Wednesday, January 29, 2014

TWD: Vanilla Chiffon Roll

Tuesdays with Dorie baking through Baking with Julia
by Dorie Greenspan
Contributing Baker: Mary Bergin


For such a "simple" cake - having only two main components, it sure did have what seemed like a lot of steps, and used a ton of dishes. I do not recall having the same experience when I made a spiced pumpkin roulade several years ago. (Memories do fade though..)

The recipe calls for a walnut mousse - I had hazelnuts on hand and used those. This of course added an extra step - skinning of the nuts.

The filling is made up of a nut paste, melted chocolate, egg yolks, sugar, water and heavy cream. To make the paste, the nuts are puréed with oil until a paste forms. I think using walnuts would give the paste a smoother consistency. However, I did not mind the texture the hazelnuts lent to the filling.

Add your nut paste mixture to the beaten eggs and fold until incorporated.

Once the chocolate is incorporated, (this is where the whipped cream should have been incorporated as well), then refrigerate until needed.

The instructions say to trim the edges of the cake. I only trimmed the shorter ends - the ones that will be exposed. Though that may have been unnecessary - for once the cake was completed, I trimmed the ends again, to give it a cleaner appearance.

The recipe states that the mousse may be made one day ahead. Refrigerate, and stir before using. I chilled the mousse only for the time it took to make the cake. It was solid. No amount of stirring was going to make this spreadable. I placed my bowl (stainless steel) over a burner until it was at a consistency that could be spread easily.

However, this ruins the fluffy texture you have with a mousse. Still, the filling was quite tasty.

The assembled cake, ready for chilling.

I recommend letting the cake come to room temperature before decorating. In the time that I sprinkled the powdered sugar and cocoa on, and moved the cake to the other side of the counter to take a picture, the powdered sugar had already started to dissolve.

If my mousse had turned out the way it was supposed to, there would have been a lot more filling to cake ratio. (Upon re-reading the recipe as I type this, I just realized I forgot to add the heavy whipping cream to the filling! Oops.)

The cake is soft, moist and has a pleasant vanilla flavor from the addition of two tablespoons of vanilla. Do make sure to use a good quality, pure vanilla, not vanilla flavoring for this cake. I was fortunate enough to use homemade vanilla that our daughter had gifted me.

I liked the flavor of the hazelnut filling - better than I would if I had used walnuts, I'm sure. Even with both the cake and the filling being tasty on their own, I felt the completed roll tasted rather plain. The cake definitely would have benefited if served with some sort of sauce - raspberry, chocolate, or even some whipped cream. (Or maybe even the inadvertently omitted whipping cream.)

The recipe states this will serve six. The finished roll, after trimming was about sixteen inches long. This will easily serve ten to twelve, unless you want extra large slices. 

To see the results, and other versions of this cake from all of the talented bakers in the group, click here for their links, or go to the Tuesdays with Dorie website and look for the link: LYL: Vanilla Chiffon Roll.

You can find the recipe by clicking here, or on page 277 of Baking with Julia.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

WW: Velvet Orange Scallops | A Birthday Celebration

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

I made this stir-fry for Andy's birthday dinner, a few days before the new recipe schedule was up. Much to my surprise it was picked for our second recipe in January. This puts me ahead of the game - and that is always a good thing.

Scallops. I can take 'em or leave 'em - Andy, he loves scallops.

This is the first time I used the velveting technique (marinating the scallops in a mixture of egg white, cornstarch, rice wine, and salt, then a quick poaching in oil laced water) for seafood. I have only used it for chicken recipes. At first I was not sure if it would make much of a difference, being scallops are so succulent on their own, but after one taste, I found they were even more tender than the ones I have made in the past.

Andy liked the scallops, but not the orange flavor from the zest, which seemed to be most concentrated in the carrots - those were left on his plate (my orange was really large, maybe I should have used less zest - I love citrus - more the merrier I thought). Me, I loved the carrots - I finished off his share. Our daughter seemed to enjoy this as well, for her plate was clean.

 Mise en place.

Bowl 1: Oil
Bowl 2: Garlic, ginger
Bowl 3: Carrots
Bowl 4: Scallops marinating in egg white, cornstarch, dry sherry, salt
Bowl 5: Broth, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sugar, orange zest, red pepper flakes, dry sherry
Bowl 6: Salt (Oops! the salt should be #4 - added after the carrots.)
Bowl 7: Scallions

Since this was a birthday celebration, I just took a quick picture - nothing fancy. Didn't want to keep the birthday boy waiting!

While I was wokking away, our lovely daughter made the cinnamon rolls (another favorite of Andy's) for our next day's breakfast.

The cinnamon rolls had an overnight stay in the refrigerator - this makes for quick bakery goodness in the morning.


No picture of the finished cinnamon rolls - completely forgot - our minds were on getting to the airport on time. I can attest that they were delicious! It is an Emily Luchetti recipe after all.

We are asked not to post the recipes here on our blog. If you would like the recipe, you will find it on page 157 of Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge, which you can purchase at your local bookstore or find it at your local library. I highly recommend purchasing the book - you won't be disappointed. 

Wok Wednesdays is an online cooking group. If you would like information about joining us, click here, or visit us on Facebook. Would love for you to wok along with us!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Book 109: An Edible Christmas | Fruitcake

 by Irena Chalmers

I really was hoping to get this posted before the holidays. The one thing about fruitcakes, you cannot make them on the spur of the moment. They attain their best flavor from a two weeks rest (in which you spritz the cake with brandy every few days). I just kept putting it off, until now; a bit late for the holidays, but hey, where is it written that says you can't serve fruitcake the rest of the year?

When my mother passed away two years ago, my sister and I were reminiscing about family.  My dad's mom came up in conversation, and we got to thinking of her fruitcake; she made the best fruitcake, and the most delicious cookies - they were thin, crisp, sugar-like cookies with a walnut half, pressed in the middle. We were hoping to get the recipe from my uncle. Unfortunately he did not have it. He checked with my aunt (it was a recipe from her home economics class from high school), and she did not have it either.

Sad to say, the recipe is long lost; unless anyone out there reading this went to Acalanes High School in Lafayette, CA - mid to late forties to early fifties, and happened to have saved the recipe booklet from their home economics class..

So I went on a quest to find a fruitcake recipe that mimicked my grandmother's. I came across one by Alton Brown (Food Network) that uses dried fruit that sounded good, it was tempting, but I knew that would not be like grandma's. I'm sure she used those.. what I think are nasty looking.. the colored, candied fruits (my sister does not recall the candied fruit) you see in the produce section around Christmastime. While I was searching for another recipe from this book, I flipped the page, and whoala, "The Best Fruit Cake". It looked very much like I remember my grandmother's cake to be, and the headline read, "Not one person will make a fruitcake joke when they taste this one - the world's best!" And we have all heard the fruitcake jokes, haven't we? 

Once the cake is baked, it is wrapped in foil and stored in the refrigerator. When I unwrapped the cake a week or so later, the scent hit me - ohhh - this is it, though it was not as darkly colored as I remember, and it did not taste like grandma's. This recipe calls for an apple brandy, which I'm sure she did not use. She may have used regular brandy, or maybe even bourbon or rum, which would change up the flavor I'm sure, maybe even the color. This recipe also does not call for you to spritz it with additional liquour - however, I did.  

It's too bad that fruitcake gets such a bad rap. This was actually quite tasty, though not like what I recall my grandmother's tasting like (it has been a very long time - and our tastes do change over the years - and it has been many). Who knows, I may never find the fruitcake recipe I recall from my childhood, but at least I'll have the memories.

The recipe calls for golden and dark raisins. I had a pouch of mixed jumbo raisins (a "fancy" mix of golden and red flame grapes) in the pantry I wanted to use up and used those. I could not find Australian (or any other) glacé apricots, so I subbed dried apricots. The other items above include almonds, walnuts, candied pineapple, glacé cherries, and candied lemon rinds.

I halved the recipe, and it made one regular size loaf and two mini loaves.

Is this not a beautiful fruitcake?

By the way, this book also has a recipe for Cinnamon Crisps. They look extremely similar to grandma's cookies I mentioned at the beginning of this post. Keeping my fingers crossed.  ;)

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

TWD: Country Bread

Tuesdays with Dorie baking through Baking with Julia
by Dorie Greenspan
Contributing Baker: Joe Ortiz

This is a first for me, making bread using a sponge - a "pre-dough" if you will. It's said, that it gives the bread extra flavor and character.  The sponge in this case, is made up of water, yeast, and three types of flour - bread, rye and whole wheat. Once mixed together it needs to rest at room temperature for six to eight hours, or may be refrigerated overnight (I chose the latter). According to the book, refrigerating the sponge should give a little extra kick of sourdough flavor to your bread.

The sponge calls for two and a half teaspoons yeast. A packet of yeast contains two and a quarter teaspoons - so that is what I used. I recently read somewhere, that if you are refrigerating your dough, less yeast is used. Thinking back, I could have used the required amount for I had to open another yeast packet anyway, to finish the bread.

I was short about a third cup of bread flour to make the dough. I made up the difference with all-purpose flour - either flour can be used according to the recipe. The dough has two rising periods (three, counting the sponge) up to two hours each. Both of my rise times were considerably shorter. The first was done in about forty-five minutes and the final rise was done in a half hour. This must be due to the space heater I use to help warm the kitchen whenever I make bread in the winter.

This is a relatively simple recipe - just give yourself a full afternoon (after starting your sponge the night before) to allow for the rising and baking times.

I was surprised how large this loaf turned out; it was ten inches in diameter, and four and a half inches high. The bread has a soft, light, and moist crumb, with a chewy crust. The bread did not have a sourdough taste - it pretty much tastes like wheat bread.

Here is the dough after its first rise (second, if you count the sponge's rest). That little blob on top was caused by the dough sticking to the plastic wrap.

After shaping the dough as instructed, it is placed (smooth side down) in a banneton (which I do not have) and left to rise again.

A banneton is a type of basket to form bread (typically sourdough) that you coat with flour; the flour not only keeps the dough from sticking, but makes a decorative design on top of the loaf.

Brotform Baskets

I lined a colander (as suggested) with a baker's couche (you can use a tea towel or any other lint free towel).

Being I do not own a banneton, I wanted to decorate the top of the loaf in some way. I came across some pictures of "bread painting". This is my practice sheet (an artist, I'm not).

 The dough is ready to be inverted onto the baking sheet.

I could not decide if I wanted a lighter or darker "ink", so I made both. I ended up using the lighter first, thinking I can always go back over it with the darker color if needed. I really liked the lighter color and stayed with that, and used the darker, for the center of the flower.

The dark ink is made up of cocoa powder dissolved in very little water and mixed with egg yolk. The lighter, I just added some espresso powder directly to the egg yolk.

 If you have any artistic abilities in drawing or painting (unlike me), the possibilities are endless!

Woah! Turned out a lot darker than I imagined it would. I really liked how it looked before baking. Next time, I'll try using just egg yolk and water alone. If I made rolls, I could have tried different techniques in one shot!

One site I read about bread painting, they have you paint the bread in the last ten minutes or so. I did it before placing the bread in the oven, as is done whenever an egg wash is called for - and basically that's all this is, with added color.

I should have made the flowers larger, to cover more of the bread. But hey, this was my first time at bread painting. I can't wait to try my hand at this again - so fun!

Click here for tutorial on bread painting.

To see results of all the talented bakers in the group, click here for their links, or go to the Tuesdays with Dorie website and look for the link: LYL: Country Bread.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

WW: Chinese Trinidadian Chicken with Mango Chutney

Wok Wednesdays wokking thru Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge
by Grace Young

Wow! This one is over-the-top delicious! A new favorite - or should I say another favorite. Grace has outdone herself with this one. Thank you, Grace!!! And thank Winnie Lee Lum for sharing her original recipe with Grace, so she can share it with us. 

There are few ingredients that go into this dish: onion, garlic, ginger, chicken, soy sauce, salt and pepper, mango chutney (it's the mango chutney gives this stir-fry it's amazing flavor), dark soy sauce, Scotch bonnet pepper (I used serrano), and cilantro. OK, it sounds like a lot, but really, it's not, and it comes together rather quickly.

This is a spicy dish, as I knew it would be with the use of a Scotch bonnet pepper (mainly used in Caribbean cuisine); I'm not sure how my stir-fry compares with the original recipe, which calls for 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon minced Scotch bonnet pepper - I subbed one full teaspoon of a serrano pepper, the hottest pepper available at my market. I found one teaspoon to be the perfect amount of heat for this stir-fry.

A Scotch bonnet rates anywhere from 100,000 - 350,000 units (heat rating) on the Scoville scale, as where a serrano pepper rates at 10,000 - 23,000 units - a big difference! Its equivalent would be the habenero - this too was not available to me at the time.


This cute little pepper got its name from the resemblance to the Tam o' Shanter hat - a bonnet worn by Scottish men. (I know your day would not be complete without this bit of trivia.) :)

Mise en place.

Bowl 1: Onion, garlic, ginger
Bowl 2: Oil (I normally don't put my oil in bowls; my bottle was empty and needed cleaning.)
Bowl 3: Chicken, soy sauce, salt, pepper
Bowl 4: Oil
Bowl 5: Mango chutney, dark soy sauce, serrano pepper (recipe called for Scotch bonnet)
Bowl 6: Cilantro

This is one of those recipes that stick with you - the ones that you can't stop thinking about. I was lucky that there was a small amount left over (believe me, it was hard to leave any behind - but I'm trying to be good) to have for my lunch the next day. It may have been a small amount, buy I savored every morsel.

Y o u  m u s t  g e t  t h i s  b o o k ! ! !  The recipes will have you in a state of eternal bliss ~ especially this one.

We are asked not to post the recipes here on our blog. If you would like the recipe, you will find it on page 116 of Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge, which you can purchase at your local bookstore or find it at your local library. I highly recommend purchasing the book - you won't be disappointed. 

Wok Wednesdays is an online cooking group. If you would like information about joining us, click here, or visit us on Facebook. Would love for you to wok along with us!

Grace recommends the 14-inch flat bottom carbon steel wok. You can purchase this wok at The Wok Shop when in San Francisco, or on-line by clicking here.