French Frdays with Dorie

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Yin and Yang

I don't normally like rice pudding so I almost passed on this week's recipe. But, I finally decided I would give it a shot. I have it cooling in the refrigerator now. I could not decide whether I wanted to make the vanilla or the chocolate flavor so I made them both.
I thought it would be funny to make the pudding into a yin and yang design in the bowl, so I did.
I had read all of the comments about the pudding before starting so I knew to greatly extend my cooking time. I had no problems with it thickening, but it did want to create a skin while it was cooking - which just revolted me.
We have Isabelle of Les gourmandises d’Isa to thank for choosing this week's recipe.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Prancing Penguins

I was reading my Baker's Sheet from King Arthur's Flour the other day and they had directions for making these adorable penquins from olives, cream cheese and carrots.

I was hosting a Pampered Chef party on Saturday so I decided I had to have these as appetizers at my party. The directions called for jumbo olives and small olives. I had extra large olives on hand and I figured I would pick up small olives when I went to the Fresh Market to nab a few last minute items. Who knew the Fresh Market would not carry canned olives?

They do however, have an olive bar, so I grabbed some Kalmatta olives from that bar and brought them home to make my little penguin soldiers. All you do is soften the cream cheese, cut the carrots into coins, then cut a small triangle out of the coin. This coin then becomes the base/foot of the penguin, the larger olive his body, the smaller one his head, the small triangle from the carrot becomes his beak.
I thought they looked very attractive standing drunkenly between the salad!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


I don't know if I have ever worked so hard for so little reward! This recipe takes so many hours. You have to allow the dough to rise and deflate, then refrigerate it overnight, finally it rises again and you bake it for a surprisingly short time.

Unlike many of the TWD baker's I found that I did indeed own a Kugelhopf pan. I think this marks the second time I have ever used it - when I purchaed it I was in a molded dessert phased and I thought it would make a lovely form for chocolate mousse!
I have been on vacation so I took the ingredients (and the pan) with me and baked the Kugelhopf while I was away. I did not have any problems with the recipe - it behaved exactly as Dorrie described - until it came time for the final rise. Then the dough just decided it was done. After about four hours it was close to the top of the design in the pan, but it wasn't climbing any higher. I baked it anyway.

It puffed up a bit more and browned beautifully. Then came the moment of truth - the great unmolding! Semi-disaster - apparently I don't know what generous buttering consists of, because I could not get the Kugelhopf to release. Finally after much prodding and poking with a knife and a spatula I got the Kugelhopf out of the pan. I lost a bit off the side, but it was minor.

I immediately tried that bit but otherwise I actually did not try the cake/bread for two more days. As Dorrie says, it makes lovely toast. Really delicate light slices of toast. It isn't toast I would wait two days to get but it was lovely. Fresh from the oven my immediate thought was, boy this smells good . . . God this is bland. I'm glad Yolanda from All-purpose girl chose this recipe so I could find out what my pan was for and learn the ins and outs of Kugelhopf-ing!
I did not actually dislike the experience of baking it, I am just not sure it is worth all the time invested. I doubt I will be making Kugelhopf again - I think that pan is destined for a life of non-utility!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Layers and layers of muffins and muffins

Last night I made a southwestern layered salad I from Southern Living, April 2001.
It has a lime vinaigrette dressing. This can be a bit tart, so you might feel the need to add a bit more sugar than the recipe recommends. I like the tartness, so I leave it as is. I forgot to put the tomatoes into it last night, so I cut them up and put them on top and then just chopped some for each serving.

And, of course, since I knew I would not be eating it all immediately, I did not add the crushed tortilla chips. Few food items are more disgusting than limp soggy chips.

To make this a more complete meal (for me) I added some sauteed ground turkey, to which I had added taco spices. I actually don't care much for raw onions and next time I do this I will also saute the onions with the meat. This time I just cut back on them drastically.

It is a very pretty salad and quite tasty as well, with black beans, corn and tomatoes in addition to the romaine lettuce. The recipe is available on-line at the Southern Living website.

Then because I am such a great gal - and because I had a cup of pumpkin left from the Tuesday's with Dorie Pumpkin Muffins, I made pumpkin mufins for work this morning. I did not use Dorie's recipe. I used one from Carol Cutler's Quick Breads. I have had this cookbook for years. The recipes are grouped by the time they take: under 30 minutes, 30 minutes to an hour, etc. This is so helpful when you are in a time crunch but still want to do some baking.

Her pumpkin muffins have no eggs and no milk, that just seems so odd! All the leavening comes from baking soda. There is additional flavoring in a small amount of rum. I did not take photos of these because I anticpated they would look like the ones we made a short time back.

And, externally they did resemble Dorie's muffins. Internally they are a much moister and heavier muffin. Though they only have one tablespoon of rum in the entire batch, I found the smell overwhelming as you bit into the muffin. They have typical pumpkin pie spicing and I do quite like that flavoring. However, the rum really made these muffins unpleasant for me. These are certainly easy to make and they are fast - but I prefer a lighter muffin.

When I decided to make muffins this morning, I knew I was going to look for recipes in two places. One, my Carol Cutler book and two, the small recipe booklets I inherited from mother. These are those booklets that you can buy at the checkout lines in the grocery store. Frequently they are from Pillsbury bake-offs but the one I found my next recipe in was for Crisco vegetable oil.

I absolutely love items made with molasses. When I was a little girl my mother would make me gingersnaps. Somehow we lost the recipe and for years I would make gingersnap cookies and always be dissatisfied with the cookies. Finally I realized the problem, what I wanted was found under molasses chews or some other such category. I can now have gingersnaps my way, whenever I want. But, this morning I wanted to make muffins.

I found a recipe in the booklet that I thought would satisfy my craving for molasses and that was quick and easy. I mixed them up and popped them in the oven. When I pulled them from the oven they were dark, steamy and fragrant. I think I could have actually baked them a minute or two less because, in fact, they were a touch dry - although perhaps with butter or Devonshire cream, that wouldn't have been noticeable. I think I expected them to taste more like gingerbread than they did, but they were quite tasty regardless.

At work the pumpkin muffins were the first ones to be selected. It is hard to decide what drove that decision - the molasses muffins were normal sized - the pumpkin muffins were jumbos - was it greed? The molasses muffins were plain on top - the pumpkin muffins had sunflower seeds - were they the pretty girls? Could it simply be that other people like pumpkin more than I do? The world may never know!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


I almost backed out of posting my results today. I looked at so many of the other TWD blogs and everyone's results were so pristine looking and then there are mine . . . which look as though they have mud and muck splashed up on the sidewalls. Sigh, what is a gal to do?

I did forget to push down on ingredients of the second batch of rugelach but does that give the darn things any right to have the chocolate come seeping out all over the place? I think not!

This is another case where I found the fillings excessive. I have to get over myself. I have always followed the recipe the first time I made a dish. I'm getting used to Dorie's recipes now and I really need to follow my gut. (Pardon the unintended pun.) I knew when I was chopping it that four ounces was too much chocolate for these cookies but I went ahead and used it all anyway.

I did like the overall taste of the cookies and in person the chocolate that seeped out created a sort of lacy halo around the cookie - it also almost carmelized on the bottom of the cookie and was quite tasty - it wasn't burned as it appears to be in the photo - but it wasn't very photogenic!

I will be giving rugelach another try varying the fillings - in both flavor and quantity - at some point in the future. I'm still not sure it will become a go-to cookie for my repertoire but I do want to give it another shot. I did especially love the taste of the cookie crust itself.

The next time I bake it I am going to try two things (1) I am not going to cut it into sixteen wedges - those were too small for my tastes - I'm going with no more than twelve unless my circle is considerably larger than it was this time. Hah, if it resembles a circle a good bit more it would be very exciting as well! And, (2) I might try rolling them like pinwheels, and option I saw on Smitten Kitchen's website - something she saw demonstrated on Martha's show (I believe). It seemed a bit less fussy. Either way, it is a cookie with great possibilities and I thank Grace of Piggys Cooking Journal for making this week's delicious choice.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Bride of Frankenstein

I wanted to make a Halloween cake for the daughters of one of the men with whom I work. They are young so I did not want to make anything too gross or scary. I trolled the internet and found a cat recipe I liked but by the time I was actually ready to make the cake I had long ago lost that recipe!

I did some more trolling and happened upon Wilton's website. Normally I find their recipes dependent upon specialty cake pans and I won't spend my money on something I will use once. This time, though I could see that the pan they used had practical application.

It is in essence a double loaf pan - sixteen inches long - normal width and slightly higher than normal sides. In addition to now being able to bake my world famous sour cream pound cake as a large loaf (my world is small and yes in my world it is very famous!) I can also make Marge Simpson cakes! Surely there is an untapped market out there for those cakes! Who doesn't want a mouthful of blue icing? Oh, that would be me, yuck - maybe she will be dressed up for Halloween herself with a brown wig on - chocolate hair - now that is a flavor!

But, I digress. The cake turned out very well, though I broke both my Pampered Chef Easy Accent Decorators! Couldn't find the ring to my coupler for my normal pastry bags and had to stick my decorator tips into a zip-lock bag to finish icing this lovely lady! What a small price to pay to make a family of little girls smile!

I did not make enough green icing to make the ears properly so I stuck wafers in the side of the cake and covered them with icing - then I stuck dragees on the wafers to serve as earrings - they were also to emphasize the fact that these nubs were ears - I think it works. Pete reports that the cake is very tasty and they are enjoying it very much. The girls came to work to pick up the cake and they were very excited and pleased to receive their gift.

FYI - you better have an actual wooden board to put under this cake because a cardboard cake board is way too floppy for long-term carrying needs. I was able to put the cake (on its board) in Longaberger's large gathering basket. If I had not been able to do that I do not know how I would have been able to carry it to work. The cake is so long it is not stable on the cake board alone. I used a half-sheet board for the cake - I cut the board down for the width of the cake. I only used one thickness of board. If you doubled the board it might be strong enough to hold the cake, but I am not sure even that would be stiff enough to support the weight of all that cake.