Sunday, February 12, 2017

Happy Birthday, Mom

So my Mom had a birthday and I decided I would make her a cake. It took three days, if you consider I made the cake and then froze it for a day until I could do the rest. One of my favorite cakes from school was a white genoise cake with strawberries and kirsch flavored mousseline. I decided to make it with a chocolate genoise instead. The genoise was easy. (I used half of the recipe in the text, and that made enough for one cake. Perfect.) The rest used every pot I had: kirsch flavored syrup to soak the cake, pastry cream and buttercream for the mousseline. Here's the sink when I was done with all that:
I then chilled the cake and yesterday morning removed the ring (using the torch) and then decorated the top with more berries and a little chocolate. Then glazed the berries using apricot glaze mixed with a little strawberry jam.

Mom was pleased. 
I also brought the last baguette to their house and made garlic bread with it for dinner. It was phenomenal.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Blizzard and Baking

The other day we had a blizzard, dropping about 15 inches of snow on our area. After spending a few hours at work (I went REALLY early so I could be done before the worst of the snow started) I tried a second time to make baguettes. This time, I used a recipe from one of my culinary school pals but I used the school method of folding the dough every hour to build up the air pockets. I was also much more careful about overproofing. I may, in fact, have underproofed slightly but that is less of a problem in this case.
My friend has a different method for folding the dough and I'm going to try that next time and compare. Instead of the dough being flat, it's kept round and then the sides are folded up and over like flower petals. It'll be interesting to compare.

Last night another friend came over and we had the bread with my homemade paté, some cheeses, and a really terrific artichoke spread she brought with her. The bread sliced easily and had some nice air pockets but didn't have quite the crumb I was looking for. This is why I want to try the other method and see what I get.

I have another project I've been working on, but I won't be done with that one until later today and then I'll see how it all looks....

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Valentine Linzer Cookies

With Valentine's Day coming up, I needed to make some cookies for the kids. Thankfully, shortbread-type cookies work just fine in my oven and that's exactly what Linzer cookies are. I made them without almond flour so they were just regular flour, butter, sugar and egg yolks. I cut my recipe into a third and that made 22 cookies. I suppose could have made them smaller, but these felt just right.

The filling is strawberry lavender jam from my stash. Half are being frozen for now and the other half can be eaten in the next few days. Yum!

Saturday, February 4, 2017

First Attempt

The other day I learned how to make azuki bean paste from a friend. I brought some home and, since the youngerchild loves bean buns, tried to make my own.

Let's just say, they looked nothing like the photos on the webpage. They were edible. That's the nicest thing I can say about them. I didn't take photos.

So, for future attempts:
  1. Don't make the dough circles too thin
  2. Mash up the bean paste more
  3. Don't overproof
  4. Put down some sort of parchment or rice paper on the steamer first
  5. Don't let them touch each other in the steamer
I'm sure there are more things I could do better, but this is a start. I think I had ONE out of sixteen that looked like it was supposed to.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Gooduckey Soup

Finally, I had all the ingredients amassed to make this soup! Usually it's turducken but this year we also had a goose, so I could play around a bit. Yesterday I made the turkey stock - two gallons of stock. Don't judge.

Here's the ingredients for this year's batch of poultry wonderfulness:

2 leeks, sliced
6 ribs celery, chopped
1 package each of portabella and shitake mushrooms, sliced
12 ounces oyster mushrooms, sliced
4 cups turkey meat
2 cups each duck meat and goose meat
1 cup wild rice
1/2 cup farro
4 quarts turkey stock
2 quarts duck stock
2 quarts goose stock
salt, pepper and tarragon to taste

Once the vegetables are sautéed, the meat and stock were added to the pot. This was brought to a boil and then simmered for at least 30 minutes. After that, the rice and farro were added and continued to simmer until done, about another 30 minutes. Super easy, as long as you have everything ready to go.

Now I have 14 pints of soup in the canner, and at least 3 more quarts in various containers in the fridge and the freezer. I can use the non-canned stuff for lunches at work over the next week and gradually start to dip into the canned ones later. 

Once these are done, I will can the rest of the turkey stock. Eight Nine(!) pints worth. 

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Year of the Rooster

Today is the Chinese New Year and a friend of ours was hosting a celebratory dinner/housewarming party. I wanted to make something at least remotely traditional and didn't have a lot of time. A quick Google search yielded various cookies and then I found a recipe for Chinese peanut candy. I've seen this stuff in Chinatown, little batons wrapped in plastic, always factory-made. I'd never even thought about making it from scratch. But it was so easy! The peanuts are roasted and then mixed with salt and five spice powder, then put on a baking sheet with sesame seeds and red pepper flakes. Then the sugar is cooked with water and a little vinegar for 16 minutes and poured over the top. When the sugar is poured, the candy is sprinkled with more sesame seeds and, after a few minutes, cut into pieces.

A few notes to self: the amount of the sugar wasn't enough, so while I doubled the recipe I should have tripled the sugar portion AND maybe use a little less of the red pepper flakes. It has a kick.

Another gift I brought for my friend was paté, made from a combination of chicken, duck and turkey livers. I'd saved a bunch of livers from all our various roast birds and ended up with 18 ounces of liver. That, when cooked with the shallots, garlic and duck fat, made two 12-oz loaves of paté. I made the paté a few days ago, using this recipe, and had frozen some of my share for later meals. I think my friend may do the same. Twelve ounces is a LOT of paté.

The other project for today was making turkey stock. I now have all the stocks I need to make Gooduckey soup, which I think I'll do tomorrow. I have a ton of turkey meat, some duck and some goose meat to go with all the stocks. I just want to pick up some more exotic mushrooms and then I'll have everything I need. I didn't can the turkey stock yet; I'll take what I need for the soup and then can the rest.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Snickerdoodles

Yesterday, I made a batch of snickerdoodles. They were so easy! But I used my #24 scoop, which was too much dough per cookie. It's my smallest scoop, and I thought I'd be OK. Not really. Some of the cookies ended up hexagonal because they ran into each other. I decided to try again.

Today's batch was a touch different. Rather than rolling them in cinnamon and sugar, I decided to use cardamom and sugar instead. Which meant, of course, that I needed to add some rosewater to the dough! I added a teaspoon of rosewater. Maybe not enough. It smelled great before baking but lost the rose flavor/scent after. The cardamom tasted great, though!