Tuesday, March 19, 2013

TWD ~ Croissants…finally

Aren’t they gorgeous!!
This week, while everyone at Tuesdays With Dorie is posting about Mocha Chocolate Chip Cookies, I am finally getting my Croissants posted!  To be honest, my husband is on South Beach, and chocolate chip cookies are his favorite. Baking them would be cruel and unusual punishment!! 

I had been looking forward to making the Croissants for such a long time and, really wanted to do them with everyone else.  However, we were on the road traveling home, after being away for a month.  So, after being home for only a few days, I started my croissants. There was so much time spent waiting!   I was able to do laundry, and unpack; while my dough rested in the fridge at two hour intervals.

I made a mini version of the Croissant
Mixing the dough was straightforward.  This recipe calls for compressed (fresh) yeast.  Not a problem. My grocery store carries both kinds. Mix the flour, yeast, sugar and milk in the bowl of your stand mixer.  When it comes together, remove it from the bowl, knead a few times and wrap in plastic.  Let it sit, while you beat your butter into submission!!  Well, just enough to soften it. Mold the butter into an oval, then wrap it in plastic as well. Place the dough and the butter into the fridge overnight. 
This is a laminated dough. That’s what they call a dough that has butter layered into it.  The way you laminate, is by encasing the butter in the dough, fold the dough over the butter and roll.  Place in the fridge for 2 hours to harden the butter, then roll and fold again followed by another 2 hour rest.  Repeat two more times with 2 hour rests in between.  Each time the dough is folded, it is called a turn.  The more turns your laminated dough has, the more flaky your finished pastry will be.  Now it’s time to roll, cut and bake. 
Laminating the dough is what gives your croissants the puffy, layered look when they are baked.  I have always wanted to try my hand at making this type of pastry. They were definitely worth the time.  Now that I have conquered puff pastry, I will be making them again.  I had such a feeling of accomplishment after learning this technique!  These were so incredibly luscious. You could taste the butter in every bite! Heavenly! 
We ate two. I froze the rest to enjoy when my grandchildren come to visit for Easter.  They love croissants!! 
This recipe, by contributing baker Esther McManus, participates with Tuesdays with Dorie.  Our host, for the Croissants was Amanda of Girl+Food=Love, where the recipe is posted.  The PBS Video with Julia and Esther baking the croissants, is a must see if you plan on making these!  

Dry ingredients and yeast in mixer bowl…milk ready to be poured in 
Dough wrapped in plastic and placed in plastic bag to refrigerate overnight
Butter…lots and lots of butter
First roll…place butter in the center,  fold and roll
then refrigerate for 2 hours
After the third turn…ready for the fridge again

Time to make the croissants…stretching,  ready to roll.  I had a hard time doing the ROLL correctly!!  
Mini croissants…rolled and ready to rest for several hours to rise
Just baked and oh my gosh…the aroma is heavenly!!
TWD ~ Croissants ~ finally
Oooooh….these are so worth the time!


Sunday, March 17, 2013

Ballymaloe Oatmeal Soda Bread

Ballymaloe Oatmeal Soda Bread
 Ok, are you ready for one more soda bread? This one is from Darina Allen, owner and founder of the Ballymaloe Cookery School in Shanagarry, County Cork, Ireland.  She is also an internationally known Irish chef, food writer, and TV personality.
This soda bread is quite different from any other I have made.  Oatmeal is processed in a food processor until a fine crumb.  It is then mixed in a bowl with buttermilk and left to steep overnight.  The recipe has been on my radar, since I featured Darina in a post chronicling Gourmet Lives list of the 50 Women Game Changers. She was # 39 on the list.  You can see my post on Darina here.  I have been a fan ever since I traveled to Ireland, and read about Myrtle Allen’s Ballymaloe House. Unfortunately, I never got to visit there.
This bread is beautiful to look at, but it’s the taste that will get you! Completely different in texture than other soda breads I’ve made. This loaf is less cake like and more rustic.   Just one bite, and you will be in Irish heaven.

Slathered with some Irish butter…YUM!

Because the oatmeal has to steep for at least 12 hours, plan ahead if you intend to make it.  This loaf is so worth the wait.

Oatmeal Soda Bread

I found this recipe on the Food Network site.  I changed the baking time to 30-40 minutes and increased the temp. to 400〫The original Ballymaloe Oatmeal Soda Bread can be found here.


2 1/2 cups oatmeal
2 cups buttermilk
2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
>Flour for dusting
1/2 teaspoon butter


In a mini-food processor, fitted with a metal blade, pulse the oatmeal until the meal is very fine. Remove from the processor and turn into a mixing bowl. Stir the buttermilk into the oats and cover with plastic wrap. Let the oatmeal steep in the buttermilk for 12 hours.

In a mixing bowl, sift the other ingredients together. Stir in the steeped oatmeal and mix well. If the mixture is too wet add a little more flour.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Grease a 9-inch round cake pan with the butter.

Lightly dust the work surface with some flour. Turn the dough out onto the surface and knead the dough a couple of times to form a soft ball like shape. Press the dough into a round about 2 inches thick. Using a sharp knife, make a criss-cross cut into the bread. Place the bread in the prepared pan. Bake until golden brown, about  30 to 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack. Serve the bread warm with butter.

Oats…processed to a fine meal.  Put them into a bowl,  add the buttermilk and steep for at least 12 hours
This dough was a bit hard to knead together…it was very thick…I added a bit more buttermilk as I added the flour…knead the dough a few times and place into baking dish
Beautiful Oatmeal Soda Bread
A piece of Irish Heaven!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Irish Soda Bread…Happy St. Paddy’s Day

Simply perfect Irish Soda Bread
Everyone’s Irish on St Patricks Day!  Whether you're wearing the green, toasting with a Guinness, watching the parade on TV, chances are you’re celebrating in some small way!  Years ago, I had a neighbor who would make her kids green eggs and ham every St. Patricks Day. I always thought that was cool. My way of celebrating is with delectable Irish Soda Bread! Soda bread has become a  tradition in my non-Irish house! However, I do make it all year long.  It’s the perfect breakfast bread, and lovely to have with a cup of tea!  So, no pots o’gold or four leaf clovers, just some wonderfully delicious Irish Soda Bread for my celebration!
I had posted my tried and true soda bread recipe here a few years ago. It’s one I’ve been making for more than 25 years!  This year I thought I’d change it up!  I’ve clipped and saved so many Soda Bread recipes through the years, so it was time to give one of them a try!  The one I chose is from Epicurious and it was perfect!
Wonderfully delicious!

On this St. Patricks Day I share, with all my Irish and not so Irish friends, an Old Irish Blessing! Happy St. Patricks Day Everyone!!

May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
and rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

 Mix all the dry ingredients
Cut in the butter until you get a cornmeal consistency
Add buttermilk and mix
Gather into a ball and place in a greased pan…cut a cross into the dough, sprinkle with sugar
Bake at 375〫for 40 minutes

Irish Soda Bread
adapted from Bon Appétit 

Nonstick vegetable oil spray

2 cups all purpose flour
5 tablespoons sugar, divided
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3 tablespoons butter, chilled, cut into cubes
1 cup buttermilk
2/3 cup raisins
1 teaspoon of caraway seeds, crushed

Preheat oven to 375°F. Spray 8-inch-diameter cake pan with nonstick spray. Whisk flour, 4 tablespoons sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in large bowl to blend. Add butter. Using fingertips, rub in until coarse meal forms. Make well in center of flour mixture. Add buttermilk. Gradually stir dry ingredients into milk to blend. Mix in raisins.

Using floured hands, shape dough into ball. Transfer to prepared pan and flatten slightly (dough will not come to edges of pan). Sprinkle dough with remaining 1 tablespoon sugar.  (I used half)

Bake bread until brown and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Cool bread in pan 10 minutes. Transfer to rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.


Friday, March 15, 2013

Orange-Scented Lentil Soup ~ FFWD

Orange-Scented Lentil Soup for this weeks French Friday
Dorie tells us how Lentil soup has a lock on French hearts.  I’m not French but, Lentil soup has a hold on my heart as well.  I grew up on a version of this soup and a dish called Mujadarah, a dish of lentils, rice and sauteed onions. We couldn’t eat meat on Fridays back then so, it was Lentil soup or Mujadrah on the menu. My grandmother would make a variety of meatless dishes every week and, have her children and grandchildren come by to eat! Eleven grandchildren invading her small house with their parents. She was a saint!  This happened mostly during lent but, fridays were usually spent with family at my grandmothers house!
Lentil soup bringing back many memories

This weeks pick for French Fridays was Orange-Scented Lentil Soup.  I was really looking forward to it!  Even before I tasted this one, I knew I would really enjoy it.  I was right!  It was another easy, quick pick from my fellow Doristas, and quite delicious!  My husband started South Beach last week,  and this soup fit perfectly into his diet.  I added a handful of  meatballs to his bowl, which went a long way to satisfy his primal need..MEAT!  I mean the man can’t have bread ( his other primal need ) so, I had to add something of substance! 

This soup had some added flavor from ginger, nutmeg, coriander and orange.  The flavors were subtle yet distinctive!  I had a bag of du Puy lentils ( picked up on my last visit to Whole Foods ) in my pantry, so no need to shop for this dish! 
You start by slicing all the veggies and softening them in some olive oil before adding broth, lentils, and the spices. Bring to a boil and  then simmer, covered for 60 to 90 minutes. Lentils should be soft enough to crush with a spoon. Season, then puree to a smooth texture.  Another keeper!!

A bit of a warning. Next time I make this I will put my peppercorns and coriander in a grinder. Biting into a peppercorn is not pleasant!!  Happy Friday everyone!!

This recipe can be found in Dorie Greenspans cookbook “Around My French Table” and it is posted here.  To see what the other Doristas are doing check it out here.

Soften all the veggies in olive oil
Simmering away
 A definite keeper

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Chicken Breasts Diable ~ FFWD ~ Better Late Than Never

Chicken Breasts Diable…ready for the table
After a month in Florida, we headed to Atlanta to spend the weekend with my grandsons, and of course their parents.  It's the beginning of baseball season in the south, and we wanted to watch the boys opening day games.  The weather did not cooperate, and the games were called.  It rained, it snowed, and it was just freaken cold!

My son, who is a wonderful cook, suggested we make dinner together.  He picked a recipe from "Around My French Table" (a birthday gift to him last year) for Seafood Pot-au-Feu.  He used shrimp, salmon and scallops (which were outrageously expensive).  To be honest, all I contributed to this dish was peeling the shrimp. This one belonged to my son, and it was fabulous!  Seafood Pot-au-Feu is what the French call Seafood Stew!  It was a wonderful dinner that everyone enjoyed, including my grandsons!  
My sons Seafood Pot-au-Feu.
Absolutely amazing!
The next night it was my turn to make dinner.  Since we were on the road for my French Friday post, I decided to make the Chicken Breasts Diable.  I was in the middle of a crazy game of monopoly, and had to bow out to start dinner.  Watching my grandsons play Monopoly brings back memories of my two sons playing, when they were young.  There’s a lot of bartering, a little cheating and lots of laughter! I’m always waiting for that shoe to drop, which will send one or both of them off angry!

Diable is the French word for devil. Which to me, translates to hot and spicy, as in  Fra Diavolo.  This Diable gets a mild spicy taste from the Dijon, and is not overly spicy. This dish was easy!  I bought skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut them in half horizontally, and pounded them.  Then browned them in a mixture of butter and oil on both sides.  Removed the chicken from the pan, covered it loosely with foil, and kept it warm in the oven.  Now it’s time to make the delicious sauce.  To your pan add the chopped shallots, garlic, white wine, heavy cream, and the mustard. This sauce was luscious and creamy, with a nice tang from the mustard and wine.

It was a hit!  Delicious, creamy sauce with tender chicken that was cooked to perfection! This one is a keeper! It also has the stamp of approval from my grandsons! 

The recipe for both of these wonderful dishes can be found in Dorie Greenspans cookbook “Around My French Table” or,  you could find the Chicken Breasts Diable here and the Seafood Pot Au Feu here.

Browning the chicken.
This was a wonderful dish!  I’m sure I’ll be making it  quite often in the future.
Chicken cooked to perfection and a luscious sauce!!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Cheesy Crème Brûlée ~ FFWD

Cheesy Crème Brûlée for FFWD
We have been away for a month and are finally back home again!  The only thing that keeps going through my head is that song “Gee It’s Good To Be Back Home Again”!!  You remember that old song by John Denver, don’t you? That song just about says it all except, it doesn’t say how much laundry I had to do, or how much mail I had to sift through (it’s incredible how much mail piles up in just a month)! Oh, and then there’s grocery shopping, and last but not least there’s my French Friday recipe!
This week the pick was for Cheesy Crème Brûlée.  I love Crème Brûlée but, was not sure about it being savory instead of sweet. Honestly, I’m still not sure how I feel about these!  The custard came out perfect. I browned the cheese with my torch…they looked pretty! They were creamy and rich! However, when I took my first bite I was expecting sweet. Funny how your mind can play tricks on you!!

I think these would be perfect for a dinner party…next time I will grate my cheese finer 
These were quite easy to put together.  First, Dorie tells you to sprinkle teensy little chunks of cheese over the bottoms of your custard cups (I used white cheddar and parmesan). Then heat your milk and cream just to boiling. While waiting for the milk and cream to come to a boil, whisk the egg yolks with salt, white pepper, and nutmeg. You then add a dribble of the hot milk into the eggs…whisking while adding until you’ve added about ¼ of the milk. This is tricky because, you don’t want to cook your eggs.  I used a small ladle to pour just a small amount of the hot liquid into the eggs.  When the cream and eggs are combined, you divide it among your prepared custard cups and bake.  The recipe says 40-50 minutes, or until your knife comes out clean. However, mine took about 10 minutes longer. 
These were pretty and quite lovely looking!  I think they would be perfect as a starter for a dinner party or, to enjoy with a glass of wine, as Dorie suggests.  Bill liked these…go figure! The cheesy flavor was good but, my mind kept asking "where’s the sugar”! 

I will be spending my day finishing up my Croissants…can’t wait to get these done! Happy Friday everyone!!

This recipe can be found in Dorie Greenspans cookbook “Around My French Table”. If you would like to see what the other Doristas are up to check it out here.

I prepared six custard cups, but only filled four…mine were 41/2 inches across 
Ready for the oven

They were creamy and rich tasting...
But "where’s the sugar?"
This is what I woke up to this morning!

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Red Velvet Biscotti

Red Velvet Biscotti 
Here we are in Florida and we’ve had three stormy days in a row. Not the kind of weather you want to take a walk in.  I'm talking torrential rain!  What do you do on a rainy day in Florida? Well, if you’re me, you bake. Since my biscotti jar was empty, I knew just what to bake! Having a biscotti with my morning tea is guilty pleasure.  So, my morning was spent baking these delicious, deep chocolatey biscotti from Paula Deen!

I didn’t have my favorite recipes with me. However, I did have a few bookmarked on my computer that I hadn’t tried yet.  The one that really caught my attention was Paula Deen’s Red Velvet Biscotti.  Ooohh!  Most of you, who read my blog, know I’m a biscotti aficionado!!  I found this recipe a few months ago, while browsing her website.  As much as I enjoy watching Paula on TV and visiting her webpage, I find most of her recipes do not fit the way we eat.  So, when I found this recipe for Red Velvet Biscotti I was quite surprised; no fat except from the eggs.  I added a tablespoon of olive oil, cut the sugar by ½ cup and used toasted walnuts instead of almonds.

This made a really deep rich chocolatey biscotti.  On the Paula Deen webpage it says "these cookies are really more mahogany than red”.  I agree!  They are also luscious and decadent tasting. Another biscotti recipe to add to my favorites!

Decadent and luscious
Mix all dry ingredients, then add food coloring and olive oil
After you mix all the ingredients, make your logs and place on a cookie sheet, then flatten as above and bake for 30 minutes at 350〫
Cool on rack, then slice on the diagonal 
Bake for 30 more minutes at 300〫...turning each biscotti over halfway through baking
Perfect with my morning tea…or maybe for dessert with a glass of wine
The rain moving in over the Gulf
What do you do on a rainy day at the beach~if you’re me you bake!

Red Velvet Biscotti
adapted from Paula Deen

Servings: 2 dozen extra large cookies

Prep Time: 15 min

Cook Time: 1 hr


3 cups all purpose flour
11/2 cups sugar
1 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 bottles red food coloring
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups toasted walnut pieces
5 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
3/4 lb. white chocolate, melted for dipping (I used dark chocolate for drizzling)


Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the flour, sugar, cocoa, food coloring, olive oil, baking soda and salt. Mix for 30 seconds on low speed to combine. Add the walnuts and mix well.
In medium mixing bowl, lightly beat the eggs with the vanilla. On low speed, pour the eggs into the dry ingredients and mix just to form a soft dough.

Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces. This is a very messy job, because the dough is a bit wet. On a lightly floured work surface, shape each piece into a 14-inch log. Transfer to the prepared baking sheets, placing 2 logs on each baking sheet, about 2 inches apart.  Then pat them down, they should be about 1 inch thick and a couple inches wide. (I rinse my hands often, because the dough is sticky, and I keep them slightly wet while handling the dough.)
Bake for about 30 minutes, until the logs are lightly browned and firm. Let cool completely on the baking sheets on wire racks. Reduce the oven temperature to 300°F.

Transfer one of the cooled logs to a cutting board. With a heavy sharp knife, cut the log into 3/4-inch-thick slices. If sliced crosswise, each log will average 24 small cookies. If cut on an angle, each log will yield about 16 large pieces. Repeat with the remaining logs. Spread the cookies on the parchment-lined sheets.
Bake the cookies for 30 minutes, turning halfway through baking, until crisp. Transfer the cookies to wire racks and cool completely.
Melt white chocolate over a double boiler or in a microwave using a microwaveable bowl. Dip ends of cooled biscotti into melted chocolate and dry on waxed paper. Serve with coffee or tea.