Saturday, October 28, 2017

Autumn Baking Problems

These hazelnut shortbread cookies do not look like acorns.
They are supposed to. I followed the recipe exactly. I'm not even going to link to it because it didn't work properly. I was able to salvage them by sandwiching the smaller ones with ganache, dipping them all in dark chocolate, and sprinkling them with fleur de sel. Like so:
They are crispy and light, but they aren't what I was going for. And they aren't acorns.

Today I tried again, using a linzer cookie recipe and adding in some hazelnut flour instead of almond flour. They're not dipped in chocolate yet they look like acorns?
Yes. And they taste fabulous.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Labor of Love

For the elderchild's birthday I wanted to make a cake out of my new book, Marbled, Swirled, and Layered which I had received from my sister. I gave the elderchild a choice of two recipes and the orange flavored Smith Island Cake was chosen. I've never made one before and, aside from it taking all morning, it wasn't too difficult.

First one has to make all the thin little layers. This would have gone faster if I had four 9-inch cake pans. Instead, I have two 9-inch cake pans and...two 8.5-inch cake pans. That would not do! So instead of baking four of the eight layers at once I had to bake two at a time and each baking and cooling cycle takes about 20 minutes. Also, the cake is a separated sponge so I used up basically every bowl and utensil I have, including the stand mixer.

The fudge frosting is basically ganache, and chills for an hour before frosting the cake. No crises occurred with the frosting part, thankfully.

Here's the finished cake, after we dug into it. It was perfect - not overly sweet, and the orange really stood out.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Cleaning Up

Yesterday I picked up the farm share; next week is the last week of the season. It was due to frost last night and out where they are it probably did. Consequently, they said we could take unlimited tomatillos and tomatoes. I brought home 1.5 gallons of plum tomatoes which are currently in the freezer waiting to become sauce. I also picked almost two pounds of tomatillos and a few more serrano peppers in order to make a last batch of salsa verde (4.5 cups). There was also a nice selection of winter squashes, rutabagas, radishes, fall greens, onions, potatoes, carrots, garlic, sweet potatoes, and cabbage. Out in the fields, in addition to the tomatoes and tomatillos there were raspberries, other hot peppers, parsley, cilantro, kale, and flowers. Some of the fields have already been plowed over. The other week I was pleased to see the Boston Area Gleaners were by to help harvest the fields before the produce became unusable. Really, this farm has something for everyone and I'm so glad to have been a participant in the CSA for nine seasons! I miss the fresh produce and the trips to the fields every winter and I look forward to the new season every spring. 

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

The End of the Fair

So, I did enter my apple pie in the fair, and it didn't win, or even place. I suppose when the pack of entrants numbers 21 one's own chances are rather diminished. I still had fun while I waited. My friend picked me up and we went for sushi and came back in time for her to wander around and then for me to get the results and the rest of my pie.

Yesterday I went up and picked up all my jars and my ribbons. This is the most ribbons I've won, it seems, since I started entering the fair in 2013. What I've noticed is that when I win something I haven't tried before, like the cupcakes, it's the most satisfying experience. I should branch out and enter more things like that in the future. However, I don't think I'll do the pie competitions again - trying to get up there on a weekday afternoon is almost impossible with the traffic. That's more stressful than the competition!

Anyway, fall is finally here with cool mornings, warm to almost-too-warm days, and chillier nights. It'll be time to get the fireplace ready soon, and there are only two more weeks to the farm share. In a short while it'll be cold enough to break out the flannel sheets and use all the shawls and throws we have around the house. While it wasn't a particularly hot summer I'm glad for the change in seasons. Time to think about cozy things, like soups, and sweaters, and getting ready for winter.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Apple Pie Season

After deliberating for a while I decided to enter the apple pie bake-off at the Fair. It's tomorrow and, since I do have to work, I needed to get it baked tonight. I made the crust last night and chilled it so it'd be the right texture today.

Once I had all the apples prepared I arranged them by hand onto the bottom crust. Then I made a lattice and a whole bunch of maple leaves and arranged them over the top. I had a lot of pie crust dough left over. Normally I'd make a tart, but this seemed like more than usual, so I pulled out my new pie plate and made a second pie. This one used canned pie filling that I'd made a week ago and then I made a quick crisp topping with butter, brown sugar, oats and flour.

We got to enjoy the second pie for dessert tonight and we'll see what the judges say about my pie tomorrow night!

Monday, October 2, 2017

Another Use for Roasted Beets

After making the beet and goat cheese tart, which was really tasty, by the way, I had a bunch of roasted golden beets left over. I knew there were chocolate cake recipes with red beets in them so I reasoned that there must be a cake recipe out there which uses golden beets. My reasoning was correct and I found this recipe for a Golden Beet Orange Cake.

So I made it. But since I didn't have any oranges, I used lemon juice and lemon extract instead. And it was very good. I brought the cake to work today, as I thought we were having a staff meeting. The meeting had been canceled so we just dove into it. When I first cut it, I took a couple of pieces, less than 1/4 of the cake, to some of my coworkers. I came back 10 minutes later to find only 1/4 of the entire cake was left! Everyone loved it and the beets made it moist. Will definitely have to do this again the next time I have golden beets from the farm.