Sunday, September 27, 2009

Daring Bakers: Vols-au-Vent

The September 2009 Daring Bakers' Challenge has been chosen by Steph of a whisk and a spoon. Steph chose Vols-au-Vent, which we are pretty sure in French means, “After one bite we could die and go to heaven!”

Get ready for a long post..........
I have made laminated dough in the past. In fact, my first post on this blog was about my cherry danish braid. This dough was different because there was no yeast involved. Here are a few photos showing what I did...

Dough ball from my first attempt (before butter was added)

For this challenge, I had to make this dough twice because I accidentally put too much butter in the dough. That is why my pastries didn't lift the way they were supposed to. They were still very good, just too buttery.
Subsequent process photos are from my second attempt.
About to pour the ice water into the mixer. A food processor is on my Christmas wish list (mom! hint. hint.)

Shaped dough from my first attempt.
The second time around, I halved the recipe. I put in the right amount of butter this time, but the dough looked a bit more crumbly than the first time.
It smoothed out later, though. Most of the prep photos you see are from my second round.

I moved my dining/prep table to the window so that I could take pictures of most of the steps.
Making sure I brush off excess flour from the rolled dough between folds.
After making the turns, I stopped taking pictures since it all looked the same.However, at one point, the butter started to melt and stuck to the table.
In order to remedy the problem, I put flour on the buttery bits, patted it, brushed off the excess flour, and then placed the dough in the refrigerator for a longer period of time.
Marking four turns. Two more to go!
Cutting the prepared dough in half. The layers don't look very good...I was kind of scared at this point.
I am obsessed with the process of making laminated dough. I watched a bunch of youtube videos and a bunch of pictures even though I knew what to do already. It is so fascinating watching the pastry come together and seeing the end result.
The rest of the dough is sitting in the freezer and probably will be sitting there until it's no longer good just like the danish dough (that is still in the freezer! I need to get that out of there.).
Steps for making this shaped pastry.
Eating puff pastry is another story. I'm not crazy about eating it even though it is so good. I guess I like cakes, cookies, and pies more.
Dough getting ready to be cut, shaped, and baked.
Despite my fears, the taste of both attempts was exceptional. That is most important in my book!

The pastries on the brown plate come from my first attempt. I placed homemade lemon-lime, cream cheese curd (recipe below) on top with homemade strawberry topping/jam.

Also, after making all of these pastries, I'm really tired of the stuff haha. Good thing, I only made two or three of them at a time.
These danishes on the black sheet are from my second attempt. I placed more of the lemon-lime, cream cheese curd on top with homemade strawberry topping/jam.
The pastries on the white plate also come from my second attempt after sitting in the freezer for a few days. I wanted to see if I could take better pics, but yeah, that didn't happen. For the topping, I placed a scoop of my Mexican Ice cream, whipped cream, and hot fudge (that's no longer smooth as it was when I made it a few weeks ago).
All in all, the second bit of dough produced a much better pastry. I still wasn't able to make it look as pretty as the others I've seen. Thanks for the great challenge, Steph!

Lemon-Lime Curd with Cream Cheese
adapted from The Knead for Bread

1/4 cup butter

3 large eggs

½ cup sugar

1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (I used 3 limes)

1/2 cup of Mascarpone Cheese (I used cream cheese)

Finely grated zest from 1 limes

Add a cup of water to a pot and bring to a simmer. Place the eggs, sugar, lime zest and lime juice into a metal bowl and whisk together. Place the bowl over the simmering pot of water and whisk till the mixture becomes thick and creamy. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter. Now, add the Mascarpone Cheese and blend together. Pour into a clean container and place plastic wrap on top. Be sure the wrap is touching the top of the curd. This will help to prevent a crust from forming. Place into the fridge for at least 3 hours to overnight.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Turkey Bolognese Sauce & Whole Wheat Pasta

This past weekend, I decided to make more homemade pasta and the same bolognese sauce I have made for a few months now. I have made this sauce so much now that I didn't need to look at the recipe this time around.

I started up the sauce as soon as I woke up so that it could simmer for 2-3 hours without affecting my hunger levels. I used two pounds of lean turkey instead of beef to make the sauce healthier. I seasoned the turkey well with Lawry's Seasoning Salt before adding it in the pot. After adding all of the other seasonings in the sauce, you will never know that the meat was turkey. Making this sauce is the best way to cook ground turkey.

While the sauce simmered, I made the pasta. I used a different recipe for this pasta than the one I used in the old post. With the addition of the whole wheat, the dough was harder to roll. I really need to work on making the dough thinner; they keep coming out too thick. Either way, the pasta tastes great.

I made the full recipe so that I could have leftover pasta to eat for the entire week. I still have sauce left but sadly there's no more homemade pasta. I had to use the store-bought stuff today. Even after eating this dish for about four or five days in a row, I am still not tired of it. I still have enough for one or two more days!

Both pasta recipes yielded basically the same result in taste and texture. I didn't notice a difference in taste outside of the addition of the wheat flour. I didn't use white wheat flour; I used the regular wheat flour.

Homemade Wheat Pasta
adapted from Big Red Kitchen

4 large eggs
scant amount of water
2 1/2 cups unbleached AP flour
1 cup whole wheat flour or white whole wheat flour

In a liquid measuring cup break eggs and whisk lightly. Add enough water to equal one cup liquid (with four eggs, I had almost exactly 1 cup). In a stand up mixer or on the countertop with your hands, mix the egg mixture with the flours until it pulls together into a dough. Turn onto a flour surface, knead lightly and cover with plastic wrap and let rest at least ten minutes. Then cut into pasta using whatever machine you like- electric, hand crack, or the old-fashioned way of rolling out and hand cutting. Use noodles immediately or dry slightly and then place in boiling water and cook 3-5 minutes or until al dente. Pasta not cooked immediately can be stored in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for one week or frozen I guess up to 6 months. (I hung my pasta on hangers for a few hours before storing the pasta.)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Because I Can...Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Buttercream

The frosting in the middle is a bit brownish because it's a combination of leftover vanilla and chocolate buttercream frosting I made a few weeks ago. I made more vanilla frosting yesterday for the outside of the cake.

Yep. I made this cake just because I can and because I was craving it. I was going to half the recipe like I always do, but I changed my mind so that I could create decent pictures of two layers on this blog. Ahh, the sacrifices I make for you all! haha

Since I have a lot of cake left, I will be relying on my neighbor and his unending appetite for my baked goods. I am sure he will be more than pleased to get half of this yummy cake. [*UPDATE* While typing this post, I called my neighbor, and he came to pick up a huge chunk of this cake. Even though I knew I couldn't eat it all and had some leftover here, I couldn't help but feel a twang of pain watching all of that moist cake leave my apartment LOL.]

Back to this cake...O-M-G. This became my go-to recipe for chocolate cake since I first tried it a few months ago. I noticed the same thing is true for other food bloggers who have been exposed to this addicting cake recipe. It is so moist, intense, and chocolaty. I enhanced the flavor by adding instant ground coffee and rigged-up buttermilk (aka milk + lemon juice). Since I don't normally have whole milk in my house, I had to use a combination of half-n-half and skim milk so that it wouldn't come out too watery.

Anyway, if you've never tried out this chocolate cake recipe, please do. It will indubitably become your go-to recipe as well. Note: The instructions for this cake are different from those of most cake recipes, so don't start with creaming the fat and sugar together.

Hershey's Perfectly Chocolate Cake
adapted by Hershey's
(this recipe is also on the back of the Hershey's cocoa canister)

2 cups sugar
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 tsp instant coffee granules or espresso powder (my addition)
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk (or whole milk + 1Tbsp lemon juice after it sits for 3-5 minutes)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water

1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans.

2. Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin). Pour batter into prepared pans.

3. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans, and flip over onto wire racks. Cool completely. 10 to 12 servings.

ONE-PAN CAKE: Grease and flour 13x9x2-inch baking pan. Heat oven to 350° F. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 35 to 40 minutes. Cool completely. Frost.

THREE LAYER CAKE: Grease and flour three 8-inch round baking pans. Heat oven to 350°F. Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake 30 to 35 minutes. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely. Frost.

BUNDT CAKE: Grease and flour 12-cup Bundt pan. Heat oven to 350°F. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 50 to 55 minutes. Cool 15 minutes; remove from pan to wire rack. Cool completely. Frost.

CUPCAKES: Line muffin cups (2-1/2 inches in diameter) with paper bake cups. Heat oven to 350°F. Fill cups 2/3 full with batter. Bake 22 to 25 minutes. Cool completely. Frost. About 30 cupcakes.

Vanilla Buttercream
halved and adapted by The Repressed Pastry Chef

1/2 cup unsalted, room temperature butter (1 stick)
1/2 cup shortening
3 1/2 cups sifted powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp (optional) almond extract (my addition)
3-4 Tbsp whole or 2% milk (I used half-n-half and skim milk)

Beat butter and shortening until fairly smooth (2-3 minutes). Add in the sugar 1/2 cup - 1 cup at a time so that it won't fly everywhere. Add in the extracts. Then add in the milk a Tbsp at a time until you reach the desired consistency.


Sunday, September 20, 2009

Mexican Feast Part 6: Fajitas de pollo/Chicken Fajitas

Fajitas de pollo. YUM! I honestly thought the steak fajitas were going to be better than these, but I was proven wrong. Usually, no matter how much I season chicken, I still think beef tastes better. This time, however, the chicken was perfect, and I used less seasoning than I did with the steak fajitas. Furthermore, I did not marinate the chicken as I did with the steak.

I had to make another batch of flour tortillas for this dish. However, I still had leftovers of arroz mexicano, frijoles refritos, grated cheese, and pico de gallo.

Again, I don't have a recipe for this chicken. I just cut up the chicken, seasoned it with Lawry's Seasoning Salt, cumin, homemade taco seasoning, and freshly-ground peppercorn. I then put olive oil in the cast-iron pan, threw in some onions and garlic. After allowing it to cook for awhile, I added in the seasoned chicken and cooked it until it looked ready. Then, I added in some chopped cilantro.

This dish was beyond delicious. I cannot wait to make it again. It's so simple and quick to make; I don't know why I've never made it before.

Maybe next time I can take some photos of them that are not overexposed hehe. Interestingly, it has been overcast and/or rainy ever since that day.

Well, this marks the last dish of my Mexican Feast series; I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.