Posted by: Adrion Smith | Monday, September 1, 2008

The Slacker Returns

I’ve been a pretty, poor DBer these last few months. The sadest part is that I’ve actually been completing challenges but not posting. Really poor.

For instance, last month’s challenge, Danish Braid was one I really enjoyed. Not only did I make the sweet version but I also created a savory offering that had a portabella mushroom, vidalia onion filling. The filling was sauteed in butter, herbs and white wine…so good.

But I didn’t post it, POOR.

This months challenge was  as much fun as last months and also offered the opportunity to learn a new skill…the use of an icing bag (is that what they’re called?) .

This is something that has terrified and fasinated me for years and since I’ve never had any reason to try, I just never stepped out of my comfort zone. So this months challenge Chocolate Eclaires, hosted by Tony Tahhan  and MeetaK was my chance at redemtion.

If you’re a chocoholic this recipe is for you. It was a bit too much for me and family. I tried cutting the chocolate a little by adding coffee to the pastry cream and it helped but it was still too chocolatey for my palate.

Overall, the experience was pretty good. There were four components to this recipe and I probably would have been better served had I broken it down over time instead of doing it all at once. It ended up being a three hour process which isn’t bad considering my wife was trying to cook dinner at the same time.

Using the icing bag (someone give me correct term) wasn’t too bad. The first hard lesson I learned, don’t over fill the bag. I ended up with at least a quarter cup of dough on my wrist and hand because I ignored the simple physics behind this. But after of few tries I got the hang of it.

As I said, the process was fun and I have a TON of chocolate left over for anyone who has who has a sweet tooth. So feel free to send your requests or check out Tony Tahhan  and MeetaK‘s  blog for the recipe and make your own.

Posted by: Adrion Smith | Saturday, May 31, 2008

That Ain’t NO CAKE!!!!!

I know i’ll late but when you see results my falled attempt at this months Daring Bakers challenge, Opera Cake you understand.

I guess I started to0 late and then tried to rush through it, not giving it the attention it deserved.  It’s sad because I was really excited about this challenge.  It had so many great elements like white chocolate and an ingredient I’d never used before almond meal.

Anyway, my buttercream and ganosh were runny, and my cake a bit grainy. it was just a mess!!!

I’m taking this one as a loss, and hope to perform better on my next challenge.

Posted by: Adrion Smith | Sunday, March 30, 2008

Party All The Time!!!!

Most people don’t need an excuse to have a party but if your one of the rare few I have your inpiration.

This months Daring Baker challenge was sponsored by Morven of Food Art and Random Thoughts is the Perfect Party Cake.  No, I’m not bragging for my fellow DBer, that’s what it’s called, The Perfect Party Cake. 

I have to admit I am sold!!!

I have never been a fan of fruit in cake, but this one was just so good I had to stop myself from eating it.  Plus, we were given the choice of fruit filling, I picked strawberry, one of my favorites.

 The cake is moist the frosting rich, thick and creamy.

This cake is perfect for any party and will thrill all your guest.  You can find the recipe on Morven’s blog.

Slice of Cake

Cake Cake

Full Cake

Posted by: Adrion Smith | Monday, January 28, 2008

A Tale of Two Pies

It’s Daring Bakers time again.  This month, the gauntlet was thrown down by Jen of the Canadian Baker (you can find the recipe there) blog,  a Lemon Meringue Pie.  I’m not very big on pies but behind the sweet potato pie lemon meringue is my favorite.

The recipe was fairly simple, unfortunately because of this I tried to “free style” my first go round (I always do these challenges twice) and ended up with a good, but extremely tangy…ok tart…ok it made your ears itch pie.  It’s very disturbing to watch your friends eat something, while trying to think of kinds words.  My wife took it work and said her co-workers loved it but I don’t see how.

So the night before “post day” I tried again.  This time actually measuring my zest and lemon juice and the results were very good.  Just the right balance of sweet and tart.

I took it to work because I was being read the riot act every month for doing all this baking and never sharing.  My favorite comment came from Willeen Kelley, who I now and always consider my buddy.

“This taste just like my grandmothers.”

Pie   Wileen

Posted by: Adrion Smith | Monday, November 26, 2007

Challah At Your Boooooyyyyy!!!!

This months DB challenge was titled Tender Potato Bread.

‘Potato Bread!?! That doesn’t sound sweet or gooey!!!’

Yeah, I said the same thing and I must admit that after I read Tanna’s (of My Kitchen in Half Cups) instructions I was a little upset.  I mean, ‘who does she think I am? I’m just some hack who likes to bake and she’s giving me what seem be PRO instructions?’  But, I took a deep breath re-read the instructions, put them down for a couple days, re-re-read them and said to myself, ‘self, stop whinning and get out the food scale!‘.

I took this bread as a challenge to my skills and guess what?  I’m pretty good!!!!

I feel like an Iron Chef because…

Today I have four offerings.

First, the standard Potato Bread loaf.  My son loved this stuff.  I think I only got one piece, everytime I turned around he had another slice.

Loaf

Second, Foccacia.  This, I topped with garlic infused olive oil, fresh rosemary, oregano, basil, and sea salt.

Foccacia

Thrid, Challah!!!!  Yeah, it ain’t the standard and it ain’t pretty but if wanted to use the blog title (thanks Brandon) I needed to make something that somewhat resembled it.

Challah

Last, and the one I’m most proud of because I put a little thought into it, Seafood Calzone’s.  For these, I rolled the potato bread dough into small disks.  While those rested I made a simple béchamel sauce, sautéed some shrimp and added some crab meat that I had left over from the summer.  I scoped a couple of spoonfuls of the mixture on to the rolled dough, topped it with mozzarella, closed them up and baked them for about 15-20 minutes. So good.

Calzones

I have to admit, I had FUN making this bread, and I’m sorry for doubting you Tanna.  The crust is chewy and thick while the inside is consistently pillowy soft.  Great, simply warm with a swear of butter.

You can find the recipe on Tanna’s blog My Kitchen in Half Cups.

Posted by: Adrion Smith | Monday, October 29, 2007

Pie, Cake Whaterever, It’s Good

π indeed!!! 

(that’s suppose to be the symbol for pi, things just never show the way you want them to <sigh>, such is life)

I kinda like to think of this months Daring Bakers challenge, hosted by Ms. Mary of Alpineberry, as a pie with it’s guts on the outside.  It’s called a Bostini Cream Pie, and no, you are not the only one who scratched his head upon reading that one.

This “mini” dessert is a twist on the Boston Cream Pie and was created by Donna Scala and Kurtis L. Baguley of Bistro Don Giovanni  and rated the top recipe in 1996 by the San Francisco Chronicle.  I say, “mini” because although an individual dessert it ain’t small by any means.  It’s essentially vanilla custard topped by an orange chiffon cake, drizzled with chocolate.  MMMMMMM YEEEAAAAHHHHH!!!!!!!!

My first thought, since this “pie” would have to be prepared in multiple stages using about 8-10 ramekins was, “where am I going to get all these ramekins”.  Fortunately (at least in this instance),  I am a little on the impulsive side.

About eight years ago, our local K-Mart here in Laurel, MD was in the middle of an everything must go, going out of business sale.  Among the many other things I brought (including a grill, more on that another time) were 10 Martha Stewart Living ramekins, that were, yes, sitting in my basement up until the day I made this dessert.

So before I go on, allow me to extend a sincere thank you to Mary for this months challenge. Which goes a long way in validating my compulsion and allows me to give an answer to my wife who keeps asking when I’m going to stop buying all this junk that I never use.

Thank you Mary.

You can find the recipe on Mary’s blog, Alpineberry. The recipe may seem a bit intimidating when you first read it, but it’s actually pretty easy if you take your time and complete it one stage at a time. 

The hardest part for me were the chiffon cakes, only because I had never made one before and it looked weird and loose in its batter stage. But, as always I trusted the recipe and they came out beautifully.

This is a definite “dinner party” dessert.  Not something you want to make with the intent of bringing to someone the next day.  So have some good company over and give it a shot. 

They’ll think you’re a genius!!!

Side view

Above

Posted by: Adrion Smith | Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Sweet, Nutty, Buttery Goodness

This may seem like a somewhat silly foodie post, but, really it’s important!

Have you ever had a toasted, sesame seed bagel with butter and jelly?  If you have, you immediately understand my passion and excitement.

When I lived in New York these wonderful circles of love where always minutes away.  Now, that I live in Maryland they’re a little harder to get my hands on, good ones and anyway.

Toasted properly, the bagel almost resembles the color of a dark caramel.  A heavy (yeah, I said heavy) serving of butter smeared across the top makes it appear as if it were kissed by the sun.  Adding a bit of jelly (grape jelly) further adds to it’s sun-drenched appearance.

The first bite is something just amazing.  You not only get the wonderful taste of toasted bread, but mingled with that are the nutty flavors of both the sesame seeds and butter with a hint of sweetness from the jelly.

No, it’s not culinary trigonometry, but as most people who love to eat will tell you, it’s the simple things that are the most delicious.

Posted by: Adrion Smith | Sunday, September 30, 2007

Cinnamonie

My first foray into the world of the Daring Bakers was a good one.  Maybe they were trying to take it easy on a rookie. But, while I have to say this was a pretty simple, straight forward recipe that resulted in something absolutely delicious!

My first challenge….

Cinnamon Buns!!!

No, they’re not the ooey gooey Cinnabon variety, but a light, lemony offering that was almost refreshing to eat.

If your going to make these have some time on your hands, because there is a lot of waiting.  Where talking 3.5 hours of proofing.  But, as this is football season (my Eagles really stink right now) I found a way to pass the time.

What’s proofing you ask?  It’s just a fancy way of saying, ‘let the dough rise’, and it’s really an amazing thing to watch.  Here’s the dough before and after the first two hours of proofing.

Before After

And here are the buns before and after the last proofing and before going in the oven.

Beforeafter

The best part about being at this point is that you just have 20 minutes of baking to go.

OK, truth be told.  I just watch the Eagles lose in embarrassing fashion to the Giants.  I promise, I’ll flesh this out a little more tomorrow. My heart just ain’t in it right now.

Posted by: Adrion Smith | Monday, August 27, 2007

Another Blog!?!?

I’ve always wanted to try this whole blog thing but never had the proper motivation.  Until while reading my favorite blog, Veronica’s Test Kitchen (this is a BAD girl) I came across the The Daring Bakers club.  I don’t even know if they call themselves a club or not, but you know, I was highly intrigued by the challenge.

Imagine, every month having the opportunity to duplicate a culinary delight that your family and friends will drool over.  Their latest challenge was a Strawberry Mirror Cake (Veronica’s is pictured below) that my wife and I flipped out over.  Though I missed this one I’m pretty sure I’m going to try it out anyway.

Strawberry Mirror Cake

So begins my journey.  I love to cook, I love to bake.  Over the next few months, as I receive new challenges from the club, this is where I’ll post my successes and (less readily) my failures.

 It should be fun either way!

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