Saturday, May 29, 2010

BB: Grilled Herb Shrimp

The second Barefoot Blogger recipe for May was Grilled Herb Shrimp, a most delicious treat for the upcoming grill season.

I had planned to cook the shrimp on my new grill, but since I was the only one home for this meal, I didn't think it was worth while to fire up the grill for 3 minutes of cooking time. My daughter did taste one as she flew out the door, pronounced it delicious, and asked me to make this recipe again. High praise, indeed.

This is truly a simple recipe to prepare and cook. The shrimp have lots of flavor after marinating in the herbs and garlic, and can be paired with any kind of side dish. Even canned green beans, my emergency vegetable when the fridge is bare.

Thanks to Penny from
Lake Lure Cottage Kitchen for a lovely choice.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Daring Bakers: Pièce Montée

The May 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Cat of Little Miss Cupcake. Cat challenged everyone to make a pièce montée, or croquembouche, based on recipes from Peter Kump’s Baking School in Manhattan and Nick Malgieri.

The challenge this time around was to make pâte à choux, crème patissiere, and a glaze, either chocolate or caramel. I chose to make my little puffs chocolate, the filling a coffee-flavored pastry cream, and the glaze chocolate with a hint of coffee.

The small choux puffed up very nicely.

The fun part was dipping the little puffs into the chocolate glaze, then stacking them one on top of the other and hoping they didn't go sliding off. Time in the fridge helped cement them together.

The verdict was a thumbs up, so these little cream puffs will definitely be made again.

This is not a particularly difficult dessert to make, but the results can be spectacular. Thanks to Cat for a playful challenge. The recipes can be found on her blog.

Be sure to stop by the Daring Kitchen -- there are some pretty amazing sculptures to be seen!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

TWD: Banana Coconut Ice Cream Pie

I guess I trained my daughters well.

The rules for new foods were these:

1. Always try a bite before passing judgment.

2. Always respond politely. No eye-rolling, funny faces, gagging, eewwws, or rudeness.

I know my younger daughter doesn't like coconut, so I didn't really expect her to try any of this pie. But she surprised me by eating a whole piece. She's always willing to try a bite. The pie, however, was not a hit, which was what I expected.

I, on the other hand, enjoyed it quite a bit, and it appears the whole pie will be mine. (I knew I should have made tarts!)

So, along with coconut and butter, the crust had crushed bits of these cookies.

Instead of chocolate ice cream, I chose a local favorite, Island Coconut. McConnell's Ice Cream is based in Santa Barbara.

The pie is very easy to build.

First, the shell.

Then, a layer of bananas.

Followed by a mixture of mashed bananas, rum, and the ice cream.

After four hours in the freezer, it is ready to serve.

I chose to add the topping bananas only to the individual pieces, since the pie will live in the freezer for awhile. Good thing, too, because the banana slices are prone to falling off.

The final verdict: I like the pie. I love the crust. I could just eat the crust topped with the plain ice cream, or vice versa.

Thanks to Spike of Spike Bakes for a lovely warm-weather dessert. Stop by Spike's blog if you want the recipe, and check out the Tuesdays with Dorie site to see what the other bakers did.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

BBD30: Breads with a Twist

Bread Baking Day
is a monthly celebration of bread baking all over the world, created by Zorra of Kochtopf . (Read more about Bread Baking Day and access the previous roundups on her blog.)

This month, Bread Baking Day #30 is being hosted by the lovely Natashya of Living in the Kitchen wit Puppies. Natashya chose twisted breads as the theme.

In looking through my bread cookbooks, I found the perfect recipe for this challenge, a bread I've been wanting to try. I ended up combining two recipes for this, and we all agreed the bread was a hit.

I introduce Pizza Twists.

Here's the dough, ready to rise.

Here are the cooling rolls.

I was concentrating so hard on forming the rolls, that I forgot to document the process. It's pretty simple, actually, and the taste is divine.

Head on over to Natashya's place around June 5 for the roundup.

Pizza Twists

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour

2 ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast

1 tablespoon sugar

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon minced dry onion

1 cup (4 ounces) finely chopped pepperoni

½ cup (2 ounces) grated cheddar cheese

1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese

½ teaspoon dried oregano, crushed

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

¾ cup milk

2 tablespoons butter

1 egg

Combine the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl. Heat the milk and butter until warm (115 degrees F), then add to dry ingredients, followed by the egg. Mix with paddle blade until combined, then switch to a dough hook and mix for about 5-10 minutes. Remove dough from mixing bowl and knead on a lightly floured surface until smooth. Place in a lightly greased bowl, cover, and let rise until double, about 1 hour. (Slightly longer if the room is cool.)

Turn out onto a lightly floured surface, cut into 24 pieces, and roll each piece into a rope about 10" long. Fold the rope in half, twist two or three times, and seal the ends with a little water. Place on greased baking sheets.

Combine an additional egg with 1 tablespoon of water and brush over the rolls. Cover, and let rise until nearly double, 30-45 minutes. Bake at 400 degrees F for 12-15 minutes or until golden. Remove rolls from baking sheets and cool on wire racks.

Makes 24 rolls.

Places I've visited

Thought this was pretty darn cool.

visited 38 states (76%)
Create your own visited map of The United States

visited 26 states (11.5%)
Create your own visited map of The World

Saturday, May 22, 2010

BBQ Nerds

Last week my neighbor and I went out to lunch, then took a field trip to Lowes. I treated myself to a new kettle-type barbecue. I haven't been able to grill for years now, and with all the great recipes out in the food world, I decided I had deprived myself long enough.

Yesterday, my daughter called on her way home from work, saying that she was hungry for barbecue and a beer. She was offering to stop at the grocery and buy what was needed. Only problem, I said, was that the new grill wasn't yet assembled. Apparently, that was no problem. She also offered to put it together.

While waiting for her, I moved the box out back and began assembly. When Sophie got home, she took over -- under proper supervision, of course.

For our first effort, we grilled some thin strip steaks, portobello mushrooms, eggplant, and green bell peppers. The mushrooms and eggplant were placed on toasted buns and slathered with mashed avocado and havarti cheese.

Today we went in search of accessories: grill cover, wire brush, and grill pan for veggies and seafood. It appears that I have a grilled shrimp recipe on tap this week, so now I will be able to properly cook it instead of using the broiler or stove top.

Looks like it's going to be a great summer.

Friday, May 21, 2010

BB: Spring Green Risotto

Yesterday, I went to bed at 2:30 am. Another large project was finally finished and sent to the publisher. After a brief four hours of sleep, I was rudely awakened by the sound of the dog horking up something at the base of the stairs. It's amazing how fast you can move when you hear that sound.

I booted the dog outside, went back upstairs to wake up and prepare myself for cleanup duties. Not too bad, but the resulting wet spot was in the shape of a perfect heart. As my daughter phrased it, the dog left me a "barf of love."

What has this to do with risotto?

Absolutely nothing.

Except I had made the risotto on Tuesday night and had to postpone posting about it until now due to deadlines and a lack of sleep.

I only made half a recipe and tried to limit myself to eating just half of the half. I used red wine instead of white, since it was already open, which is why the risotto looks a bit pinkish. I thought it was very good, indeed, and was looking forward to consuming the remaining half on Wednesday.

But, my dear daughter asked if she could take it for lunch. How could I refuse?

Her verdict was that this is truly a delicious risotto. Now I know for sure it's a winner!

I still have half the raw ingredients in the fridge, so I think I will make it again this weekend.

Thanks to Kimberly from
Indulge & Enjoy for another great Ina Garten recipe. Stop by the Barefoot Blogger site for more recipes and comments.

The Spring Green Risotto recipe is here.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

TWD: Cherry-Cherry Bread Pudding

I confess.

I like bread pudding.

I like apples, cooked or raw.

This week's Tuesdays with Dorie recipe was Apple-Apple Bread Pudding. Sounds like a great fit, right?

The thing is, I have a daughter who doesn't like cooked apples and I had no apple butter in the pantry.

So, I checked the Playing Around section and discovered cherries. Yes. I did have cherry jam in the pantry, the first cherries of the season were beginning to appear in the markets, and we all like cherries.

I sent my daughter out to buy cherries. She came home with a big bag of beautiful cherries.

They cost $17.

Were they made of gold?

No. She didn't realize I had a grocery club card, so she paid full price.

A lesson learned.

I only needed a small amount, since I was thirding the recipe.

I spread the brioche slices with cherry jam, placed them in the cooking vessel, added the sauteed cherries, then the remaining brioche.

I heated the milk/cream in the measuring cup (to eliminate one extra pan), then added it to the beaten egg and sugar mixture. Instead of vanilla, I used almond extract. It was then poured over the brioche/cherry layers and allowed to rest.

After baking for nearly an hour and a half, the bread pudding was ready to cool down a bit.

Finally, it was ready to eat. Oh. Yum. This bread pudding is so delicious! Even my daughter devoured it. Perhaps I should have only halved it.

Luckily, I still have a large bag of cherries and half a loaf of brioche. Once I find some more cherry jam (soon), I will make this again.

This bread pudding was brought to by Elizabeth of Cake or Death? Marvelous choice. If you want to try the recipe yourself, go to Elizabeth's blog. For more bread pudding comments and variations, head over to the TWD blog.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Daring Cooks: Stacked Green Chile and Chicken Enchiladas

Our hosts this month, Barbara of Barbara Bakes and Bunnee of Anna+Food have chosen a delicious Stacked Green Chile & Grilled Chicken Enchilada recipe in celebration of Cinco de Mayo! The recipe, featuring a homemade enchilada sauce was found on and written by Robb Walsh.

Enchiladas are just about my most favorite meal. They are my benchmark for any new restaurant I try.

I've been making stacked ones for years and years, but usually with a red chile sauce. My challenge for this event was to make a green enchilada sauce. I've been looking for an easy and tasty one for a long time, and I believe I've finally found the right green sauce.

After cleaning the chiles and the tomatillos, I broiled them to remove skins and bring out flavor. When these were done, I tossed in the chicken breasts and broiled them as well.

While the green veggies cooled, I brought out the hardware to make the corn tortillas.

Even though I always have regular tortillas on hand, I decided to make some blue corn tortillas for a change. Definitely more rustic than store-bought, but that's the point.

The sauce simmered merrily away, looking and smelling terrific.

Finally, it was assembly time. The best baking container I found was my 9x5 bread pan. It held two stacks of enchiladas very nicely.

Ready to bake.

Fresh out of the oven.

Ready to eat.

One stack left. My daughter wasn't home for dinner and she forgot to take it for lunch today, so I get to treat myself again!

I will be making this green enchilada sauce again. It was easy and had great flavor. The tomatillos were so soft after broiling that I did not blend them. Instead, I just used my knife to finely chop them; basically, they disintegrated. One less item to clean!

Head over to the Daring Kitchen to see what the other Daring Cooks did and to see the sauce recipe.

Soon I'm planning on making a mole sauce -- I almost made one for this challenge, but decided on the green sauce instead. I'm looking forward to having a larger repertoire of sauces.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

TWD: Strawberry fields close by

It's strawberry season here. This year the berries are as sweet as can be.

I stopped by a local stand on Saturday, and taste-tested five different varieties. My favorite one (Alyssa) was sold out, so I bought the Gaviota instead. They were incredibly sweet as well.

Because this week's Tuesday with Dorie choice was a fresh berry tart, I knew that fresh, fresh strawberries were the only way to go.

Sunday, I made three small tarts for Mother's day.

One for my daughter, who treated me to a one-hour hot stone massage. Aaaahh. Feel that tension melt right away.

One for my neighbor, who is a good friend, and, who I felt needed something special for the day.

One for me.

Even with three small tarts, I had leftover pie crust, pastry cream, and strawberries. So, today, I made four little bite-sized tarts.

What a treat!

For the recipe, go to Cristine's blog, Cooking with Cristine. She is responsible for this yummy dessert.

To see more Quick Classic Berry Tarts, head over to the TWD blog.