Sunday, October 26, 2014

Baked Sunday Mornings: S'More-Style Chocolate Whiskey Pudding

A Gentleman's Dessert

This week's Baked Sunday Mornings challenge, S’More-Style Chocolate Whiskey Pudding, is the very last recipe from Baked Elements!  I joined this wonderful on-line baking group in May 2011 with Cowboy Cookies from Baked Explorations, and now, 91 postings later, we're wrapping up a second book (their 3rd).  It's been an amazing journey!  I share administrative duties for the group with Sheri of Pork Cracklins and Celine of Boubonnatrix Bakes.  Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito interact with us regularly and are so supportive of everything we do.  This wonderful journey is like a treasure hunt that keeps revealing more and more prizes along the way.  We were all invited to participate in home testing recipes for their 4th book, Baked Occasions which was just released - ta-tah - with my picture in it as a "Badass Recipe Tester!"  We begin baking from Baked Occasions right away.  If you would like to join us, simply order your copy and follow the schedule, posting the link to your creations every other Sunday Morning.

Sweet, sticky marshmallow topping
Sweet, Rich, and Elegant

Ah, but I digress!  This was the perfect recipe for the grande finale from Baked Elements.  It is so rich and creamy, layered with flavors and textures that just dance on your tongue.  The Gentlemen Bakers always encourage us to use high quality ingredients, so John made this treat with Glenmorangie Single Malt Scotch Whisky.  It has an earthy, peaty finish that pairs perfectly with dark chocolate (we used Lindt 70% Dark Chocolate).  

The cinnamon-scented graham cracker crumbs provide a bit of crunchiness to this rich, smooth pudding. Understanding that the point was an ultra-elegant riff on S'Mores we think next time (and there will be a next time!) we would layer the pudding with butter-toasted pecans instead.

Neither one of us is a big fan of marshmallows, but we wanted to learn how to make the topping, because, after all, that's the whole point of belonging to this group - to learn & try new things!  Well, it was a super sticky mess that never firmed up to the "stiff peaks" point.  The recipe said this would occur after about 8 minutes.  Thirty minutes later, we decided to stop whipping the marshmallow topping.  I'm sure that it's firmed up after spending the night in the refrigerator.  After all of that, we didn't think it added anything to the pudding except excessive sweetness, so we pushed it aside and continued to enjoy our wonderfully rich chocolate-whisky pudding.  

This dessert is so rich that it would be perfect served in diminutive vessels, like espresso demitasse cups.  John, of course, enjoyed his with a nip of Glenmorangie!

Sweet Dreams!

Edinburgh Castle, Scotland

Friday, October 24, 2014

Cookbook Review: Dessert Mash-Ups

Just in time for the holidays!

Fresh from the oven!
 I'm always excited when a food blogger publishes a cookbook!  So I was very pleased to receive a review copy of Dorothy Kern's Dessert Mash-Ups from Ulysses Press.  Dorothy blogs at Crazy for Crust where she is the master of sweets - but not just any sweets.  Dorothy takes all of our favorite desserts and reinvents them in such a fun way by mixing them up.  So, if you like Blueberry Muffins and you like waffles, you'll love her Blueberry Muffin Waffles!  

Dorothy's style is so approachable.  Reading her blog is like having a conversation with a friend.  She's just so real.  It's clear that Dorothy's passion in life comes from mixing things up rather than taking things as they come.  She's creative, funny, and has the battery of talents that make for a successful blogger - a distinct voice, unique recipes, and great photography, and all the technology that helps her to pull it all together.

I made Dorothy's Oatmeal Cheesecake Cookie Bars which are made up of a creamy cheesecake layer on top of an oatmeal cookie crust - and the whole thing is topped with toffee bits!  Yum!  Not only were these easy to make, they smelled delicious while baking, and my whole family loved them.  They baked up perfectly and look great.  

Yummy cinnamon oatmeal cookies topped with cheesecake topped with toffee...what could be better?

Dorothy's new cookbook arrives just in time to shake things up for the holidays.  If you'd like to try something new to impress your friends and family, this is the book for you!


The Cloister at Iona Abbey, Iona, Scotland

Thursday, October 23, 2014

French Fridays with Dorie: Palets de Dames, Lille Style

Liz and me at the International Food Bloggers Conference in Seattle a year ago!

Liz, of That Skinny Chick Can Bake, was one of my very first blogging friends.  I was honored when she asked me to partner with her on creating this very special celebration for French Fridays With Dorie!

  • First, and foremost, we're celebrating our Grande Dame Dorie Greenspan's birthday!
  • Secondly, this month marks the fourth anniversary of our wonderfully diverse on-line cooking group, French Fridays with Dorie.  Many of us have been cooking together for 4 years, and many of us have met in person.
  • And, finally, we are celebrating the release of Dorie's new book, Baking Chez Moi.  If you're interested in baking your way through this book, you can sign up at Tuesdays With Dorie.
Lovely on my French Pastry Stand!

 Liz and I have bonded over our love of baking, among other things, so we thought a sweet celebration would be just the thing!  We offered the choice of four recipes from Baking Chez Moi as a preview of things to come.  I chose to make the Palets de Dames, Lille Style because they remind me so much of little sweets you'd find in a French bakery.  Like many French recipes, they are easier to make than they look.  These darling little iced cookies can also be decorated for the seasons, if you wish.  The cookies, themselves, are soft, like little vanilla cakes, then they're dipped in a simple icing kissed with lemon.  These truly belong next to a steaming pot of tea!  They are just lovely.

Usually, we all make the same recipe every week, but this week, we chose from:
Perfect for tea!

I will eventually make them all, but am just delighted with these Palets de Dames, Lille Style.  Please take the time to see what our fellow Doristas made for this triple celebration.

Dorie and me in Seattle last year
Bonne Anniversaire, Dorie!  
And congratulations on the release of your new cookbook!  
Here's to continuing along the Dorista path!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Baked Sunday Mornings: Classic Shortcakes

Here in Oxnard, we have strawberries year-round!

This week's Baked Sunday Mornings challenge is for Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls.  But, alas, pumpkin in not one of my favorite things.  So, when I found these beautiful strawberries at the Famers' Market this morning, I decided to try one of Matt & Renato's recipes that I tore from the pages of the June edition of Better Homes and Gardens: Classic Shortcake.

Fresh from the oven & ready for berries!

Strawberry Shortcake has always been one of my favorite desserts - I used to beg mom for it instead of a birthday cake!  These shortcakes are wonderful - they're light and delicious.  They stand up to the strawberries and juice and the texture is heavenly.  Don't let the little bit of shortening deter you - they still taste buttery.  A lot of shortcakes are dense, but not these.  In fact, they were so good that John & I split a second one!  They would be equally delightful with peaches, or any other type of berry, as well.

A flower shop near our hotel in South Kensington, London

Have a lovely week!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Stuffed Pork Chops with Sauteed Spinach and Steamed Rice

A delicious autumn meal

This flavorful meal can be made quickly on a weeknight.  It's filled with the earthy aromas of autumn.  There are so many possible variations on the filling but we found this one a perfect complement to the pork.  The sauce is delicious spooned over the rice as well.  

Stuffed Pork Chops
In a medium skillet, saute:
2 Tablespoons Butter
1 apple, finely diced
1 small Onion, finely diced
6 mushrooms, finely diced
Pinch of Thyme
Salt & Pepper, to taste

When vegetables and apple begin to soften, stir in:
1/2 cup Bread Crumbs

Golden brown Pork Chops
Then moisten with 2 Tablespoons Chicken Broth.
Stir until everything sticks together, adding a bit more broth, if needed.
Remove from heat.

Cut pockets into 4 thick-cut boneless Pork Chops
Fill with as much stuffing as possible.
Sprinkle Pork Chops with Salt & Pepper.

In a large frying pan, heat 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil over medium heat,
Fry Pork Chops for 7-8 minutes per side until nicely browned.
Move Pork Chops from skillet to serving platter.

Turn heat up to high and add:
1/2 cup Chicken Broth
1/2 cup Dry White Wine
1 Tablespoon Whole Grain Mustard

Boil for about 3 minutes, whisking until fully combined.
Pour sauce over Pork Chops and serve immediately.

Sauteed Spinach
In a deep skillet with a lid, saute over medium heat:
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
3 Cloves Garlic, minced

When garlic begins to brown, add 1 pound fresh Spinach.

Cover with lid for about 8 minutes to steam.
When spinach is wilted. add Salt & Pepper to taste and stir until coated with oil.

Squeeze fresh lemon juice over top.

Steamed Rice
Prepare one cup of rice according to package directions.

The lovely Island of Mull, Scotland

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Président Butter: Three Ways

I was delighted to receive an assortment of butter from the French company, Président: Salted Butter Bar, Spreadable Butter, and Sea Salt Butter.  Président butter is made from high quality creams in the heart of Normandy, France.  We enjoyed all three versions.  We spread it on biscuits, made Bearnaise Sauce that we served over steak, and placed slices into Sourdough Bread before heating it in the oven.  Every good cook knows that the best ingredients yield the best results - and Président butter is no exception.  It's so unlike standard American butter.

The Sea Salt butter is made in a wonderful shape of the original French molds that resemble beehives.

I love salted butter, and this one is exceptional on all manner of breads.  It melts beautifully but tastes great on room-temperature breads, too.  I imagine this butter would be lovely stirred into hot pasta with a great handful of Parmesan Cheese, as well! 

Fabulous Bearnaise Sauce - so velvety with Président butter!
This butter is an absolute must for your table!  It's as lovely melted into Sourdough Bread as it is in steamed vegetables.

Whether to complement your food, or to stir into a sauce, this butter will enhance your eating experience.  The only thing better than eating this butter would be eating it in Normandy!  It's that good.


Thursday, October 9, 2014

French Fridays with Dorie: Double the Pleasure, Double the Fun! Celery-Celery Soup and Monkfish with Double Carrots

Cream and delicious!

John and I joined French Fridays with Dorie four years ago starting with the very first recipe!  We had no idea what a wonderful journey we'd embarked upon.  From turning virtual friends into real ones to meeting Dorie and Michael in person - it's surpassed all our expectations.

As we begin this fifth year as Doristas, we have learned so many techniques, tried new flavor combinations, and refined our palates.  This week is no exception when we stirred apples into celery soup!

This week's post is a double since it was 100 degrees in Oxnard last week and no weather for soup!

The Celery-Celery Soup was wonderful!  It was so creamy with layers of flavor - celery, celery root, onion, apple, bay leaf and thyme.  It's perfect for autumn with a splash of cream stirred in.

Fresh and wonderful - how can you go wrong with bacon?

This week's recipe is for Monkfish with Double Carrots.  This light and delicious meal is easy to make.  The fish flavor really shines through.  Dorie also suggests trying this with Scallops, or Shrimp which we also think would be wonderful.  John said, "Mmmmm...bacon fish..." 

Bon Appetit!

Hollyrood House Palace, Edinburgh, Scotland
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