Category Archives: bread

culinary capers – raspberries, pt 1 of 2

An old friend of mine recently came up with the idea of starting a little group for folks who enjoy cooking… the process of creating something amazing in the kitchen… playing around with ingredients… and of presenting them beautifully. He threw the idea at me one day and we kicked around some ideas… and a few days later, the culinary capers were born.

We’ll pick one ingredient every week and group members will create and cook a recipe featuring that ingredient. Fun stuff (and a great way to get back into the swing of blogging)!

First ingredient… RASPBERRIES!

I had a hard time narrowing down all of my options this week… I blame too much time spent on the internet considering all of the possibilities. So, I settled on three recipes. That’s right. Three. I’ll share two today and another tomorrow (after I make it!). Enjoy!

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First up… Raspberry Baked Brie. I adore baked brie. Creamy and warm in a flaky crust… perfection. Rather than make a huge one for just the two of us, I went with a mini for my husband and I to split. Three ingredients and thirty or so minutes later, we had an amazing, warm little appetizer to enjoy with crisp apple slices. Mmmm….

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Next… the perfect welcome to Autumn (which seems to have finally arrived this week)… and just the thing for chasing away the chill of a very rainy day… Grilled Cheddar, Raspberry and Apple sandwiches. Crunchy, tangy, savory and just a little sweet all at once – these sandwiches were pretty amazing. The savory raspberry sauce is the perfect complement to the sharp cheese and the sourdough.

Raspberry Baked Brie
(serves 2)
1/3 of one sheet of puff pastry dough, thawed
1.5 tablespoons of seedless raspberry jam
1 ounce of brie (I used a wedge of Wee Brie)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Place puff pastry dough on parchment-lined baking sheet. Drop jam into the center of the dough and place brie on top of the jam. Gather corners and seal  the dough around the filling completely.

Invert the dough-wrapped brie on the baking sheet and bake for 25-30 minutes until puff pastry is golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 10-15 minutes. Serve with apple wedges and/or crackers.

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Grilled Cheddar, Raspberry and Apple Sandwiches
(serves 2 – adapted from food.com
1 cup fresh raspberries
1 tablespoon raspberry jam
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
5 ounces white cheddar cheese, sliced
1 granny smith apple, cored and thinly sliced
4 slices sourdough bread
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

In a food processor or blender, puree raspberries with raspberry jam. Pour through a fine mesh strainer to remove the seeds. Once seeds have been removed, whisk raspberries with honey, mustard and balsamic vinegar. Pour into a small saucepan and simmer over low heat until reduced by one-third to one-half. Remove from heat and allow to cool while assembling sandwiches.

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Spread raspberry sauce on two slices of sourdough, layer 1.25 ounces of the cheese plus apple slices onto each slice. Top each slice with an additional 1.25 ounces of cheese and finish with a second slice of bread.

Place sandwiches carefully in warm skillet, turn heat to low and cook for approximately 5 minutes each side until bread is golden brown and cheese is melted.

Serve any remaining raspberry sauce on the side for dipping.

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DB Meringue Coffee Cake

Time check! It’s 10:30 p.m. on posting day and here I am… taking it all to a whole new level of procrastination! I started this challenge just after 5:00 p.m. this evening after waffling back and forth about whether or not I should just skip this month for much of the afternoon. Had I just pried myself off the couch a few hours earlier, I could be in bed by now… but at least I have a yummy dessert to keep me company as I write and edit.

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The March 2011 Daring Baker’s Challenge was hosted by Ria of Ria’s Collection and Jamie of Life’s a Feast. Ria and Jamie challenged The Daring Bakers to bake a yeasted Meringue Coffee Cake.

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Naturally, when you start later than late, you’re prone to make some snap decisions. I decided I wasn’t much interested in making a ringed coffee cake because I have such challenges finding ways to plate and store them. The original plan, then, was to make two pans of coffee cake rolls in the spirit of cinnamon rolls. However, after trying to cut the first pan with meringue oozing out ALL over the place, I decided to switch gears halfway through and make the second half of the roll into a loaf.

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I also took the two end pieces and threw them into a ramekin… for testing right out of the oven!

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Oh my goodness, oh my goodness… I’m so, so happy I sucked it up and made these. They’re unbelievable. I topped both the rolls and the loaf with a coffee cream cheese glaze that took these to a whole other level.

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I like to think my photos this time around lend to the feel of this post – considering I took most of them well after dark (and, let’s be honest, couldn’t be bothered to drag out my good light to combat the darkness).

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Do you see this? How in the world am I going to have enough willpower to stay away from these things? I mean, really. Chocolatey, moist, light… mmmm. Thank you, thank you to our hosts this month for rocking out another amazing Daring Baker Challenge!

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Daring Bakers December Edition – Stollen!

Hi. I know, I know. I’m not even going to attempt excuses. Just focusing on 2011 here. A new year… and stollen. Yeah. (Did you have a good holiday? I hope so!)

Soo… I didn’t think I’d like stollen, which isn’t terribly true to my German heritage. I remember getting it in various “care packages” from family over the years, but was fairly sure I also remember not liking it.

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Good news? I was SO wrong. Not only do I like stollen… I love it. Or, I will the next time I make it… now that I know what it’s all about and what few things I’d do differently. Oh yes. Welcome to our new Christmas tradition.

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I waited until Christmas Eve to even start this challenge, finishing it up Christmas morning while we prepared to head out to my parents house. Procrastination sometimes pays off… the baking stollen made our house smell positively AMAZING while we opened gifts and got ready to go.

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I used the fruitcake fruit mix you can buy in the store (because clearly I waited until the last minute to do this!) – and that’s the big thing I’d change. I remember now that I’m not a fan of that stuff… so I’ll be sure to plan ahead to make my own candied citrus peel next year. I’ll also soak my raisins longer… because you just can’t have enough rum in your life. And I’ll either buy a big platter… or I’ll make two smaller wreaths – because the only thing in my house that this monster fit on was my ugly-ass, older-than-dirt pizza stone – not so great for presentation purposes!

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All in all, though, I call this DB challenge a smashing success! My German mom gave it her seal of approval, too… which I call a really, really good sign (and maybe even a bit of a compliment).

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The fine print: The 2010 December Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Penny of Sweet Sadie’s Baking. She chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ to make Stollen. She adapted a friend’s family recipe and combined it with information from friends, techniques from Peter Reinhart’s book………and Martha Stewart’s demonstration.

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Be sure to check out the DB blogroll to see what all of the other DB’ers were up to this holiday season! Thanks, Penny, for a wonderful challenge!

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there’s an app for that!

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Looking for an easy appetizer? Head over to this week’s post at The Fat Girl’s Guide to Living for a great Brie Bruschetta!

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blogging by mail and chowdah!

I love getting mail. There’s something really satisfying about finding a handwritten note or card from someone who cared enough to take the time to send it. Sadly, in the age of e-mail and mobile phones, those days are few and far between. So, most days, my trip to the mailbox is rather unfufilling. Bills and junk mail. Junk mail and bills. Perhaps the occasional interesting catalog. The good days bring a magazine or two. But, birthdays and holidays aside, rarely much more than that.

That’s exactly why I signed up for Stephanie’s Blogging by Mail event. A reason to send and get really good mail? Oh yeah!

Last weekend, my package from Pam arrived. I tore into it like it was Christmas and, with each item that I pulled from the box, the bigger my smile grew. What a great box of goodies!

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Here’s what Pam sent in her New England-themed package:
Two bags of incredible tea from her favorite tea shop
Chocolate covered cocoa nibs
A lobster sucker
A star bowl
Chocolate covered dried cranberries (YUM!)
A purse-sized recipe journal
Two postcards – one with a great note from Pam and one with a great recipe from Pam
An uber-cute lobster cookie cutter

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Awesome! Thank you, Pam, for a wonderful package!

I knew when I saw her recipe for Clam Chowder that I had to try it out before every trace of cool weather was gone. I was given just the opportunity last night when a day of blustery wind actually blew in some rather chilly temperatures. So, I ran to the store for clams and got to work.

The problem? I had really wanted to feature the adorable lobster cookie cutter she sent as well, but I just didn’t have the time to pull together rolled cookies. Then, inspiration struck! I didn’t have time for cookies… but I did have time for crackers! And what goes better with chowder than crackers?

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That’s right. Clam Chowder with Lobster-Shaped Crackers! Not only was it fun, but it was incredibly tasty. That’s some good chowdah! I highly recommend working it into your menu before Spring arrives (though, in Pam’s family this is apparently a classic “summer day at the beach” food – so you really could do it any time!).

Since it’s just the two of us and the Husband is a little weird about leftover seafood, I knew that there was no way I could make the full batch as she had written it. So, I cut the recipe back and made just one small adjustment and… it really (REALLY!) hit the spot.

Clam and Corn Chowder
(adapted from Mom’s Clam Chowder, by Pam @ Cave Cibum)
4 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup white onions, chopped
2 large potatoes, cut into small cubes
3 tablespoons AP flour
1 can minced clams
1 cup heavy cream
1-2 cups whole milk
1 cup fresh corn kernels
salt and pepper

In a large pot, melt butter over medium heat. Add onions and potatoes and saute until onions are translucent. Stir in flour until incorporated and cook to form a roux. Add clams (including the juice in the can), cream, and 1 cup of milk, and corn. Stir. Cover and simmer over low heat until potatoes are soft, about an hour. Add extra milk if you like a thinner broth. Salt and pepper to taste, and serve with oyster crackers OR homemade crackers (see below).
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Crispy Homemade Crackers
(adapted from various recipes across the internet)
1 cup AP flour
1 cup wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
3/4 cup milk (approx.)
1/2 cup butter, melted and divided
Salt for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Combine dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Pour in 1/4 cup of the butter. Stir in just enough milk to make a stiff dough. On a floured surface, roll dough to 1/8″ thickness.

Cut cracker dough into squares or desired shapes with cookie or pastry cutters. Place crackers on lightly greased or silpat lined cookie sheets and pierce with a fork.

Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and brush with melted butter. Sprinkle with additional salt. Allow to cool to room temp. Enjoy!

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t-minus 10 days and counting to Homegrown Gourmet #6 deadline!

That’s right. Time flies when you’re having fun, doesn’t it? As of today, we are a mere ten days out from the deadline for the sixth Homegrown Gourmet challenge… BREAKFAST! So, not only did I think it was time I posted my own entry, I thought it was also time to remind all of you that I’m depending on you to help me make this… my very first event hosting experience… a success. No pressure, people, but help a girl out, would ya? :) Send me your best “homegrown” breakfasts by March 13th. Details can be found back at the original post.

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I’ve talked before about how Southerners just do some things undeniably well. Buttermilk biscuits happen to be one of those things. In these parts, they’re often served with country ham. The dry, salty ham isn’t really my thing – I’m more interested in the biscuit itself (though I’ll happily take one drowning in country gravy).

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But, it’s true… buttermilk biscuits in these parts are truly an art. Moist, fluffy, and golden, I’ve mused for a while that I really want to find that “perfect” biscuit recipe. I’ve looked. I’ve experimented. And, though I can turn out a decent enough biscuit, they’re never that stop-you-dead-in-your-tracks, I-can-now-die-happy, perfect biscuit that I’ve been dreaming of.

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This is my current biscuit recipe. It’s just a little finicky… requiring that you don’t over-flour, overwork, or overcook the dough. But, if you can avoid doing those three small, but important, things, it turns out a pretty nice biscuit – moist on the inside, golden on the outside. Good, but… still not THE ONE.

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So, I’m putting this one out there and making a request at the same time. Have a phenomenal biscuit recipe? Share it with me! Help me put this search to rest so that I can move on to other things… like tiramisu.

Pretty Good for Now Buttermilk Biscuits
2 cups self-rising flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons confectioners sugar
1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening
3/4 to 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1/4 cup butter, melted

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Stir together the flour, baking powder confectioners sugar. Cut in the shortening until pieces are about the size of grains of rice. Stir in the buttermilk – start with 3/4 cup and add more as needed until the dough pulls away from the bowl.

Knead a few times, roll out on a floured surface to 3/4-inch thickness. Be careful not to overwork the dough or add too much flour, or you’ll have dry biscuits. Cut with a floured biscuit cutter or glass.

Place on an ungreased cookie sheet, brush with butter, and bake about 12 minutes, until just golden brown.

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The Daring Bakers take on Julia Child – the French Bread Challenge!

Another month has passed and that means it’s time for another fun-filled Daring Baker challenge! This month’s challenge, hosted by Mary and Sara, was a little intimidating at first glance. I mean, first of all, it was a Julia Child recipe. Second, the recipe was for FRENCH BREAD and it read more like a book than a recipe! We’re talking an EIGHT (eighteen in the original cookbook!) PAGE recipe, folks! I was afraid.

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But, being a Daring Baker is all about stepping out of the box… about digging in and conquering your fears. So, I spent a couple of weeks wrapping my brain around the recipe and then… I set aside a Saturday and settled in to make some bread. That’s right… I said I set aside a Saturday. A whole day? Yes… a whole day. This recipe requires about seven hours of your time. Do not, however, let this scare you. Most of it’s inactive time… waiting for the bread to rise… THREE times… and it’s so very worth every second of your time.

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This challenge helped me to conquer my fear of yeast. It produces a wonderful loaf with a nice crust and a wonderful crumb. And, really, it’s pretty easy. I’ll absolutely be trying my hand at it again before the weather warms up… it’s just that good.

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Now, the rules said that we *had* to make at least one plain loaf of French bread using only the very basics of water, yeast, salt and flour. No problem! I kicked out one batard (like a baguette but shorter), one small round loaf, and four rolls. I didn’t regret for a second that I left all of them unaltered. It’s almost embarrassing how quickly we inhaled them.

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The only saving grace? The absolutely torturous TWO hours we had to wait after pulling the little beauties from the oven. Yes, that’s right… Julia sez that you must, must, must allow the bread to cool for at least two hours before digging into it – not a simple feat with the wonderful way it makes your house smell.

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Luckily… like I said… it’s all worth it. Especially the next morning when we threw the last two rolls in the oven to warm, split them in two, slathered them with butter, and topped one half with homemade dulce de leche

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And the other with a square of chocolate that immediately got wonderfully melty…

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Thank you, thank you, thank you Mary and Sara for a wonderful challenge and for bringing great homemade French bread into my life! This is certainly something I’d have never tried on my own, but it’s something I’ll now make again and again!

Want to see how the other 600 or so Daring Bakers fared? Go check out the blogroll!

Full recipe along with notes from Mary and Sara behind the jump!

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