It’s been a year since I’ve posted a Daring Baker challenge, and I’m hanging my head over it. Actually, I’ve just crawled out from under the rock where I’ve been hiding. Last March, the delicious Citrus Tian Dessert made with blood oranges and California Cuties marked the start of an extended absence from the once a month fun I’d enjoyed with the Daring Bakers for several years. Five months went by before I tackled another challenge — the Baked Alaska last August for one of my son’s birthdays — but that less than counts since I never posted it. I kept saying I would, but didn’t. Pathetic.
But I’m back. At least I think I am, and wanting to make sure I don’t miss out on any more. In fact, I just might join in on the Daring Kitchen challenges since I find myself with no excuse not to join in on that fun as well. I know I’ve missed out on some good recipes, but it’s more the sense of community generated by each of the monthly events I crave. I miss the easy, relaxing camaraderie. I miss it a lot.
The March 2011 Daring Baker’s Challenge was hosted by Ria of Ria’s Collection and Jamie of Life’s a Feast. Ria and Jamie challenged The Daring Bakers to bake a yeasted Meringue Coffee Cake. Maybe that’s why it was go easy to get back in the saddle this month. Coffee cake is something everyone seems to enjoy. When I co-hosted the Daring Bakers in July of 2008, I chose a Danish Braid which is made with yeasted, laminated dough. If shape counts, this Pastry Ring with Chocolate and Cardamom is made of a yeasted dough, also in layers, and is remarkably similar in appearance to this month’s challenge.
But this coffee cake dough feels like bread dough to me. It looks like bread dough, smells like bread dough when it is baking, and looks like bread after it’s sliced. I’m thinking it’s somewhat like a cinnamon bread dough, only filled with meringue. Ah, that would be what intrigued me about this challenge most. The meringue.
I had fun deciding exactly what I’d put in the filling — give it a shot since it doesn’t involve all the turning and rolling involved in the Danish Braid and Pastry Ring, and you will too.
A good friend of mine turned 40 recently and decided to celebrate by inviting her girlfriends to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico for a week. The plans were made seemingly forever ago, but time flies when you’re busy, doesn’t it? Since that time, we’ve had construction on our house, my sister and her family came to stay during the holidays, and then my husband’s busy season set in as it always does. From one year to the next, I can never quite figure out how April finally gets here, but it thankfully does. Normally about this time, my husband and I would be in Las Vegas where he enjoys unwinding for a couple of days, but in the fashion I’ve grown accustomed to in the years we’ve been married, he’s sending me off with good natured smiles — and threats of taking photos of all he and my son eat while I’m away. I can’t wait to see that.
This past weekend, we’ve been out and about enjoying the spring weather here, and had friends over for dinner. Oh, yes — and cheesecake. Lots and lots of cheesecake. Now that I think of it, I must have had my almost tropical vacation on my mind when I conjured up these particular cheesecakes and didn’t realize it. Or maybe it was that mangos have been on sale here. And strawberries. They go together quite well, you know, and what a coincidence that it’s time for my Daring Bakers’ challenge.
The April 2009 challenge is hosted by Jenny from Jenny Bakes. She has chosen Abbey’s Infamous Cheesecake as the challenge. Many thanks to her for this delightfully tasty recipe. Continue reading
My mother lives in a senior community. Whatever stereotypes you may conjure up when seeing that particular label, my mother doesn’t fit any of them. Quite a few of the other residents fit the bill, however. One of the great features of living in this particular senior community is the ability to have your very own garden plot, and since my mother has an abundance of green thumbs she figured out very quickly how to get one of those plots. Not only did she get her own garden plot, but she met her Romeo in the process since he had a garden of his own as well. I can just see them meeting over the Swiss Chard — or maybe it was that he left her a little note under a rock where she would find it while pulling weeds.
Regardless, the romance is months and months new now, and the couple not only has two small gardens, but the largest corner garden in the community which is sure to have a few folks grumbling over the unfairness of it all. Although many of those who have a garden plot don’t seem to take very good care of them, my mother’s garden is quickly taking shape with a pebbled path made from hand-picked beach pebbles and Objes d’Art sitting here and there.
I’m not always the best of daughters so it’s taken me a while to get in my car and drive the whopping 15 minutes to go and see what will soon be an amazingly beautiful oasis if I know my mother. To make sure she didn’t smack me around to hard for taking so long to visit, I decided to butter her up with some muffins.
She likes my food, and evidently, so does her Romeo.
I love baked apples; in pies, cobblers, cakes, — you name it, and I love them. But I think apple crisp is my favorite. I’ll blame it on my brother since he was crazy over it when we were growing up. And if he knew I was playing around with an old favorite, he’d roll his eyes and tell me I was ridiculous.
But I already know that. It makes life much more interesting — especially if one’s a foodie. Understanding how flavors and textures work with one another opens up so many possibilities, and waiting for that first bite after the experimentation is done is so worthwhile.
The perfect baked apple dessert is a bite of still slightly crunchy, and tart — nothing too sweet or soft.
So when I thought about the ingredients in this apple crisp, it only made sense that if pomegranates were included, then pistachios should be included as well. Both are native to Iran, but now grown in California. Pistachios are one of nature’s amazing foods — packed with antioxidants just like pomegranates. If you’re a nut lover, then it will help to know that while you’re munching your way through a hand full, you’re helping your HDL levels as well.
I’d say that with all that good info, this dessert not only fits the comfort food bill, it’s healthy, too.
I've always loved Brussels sprouts. I guess the fact that my mother didn't cook vegetables in general until they were soft and grey helped. The Brussels sprouts we had on our plates were most often whole, frozen, then cooked in a bit of water for a short time before butter and salt were added. No nonsense, and flavorful — if you're someone who enjoys a bit of a cabbage taste.
Brussels sprouts are a cruciferous vegetable and like broccoli, cauliflower, kale, bok choy, and cabbage, are extremely good for you. Research has shown that specific types of cancer are less prevalent in individuals who regularly eat cruciferous vegetables — or vegetables that contain sulphorous compounds, which contribute to their strong flavor. I know that doesn't always encourage people to want to try them, but I believe that often, the reason people won't eat vegetables is because they've been prepared improperly, and they're not sure what they're supposed to taste like.
Recently, I received a variety of lovely nut and dried fruit products from Oh Nuts! to sample in recipes of my choice. They sell an amazing variety of bulk items and gift products perfect for the holidays — whether you're cooking, or making gift baskets. Their Shelled Raw Pistachios are a perfect compliment to sauteed Brussels sprouts.
What you can learn from this recipe is that sauteed Brussels sprouts have quite a nutty flavor — and not because of the pistachios! If you're someone who's not thrilled about Brussels sprouts, this recipe will change your mind. I know it.