Tuesday, July 31, 2012

TWD: Blueberry-Nectarine Pie

Baking through Baking with Julia
by Dorie Greenspan
Recipe contributed by Leslie Mackie

I love blueberries! I like them so much I have them several times a week tossed over my morning oatmeal (why does that statement make me feel old?). I also enjoy just grabbing a handful to pop in my mouth for a midday snack.

This is my second blueberry pie I have made in as many months. The filling of the first pie I made was just blueberries; this recipe, as the title states, has the addition of nectarines. I found this filling to be too sweet for my liking. Not only was there more sugar in this recipe, but the nectarines added their own sweetness as well. If I were to make this again I would want to cut the sugar by at least a third to half, though I am not sure if that would have an effect on the thickening aspect.

I also prefer the other pie dough recipe for it used more butter and less shortening, plus the addition of lemon juice.

Leslie's instructions for lining the pie pan has you, for the top crust, placing the pie pan onto the dough and cutting it so it is about 1/2 inch larger than the pan. I find it easier to just place the dough over the filling and trim the excess with scissors. He also recommends to cool the pie for at least 30 minutes before slicing. I say cool the pie completely! After cutting into the pie and removing the slices, most of the filling oozed out - not a pretty picture. This I should have learned from the other pie I made.

I asked our daughter if she liked the pie and she said it was good - not good enough to eat the whole pie, though. As I mentioned earlier it was just too sweet for me; I ended up throwing half of the pie away.

Success meter (1-3): 1

Why does this always happen with me and stone fruit?
Cut and twist. Only the skin comes off.

I could have done without the butter.

↑  As I said, not a pretty picture.  

Helping the filling back into the crust.

Looking for the recipe? Our hosts of the week have it posted on their sites or you can always pick up your own copy of Baking with Julia.

Our wonderful hosts this week are: Hilary of Manchego’s Kitchen and Liz of That Skinny Chick Can Bake. Also check out all the other baker's creations here: Tuesdays with Dorie LYL post.

Friday, July 27, 2012

WW: Kung Pao Chicken

Wok Wednesdays cooking through Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge
by Grace Young

                                              Kung Pao Chicken

I'm a couple days late on cooking and posting this; but as the saying goes "good things come to those who wait" and this was good fabulous!!

The roasting (not like what you're thinking - they are stir-fried in the wok) of the Sichuan peppercorns filled my senses with a scent reminiscent of an old box or cedar chest (in a good way) and somewhat floral. After roasting and grinding the peppercorns I gave them a little taste. They were not anything like I was expecting; not at all spicy, nor was the numbing effect that I have read about, at all discernible.

Oh my - the aroma of this dish! And I haven't even heated the wok yet. While prepping my ingredients, once again the floral scent of the peppercorns filled the air. The chicken mixture which includes, but not limited to: ginger, garlic, soy sauce, and dry sherry was heavenly.

Once the stir-frying began, the aroma was out of this world for me. The sauce that formed was silky smooth with a nice warm heat. I used seven dried chili peppers which I found to be the perfect amount. If you want a little more heat - just give one of the peppers a little chew! Whoa!

After we were done with dinner I sat here repeating to myself: That was good, that was really good...

There was only one small complaint from the hubby - the ceramic chopsticks were too heavy. I too prefer wooden chopsticks; the food slides off of the ceramic ones. Though they do make for a pretty picture!

Success meter (1-3): 3+

How cute is this! I was able to find a small amount
(0.2 oz) of Sichuan peppercorns. As you can see,
the box alone is only two letters wide on my laptop.
After roasting and grinding it amounted to be about
 one tablespoon plus one teaspoon.

This may not look like much, but oh the aroma!!!

Imagine one more tiny bowl behind the green onion
filled with salt and sugar.

Dried red chili peppers with the ends snipped
and added to the dish.

Patiently waiting for the anticipated delicious meal ahead..

Can't you just see the silky smooth sauce enveloping 
the chicken and red bell pepper? Yumm...

Pure deliciousness!

Another great recipe from Grace Young's Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge. Thank you Grace!!!

Everyone reading this post, I encourage you to go out and purchase this book. You will not be disappointed.

Please visit Wok Wednesdays LYL (leave your link) post to see all the results of my fellow wokkers!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

TWD: [Tomato Basil] Semolina Bread

Baking with Julia
by Dorie Greenspan
Recipe contributed by Nick Malgieri

                                     Tomato Basil Semolina Bread

I was hesitant to make this not only because it had been too warm to turn on the oven, but the six hours of rise time in two hour increments meant I would have to stay home literally all day. I lucked out: the day before this post was due the weather turned cooler and I had nothing planned other than getting some things done around the house.

My daughter and I had lunch the other day at Panera; I love their tomato basil bread they use for sandwiches. As I was devouring my Mediterranean veggie sandwich, I thought I should try and recreate the bread at home one day. Well, today was the day. I stepped out of my box and decided to add these flavors (found here) to the semolina bread.

The dough seemed rather wet even after adding the recommended amount of flour in the recipe. I'm sure it had extra moisture due to the add-ins I used. I did not want to use too much flour so I worked with the moist dough and without any problem.

The formed loaf looked beautiful. Once covered and left to rise for the last time I came back to find it pretty flattened so I skipped the slashing of the dough. I think the last rise should be done in a bread mold or sling like I did here or maybe I made it too long. The instructions say to make a "plump" loaf which I felt I did, but perhaps it meant to make a shorter "squat" shaped loaf.  Removing the loaf from the oven the bread felt rather hard and I was worried this was going to be another dud; however, after cooling, it softened up nicely and I think this will make for good sandwich bread.

We thought this bread had good flavor, though a bit on the salty side. I would reduce the salt by at least 1/2 teaspoon if not by half.

Success meter (1-3): 3

The sponge.

The sponge after a two hour rest.

Photo credit: Ash
Pecorino-Romano, basil, and sun dried tomatoes.

Ashley's idea to add the sun-dried tomatoes
in addition to the sun-dried tomato paste.
Good call Ash!

First rise done.

Photo credit: Ash
Now to shape the loaf.

Photo credit: Ash

Photo credit: Ash

Photo credit: Ash

Photo credit: Ash
Beautifully shaped loaf if I do say so myself.

Ready for the 2nd rise.


..lost its beautiful form.

I had hoped it would regain some of its
rise during cooking - didn't happen.

Our hosts for this week are Anna of Keep it Luce and Renee of The Way to My Family’s Heart, you can find the original recipe on their blogs. And remember to visit all the other Tuesdays with Dorie baker's sites for their take in this bread; there are always interesting variations you wouldn't want to miss out on.