at 390°F for approximately 45-50 minutes.

Now…the MIA Daring Bakers’ Challenge for November 2009

The November 2009 Daring Bakers Challenge was chosen and hosted by Lisa Michele of Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drives. She chose the Italian Pastry, Cannolo (Cannoli is plural), using the cookbooks Lidia’s Italian-American Kitchen by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich and The Sopranos Family Cookbook by Allen Rucker; recipes by Michelle Scicolone, as ingredient/direction guides. She added her own modifications/changes, so the recipe is not 100% verbatim from either book.

Sorry it took me so long to actually make and post about this, but I told you that I would do it because come on…who in the right mind does not like a Cannoli.  I was so happy when this was chosen because it finally gave me a chance to use the Cannoli Forms that I bought over 3 years ago 🙂 These turned out fantastic and I really enjoyed making them.  Last but not least, they were very yummy.

Recipes for the above Challenges:

Salmon en croute:

Recipe source : Good Food online

Mascarpone or creamcheese 5.2 ounces/150 gr
Watercress, rocket (arugula) and spinach – 0.6 cup/4.2 ounces/120 gr
Shortcrust pastry – 17.6 ounces, 500 gr. Use a butterversion such as Jus-rol which is frozen or dorset pastry. or… make your own!
Salmon fillet (skinless)- 17.6 ounce/500 gr
egg – 1 medium sized

1.Heat the oven to 200°C/390 F. Put the mascarpone or cream cheese in a food processor with the watercress, spinach and rocket and whizz the lot until you have a creamy green puree. Season well.
2. Roll the pastry out so you can wrap the salmon in it completely (approx. 2-3 mm thick) and lay it on a buttered or oiled baking sheet (it will hang over the edges). Put the salmon in the middle. If it has a thinner tail end, tuck it under. Spoon half of the watercress mixture onto the salmon. Now fold the pastry over into a neat parcel (the join will be at the top, so trim the edge neatly), making sure you don’t have any thick lumps of pastry as these won’t cook through properly. Trim off any excess as you need to. Make 3 neat cuts in the pastry to allow steam to escape and make some decorations with the off-cuts to disguise the join if you like. Brush with the egg glaze.
3. Bake for 30 minutes or until the pastry is crisp and browned. To test wether the salmon is cooked, push a sharp knife through one of the cuts into the flesh, wait for 3 seconds then test it against the inside of your wrist; if it is hot, the salmon is cooked. Serve with the rest of the watercress puree as a sauce.

Shortcrust pastry
While this is not mandatory to do, I highly recommend making your own shortcrust pastry as it is very simple to do! As mentioned in the notes; please make sure to not add too much water as that is the key to having a successful shortcrust pastry. Watch this video to check the correct consistency of the dough Making shortcrust pastry

450 gr (15.8 ounces or 3.2 cups ) of plain all purpose flour
200 gr ( 7 ounce) cold butter
pinch of salt

Sift the flour into a large bowl, add the butter and rub in with your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. If you have a food processor you can use that as shown in the above video.
Stir in the salt, then add 2-3 tbsp of water and mix to a firm dough. Knead the dough briefly and gently on a floured surface. Wrap in cling film and chill while preparing the filling.

For best results make sure the butter is very cold.

Lidisano’s Cannoli
Makes 22-24 4-inch cannoli
Prep time:
Dough – 2 hours and 10-20 minutes, including resting time, and depending on whether you do it by hand or machine.
Filling – 5-10 minutes plus chilling time (about 2 hours or more)
Frying – 1-2 minutes per cannoli
Assemble – 20–30 minutes

2 cups (250 grams/8.82 ounces) all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons(28 grams/1 ounce) sugar
1 teaspoon (5 grams/0.06 ounces) unsweetened baking cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon (1.15 grams/0.04 ounces) ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon (approx. 3 grams/0.11 ounces) salt
3 tablespoons (42 grams/1.5 ounces) vegetable or olive oil
1 teaspoon (5 grams/0.18 ounces) white wine vinegar
Approximately 1/2 cup (approx. 59 grams/approx. 4 fluid ounces/approx. 125 ml) sweet Marsala or any white or red wine you have on hand
1 large egg, separated (you will need the egg white but not the yolk)
Vegetable or any neutral oil for frying – about 2 quarts (8 cups/approx. 2 litres)
1/2 cup (approx. 62 grams/2 ounces) toasted, chopped pistachio nuts, mini chocolate chips/grated chocolate and/or candied or plain zests, fruits etc.. for garnish
Confectioners’ sugar

2 lbs (approx. 3.5 cups/approx. 1 kg/32 ounces) ricotta cheese, drained
1 2/3 cups cup (160 grams/6 ounces) confectioner’s sugar, (more or less, depending on how sweet you want it), sifted
1/2 teaspoon (1.15 grams/0.04 ounces) ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon (4 grams/0.15 ounces) pure vanilla extract or the beans from one vanilla bean
3 tablespoons (approx. 28 grams/approx. 1 ounce) finely chopped good quality chocolate of your choice
2 tablespoons (12 grams/0.42 ounces) of finely chopped, candied orange peel, or the grated zest of one small to medium orange
3 tablespoons (23 grams/0.81 ounce) toasted, finely chopped pistachios

1. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer or food processor, combine the flour, sugar, cocoa, cinnamon, and salt. Stir in the oil, vinegar, and enough of the wine to make a soft dough. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and well blended, about 2 minutes. Shape the dough into a ball. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest in the fridge from 2 hours to overnight.

2 Cut the dough into two pieces. Keep the remaining dough covered while you work. Lightly flour a large cutting or pastry board and roll the dough until super thin, about 1/16 to 1/8” thick (An area of about 13 inches by 18 inches should give you that). Cut out 3 to 5-inch circles (3-inch – small/medium; 4-inch – medium/large; 5-inch;- large. Your choice). Roll the cut out circle into an oval, rolling it larger and thinner if it’s shrunk a little.

3 Oil the outside of the cannoli tubes (You only have to do this once, as the oil from the deep fry will keep them well, uhh, oiled..lol). Roll a dough oval from the long side (If square, position like a diamond, and place tube/form on the corner closest to you, then roll) around each tube/form and dab a little egg white on the dough where the edges overlap. (Avoid getting egg white on the tube, or the pastry will stick to it.) Press well to seal. Set aside to let the egg white seal dry a little.

4. In a deep heavy saucepan, pour enough oil to reach a depth of 3 inches, or if using an electric deep-fryer, follow the manufacturer’s directions. Heat the oil to 375°F (190 °C) on a deep fry thermometer, or until a small piece of the dough or bread cube placed in the oil sizzles and browns in 1 minute. Have ready a tray or sheet pan lined with paper towels or paper bags.

5. Carefully lower a few of the cannoli tubes into the hot oil. Do not crowd the pan. Fry the shells until golden, about 2 minutes, turning them so that they brown evenly.

8. Lift a cannoli tube with a wire skimmer or large slotted spoon, out of the oil. Using tongs, grasp the cannoli tube at one end. Very carefully remove the cannoli tube with the open sides straight up and down so that the oil flows back into the pan. Place the tube on paper towels or bags to drain. Repeat with the remaining tubes. While they are still hot, grasp the tubes with a potholder and pull the cannoli shells off the tubes with a pair of tongs, or with your hand protected by an oven mitt or towel. Let the shells cool completely on the paper towels. Place shells on cooling rack until ready to fill.

9. Repeat making and frying the shells with the remaining dough. If you are reusing the cannoli tubes, let them cool before wrapping them in the dough.

1. Line a strainer with cheesecloth. Place the ricotta in the strainer over a bowl, and cover with plastic wrap and a towel. Weight it down with a heavy can, and let the ricotta drain in the refrigerator for several hours to overnight.

2. In a bowl with electric mixer, beat ricotta until smooth and creamy. Beat in confectioner’s sugar, cinnamon, vanilla and blend until smooth. Transfer to another bowl and stir in chocolate, zest and nuts. Chill until firm.(The filling can be made up to 24 hours prior to filling the shells. Just cover and keep refrigerated).

1. When ready to serve..fill a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain or star tip, or a ziplock bag, with the ricotta cream. If using a ziplock bag, cut about 1/2 inch off one corner. Insert the tip in the cannoli shell and squeeze gently until the shell is half filled. Turn the shell and fill the other side. You can also use a teaspoon to do this, although it’s messier and will take longer.

2. Press or dip cannoli in chopped pistachios, grated chocolate/mini chocolate chips, candied fruit or zest into the cream at each end. Dust with confectioner’s sugar and/or drizzles of melted chocolate if desired.


Tuesdays With Dorie: Citrus Sablés December 8, 2009

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This weeks Tuesdays with Dorie is  brought to you by Barbara of Bungalow Barbara.  She chose Dorie’s Sablés which are located on pages 131-133 in Baking: From My Home to Yours.  Sablés are essentially a shortbread cookie.  For this recipe I decided to play around and use the zest of half of an orange and half of a lemon.  I figured since they already had half of their zest gone from last weeks Rosy Poached Pear and Pistachio Tart, that I should go ahead and use it 🙂

I rolled the Sablés in a mixture of red and green sugars, since I am currently out of plain white decorating sugar.  These little cookies are fantastic.  If I am not careful, I will eat them all.  I might have to make some more and include them in the cookies that I give to my family for Christmas.  More than likely I will be making the same cookies and adding a few more.  Here are the two posts I did last year: Part 1 and Part 2


Pictures from Thanksgiving December 2, 2009

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I didn’t take too many picture of the food at Thanksgiving.  I think that is because I pretty much made the same stuff I made last year 🙂  Well minus the corn pudding and potato-mushroom gratin.  We ended up having regular corn because some people just don’t understand the yumminess of corn pudding, and we had mashed potatoes.  Since I was actually cooking for 8 people this year, I had to cook some things that were familiar 🙂 I also didn’t want to stress myself out too much since we just moved into our new house 5 days before.  Imagine trying to get a house in order in 4 days and then make Thanksgiving.  It actually turned out pretty well.

Pumpkin Pie

Cherry Pie

Stuffing waiting to be finished

The guys on the porch waiting for dinner


Tuesdays With Dorie: Rosy Poached Pear and Pistachio Tart December 1, 2009

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This weeks Tuesdays with Dorie is brought to you by Lauren of I’ll Eat You.  She chose Dorie’s Rosy Poached Pear and Pistachio Tart, which is located on pages 370-371 in Baking: From My Home to Yours.  The picture of this tart in Dorie’s book is GORGEOUS!!!!  With everything going on I almost completely forgot to make it this week.  Lately, when everything has been going right something craps out with my car.  This time it was the driver’s side back window.  It decided to randomly start rolling itself down while we were driving down the freeway.

In the middle of getting the car fixed yesterday, I actually found time to make this tart.  I decided that since we still have half of a cherry pie and half of a pumpkin pie from Thanksgiving still in the fridge, that I was only going to make half a recipe.  I ended up making 4 small tarts.  I actually only used 1 poached pear for all four so I have 2 poached pears chilling in my fridge waiting to be devoured.  The tarts turned out beautiful.  The lighting outside was actually perfect so I took the tarts outside on the deck and took the pictures.  YAY for no rain today 🙂

I will be digging into these later today, so once I have tasted all the components together I will give everyone an update on the flavor 🙂