Sunday, September 27, 2009

Daring Bakers : Puff pastry Vols- au- Vent

This is my first daring bakers challenge! I've joined about two months ago but life is been crazy and I haven't be able to bake at all. First was summer school, then we had family visiting and this month I has promise my sister to help her with her new project and I only had time to make the dough and folded (I did that last night and then I let it rest overnight) and this morning I cut it and baked it. I'll probably use it to make dinner Wednesday. Wednesdays is Top Chef night. My sister does not have a TV so she and her husband come over for dinner and we watch top chef so stay tuned for a delicious recipe using the puff pastry.
I use this video from Baking with Julia, where Julia Child is making the pastry dough with Michel Richard to kind of give me an idea of what I was getting into.
The dough came together pretty easy but when it came time to fold it, the butter started to oose out of the dough. This weekend was very hot here in the Bay Area that's why I waited until late at night to start making the dough because I didn't want it to melt.

If you want to get some ideas on how to use the Vols- au- Vent check out the Daring Baker's Blogroll.

The September 2009 Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Steph of A Whisk and a Spoon. She chose the French treat, Vols-au-Vent based on the Puff Pastry recipe by Michel Richard from the cookbook Baking With Julia by Dorie Greenspan.

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Saturday, May 30, 2009

15 minute pasta

This dish was the fastest and the easiest to make of all the dishes that I've made so far. I've added some sun dried tomatoes that I got at the farmer's market last week. I soaked them in hot water for 5 minutes just to plump them up a little and then added them to the sauce. The pasta was very tasty, however it was missing something. Nelson said that bacon or pancetta would be a great addition to this dish and also it would make it a little hardier. I didn't have any tarragon so I used oregano that I have growing in my garden.

Pasta with goat cheese lemon and asparragus
Adapted from Bon Appetit
Serves 6

1 pound of multigrain rotini or pene pasta
1 pound of lender asparagus spears, trimmed, cut into 1-1 1/2 inch pieces
1/4 cup of olive oil
1 tablespoon of grated lemon peel
1 teaspoons of chopped fresh oregano
1 5 to 5 1/2-oz log of fresh goat cheese
1/2 cup chopped sun dried tomatoes

Cook pasta in a large pot of salted water, until almonst tender, stirring occationally , about 7 minutes. Add asparagus and cook until pasta is tender but still firm to the bite, about 3 minutes longer.
Meanwhile combine oil, lemon peel, chopped oregano, and chopped sun dried tomatoes in a large bowl. Coarsely crumble in goat cheese. Drain pasta and asparagus, reserving 1 cup of cooking liquid. Add hot pasta, asparagus and 1/4 cup of reserved cooking liquid to bowl with cheese mixture. Toss to coat, adding more reserved liquid if dry. Season pasta to taste with salt and pepper.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Speedy Dinners

I've made three of the 15 meals that you can make in 15 min. I'm really not following any specific order. It really depends on what we feel like eating that day and what ingredients I have in my pantry and my refrigerator. So far we've made Burgers with pesto and provolone, spicy orange chicken stir fry and pasta with goat cheese, lemon and asparagus.

The recipe was a portobello burger but since my sister is visiting and she is not a huge fan of mushrooms, I used 90/10 ground beef instead. I seasoned with salt and pepper and since it was so lean I grated a whole onion into the meat. The recipe called for purchased pesto but I had some frozen that I'd made with spinach and basil and I added some mayo and made some quick aioli. We topped the burger with arugula and provolone cheese. The burger was good but it probably be better with a portobello mushroom.

I never make Chinese food at home. That's why I like the recipes that are featured in Bon Appetit, they challenge me to make food out of my comfort zone. This recipe for spicy orange chicken stir fry called for sugar snap peas but I had frozen string beans so I used that instead. The chicken had good flavor but the the orange taste was a little overpowering. Maybe next time I'll make it I would use a mixture of orange juice and chicken stock.

Burger with Pesto and Provolone
Adapted from Bon Appetit
Serves 3

1/2 cup of purchased pesto (I made my own with spinach and basil)
1/4 cup of mayonnaise
3 ciabatta rolls, split horizontally
3/4 lbs of ground sirloin
1 1/2 cups of baby arugula
3 slices of provolone
1 small onion grated
1 tomato sliced

Stir pesto and mayonnaise in a small bowl to blend. Season with salt and pepper. Prepare indoor grill to medium high heat. Season the beef with salt and pepper to taste and add the grated onion. Grill the rolls, cut side down, until slighly toasted. Transfer to plate. Spread grill side of rolls with pesto. Set aside. Cook the burger about 4 min on each side for medium. Place one burger on each bottom roll. Top each with cheese, 2 slices of tomato and enough arugula to cover. Press roll tops over and serve.

Spicy Orange Chicken Stir fry
Adapted from Bon Appetit
Serves 6

11/2 cups of long grain white rice
3/4 cup orange juice
3 tablespoons of soy sauce
2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
1 small red onion, halved, thinly sliced
Large pinch of dried crushed red pepper
11/2 pounds of chicken cut into cubes
1 grated garlic clove
1 8oz package of string beans

Cook rice according to package directions. Set aside.
Meanwhile, whisk juice, soy sauce, and cornstarch in bowl until cornstarch dissolved.
Heat oil in large wok or nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onion and crushed red pepper. Stir fry for 30 seconds. Season ckicken with salt and pepper and grated garlic clove. Add to wok and stir fry until onion are crisp-tender and chicken is just cooked through, about 4 minutes. Add the string beans and juice mixture. Toss until sauce thickens and beans are crips-tender about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

15 dishes in 15 min

I'm always trying to find new recipes for dinner. In the june issue of Bon Appetit they have a section that has 15 dishes that you can make in 15 min. I will try to make all of them in the next few weeks. The dishes include everything from chicken stir fry, portobello burgers to pasta with asparagus.

Stay tuned!! This is going to be fun.

A taste of Tuscany

Every once in a while I like to take a cooking class at Whole Foods. The culinary center in San Mateo has many classes that change every two months. Last Wednesday I took a class called Small dishes of coastal Tuscany. I chose this class because the menu looked simple, different and delicious and let's face it, you can never have enough italian recipes. After chef Lesa explained all the recipes we all picked a recipe and we got cooking. I didn't bring my camera with me that day but Cecilia from Gourmet Senses took very nice pictures and you can also find all the recipes in her blog. If you go to her blog, you can see me in a blue sweater adding salt to the pasta.

Here is the menu:
Focaccia al Formaggio - Cheese Focaccia filled with artesian cheeses
Scampi con Salsa al Prezzemolo- Prawns with Garlic Parsley Sauce ( we also added some littleneck clams)
Trofie con Salsa di Fungi-Spiral Pasta with Wild Mushroom sauce
Zuppa di Cozze- Mussle Chowder ( Don't think creamy, thick east coast chowder) It's a very light tomato base soup.
Crema con Banane al Rum- Vanilla Cream with bananas in Rum.

All the dishes were great except for dessert. Don't get me wrong the dish was good but I'm not a great fan of cooked bananas (except in banana bread). I guess you could substitute the bananas for peaches, apples or mangoes.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

It's Earth Week

Last week in honor of Earth week I took Daniel to see Disneynature's Earth. The movie was great. It's the same footage from the documentary Planet Earth, however Earth tells you the story of 3 families: elephants, polar bears and humpback whales. Daniel was fascinated by the big screen but 30 min after the movie started he fell asleep. So really I was the one that enjoyed the movie. The soundtrack was fantastic!! I'm going to try to get it from iTunes. It is classical music played by the Berlin Philharmonic but is much more upbeat than baby Einstein. Also Disney will plant a tree in our honor just for going to see the movie opening week.