Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Do Re Mi Fa Soooooooooooooooooooo(l)...

sweet! Oh, and ...La Ti Do! This month's Daring Baker challenge was was a new one for Opera Cake! This is a beautiful, layered dessert. Unfortunately, I didn't have a reason to make it. No parties, no birthdays, no wedding showers, no baby showers...yet, I had missed last month and "had" to participate this month. So, I made a half batch yesterday. Guess I'll take some to my parents' best friends to get some feedback. The original Opera Cake is apparently a chocolate and coffee flavored concoction, yet this month we were restricted to light flavors and colors. The jaconde is made with almond meal, and though at first I thought it tasted a bit eggy, it really turned out well. I used vanilla to flavor my syrup, which at first, I thought was an unneccessary part of the recipe. Turns out I was wrong, it really adds to the taste and texture of the finished product. As to the buttercream, I've said before how I just don't like buttercream...I feel like I'm eating butter and don't care for the film over the roof of my mouth afterwards. So, I used the mousse as my filling instead of the buttercream. This turned out well and helped to lighten the overall effect. I made the white chocolate mousse with a bit of lime flavoring added (and some green food coloring!). To top it all off, I made the white chocolate glaze. My attempt to make music notes failed as the glaze ran everywhere within seconds after application...thus, this very quickly snapped photograph! All in all, this really was a quick and dare I say simple dessert. I do think my jaconde wasn't QUITE finished cooking, but it still turned out well. Just be calm when you see the length of recipes, as length doesn't mean difficult or incredibly involved. It just had a few steps and probably only took about an hour to complete! If I have an occasion to make this again, I probably would...but with fourth year and residency upcoming, I don't know when the music of this dessert would need to grace my table! Thanks to Lis, Ivonne, Fran, and Shea for hosting! Oh, yeah! Be sure to check out Barbara's LiveSTRONG event as well...that's why we kept the colors light! Opéra Cake based on Opéra Cake recipes in Dorie Greenspan’s Paris Sweets and Tish Boyle and Timothy Moriarty’s Chocolate Passion

For the joconde - can be made up to 1 day in advance and kept wrapped at room temperature

2 12½ x 15½-inch (31 x 39-cm) jelly-roll pans - I used round cake pans
6 large egg whites, at room temperature
2 tbsp. (30 grams) granulated sugar
2 cups (225 grams) almond meal
2 cups icing sugar, sifted
6 large eggs
½ cup (70 grams) all-purpose flour
3 tbsp. (1½ ounces; 45 grams) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Preheat the oven to 425◦F. (220◦C).
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or using a handheld mixer), beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Add the granulated sugar and beat until the peaks are stiff and glossy. If you do not have another mixer bowl, gently scrape the meringue into another bowl and set aside.
If you only have one bowl, wash it after removing the egg whites or if you have a second bowl, use that one. Attach the paddle attachment to the stand mixer (or using a handheld mixer again) and beat the almonds, icing sugar and eggs on medium speed until light and voluminous, about 3 minutes. Add the flour and beat on low speed until the flour is just combined (be very careful not to overmix here!!!).
Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the meringue into the almond mixture and then fold in the melted butter. Divide the batter between the pans and spread it evenly to cover the entire surface of each pan. Bake the cake layers until they are lightly browned and just springy to the touch. This could take anywhere from 5 to 9 minutes depending on your oven.
Put the pans on a heatproof counter and run a sharp knife along the edges of the cake to loosen it from the pan. Let the cakes cool to room temperature.

For the syrup - The syrup can be made up to 1 week in advance and kept covered in the refrigerator

½ cup (125 grams) water
⅓ cup (65 grams) granulated sugar
1 to 2 tbsp. of the flavouring of your choice

1.Stir all the syrup ingredients together in the saucepan and bring to a boil.
2.Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature.

For the buttercream - I didn't make this!
1 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
¼ cup (60 grams) water
seeds of one vanilla bean (split a vanilla bean down the middle and scrape out the seeds) or 1 tbsp. pure vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1¾ sticks (7 ounces; 200 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
flavouring of your choice

1.Combine the sugar, water and vanilla bean seeds or extract in a small saucepan and warm over medium heat just until the sugar dissolves.
2.Continue to cook, without stirring, until the syrup reaches 225◦F (107◦C) [*Note: Original recipe indicates a temperature of 255◦F (124◦C), however, when testing the recipe I found that this was too high so we heated to 225◦F and it worked fine] on a candy or instant-read thermometer. Once it reaches that temperature, remove the syrup from the heat.
3.While the syrup is heating, begin whisking the egg and egg yolk at high speed in the bowl of your mixer using the whisk attachment. Whisk them until they are pale and foamy.
4.When the sugar syrup reaches the correct temperature and you remove it from the heat, reduce the mixer speed to low speed and begin slowly (very slowly) pouring the syrup down the side of the bowl being very careful not to splatter the syrup into the path of the whisk attachment. Some of the syrup will spin onto the sides of the bowl but don’t worry about this and don’t try to stir it into the mixture as it will harden!
5.Raise the speed to medium-high and continue beating until the eggs are thick and satiny and the mixture is cool to the touch (about 5 minutes or so).
6.While the egg mixture is beating, place the softened butter in a bowl and mash it with a spatula until you have a soft creamy mass.
7.With the mixer on medium speed, begin adding in two-tablespoon chunks. When all the butter has been incorporated, raise the mixer speed to high and beat until the buttercream is thick and shiny.
8.At this point add in your flavouring and beat for an additional minute or so.9.Refrigerate the buttercream, stirring it often, until it’s set enough (firm enough) to spread when topped with a layer of cake (about 20 minutes).

White chocolate ganache/mousse
7 ounces white chocolate
1 cup plus
3 tbsp. heavy cream (35% cream)
*I added two small packets of Real Lime flavoring

1.Melt the white chocolate and the 3 tbsp. of heavy cream in a small saucepan.
2.Stir to ensure that it’s smooth and that the chocolate is melted.
3.In the bowl of a stand mixer, whip the remaining 1 cup of heavy cream until soft peaks form. Add RealLime
4.Gently fold the whipped cream into the cooled chocolate to form a mousse.
5.If it’s too thin, refrigerate it for a bit until it’s spreadable.

For the glaze - make the glaze right when you’re ready to finish the cake

14 ounces white chocolate, coarsely chopped
½ cup heavy cream (35% cream)

1.Melt the white chocolate with the heavy cream. Whisk the mixture gently until smooth.
2.Let cool for 10 minutes and then pour over the chilled cake. Using a long metal cake spatula, smooth out into an even layer.
3.Place the cake into the refrigerator for 30 minutes to set.

Assembling the Opéra Cake - served slightly chilled. It can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 1 day

Line the serving dish the parchment paper. Cut the cakes into the desired shape. Place one layer on the place. Moisten with the syrup. Spread with 1/2 the buttercream or 1/3 of the mousse (like I did). Top with another layer of cake. Repeat layers. Place the final piece of cake on top and moisten with syrup. Now put mousse or the remained on top. Top with the glad. Refrigerate the cake again to set the glaze. Serve the cake slightly chilled. This recipe will yield approximately 20 servings.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Slimy Goodness

I've had a bag of okra and some shrimp sitting in my freezer for a while! So, last week after my peds test, I pulled them out and made okra, tomatoes, and shrimp along with cornbread. Honestly, one of my favorite things about this is the sliminess of the okra! I know...I''m strange! It was very good and ended up hitting the spot the next day when I woke up with a sore throat. No escaping the germs when you're around sick kids all day! Anyway, this is a great way to get some antioxidants and, thus, is my entry to Cate's ARF Tuesday. Check out the other great recipes there. Okra, Tomatoes, and Shrimp (not so much a recipe as an idea!)
1/2 bag frozen, pre-cooked shrimp, thawed
1 bag cut okra, cooked and drained
1 can stewed tomatoes
1 tomato, diced
After cooking the okra and thawing the shrimp, put the tomatoes and shrimp in the pan with the okra. Then season with some salt and pepper. Enjoy with some rice and cornbread.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Hidden Treasure for a Blog Birthday

Today is my 2 year Blogiversary. It doesn't seem that I've been doing this that long, but then again it doesn't seem like I should have less than a year until I'm a doctor! Yep, I've finished my third year outside of my 6 board exams and Step 2...the follow-up to Step 1 that I took one year ago today. So, in honor of my blog address...CookieDoc...I give you a cookie recipe. This is one that I made for my dad a few months ago. It is based on Dorie's malted cookies. I decided not to put chocolate in them because, numero uno - I didn't feel like making chocolate cookies, and numero dos - I didn't have any cocoa! These ended up better than I thought they'd be upon pulling them out of the oven. You see, I followed instructions and made them with butter. Typically, I don't like the way cookies are when made with butter (with a few exceptions!); they're just too flat and crispy for my tastes. However, though these were flat, they were not too crisp. In fact, they turned out quite soft in a pleasant way. Daddy didn't really say much, but I'm sure he liked them. Malted Whopper Cookies adapted from Dorie Greenspan Baking from my Home to Yours
1 stick plus 3 tablespoons softened butter
2/3 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup milk
2 cups AP flour
1 cup malted milk powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups chopped Whoppers (malted milk balls)
1/2-1 cup mini-chocolate chips Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (I used this...the temperature was not listed in the recipe). Cream butter and sugar for 3 minutes. Add egg and vanilla. If it looks worries! Stir together the dry ingredients. Add half of them to the butter mix and stir. Stir in the milk and then the remaining dry ingredients. Stir in the malted milk balls and chocolate chips. Drop dough onto baking stones/sheets in tablespoons. Bake for 11-13 minutes but do not overbake. Let the cookies cool for ~2 minutes and remove to a cooling rack. Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Birthday Cookies

Over at Sweetnicks, they are celebrating a birthday! So, in honor of the SD I decided to make my entry to ARF-Tuesday a sweet...cookies! No, no birthday cake here today, but I hope that oatmeal cookies will suffice! I came up with this recipe after looking at several different recipes around the web. I decided to add some coarse sea salt to them because I think that burst of saltiness is a fun and different surprise. I made these twice and used 1/2 cup more flour the first time. The batter was really thick and didn't let the cookies spread ANY but I kind of liked the resulting cookies a little reminded me of one of those restaurant cookies except with a homemade look and taste. You know, a bit chewy and "almost" undercooked? Anyway, here's a birthday cookies for Cate's SD! Happy Birthday! Oatmeal Cookies
4 T margarine
4 T shortening
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup AP flour
1/2 cup wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 cups oatmeal
1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 F. Cream margarine, shortening, and sugars together. When creamy beat in egg and vanilla. Add flours, tartar, baking powder, and salt. Stir in oatmeal. Add chips and stir. Place on baking sheets or stones in tablespoons. Bake for 9-10 minutes. Remove to cooling rack and allow to cool.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Snap, Sizzle, Pop

If you've read this blog for any time at all, you'll know that I have a thing for roasting vegetables. I just LOVE roasted eggplant, onion, sweet potato. Mmm! One veggie I haven't tried roasted is green beans. So, last night I decided to roast the fresh green beans that I got at Fresh Market this weekend. I figured that they would be a good side as well as a nice finger snack, which I'll probably take with me on call tomorrow! I imagine they'd be good with dip as well. They turned out great! These are my entry to Cate's ARF Tuesday at Sweetnicks. Stop by and check out all the great entries. Roasted Green Beans
1 lb. fresh green beans
drizzle olive oil
1 onion, diced
sea salt
garlic powder
Nature's Seasoning Wash the beans and snap the ends off the beans. Place them on a roasting pan along with the onion. Drizzle with olive oi, salt, garlic powder, and seasoning. Stir/toss with hands. Place in 425 degree oven and roast for 15-20 minutes or until wrinkled and at desired texture.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

One Wedding, One Cookie, and One Link

This past Saturday, I went to the wedding of one of my brother's friends (This is NOT right...they're getting married and I have yet to date! Oh well!). The wedding was just SO much fun. I didn't expect to have fun, since it wasn't my friend, but the mood was happy, excited, and just fun. Marley, the bride, had great ideas for the reception. His last name is Jones, so they had Jones sodas for the wedding favors. Then, they had an entire table of candy, complete with M&M's, skittles, sour ropes, Jolly Ranchers, Air Heads, and chocolate dipped pretzels and marshmallows (SO GOOD!). Then, the main table had the traditional reception food, cheese, and fruit PLUS a make your own nacho area. So match Marley! Anyway, I knew that I was going to see my dad; so, being the loving daughter that I am, I made him some cookies. I wanted to try something new, so I went in search of a recipe and found this one at Anna's site, Cookie Madness. Let me just tell was SOOOOO good! I think that it's one of the top three chocolate chip cookies I've ever had. It made a lot, so I split the batch and gave some to my brother's girlfriend. She wasn't sure if she would like it because of the coffee and was going to send them home with Philip if she didn't. Well, I got a note from her that said, "I hate to disappoint your parents, but I didn't send the cookies home with Philip. They were so good!" I just hope they gave her some energy for her finals! So, all in all, these are winning cookies. I highly recommend them. On another note before I give you the recipe, check out this new site, Chop, Stir, Mix. I haven't had a chance to look around a lot yet, but they look like they have some good recipes...PLUS, they're having a giveaway. Mocha Chocolate Chip Cookies (from NM Cookbook)
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cool room temp (I used one stick butter, one margarine)
2 cups (450g) golden brown sugar
1/3 cup (65g) superfine sugar (I just used regular sugar)
3 teaspoons instant coffee granules
2 large eggs (I used one)
4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups (490g) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon sea salt (I used 1/2 b/c I only had the crystals and was nervous about it...they kind of provided an interesting taste to this cookie)
3 cups chocolate chips (I used 2)

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Cream butter and sugars. Beat in espresso powder and vanilla. Add eggs and beat until thoroughly smooth. Add dry ingredients and stir to combine. Scoop into tablespoon sized balls (or walnut sized). Flatten slightly. Bake for about 15-20 minutes, until set and very slightly golden around edges. Please do not overbake...the gooey center is the best part!

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Almost a Ruined Dish

Sometimes, my intentions in cooking don't go like I want them to go. A couple of weeks ago, I decided that I wanted to try and make chicken spaghetti-squash (i.e., chicken spaghetti made with spaghetti squash). So, I pulled together the chicken and veggie mixture, cooked the squash, and was about to combine them when I tasted the squash. OH MY GOODNESS, I don't know if it was the squash or if spaghetti squash and rotel tomatoes don't go together, but that was the worst taste I had had in my mouth in a long time. I mean, I almost involuntarily spit it out! I'm glad I decided to taste the squash first because it would have ruined the whole thing. So, instead of my attempt at a morph, I just pulled out the already opened box of whole wheat spaghetti and used that. It was less noodles than called for, but that's fine with me. This turned out really good except that I think I overcooked the ended up a little tough. I did make a few changes (one intentional, the other accidental), which I'll not in pink below. With the peppers in this recipe, it's a good entry for Sweetnicks' ARF Tuesday. Check out her blog and give a little encouragement...she's got to have a root canal, which is not much fun! Chicken Spaghetti from my mom's recipe box
4 chicken breasts (I used 3)
medium onion, chopped (I used a bag fof frozen pepper and onion)*
small green pepper, sliced (I used a bag of frozen onion and pepper)
1/3 stick margarine (I just sprayed with PAM)
1 can mushroom soup, 98% fat free
1/2 can water
1 can Old English cheese (I used grated sharp cheddar - 1/2 cup, could have used more - I would stick with the Old English cheese, it makes it creamier, but if you want to make it healthier, just use some sharp cheddar - high flavor with less!)
1 can water chestnuts (forgot to get these and missed them)
small bottle sliced stuffed olived (forgot these, too...missed them as well)
small box angel hair pasta (I used whole wheat and less, because that's what I had...still would like to try spaghetti squash...what do YOU think?)
1 can Rotel tomatoes
Cook chicken until tender. Chop. In skillet, saute onion and bell pepper. Add soup, water, and cook over low heat. Add cheese. Allow to elt and add water chestnuts, olives, and toatoes. Remove from heat. Cook noodles. In a casserole put a layer of spaghetti, chicken, and sauce. Repeat layers (OR just mix it all together and pour in the casserole!). The casserole can be frozen at this point. Bake at 375 for 40 minutes.
*With the price of peppers right now, this is probably more friendly for the budget as well.