Category Archives: Cook-a-Longs R Us

Blueberries Gone Bonkers: A Galette Story

Pie, why are you not in my mouth already?

Pie, why are you not in my mouth already?

This week my bake-a-long group is making Dorie Greenspan’s Summer-Market Galette, from her Baking Chez Moi cookbook. What’s a galette? It’s basically a free-form pie.

How to make a galette:

  1. Take a pie crust (I suggest my recipe, ‘natch!), place it on a cookie tray, rolled out into a rough circle.
  2.  Sprinkle a little flour on the pie crust, except for a few inches around the edge.
  3.  Dump your filling on it, mounding it in the centre.
  4.  Fold the edges over.
  5.  Stick in the oven and bake in a hot oven until crust is golden brown and filling is forkable (it’s a word, really! Says I.)
  6.  Let cool (just enough so you won’t burn your tongue).
  7.  Eat!
  8.  Repeat steps six and seven as necessary. This step is pretty obvious, amirite?

In other words, it’s pretty darn easy!

Put down your camera and eat me #whathepiesaid

Put down your camera and eat me #whathepiesaid

Dorie’s recipe takes the basic galette recipe and makes it a bit more upmarket, of course. She gives the recipe for a galette crust that is flaky and browns wonderfully (I still prefer my vodka crust to be honest, but Dorie’s galette dough does hold its shape wonderfully, I have to say), and suggests using crumbled butter cookies (les petits beurres) or crumbled leftover brioche instead of flour to soak up the juices (personally, I don’t have leftover brioche lying around. And if I did, I wouldn’t be wasting it on the bottom of a pie crust. Just saying.). Her recipe calls for summer fruits, such as nectarines, plums, blueberries, and pluots (ever had one? I haven’t, but I’d love to! The love child of a plum and an apricot has got to be delicious, don’t you think?), all seasoned with lime zest and finely chopped ginger. The final touch is a sprinkle of decorative sugar all around the edge of the galette, complemented by an apple jelly glaze. These changes definitely makes the humble country galette a tad more upscale, wouldn’t you say?

And speaking of changes, I wouldn’t be the Queen of Substitutions if I didn’t make some changes to the recipe myself. I decided to use only blueberries. Why? Because blueberries were on sale this week ($2/lb, which is pretty darn cheap for Toronto) and the DH bought 14 lbs. Oh yeah! I’ve made blueberry muffins, dried blueberries, blueberry jam, added blueberries to my homemade yoghurt (recipe to come in a future post!), and ate bowls and bowls of blueberries as a snack. And there are still blueberries. So, a blueberry galette it was!

Other changes? I roughly estimated the ginger, zesting it from some frozen ginger I had in the freezer instead of finely chopping some fresh ginger. The lime zest I replaced with clementine zest simply because that was the only citrus in the house. For the decorative sugar, I used the pearl sugar I bought for another bake-a-long recipe, and it definitely added a nice touch.

Dear reader...I ate him.

Dear reader…I ate him.

And the result? Gorgeous! Also tasty, which is the whole point. (Pretty is as pretty does, but tasty is where it’s at, yo’!) I’d recommend the recipe! I’m sure it’s extra good when one follows the mixed-fruit recipe in Dorie’s cookbook. I can’t wait to see what everyone else in my bake-a-long thought!

Linking up at Southern Bite.

Next Post: The Ultimate Sandwich Bread? Grow-Your-Own Sprouts? Easy as 1-2-3 Homemade Yoghurt? Skor Mini Cupcakes? Oh, the delicious dilemma, I tell you what!

Rose Frasier & the Case of the Missing Garnish

Who has seen the garnish? Neither you, nor I....

Who has seen the garnish? Neither you, nor I….

I’ll start at the end of the story: It was delicious. I regret nothing.

But perhaps I should start at the beginning?

It was a dark and stormy night (ok, it was just dark and night, no storms to be seen) and I was cooking up a storm in my cozy kitchen. Minestrone soup was bubbling on the stove, the DH was tucked away in his man-cave, and all was well with the world.

Or was it?

Who knows what darkness lurks in the heart of men, and when that darkness leads to the filching and consumption of…garnishes, well, the bell tolls for thee, my friend, the bell tolls for thee.

Ah, but stay with me, and I will tell you a story of hunger, of cravings, of…substitutions? (SUBSITUTIONS IN THE HOUSE, YO’!)

So. My online baking group is baking a Rose Frasier cake from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking Chez Moi cookbook this week. It’s a fluffy yoghurt cake, flavoured with rose extract, filled with strawberries and a mixture of whipping cream and pastry cream. The strawberries are sliced so that you can see the layers of strawberry and cream in a pretty design on the sides of the cake.

In process. Good enough to eat as is, really!

In process. Good enough to eat as is, really!

Things I switched up, because you know I did:

  • I halved the recipe.
  • I didn’t have gelatin and also, it’s not vegetarian, so I added agar-agar while making the pastry cream, a big, heaping tablespoon full, and then crossed my fingers that it would work.
  • I had two egg whites left after making the pastry cream, and needed 1 1/2 eggs for the cake, so I used 1 egg and the two egg whites.
  • I didn’t have plain Greek yoghurt, so I used lactose-free probiotic strawberry yoghurt in the cake.
  • I didn’t use rose extract in the cake because yuck. (I know, it’s very fancy and elegant. But my senses insist that there is something inherently wrong with eating a rose. Roses are for smelling and looking at, not for chomping on, says my olfactory & gustatory systems. So, out with the rose extract and in with the vanilla extract.)
  • I made two small loaf pan cakes, and 1 mini cake, instead of the regular sized cake Dorie made.
  • I used a parchment paper wrap to hold the filling in place while it set, because when I tried it without, it was a (tasty) mess.
  • I didn’t use red currant jelly for the glaze; I used some red wine jelly I had leftover from goodness knows when that I found in the back of my fridge.
  • I didn’t use whipping cream for the topping, I used leftover filling. And I drizzled the afore-mentioned red currant jelly over that.

I assembled the two loaf cakes (so fluffy! so perfectly golden!) and the DH and I each ate one with gusto. Delish! Then I assembled the one that I wanted to photograph. But I wanted the filling to set before I garnished it. I sliced the very last of the strawberries and sprinkled sugar on them. And then I went to do some errands/chores/busywork/what-have-you. When I came back…oh, the horror! The garnish was gone! All that was left was the empty bowl, with some syrupy red remnants of what it once held.

*shakes fist in air in the direction of DH’s man-cave*

Pre-garnish. Looking oh, so lonesome.

Pre-garnish. Looking oh, so lonesome.

So, improvisation. Wine jelly streaks as garnish instead of artfully arranged sugared strawberries.

The DH popped his head in the kitchen, looking for a midnight snack. I told the DH the cake wasn’t ready. He went to bed.

And then I ate it all.

Like I said, I regret nothing!

(My arteries probably disagree, considering all the whipping cream, but they’re not the boss of me! Also, I plan to be suitably penitent and add in dehydrated broccoli powder to my kale smoothie tomorrow. Wild and crazy times in this here home, I tell you.)

TLDR; the DH ate my garnish. But I ate the cake! BWA-HA-HA!

Next Post: Skor Cupcakes! Yum-city!

Of Comfort Food & Waistlines: Rice Pudding & Spiced Hibiscus Syrup

Luscious creaminess or creamy lusciousness, either or.

Luscious creaminess or creamy lusciousness. Whichever way you describe it, it’s pretty darn good!

This week, my online bake-a-long group is making the Rice Pudding with Spiced Hibiscus Syrup from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking Chez Moi cookbook. I have a lot meals out and celebrations planned this week, so I didn’t want to make a full batch of rice pudding (I mean, I did, but I thought of my waistline and prudence won over gluttony indulgence). I asked the DH if he liked rice pudding. No, he said. So I made half the recipe.

I had to make a couple of substitutions, though. I didn’t have full-fat milk, so I used 1% (lactose-free, shout-out to all the lactose-intolerant peeps in the house!) and added in a tablespoon of butter to make up for the lack of creamy milk fat. I also didn’t have half of a vanilla bean pod, so I used a teaspoon of vanilla extract. Eh, close enough.

FYI, I don’t like rice. I just don’t like it. However, I happened to have some Arborio rice in the cupboard from the last time I made a risotto for the DH so lucky me, no having to buy special ingredients! I did however, not buy the hibiscus tea that was called for in the syrup recipe, instead using a fruit tea from David’s Tea that I happened to have lying around the house. Not entirely sure which blend it was — something fruity, at any rate!

I also didn’t have cardamom pods, so I sprinkled in some powdered cardamom when making the syrup. And I didn’t have whole black peppercorns, so I sprinkled in some ground black pepper. I’m sure the foodies and purists out there are shuddering in horror, but I strained the resultant syrup and it worked out anyway. Good enough, says I!

I admit to taking the first bite.

I admit to taking the first bite.

When cooking the rice pudding, Dorie says to watch the pot to make sure it doesn’t boil over, which, too late, already happened. But after that, I did sit in the kitchen working on some paperwork and getting up to stir it every few minutes. Paperwork, wow, I feel like that almost dates me! Everything is online these days (bills, banking, even bloodwork results). One of these days paperwork will go the way of the cassette player and cursive handwriting and we’ll all be reminiscing about the paper tigers of yesteryear.

The DH poked his nose out of the man-cave and saw the bowl of rice pudding cooling on the counter prior to my placing it in the fridge (which, spoiler alert, it never actually got to). He scurried over and ate a couple of spoons.  Apparently he does like rice pudding, at least this recipe!

Enter the DH!

Enter the DH!

I also liked this recipe! Was creamy and yummy and full of flavour. We ate the whole bowl while it was still warm, along with most of the spiced hibiscus syrup, aka spiced fruity syrup. The leftover fruity syrup I add to a pitcher of homemade iced tea. Now it’s fruity iced tea! Delicious! Also full of caffeine so I limited myself to a taste and then put it in the fridge to drink tomorrow. Wish I had some of the rice pudding left too! I’d totally make this recipe again, and leave off the syrup. The rice pudding is super delicious all on its own!

Next Post: Dinner Roll Odyssey. No, really! I’ve been working on adapting a recipe that I found, but there are still a few tweaks that I want to make, so I’ll do that and then post it in the next week or so. Will be worth it!  

Enter the Unexpected: Life, Health, and Chocolate Cake

Gleaming lusciously, just waiting for a fork.

Gleaming lusciously, just waiting for a fork.

I’ve missed a few posts lately for my online bake-a-long group. Why? Life, really. A change of weather brought a never-ending headache with it, and when that finally went away (after a week!), my insomnia went rampant and left me completely sleepless for a night. After 36 hours without a wink of sleep during the busiest time of year for my work, I crashed hard the next night…followed by a headache for a couple of days. Anyway, what with one thing and another, I missed posting. So this is a make-up post!

A make-up post about what? “Betty’s Chocoholic Cake“, from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking Chez Moi. I looked at the picture that Dorie has in her cookbook and it looked a tad dry to me, but also super-duper chocolately and yummy! In order to eat a slice and not feel horribly unhealthy, my dinner tonight was made up of a kale smoothie. My lunch tomorrow? Kale salad.

Me being me, I used chocolate chips from my local Bulk Barn as opposed to 65 % Valhrona chocolate, because my grocery bill is big enough without buying (admittedly delicious) high-end chocolate.

Divots waiting to be filled with ganache.

Divots waiting to be filled with ganache.

Also, I don’t have three cake pans (I have two), so I just baked all the batter in two pans. Not a good idea, as you can see. When I took the cakes out, let them cool, and turned them out, there were little divots in my layers! Nooo! It looked like someone put their fingers in it very ham-fistedly. (“I’ll stick my thumb here, and here, and here, and oh look, here too!”)

Eh, I thought, the ganache will cover that up! And indeed, it did. I topped the cake with shavings/curls from a bar of chocolate that I took a vegetable peeler to, and let it sit for about 30 seconds before taking a knife to it. But before that….

When I finished the cake, I proudly brought it to the DH’s man-cave, where he was working away on his computer.

Me: Look, sweetheart! I made a fancy cake!

DH: Who is that for?

Me: Me!!!

DH *blows me a raspberry*

Ah, love’s young dream, n’est pas? *grin*

But enough witty banter (ha! ha! Banter! ha! *blows raspberry herself*), what was the verdict on the cake, you say?

Oozing chocolate ganache. Actually, this is a desirable thing, wouldn't you say?

Oozing chocolate ganache. Actually, this is a desirable thing, wouldn’t you say?

Not my fave. I’m very disappointed. Too dense, too much like a flourless chocolate cake (avec divots) and super-duper rich and (I hardly knew this was possible) too sweet. Just overall too much. I plan to stick it in the freezer and sloooooowly eat it over the next year. Yes, it’s that intense that a teeny, tiny slice will do ya. And this is me we’re talking about! Chocolate Queen herself! So sadly, whether it’s my substitutions or just my taste, I wouldn’t recommend it.

What I’m actually craving? A kale smoothie. Mmm…I think I’ll have one for breakfast tomorrow!

Next Post: Bread! Buns! Le pain! An odyssey.

Tarte Tropezienne and Finding a Balance in the Kitchen

Patience is a virtue, and this cake is only too happy to teach it to you.

Patience is a virtue, and this cake is only too happy to teach it to you.

When it comes to me and my kitchen time, the DH and I have different views.

The DH alternates between “Why are you baking so much? Bake less or we’ll gain weight!” and “Is it done? Is it done yet? *waits a beat* Now is it done??”

I alternate between throw-it-all-together (pretty much my standard approach) and getting into the slow-food zen of multi-part recipes that take multi parts of my days.

This week’s bake-a-long recipe was a zen sort of experience. My bake-a-long group is making Dorie Greenspan’s Tarte Tropezienne from her Baking Chez Moi cookbook. I hadn’t read the recipe beforehand, just skimmed the ingredient list to make sure I had everything in stock, so it was a bit of a shock to realize that I had to make the dough, let the dough rise, chill the dough, let the dough rise again, roll it out, possibly let it rise again (frankly, I had tuned out after the first rising, so I’m not even sure if this final rising was actually even outlined in the recipe), before even baking the brioche style cake.

Sugar-crusted brioche layers.

Sugar-crusted brioche layers, awkwardly photographed, because no patience.

And after all the rising and the chilling and the losing track of which rising and flattening I was on, then came making the pastry cream. And letting that chill. And then folding in the whipping cream, spreading it inside the (chilled) cake, and then letting that chill. Frankly, it was either scream or…chill. Guess which one I went with?

That’s right, I took a deep breath and chilled out. As much as I love eating the product of my labour (and in fact it is most of the reason I labour at all), I also can appreciate the meditative aspect of a multi-part recipe. Even if I begrudge the waiting for the eating.

The DH, on the other hand, once he accepted that I was baking and he would be *cough* forced *cough* to eat it, he couldn’t wait and hovered over me while I put the cake together. I gave up on the final chilling, and just photographed it and we ate half of one of the two mini tartes that I had made. Then I chilled the rest. Am now lying on the sofa and…wait for it…chilling, while I write up my post.

Looking light, but full of eggs and butter.

Looking light, but full of eggs and butter. Alternative caption: Awkward cake is deliciously awkward.

My final take on this recipe? Is good. I found the pastry cream a tad too eggy for my taste (even after adding in a splash of rum), but it is a nice light (in texture, albeit not calories) treat to serve with tea. Which, actually, I shall be doing! I’m throwing a tea tasting later on this week, so I’ve frozen one of the tartes according to Dorie’s instructions. Hopefully it thaws well! At any rate, it’ll be well chilled! *tee hee hee*

Next Post: Dinner Roll Odyssey! Or something else. Maybe mini mint chocolate cupcakes? Mmm….