Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Espresso Ice Cream

Here's an antidote to the hot weather that has been plaguing southern California.

Cool, crunchy, espresso ice cream, courtesy of Ina Garten.

I had nearly all the ingredients on hand. The ice cream base uses half & half, so I did have to put that on my grocery list.

Also, I was sure that I had chocolate-covered espresso beans in the pantry, but it appeared they had all been devoured by someone looking for a chocolate fix. Had to add those to my Trader Joe's list, so now the pantry is replenished.

The major change I made to the recipe instructions was to combine the half & half, eggs, and sugar in one pan, then heat it slowly to 175-180 degrees, just a simple creme anglaise. I also substituted coffee-flavored tequila for the Kahlua, since it was already open.

Between the caffeine and the iciness, this ice cream was a perfect treat on a hot afternoon.

You can find the recipe in either of two places: Barefoot Contessa Family Style cookbook or on the Food Network website.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

TWD: Tarte Fine

Since it was only 85 degrees in the house this morning instead of yesterday's 100 degrees, I thought, well, heck, why not go ahead and bake the Tarte Fine. I didn't want to disappoint Leslie, who chose this week's recipe.

It didn't take very long to thaw out the frozen puff pastry, and while I prepared the apples and the various brush-on/sprinkle-on bits, I kept it in the refrigerator to keep it cool.

Here it is, ready for the oven.

Fresh out of the oven.

Glazed with melted apricot preserves.

Quick and easy and ready to eat.

You can find the recipe on Leslie's blog, Lethally Delicious, and all the versions and comments from the other bakers on the Tuesdays with Dorie blog.

Monday, September 27, 2010

A Late Tarte Fine for TWD

This was the temperature inside my house last night around 8:00 pm. By 11 pm, it had dropped to a chilly 85 degrees.

I honestly didn't think the little marker thingie could go beyond 90 degrees.

I was wrong.

Sometime during the late afternoon, it hit 100 degrees. Now, at 9:30 pm, it reads 91. My granite counter top is still hot enough to melt butter. There was no baking today. Perhaps it will be cool enough in the morning. Worst case scenario is sometime on Wednesday.

There are those unfortunate people, living here in southern California, who thought the cool, lovely summer was a bad thing.

Not me.

I loved it.

This hot weather? I abhor it.

As soon as the real estate market recovers, I'm heading for a more civilized climate. Los Angeles and its surrounding communities can keep their 113 degrees for themselves.

Daring Bakers: Seasonal Decorated Sugar Cookies

The September 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Mandy of “What the Fruitcake?!” Mandy challenged everyone to make Decorated Sugar Cookies based on recipes from Peggy Porschen and The Joy of Baking.

While the basic theme for this month's Daring Bakers' challenge was sugar cookies, there was a twist, of course. We were tasked to make a cookie that represents September to us.

For me, September means a touch of crispness in the air and the lovely aroma of roasting chile peppers. In other words, my native state of New Mexico, not southern California, where I currently reside, and where it is hot as Hades right now.

I'm always on the look-out for the perfect sugar cookie. I'll know it when I taste it; just haven't found it yet. Perhaps this recipe will be the One.

In addition to baking the cookies, we were supposed to frost the cookies with royal icing, using the outline and flood technique.

My flooding leaves something to be desired, but since my kitchen is hovering at the 90 degree mark, even at 8:00 at night, I will practice on a cooler day.

This is my homage to fresh chiles and September. In answer to the eternal question, red or green, I offer both.

For the cookie and icing recipes, head over to Mandy's blog. Stop by the Daring Kitchen, as well, to see what the other bakers did.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

TWD: Coffee Break Muffins

This week's Tuesdays with Dorie recipe was Coffee Break Muffins, chosen by Rhiani of Chocoholic Anonymous.

The coffee flavor was very mild, even with the addition of one cup of brewed coffee and some espresso powder. I might increase that next time. To dress them up a bit, I added some cinnamon chips.

Even after baking the muffins for the required 20 minutes, they were moist and tender. The flavor and the texture held up nicely, mellowing out after the first day.

They were a hit in this house, disappearing very quickly. My daughter took the last two this morning, on her way out the door for work. Two. Leaving zero for me. :( Looks like I will have to make them again, and soon.

Check out the other bakers' results on the TWD blog. For the recipe, head over to Rhiani's site. These are easy muffins to make, requiring just a bowl, a spoon, and a measuring cup, along with the muffin pans. No excuses!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Still Walking in Virginia

My virtual walking tour across Virgina is proceeding steadily. The dog is enjoying her morning walks around the neighborhood, and I'm still motivated.

Quilt top #1 is finished. I just need to find some backing fabric, at which point I can make the sandwich and begin to quilt. There will be a binding, but no borders.

I still have plenty of miles to cash in, so it's on to the next project. I have observed that this is definitely one way to get my projects done. A few pieces each day adds up over the weeks. Before I know it, a top is completed, and that is wonderful.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Daring Cooks: Food Preservation

The September 2010 Daring Cooks’ challenge was hosted by John of Eat4Fun. John chose to challenge The Daring Cooks to learn about food preservation, mainly in the form of canning and freezing. He challenged everyone to make a recipe and preserve it. John’s source for food preservation information was from The National Center for Home Food Preservation.

It all began about 30 years ago or so. I had just bought my very first house, and the backyard came with fruit trees: apple, nectarine, and apricot. How I loved that apricot tree! And it produced tons of apricots most every summer. To enjoy the fruit all year long, I learned how to can.

I haven't stopped since, lugging all my canning supplies with me where ever I moved. Over the years, I have canned jams and chutneys and fruit and pickles and stewed tomatoes. I have entered them in state and county fairs. ( I sure do love those blue ribbons!)

Last summer, I made a boysenberry-lime jam.

This month, for the Daring Cooks challenge, I made apple butter, one of my favorites. I did choose, this time, to freeze the results rather than can them, since I was trying a new recipe. When apples become more seasonal, I will make the recipe again and actually can it. Somehow, I don't think the frozen apple butter will last very long.

Over at the Daring Kitchen, you can see what kinds of yummy things everyone canned or froze. I'll be looking forward to the October challenge.

TWD: Cranberry Upside Downer

To be honest, I was a bit wary about this week's TWD selection, Cranberry Upside-Downer.

It's not the ingredients that I dislike, it's the type of cake. Upside down cake. The only kind I've ever had is pineapple upside-down cake, and I really detest it. It's too icky sweet and basically spoils the pineapple, as far as I'm concerned. My daughter doesn't like it either, so I really debated about making it.

I checked the freezer and discovered that I had exactly 2 cups of frozen cranberries, so, taking it as a sign, I relented and decided to bake the cake.

Well, all I can say is, I'm really glad I did. This is one super delicious upside down cake. Even my daughter liked it, so I know it's a bona fide hit.

The tartness of the cranberries plays nicely with the sweetness of the topping and the spiciness of the cake. Cinnamon is one of my favorite flavors, so I didn't hold back when making the cake.

I used my 8" x 3" cake pans, so I wasn't concerned about spill-overs. The whole thing unmolded very cleanly on the plate. It's really a beautiful dessert to behold. I also omitted the glaze, and it tasted and looked just fine without it.

Now, I'm eagerly awaiting the arrival of fresh cranberries in the market, because I intend to stock up and bake this at least once during the upcoming holiday season.

Thanks to Sabrina of
Superfluous for a winning choice. Do stop by the Tuesdays with Dorie blog to see some other upside-down variations.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

TWD: Peanut Butter Crisscrosses

My favorite peanut butter cookie recipe is from the Joy of Cooking (1964). No other recipe has ever quite matched the flavor and texture of that cookie. Until this week.

Dorie's Peanut Butter Crisscrosses have supplanted my long-time recipe.

I only made half a recipe because I forgot to buy more peanut butter, and I had just half a cup. Even with half a recipe, I ended up with 42 cookies, the size of a normal, full-sized batch, and I ended up baking them for 12 minutes with no adverse effects on the color or texture.

My peanut butter of choice is Trader Joe's. It's natural and delicious and fairly priced, and it doesn't matter if it is smooth or crunchy. It's what I always have on hand. So that is what I used, contrary to the recipe instructions. I didn't add anything extra, either, to compensate for the adulterated kind of peanut butter. It didn't make any difference in how the cookies turned out, so in my humble opinion, it's ok to use the natural kind.

Instead of regular salted peanuts, I used honey roasted peanuts, which is what I had. Oh, I would so use those again! They added a wonderful flavor to the cookies.

I'm thinking of experimenting with chopped chocolate next time, or, perhaps a combination of peanuts and chocolate.

On my next trip to TJs, I will certainly stock up on peanut butter so I can make a full batch. The texture of the cookies is neither too soft nor too crisp, but nice and chewy. We also love the sugary coating on the outside. These are the kind of cookies where you say, oh, it won't hurt to eat one more. . . . .

Jasmine of
Jasmine Cuisine chose this week's winning recipe, and that's where you will find the recipe, which I would highly recommend baking. I'm looking forward to reading comments from the other Tuesdays with Dorie bakers.

Friday, September 3, 2010

NFR: Fitness Friday on (gasp!) Friday

Progress has been made on all fronts this week.

By close of day tomorrow (Saturday), I will have logged my best week of mileage to date. It helped to have had two long walks yesterday, one with dog, and one without.

While it moved me further down the trail, I fear that I will be in Virginia forever at the rate I'm going. Perhaps some time next year I will cross the Kentucky state line.

The quilt is coming along nicely. I completed the third large panel today, and I'm planning to finish the fourth one over the weekend. Earning one piece of fabric per mile is a great motivator for me. I might even get two quilts out of what I've earned so far.

Stop by Tallgrass Prairie Studio and the LBL exercise site to learn more about the walking project