May 2010

Last Sunday was the last day to submit a recipe video for Paula Deen’s Real Women of Philadelphia Challenge, it also happened to be dessert week!

A friend of mine told me about this challenge a few weeks ago, but I hadn’t been able to participate because I was missing a key component; a video camera.

After a bit of persuasion and a touch of pouting, I was given the green light, and went out and bought a little flip HD camera, just in time to make a video for the very last round in the challenge.

Saturday morning I wrote out a quick script, rehearsed it a little, and then we shot the video. Sunday morning I worked on the editing.

Here’s how it went. I had a few clips that I needed to piece together, so I opened the video editing software, and had no idea where to start. I decided to search on-line for tutorials, after finding and watching a couple I was able to figure out the basics, well, kind of.

Honestly, I still had have no clue. After going through all that trouble I decided I was going to go forward and submit my badly edited video anyway.

I’m sure it won’t be picked but it was an interesting learning experience to say the least. If you are into self torture you can view the video (I’ve included the link to it below).

The recipe I chose is quick and easy to put together, it is also as tasty as it is rich.

Espresso Hazelnut Cheesecake Ice Cream

16 oz cream cheese
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup hazelnut spread

In a medium bowl combine the cream cheese, heavy cream, sugar, espresso powder, and vanilla extract.

Begin by beating on low until heavy cream has been incorporated, increase speed to medium-high and continue beating until cream cheese is smooth and creamy.

Transfer mixture to your ice cream maker and follow your manufacturer’s instructions.

Approximately 5 minutes before the ice cream is down microwave the hazelnut spread for about 50 seconds at 50% power until it has reached a pouring consistency.

Pour the hazelnut spread into the ice cream maker and as soon as it has swirled through you can turn it off.

Transfer ice cream to a resealable plastic container and freeze for at least 2 hours.

Espresso Hazelnut Cheesecake Ice Cream

Espresso Hazelnut Cheesecake Ice Cream

And, here’s my silly and very badly edited video submission to the Paula Dean’s Real Women of Philadelphia Cream Cheese Challenge.

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This month’s Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to us by Cat from Little Miss Cupcake.

I can’t tell you how excited and freaked out, I was when I logged into the The Daring Kitchen website to see what the Daring Bakers’ challenge was going to be for the month of May and found out it was going to be Croquembouche.

Some people find macarons intimidating… well, I found this challenge completely and utterly intimidating.

For starters up to this point I had never made Pâte à choux (Choux pastry) and the thought of having to make close to 100 profiteroles in order to create a decent size Croquembouche sent shivers down my spine.

Nonetheless, deep down inside (way deep…) I’ve always wanted to make one, and now thanks to Cat… the perfect opoortunity presented it self.

Croquembouche
Up to this point you might be asking yourself why in the world would the title of this post be Pièce Tombée (fallen piece) if the top most pictures look like it’s well put together?

So, I will try to explain my adventures in Croquembouche making using the Cliff Notes version.

  • Started making cream puffs about a week and a half ago
  • Stored them in freezer
  • Made coffee flavored pastry cream
  • Thawed puffs and filled them with pastry cream
  • Made Caramel Glaze and started putting together the Croquembouche
  • Took a couple of pictures Wednesday night ( the two you saw above)
  • Had plans to drizzle Croquembouche with a dark chocolate glaze and take final pictures for post the following morning
  • Thursday morning ran into pantry looking for chocolate, and realized I had none
  • The night before I went to the store and was going to pick some up; decided I shouldn’t because I was certain I had plenty at home
  • Dissapointed in my lack of memory I got ready, left for work and decided I would continue working on it once I got home
  • Once I got home, I was informed by my husband that when he got home he found a bunch of “those things from the dessert I was working on” on the floor


So there you have it… THE END.

PS: This isn’t the last of battle Croquembouche, you can bet there will be a rematch!

Just in case you want to attempt this little battle yourself below are a few recipes that you might find useful.

Oh, and if you are in need of a little Culinary challenge be sure and visit The Daring Kitchen for great cooking and/or baking adventures.

Pate a Choux (Yield: About 28)
from

¾ cup (175 ml.) water
6 Tbsp. (85 g.) unsalted butter
¼ Tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 cup (125 g.) all-purpose flour
4 large eggs

For Egg Wash: 1 egg and pinch of salt

Pre-heat oven to 425◦F/220◦C degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Preparing batter:
Combine water, butter, salt and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and stir occasionally. At boil, remove from heat and sift in the flour, stirring to combine completely.

Return to heat and cook, stirring constantly until the batter dries slightly and begins to pull away from the sides of the pan.

Eggs
Butter & Water
Pate Choux
Pate Choux
Transfer to a bowl and stir with a wooden spoon 1 minute to cool slightly. Add 1 egg. The batter will appear loose and shiny.

Pate Choux
Pate Choux
As you stir, the batter will become dry-looking like lightly buttered mashed potatoes. It is at this point that you will add in the next egg. Repeat until you have incorporated all the eggs.

Pate Choux

Pate Choux

Pate Choux

Piping:
Transfer batter to a pastry bag fitted with a large open tip (I piped directly from the bag opening without a tip). Pipe choux about 1 inch-part in the baking sheets. Choux should be about 1 inch high about 1 inch wide.
Using a clean finger dipped in hot water, gently press down on any tips that have formed on the top of choux when piping. You want them to retain their ball shape, but be smoothly curved on top.

Croquembouche

Bake the choux at 425◦F/220◦C degrees until well-puffed and turning lightly golden in color, about 10 minutes.Lower the temperature to 350◦F/180◦C degrees and continue baking until well-colored and dry, about 20 minutes more. Remove to a rack and cool.

Coffee Crème Patissiere (Half Batch)
1 cup (225 ml.) whole milk
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
6 Tbsp. (100 g.) sugar
1 large egg
2 large egg yolks
2 Tbsp. (30 g.) unsalted butter
1 Tsp. Vanilla
1 1/2 Tsp. instant espresso powder disolved in 1 1/2 Tsp. boiling water

Dissolve cornstarch in ¼ cup of milk. Combine the remaining milk with the sugar in a saucepan; bring to boil; remove from heat.

Beat the whole egg, then the yolks into the cornstarch mixture. Pour 1/3 of boiling milk into the egg mixture, whisking constantly so that the eggs do not begin to cook.

Return the remaining milk to boil. Pour in the hot egg mixture in a stream, continuing whisking.

Continue whisking (this is important – you do not want the eggs to solidify/cook) until the cream thickens and comes to a boil. Remove from heat and beat in the butter and vanilla and disolved instant espresso powder.

Pour cream into a stainless steel/ceramic bowl. Press plastic wrap firmly against the surface. Chill immediately and until ready to use.

Coffee Pastry Cream

Hard Caramel Glaze
1 cup (225 g.) sugar
½ teaspoon lemon juice

Combine sugar and lemon juice in a saucepan with a metal kitchen spoon stirring until the sugar resembles wet sand. Place on medium heat; heat without stirring until sugar starts to melt around the sides of the pan and the center begins to smoke. Begin to stir sugar. Continue heating, stirring occasionally until the sugar is a clear, amber color. Remove from heat immediately; place bottom of pan in ice water to stop the cooking. Use immediately.

Caramel Glaze

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I know it’s a little late, but better late than never right?

For Mother’s Day I thought it would be a great idea to drive into LA and visit The Getty Center, since no one in the family had been there before.

The Getty Center
Well, we didn’t get to the center until about 2pm and there was a bit of traffic, go figure. We were lucky enough to find a parking spot at the very bottom of the parking structure, seven stories underground, the further down we drove the more I prayed for no earthquakes.

In a way it was a good thing we ended up at the very bottom, the elevetor kept stopping on every floor on the way up but no one else could get on because it was completely full.

My Favorite Pieces
I really enjoyed the museum. You can just imagine how crowded it was, so we didn’t really take too much time admiring each piece. We definitely have plans to pay it a follow-up visit.

View
The boys and I stepped outside to enjoy the views of LA, Santa Monica, and of course LA traffic.

Eye Candy
We enjoyed a very yummy dinner at Samba in Universal City, to my surprise both mom and dad enjoyed a little eye candy. Not sure why but all of a sudden I got this really strong craving for Jarlesburg Grilled Cheese Sandwiches.

Dessert
After dinner we went exploring (dessert hunting) down City Walk, the boys felt like having donuts. Oh and don’t let that picture fool you, dessert sharing is a very rare event for those two.

My oldest and I chose to have ice cream… go figure.

Chocolate
After dessert we wondered into Mercado Chocolate, they have pretty much a little of everything, from the yummiest treats to the freakiest.

Crepes

And finally we arrive at the last photo taken that fine Sunday afternoon at the crepe shoppe (I can’t remember the name of the place), here we are just staring through the window as these very talented teens whip up perfect little crepes in a matter of minutes.

Now to today’s recipe, since I am no where near as talented as those teens were, nor have I yet to acquire a “proper” crepe pan. I bought my crepes pre-made, hence the “Quick” in the title. Who knows how many batches of crepe batter I would have had to go through to get 1 decent crepe.

Quick Berry Crepes

10 crepes
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup sliced strawberries
1 cup blackberries
powedered sugar & additional berries for garnish (optional)

Pour the heavy cream into a medium sized bowl, and whip to medium peaks.

Add the sugar and vanilla and continue beating until stiff peaks form.

Fold berries into the whipped cream carefully.

Place approximately half a cup of the whipped cream with berries down the center of each crepe, then roll up carefully.

Top with powdered sugar and a few berries.

Quick Berry Crepes

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Please don’t judge, to tell you the truth… and I’m almost embarresed to admit it. I had no idea nor had I heard of Donna Hay, until Mardi from Eat Live Travel Write invited me to participate in this event – Hay Hay it’s Donna Day (HHDD).

Isn’t it funny as soon as someone points something out to you, you seem to come across it more often then ever before? Like a coworker’s bad habbit, or tick. You just hear white noise until someone point it out, then unfortunately it’s there… for ever present.

So, like I said I haddn’t heard of Donna Hay until just a couple of days ago. Then, just this week I was at Barnes and Noble, I made a quick stop just to pick up my daily Americano fix.

As I was browsing through their endless magazine racks in the, what else? Culinary section I stumpled upon, yep you guessed it. A Doona Hay magazine, I did a double take once I saw it and I was about to pick it up and browse through it when I heard my coffee order was ready.

I was running late and didn’t have time to look through it. I do however intend to go back and take a quick gander, becuase now I’m just intrigued ‘cmon I hear she is the “Australian” Martha Stewart?!?!

Before we move on to the recipe I would like to quickly thank Denise of Chez Us for being our facilitator and for keeping the HHDD tradition going. – Feel free to invite me anytime dessert is involved! :)

Donna Hay's Blackberry Cheesecake Pots


Mardi picked a great dessert for us to share with you, it’s quick, it’s easy, it’s tasty, and… it’s perfect for summer. So enjoy!

Donna Hay’s Blackberry Cheesecake Pots
adapted from

Ingredients

250 grams cream cheese
1/4 cup (55g) caster (superfine) sugar
1/4 cup (60ml) heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
120 grams fresh blackberries, divided
8 biscotti, to serve

Method

In a small bowl whip the heavy cream with a whisk attachment. In a medium bowl combine the cream cheese, sugar, whipped cream and vanilla extrack beat with paddle attachment or regular beaters until smooth.

Donna Hay's Blackberry Cheesecake Pots
Donna Hay's Blackberry Cheesecake Pots
Add half (60 grams) of the fresh black berries to the bowl and beat on medium speed until just crushed.

Spoon into 4 x ½ cup-capacity (125ml) dishes and refrigerate for 1 hour or until firm.

Donna Hay's Blackberry Cheesecake Pots

Serve with the biscotti and the remaining (60 grams) of blackberries. Serves 4.

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Let’s take this cookie trail back a little shall we? Back to this past Wednesday, before I headed into the woods.

Camp Blogaway
While tweeting with my good foodie friend Rachael from La Fuji Mama, we decided we didn’t want to show up empty handed to Camp Blogaway (the Food Blogger conference we attended this weekend) then Greg from SippitySup asked Rachael if she was brining Macarons.

Since Rachael was “out of aged egg whites” (or, so she said…) she asked if I happened to have any. What are the odds right? Well in my case the odds are pretty high that I might just have some ready for a quick batch of macarons. So it was decided, Rachael would bring a batch of her Deaddly Chocolate Almond Toffee and I would bring a few Macarons.

Thursday night, I got home from work, had dinner and started making the Macaron shells. I decided I was going to make two flavors, Pistachio, and S’mores.

The cookie trail continues…

Friday morning I finished up the S’mores macarons and decided to make a quick batch of Chocolate Chip Cookies for the boys to enjoy while I was gone, then I quickly packed my bag, got my pillow and sleeping bag ready, and made my way up the mountain to Camp Blogaway.

Cookie Trail and More
While at camp we made sure we got enough exersise.

Take a hike
We lounged, chatted, laughed, smiled, acted silly, and even sang the Camp Blogaway theme song to the tune of Gilligan’s Island.

Smiling Foodies
We learned a lot from our fabulous guest speakers who had so much insightful information to share with us.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Camp Trail

Our fearless leader PR expert and fellow blogger Patti Londre from Worth the Whisk Spoke to us about the benefits of running our blog like a business and how to work with PR folks. Very, very, insightful!

It was truly a treat to have Barbara Gibbs Ostmann Award-winning journalist and co-author of The Recipe Writer’s Handbook speak to us on the topic of recipe writing essentials, copyright & attribution.

Denise Vivaldo gave a very funny and lively speach on Food Styling Tips and Tricks for Bloggers.

Art Ramirez gave two excellent presentations. One to help improve our photographing skills and the other on quick and easy Photoshop food fixes. – Priceless!

Danny Jauregui from Over The Hill and On A Roll and Food Bloggers Unite Wowed us with his SEO knowledge.

Casey Benedict from Tastestopping brough with her a lovely slide show of Food Porn at it’s best and worst, and not only that she also treated us to the most delicious S’mores, made with her famous Vanilla Marshmallows. YUM!

Just like at camp… a few bloggers were the recipients of some well deserved awards.

Camp Blogaway Award Recipients
Greg from SippitySup received the Camp Cheerleader award. Marla of Family Fresh Cooking received the “Best Overall Athlete” award. And last but certainly not least Rachael of La Fuji Mama received the “The Golden Pinecone” award. She’s so awesome she even shared her award with Jen from Savor the Thyme.

After awards were handed out, props were swapped and good-bye’s were said we each headed down the mountain.

Once I got home two days later to my surprise, there wasn’t a single chocolate chip cookie in sight. I did however find half a batch of brownies and a burnt pastry bag.

Note to self: Don’t use the oven to help dry pastry bags and then go out of town.

Chocolate Chip Cookies
adapted from Ad Hoc at Home by Thomas Keller

2 1/3 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
5 ounces semi-sweet mini chocolate chips
5 ounces milk chocolate chips
2 sticks of unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and place oven racks in the lower and upper thirds of the oven.

Line two baking sheets with Silpats or parchment paper.

In a medium size bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt.

In the bowl of an electric mixer cream the dark brown sugar, granulated sugar, and butter for approximately 5 minutes until light and fluffy. Scrape down if necessary, or if you have one of these you need not worry much about having to scrape down your bowl.

Add eggs one at a time mix until incorporated before adding the second, continue mixing until the second egg is well incorporated. Add the vanilla extract and mix until incorporated.

Add the dry ingredients and mix on low speed to combine. Mix in the chocolate chips.

With a spatula give the dough a quick mix by hand to ensure the chocolate has been well incorporated.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Trail into the woods
Using a tablespoon size ice cream scooper, scoop out cookie dough balls and place twelve on each sheet, this will yield close to 4 dozen cookies. Or, you can also double the cookies size (2 tablespoons of cookie dough per cookie).

Chocolate Chip Cookie Trail into the woods
Bake for 10-11 minutes rotating pans (top to bottom and front to back) half-way through.

Cool the cookies on the pans on cooling racks for about 2 minutes. Once they have firmed up, you can finish cooling them directly on the cooling racks.

Repeat with the remaining cookie dough.

These cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 days.

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