Archive for June, 2012

PB&J Cookies

Sunday, June 24th, 2012

My son and I came across this recipe in the San Francisco Chronicle for peanut butter and jelly cookies and we just had to try.  I’ve made the plain jelly filled at Christmas time, but this was a great marriage of a peanut butter cookie with the “jelly” filling that feels right all year round.  You know I have to be honest and healthy…so my “jelly” is actually  fruit spread.  But a pb&fs cookie just doesn’t have the same sound.

We waited to make these until the end of school (remember “nut free” rules) and brought some to share with friends at the beach after the last day of school.  They were a hit, even though they got a bit warm and melty in the sun.  There was a small stash at home which I enjoyed, one cookie per night with a glass of milk, for a few nights.  I think I enjoyed them even more than my kids.  Luckily no one ever asked, so I wasn’t obliged to share.

You can use the SF Chronicle recipe or simply make your favorite peanut butter cookie dough, roll into balls and press with a glass to flatten slightly.  Bake in a 350 degree oven for 6 minutes.  Remove from oven and gently press your thumb into cookie to make a dent.  Fill dent with jelly, jam or fruit spread (about 1/2 teaspoon).  Return cookies to oven and bake for additional 6 – 8 minutes or until cookies start to turn golden on edges.  Leave on baking sheet for 5 minutes then transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

 

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Sprinklebakes by Heather Baird – Cookbook Review (Dessert Porn)

Monday, June 18th, 2012

 

Did that get your attention?  The best way I can describe Sprinklebakes, Dessert Recipes to Inspire Your Inner Artist is dessert porn.  I am not kidding.  The cover is not exciting or sexy, but the images inside are beautiful and sinful and I can’t stop looking at the book.  These are all the beautiful things I wish I could make but don’t have the creativity, time or patience.  Although I am inspired and there are some approachable recipes and ones which I hope to build my confidence and venture deeper into Heather’s artistry.  Heather has a sprinkle bakes blog, but unfortunately I can’t get any of the photos to load, so you’ll have to visit another time.

In looking at some of these pictures such as hand painted cookies (literally Mehndi Hand Cookies), sugar sculptures (Dale Chihuly-Inspired Candy Bowls) and outrageous “mixed media” creations (Anatomical Heart Cake) I try to make myself feel better in knowing that the author was a painter before turning her creative skills to sweets.  Thus her artistry may never be mine.  However I can aspire and learn from her text and instructions on color theory, brush strokes, sculpture molds, candy making and more.   In the meantime I’ll practice on her more simple but delicious recipes for tart shells, pastry creams, cupcakes and candies.

 

Book Review

Pros: amazing photos, comprehensive dessert cookbook for many creative and tasty recipes, thorough instructions

Cons: some recipes may be intimidating and overwhelming for some while inspirational to others,  time consuming, some items require much planning and purchasing online

I used Heather’s tart crust and pastry cream recipes and combined them to make a wonderful berry fruit tart on Memorial Day.  See my photo below.  I liked that this was using her recipes to make my own creation because I didn’t have to compete with one of her images.  And it was a big hit for looks and taste.

So my kids asked me to make it again last weekend for a friend’s dinner party and it didn’t work as well.  I don’t blame the recipe, I blame myself.  It was one of those days when there’s too much to do and you try to squeeze in making a dessert.  Do you do that too?  Yes, I was a bit ambitious for the events of the day.  I wasn’t as patient with cooking the cream, so when I went to take it out of the refrigerator it had not set properly and was quite runny.  This of course I didn’t discover until I was going to assemble the tart 15 minutes before leaving for said friends’.  We ate it anyway.  That’s what friends are for.  Kind of a shortbread cookie with berries and cream.  Still tasty, but not as lovely as Memorial Day.

Here’s the tart crust recipe which is very versatile and I will use over and over with various fillings and fruits this summer.

TART CRUST page 89 from Sprinklebakes

YIELD: Approximately 2K cups, enough for 8 to 10 small apples, 20 crab apples, or ½ pound grapesor cherries

This tart crust is remarkably easy to make and comes out perfectly every time. It takes just a couple of spins in the food processor to have beautiful buttery pastry dough.

1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading

3 tablespoons sugar

K teaspoon salt

½  pound (1 stick) cold butter, cut into ¼ -inch cubes

1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

1 egg yolk

½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 tablespoon water

1. Generously grease a tart pan with vegeta­ble shortening.

2. Pulse the flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor until combined.

3. Add the butter and zest and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal with some small pea-size butter lumps.

4. Add the egg yolk, vanilla, and water and pulse until just incorporated and the dough begins to form large clumps.

5. Turn out the dough on a lightly floured surface and knead slightly. Gather the dough together and form into a ball. Flatten into a disc or rectangle, depending on what shape pan you are using.

6. Press the dough over the bottom and up the sides of the pan in an even layer with well-floured fingers. Chill the shell for 45 minutes.

7. Preheat the oven to 375°F.

8. Lightly prick the bottom of the shell many times with a fork, and bake until the sides are set and the edge is golden, about 20 minutes.

9. Cool the shell completely in the pan on a rack.

SUGGESTIONS FOR TART SHELL USE

Chocolate Tart: Fill the baked, cooled tart shell with cooled liquid chocolate ganache. Refrigerate until set and serve with fresh whipped cream and raspber­ries.

Lemon Blueberry Tart: Fill the baked, cooled tart shell with freshly made lemon curd. Refrigerate until set. Top with fresh blueberries and dust with confectioners’ sugar before serving.

Tropical Fruit Tart: Fill the baked, cooled tart shell with vanilla pastry cream. Top with slices of kiwi, pineapple, and mango and sprinkle with toasted coconut.

 

 

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Julia Child’s Vichyssoise – Cold or Hot, Simply Delicious

Thursday, June 7th, 2012

Culinary icon Julia Child would have turned 100 years old on August 15th of this year. To honor her, her publisher Knopf has launched the JC100:  a national campaign involving restaurants, chefs, bookstores, and bloggers, all celebrating Julia and her legacy. The goal is to raise one million voices in tribute to Julia.  Celebrity chef Thomas Keller, former restaurant critic of The New York TimesRuth Reichl, and food writer Amanda Hesser, has selected their most beloved 100 Julia Child recipes to be shared for people to map, eat, share and enjoy.

 

I was happy to be asked to participate, however then I saw the recipes. Many of her recipes do not fit my lifestyle of carpooling kids to and from activities and getting home at 6:30 pm. However I was pleased to see this week’s recipe for vichyssoise as it has few ingredients (most of which I already had on hand) and simple to prepare.  It was also a hot day so I thought cold soup and a salad would be a refreshing dinner.  However the vichyssoise was enjoyed hot and warm tonight, because my family couldn’t wait for it to properly chill.  Good to know it works all all temps right?  I will look forward to enjoying it chilled for lunch tomorrow.  It did make quite a large pot – so good for left-overs.

 

Here’s all you need.  Leeks, potatoes, cream (what Julia recipe doesn’t have it?), chicken stock/broth, chives and salt.

Then simmer broth and veggies…

Then mill or blend (I used a handheld blender – which was super easy)…

Voila, Vichyssoise.  Yum…

Check out the Facebook Page for the JC100 to see recipes and comments so far.

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