Thursday, March 3, 2011

Japanese Challenge

The February 2011 Daring Cooks’ challenge was hosted by Lisa of Blueberry Girl. She challenged Daring Cooks to make Hiyashi Soba and Tempura. She has various sources for her challenge including,, and

I did it! Everything was easy. I wouldn’t say that the tempura was weeknight-after-work-easy, but if someone were to request it I’d definitely make it again. I made a dipping sauce with soy sauce, ginger, garlic, hot chilis, mustard, honey, and green onions. It was a perfect pairing with the all that fried food. 

Tempura:  Shrimp, sweet potato, mushrooms, zucchini, and carrots.

These are the soba noodles. I had never had them before, but they were pretty good.

The cold noodles with a soy-based sauce. It was a fun and exciting Japanese meal!

Panna Cotta

The February 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Mallory from A Sofa in the Kitchen. She chose to challenge everyone to make Panna Cotta from a Giada De Laurentiis recipe and Nestle Florentine Cookies.

I didn't make the florentines. Not yet. But I did make the panna cotta because I love panna cotta. So I made two versions:

The first was a classic vanilla panna cotta with strawberries macerated in honey and orange.

The texture was firm but soft, with a nice creamy finish.

The second one I made was a saffron-cardamom panna cotta...

With an apple-raspberry puree.

Another creamy, dreamy Valentine's Day treat.

Thursday, February 17, 2011


Our January 2011 Challenge comes from Jenni of The Gingered Whisk and Lisa from Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drives. They have challenged the Daring Cooks to learn how to make a confit and use it within the traditional French dish of Cassoulet. They have chosen a traditional recipe from Anthony Bourdain and Michael Ruhlman. 

Obviously, I didn't follow the rules for this one at all. The original recipe was WAY too complicated, and took WAY too much time (duck confit in duck fat? $75 and 12 hours in the oven?   Hayl no).  I did make a garlic confit, which I've been slowly using up the rest of until now. I did enjoy the dish, though mine was too dry, not enough beans (I bought the wrong kind, and I only bought one can), and I didn't have bread crumbs so I had to do a makeshift kind of bread cubes made with fresh bread. BUT, this time there are pictures!

Simmering on the stove. I used sausage, chicken thighs, bacon, and butter beans (by accident).

After adding the bread pieces and toasting under the broiler.

The plated meal. A little salty, which I'll keep in mind for next time. And there will probably be a next time.

Jaconde Imprime / Entremet

The January 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Astheroshe of the blog accro. She chose to challenge everyone to make a Biscuit Joconde Imprime to wrap around an Entremets dessert.

Okay, this would have been a pretty good challenge. But I fucked up. And mine turned out bad. And I didn't feel like making another one. Notes to self:  Gelatin tastes bad, ice cream melts, jaconde is not meant to be frozen, and whipped cream gets everywhere when you put it inside a cooler and drive down the interstate for 40 minutes. Lessons learned. Wished mine had been better. Glad I learned the techniques, though.

Sunday, January 16, 2011


Word up. Posting late again. Get used to it.

The 2010 December Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Penny of Sweet Sadie’s Baking. She chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ to make Stollen. She adapted a friend’s family recipe and combined it with information from friends, techniques from Peter Reinhart’s book.........and Martha Stewart’s demonstration.

I actually legit enjoyed this one. To be fair, I didn’t follow the recipe provided (I don’t like to be told what to do). I read a lot about stollen online, and I found that it’s not traditional unless cardamom is used. So I nixed the cinnamon (it didn’t seem right to use it anyway), added cardamom, and just sort of winged it. Plus, I’m really good with bread-making, so I could handle it. Is that conceited? Here are my final thoughts:

-I liked it, my friends loved it.

-The powdered sugar on top really just fluffed everywhere. Next time, I’d probably use a legit glaze.

-I liked the grated citrus zest, but the candied citron was too much. Maybe it was because I made my own and then didn’t cut it into small enough pieces. Either way, I’ll probably just use extra zest next time and omit the citron all together.

-The cardamom made it. For real.

-This recipe made A LOT. I cut it in two, so half is in my freezer. I’ll bake it up sometime soon.

Overall, I learned a new thing and I like it. DB is cool. I’ll admit it.

Poached to Perfection

Posting outrageously late. Better late than never.

Jenn and Jill have challenged The Daring Cooks to learn to perfect the technique of poaching an egg. They chose Eggs Benedict recipe from Alton Brown, Oeufs en Meurette from Cooking with Wine by Anne Willan, and Homemade Sundried Tomato & Pine Nut Seitan Sausages (poached) courtesy of Trudy of Veggie num num.

Yeah, I poached an egg. It wasn't my favorite. Seemed like a lot more work than I would ever do for a normal breakfast. I'll just take a sunny-side-up. Thanks.

Sunday, December 5, 2010


Here begins my second Daring Kitchen challenge, and my first official Daring Bakers challenge. Crostata!  Also, I’m posting late… My bad.

The 2010 November Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Simona of briciole. She chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ to make pasta frolla for a crostata. She used her own experience as a source, as well as information from Pellegrino Artusi’s Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well.

Personally and honestly, I was not real thrilled to see this challenge. To me, it was just a pie crust with jam on top. Boring. So I decided to jazz it up a little. After a ton of internet research, and a roommate’s request for something with made with pears, I settled on a combo of the recipe for pasta frolla and a recipe for a pear-almond tart. I was excited. I never eat pears, and I almost never eat almonds, but I thought the combination would have good flavor. I was surprisingly correct. It has a very sophisticated flavor; something I could serve to the in-laws (someday).

The following is the recipe for pasta frolla (the crust) as taken from the DB challenge. Additionally, I have provided an approximation of the recipe I used to make the filling, based on a recipe by Dorie G. that I found on another blog. My comments and opinions are differentiated in blue. 

It's important to note that traditional crostatas are baked in a tart pan, and I don't have one. I meant to use a pie plate, but I accidentally left mine at home over Thanksgiving. So I shaped mine like a galette, and I've seen some crostata made in this form as well.

Pasta Frolla
¾ C powdered sugar
1 ¾ C all-purpose flour
1/8 tsp kosher salt
1 stick butter (unsalted, duh)
½ tsp vanilla
1 large egg + 1 large egg yolk

Mix all the dry ingredients; cut in butter to small pieces (basically, make a pie crust). Beat the whole egg, yolk, and vanilla together. Combine with the dry ingredients and butter; mix until a ball forms (mine didn’t form a ball because it seemed that the dry: wet ratio was off, so I added some cold water. This caused the powdered sugar to dissolve and get sticky so after that I had to work quickly). Shape into a flat disk and wrap in plastic with direct contact. Refrigerate overnight, or for a few days if you’re lazy like I am.

Ground Almond Filling

1 medium packet of sliced almonds
6 TB butter, melted
½ C granulated sugar
1 large egg + 1 large egg yolk

Grind almonds in a food processor until they’re as fine as they’re going to get. Pour in butter, and grind more until they’re as fine and close to smooth as possible. Stir in remaining ingredients.
I think next time I’ll use an almond paste or marzipan, about 2/3 to ¾ C. I would have liked if the almond filling was smoother and creamier, which was basically impossible to achieve with my little food processor.

Put it all together

4 ripe pears, cored and sliced thin (I used Bartletts, and I have no idea what a ripe pear looks like so that was less of a concern for me)

Roll out pasta frolla on a flour-dusted surface (I rolled mine into a circle, but the shape matters very little). Move to flat baking sheet. Spread the almond filling onto the frolla dough, leaving about a 2 inch border. Arrange pear slices on top of filling (I did mine in a rose pattern). Fold the edge of the dough back over the pears (this is why the shape doesn't really matter). Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 45-60 minutes (I was on the phone, and I have no idea how long mine was in there).

That’s it! I did it, and it was fun.