The past two days, I’ve spent quite a bit of time remembering much of what I enjoyed most about blogging — the community, the camaraderie. I know it’s been three months since I’ve written here, but often, things change. Sadly, sometimes they change forever.
After all the years I’ve spent experimenting with recipes I feel I’ve got a decent grasp of which flavors work together, but tend to be a traditionalist — especially in the savory department. Cilantro goes with onion, tomatoes, spicy peppers, and citrus. Basil goes with tomatoes, onions, garlic, and olive oil. Bell peppers go with celery and onions. Once in a while, I’ll play around with one of the combinations, but not often.
I scan the ingredient list of an accomplished chef’s recipe and think, really? wondering where their inspiration comes from. I dissect it with my own familiarity of and opinion about each flavor in an attempt to understand how one works with the other, but know that my simple lack of experience is my biggest obstacle. It’s a slow process, but it works if I’m in the mood to tackle one of the often complicated recipes. Again — not very often. And even when I do, the experience is rarely if ever repeated, so my ability to grow knowledge beyond my traditional ingredient choices peters out. Well, except for that dense, rich, dark chocolate tart I’ve made a few times with cayenne and chipotles in adobo. But still.
A good example of my semi lack of awareness would be with maple syrup. It makes me think of breakfast: bacon or ham, eggs, hash browns. I think of Fall for some reason because I think of apples. Apples + maple syrup + walnuts = great with a German pancake. Chalk this up to someone who grew up about as far as one can get from maple trees and their accompanying “sugaring-off” season which occurs as winter’s cold temperatures wane into spring. Sasha Chapman’s article “The Sweet Life: Maple Syrup Season in Quebec” published this past March in Saveur magazine provided an excellent foundation to restructure my thinking about maple flavored anything — authentically, of course. I was drawn into Chapman’s nostalgic description of how Canadians gather in the “sugar shack” and work within the family to make syrup, waiting for that first taste of the season.
Why use maple syrup as an example to explain my not so edge-cutting ingredient combining ability? Because it’s what the Daring Bakers were challenged with this month. Color me surprised. The April 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Evelyne of the blog Cheap Ethnic Eatz. Evelyne chose to challenge everyone to make a maple mousse in an edible container. Prizes are being awarded to the most creative edible container and filling, so vote on your favorite from April 27th to May 27th at http://thedaringkitchen.com!
I had to do a bit of reading to get my head out of my maple syrup rut and consider what flavors might work with a mousse.
There are berries everywhere…
Resisting the addition of a chiffonade of basil, a piquant maple balsamic vinegar reduction was added, and voila.
As the morning unfolds on this the day of the February Daring Baker’s reveal, I’m proud to say I finished my challenge a few weeks ago, which could imply that this post was written and ready to auto publish at midnight. But no. I guess that with respect to me, it is possible to be too organized. Best laid plans, right?
Thursday: 8:10 am
I swore I'd not be late on this month's Daring Baker's challenge. I even mentioned to others I'd complete it two weeks into the month, but time has a way of passing so quickly these days and before I knew it, this week was upon me and bearing down hard.
Two days ago, I cut some forms for the tuiles we are to have made. And even yesterday, I retrieved some egg whites from the freezer to thaw so I could begin work. But did I? No. So here I am today just getting started.
I know what you're thinking. What a slacker. And you'd be right, but it's only a bit after 8am, and I've got plenty of time even with the refrigeration time that's required for the recipe.
I'm thinking that zabaglione or pots de creme should go with my tuiles. But I'll let you know. So come back later even though you've got hundreds of others to visit. I'll be posting in stages. This month's challenge is
brought to us by Karen of Bake My Day and Zorra of 1x umruehren bitte
aka Kochtopf. They have chosen Tuiles from The Chocolate Book by
AngÃ©lique Schmeink and Nougatine and Chocolate Tuiles from Michel Roux.
The good news is that it's still Thursday. Even better? I'm done with the tuiles! They're very easy to make, but do require a 30-minute refrigeration time before baking, and if you're me, then you forgot to turn on the oven and had to wait an addition period of time after the cookies were were already on the chilled baking sheets. It never fails…
Very few ingredients are needed to make tuiles: only 1/4 c. softened butter, 1/2 c. sifted powdered sugar, 1/2 c. sifted all-purpose flour, 2 large egg whites, and a splash of vanilla.
The soft butter and powdered sugar are mixed to a paste, the egg whites added gradually while stirring to bring the mixture together.
The flour is added gradually as well, stirring, but not over-mixing until everything comes together. A splash of vanilla is incorporated and then the whole mixture goes into the fridge for about 30 minutes. Line the baking sheets with parchment or silicone and chill them as well.
Use some cardboard to cut out the shape you'd like to use. I used corregated cardboard and then pinched the inside edges before using an offset spatula to spread batter over the forms.
If you'd like, add some of the cocoa powder to a small amount of the batter and mix well before spooning it into a decorators bag with a plain tip. Make whatever decorations you'd like and then put the sheets into a 350 degrees F oven for about 7 minutes or until the edges of the tuiles are barely brown.
Remove them immediately from the pan with a thin edged spatula and use wooden spoon handles or rolling pins to shape them. But you really have to hurry, because if you don't, then yours will be as flat and crisp as mine, poor little cute things.
Have some fun making other shapes, too, and maybe, just maybe, you'll be able to twist a few!
Okay, off to make the dessert they'll go in.
Yes, it's late. A lot later than I thought I'd be, but the goings on of a day tend to make some things take longer than I'd like. Especially this dessert which, by comparison, is very easy.
1 lg. egg
1 lg. egg yolk
1/3 c. sugar
zest of 1 orange
1/3 c. freshly squeezed orange juice
1 T lemon juice
For the dessert…
0% fat Greek yogurt
Prepare an ice bath in a bowl large enough to set the top pan of a double boiler.
In the top of a double boiler pan, whisk the eggs until foamy. Gradually mix in the sugar whisking until well combined. Add the juices and the zest, mixing well. Place the pan over a gently simmering pan of water and stir the citrus mixture constantly until the mixture thickens like a pudding. Place the pan in the ice bath and continue to stir until it cools.
To create a light dessert, section an additional orange and place the segments in a wide-mouthed glass. Make sure they're well drained or the juice will pool in the bottom of the glass. In a small bowl mix 1/2 of the chilled sabayon and 1/4 c. of the yogurt. To serve, mound the orange yogurt sabayon over the oranges. Don't forget to include the tuiles!
- The tuiles are surprisingly easy to make. Unfortunately, I baked mine for 7 minutes instead of 5 while I was looking for the browned edges and then didn't move quite fast enough to get them positioned over the rolling pin and wooden spoon handles. I did have a chance to try it with another batch, so know not to bake them quite so long.
- The sabayon is also easy to put together. If you wanted to fatten it up a bit, you could mix it with whipped cream and/or a bit of mascarpone.
Here I am on a Saturday morning, writing the post for the Daring Bakers’ November challenge. It’s due today, but with all the chaos of construction in our house, and cooking for Thanksgiving, somehow there wasn’t time to write. Let me rethink that: I didn’t feel like writing until this morning. In fact, baking hasn’t been all that enjoyable since the space I normally work in is being shared with this Mac, a printer, and all sorts of other lovely things that usually have places somewhere upstairs, like bills, and catalogues, magazines I’ve got recipes tagged in, and things I don’t want to lose track of — like the check book we couldn’t find yesterday when we needed it for the contractor. It’s a complete dust covered disaster.
To complete the image, my son’s computer is set up on a card table directly behind mine, so it’s a tight squeeze with the two of us sitting back to back, clicking and pecking away.
Needless to say, my kitchen is always in some stage of being used and in a reduced space, I’m exhausted with trying to make it look reasonable, too. Good thing this month’s challenge was such a breeze — and a completely delicious one!
This month, we’ve had the opportunity to delve into Eggbeater author & chef Shuna Fish Lydon’s recipe for Caramel Cake with Caramelized Butter Frosting. Additionally, we could choose to make Alice Medrich’s Golden Vanilla Bean Caramels, but I bowed out on this one to save for another time. Many thanks to this month’s hosts, Dolores of Chronicles in Culinary Curiosity, Alex of Blondie and Brownie, and Jenny of Foray into Food, for such excellent choices. Natalie of Gluten a Go Go assisted with quantities and ingredients for alternative diets. Nice job, ladies!
Browned Butter and Caramel? Oh my. Absolutely perfect flavors for the season! Wait. Isn’t browned butter good in any season?
That’s what I thought. Now add some lovely hazelnuts and pear crisps and voila!