Peaches

Infinitamente
Manchi ma ci sei Silenziosamente
Dentro ai giorni miei
Infinitamente

My friend, your love, your laughter, your support….YOU, warmed my days.  The winter wind blows, the candle flickers and extinguishes, yet I know the ember you ignited in my heart will never fade.  A transition, a short absence, I know, is all that this is…

…yes, you’re silently here.  I will forever bake with you in my heart and in my mind.

 

Quando chiudo gli occhi stai ridendo
Qui con me

KKHH

Recipe Compliments of: http://www.italianfoodforever.com/2011/11/peach-cookies-for-rose-anne/

Like This!

Hey Kids!  Yea, I know it’s been awhile.  I haven’t had a lot to say, perhaps. Have no fears though, I still cook and bake like a fiend, trust me, every glance in my mirror attests to this fact.

This month, however, when I made my pilgrimage to the Daring Baker Forum I was immediately reminded of this guy….

...time to make the donuts!

I figured if he could drag his begrudging butt out of bed daily and make thousands of donuts so could I…well, a small batch at least!

A HUGE Thank You to Lori of “Butter Me Up” for a fantastic challenge, which has brought me out of my hiatus with the DB.

Being that I have been lax with the whole bloggy thing, I feel the need to go slow with getting back in the saddle.  So expect no tome this go ’round nor any outrageous wit just a few pretty pictures and a kick ass recipe!

First Pretty Picture….Glazed Chocolate Cake Doughnuts with Candied Bacon.

The recipe I used was one Lori suggested and can be found here.  I made a couple changes, first I halved the recipe, fifteen doughnuts and fifteen holes would not make my mirror any happier!  I also added 4 TBS. cocoa , 1 TBS. melted butter and omitted the nutmeg.  Being I have never made the recipe before I can’t say my substitutions had any ill effect but I know that I was very pleased with how things worked out.  I did have a little concern the “dough” was too moist but a little time in the fridge to chill and firm it helped in making it very workable.

Before a trip to the fridge...

...out of the fridge, rolled, cut and ready for a hot oil bath...

I managed to get 6 doughnuts and 6 holes out of the halved recipe, which I fried 3 holes at a time and 2 donuts at a time.    After the second batch of holes came out and cooled a bit, I just could not resist a little taste.  Hmmm, I was a little concerned, it seemed as if the dough had soaked up way too much oil.  Fortunately, it was just a case of not letting the oil temp up after the first fry.  I really didn’t think a few degrees off would be a bad thing…it was… 375° all the way kiddos!!

...fry , Baby, fry...

...off to the racks, just call me Torquemada!

glazed, topped and ready to go!

And that my friends was my time in the kitchen for this months Daring Baker Challenge.  Short and oh so sweet!!  Again, big Thank Yous go out to Lori, you brought me back!

The October 2010 Daring Bakers challenge was hosted by Lori of Butter Me Up. Lori chose to challenge DBers to make doughnuts. She used several sources for her recipes including Alton Brown, Nancy Silverton, Kate Neumann and Epicurious.

May’s Daring Baker Challenge is here at last.  For me, this one was an instant “no brainer”….upon reading what we were to do, I was all but done.

This year will be 8 years since I lost both my Mother and my Mother-in-Law and it is in their memory that this Challenge was made.

For “Ma” and “LuLu”, we miss you, we love you and we look forward to the day we see you again!

The May 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Cat of Little Miss Cupcake. Cat challenged everyone to make a piece montée, or croquembouche, based on recipes from Peter Kump’s Baking School in Manhattan and Nick Malgieri.

Quick notes on the challenge:

Impressive presentation which is easily accomplished.

The recipe can be found here and also on Cat’s site, Little Miss Cupcake.

I followed the recipe down to the letter, other than the addition of rose water to the pastry creme.

This Pate Choux had some major puff!!

Some random pictures along the way…

Rosewater Pastry Cream in the works.

1st egg in the mix, I actually had to use 5 eggs instead of 4.

...Choux baked and ready to fill.

This is not going to be a post of many words…actually as few as possible.  The most important words here will be…..

The Killer of Yeast is no more!!!

Yep, you heard that kids, I will no longer refer to myself as that person.  Packets and jars of yeast are a thing of the past for me, not that I was ever any good with them!  To cure my yeast woes I went old school, as seen here, and did the whole “Vini, Vidi, Vici” thing!! I came, I saw and I will be damned I CONQUERED!!!!  I bred and fed my very own sourdough starter, thanks to John Ross, and here you will see my first go round using it!

In the beginning.....

.....there was the sponge and it was good.....

Sponge, 1.5 hours old, pretty active little one, isn't he?

Knead baby, knead!!

First rise, check out those dimples!

2nd rise, a "bun" about to be in the oven!

My little monster's first born... many more to come!

First Steps!

Look at that face....so handsome!

This was a fantastic trip and well worth the time spent.  My little Monster is still growing and I hope getting stronger each day, I am hoping he will be with me for many years!!

This is a post about complete AMAZEMENT!!!…….. and Cauliflower.

Off the web, didn't think to take one of my own.

Off the web, didn't think to take one of my own.

As some of you know and other’s may have guessed, mine is not a house of the most svelte people on earth.  It also doesn’t take heavy detective work to realize this is not a low fat household (did you catch the pun?).  If the truth be told I am much more open to veggies, sea food and lighter fair, Ray on the other hand is not only picky but wants nothing more than stick to your ribs, meat and potatoe kinds of meals.  The truth is, though, we are “maturing” (hell, we are aging and fast) and need to become slightly big time more conscious of our diet.  No easy task considering picky boy!!!!

A couple weeks ago, as I was getting ready to leave for work I was half paying attention to the Dr. Oz Show, when they mentioned something about “healthy” Fettucine Alfredo……. cream, egg yolks, butter and cheese…..yea right!!!!  What they, Dr. Oz and Dave Lieberman who adapted the recipe,  put forth intrigued the Hell out of me!!!  Today,  while shopping, I put my plan into action….as we were in the produce section I walked over to and looked longingly at a beautiful head of cauliflower;

Ray walks over and says, “are you gonna get that?”,

I respond, “no, you wouldn’t eat it.”,

He says, “get it, I will try it.”,

I think, “SUCKER!!!”.

We get home and get the groceries put away and I start on some pasta dough.  Ray asks, “what’s for dinner” “Alfredo” I say.  He isn’t a huge fan but he knows it is a favorite of mine so he was outnumbered!!  Luckily, he had made a commitment to a neighbor to lend a hand and this gave me complete freedom in the kitchen ( I didn’t have to hide a damned thing I was doing).  While he was away I basically followed Dave’s recipe with a couple minor changes.

CHANGES:

2TBS Butter instead of 2TBS Olive Oil (let’s not push this health kick thing too far!)

Copious amounts of crushed garlic (can’t live without it)

Fresh Basil and Oregano (just planted the stuff and I am already stripping it bare)

That’s it kids, no other changes.  So time for an assessment, I guess.

TOTALLY FREAKIN’ AWESOME!! (My Response)

“This is the best Alfredo you have made.”  (Ray’s response)

Bite me Ray, I just made you eat cauliflower!!!!!  This is a definite must try, truthfully I would never have known it was made with cauliflower and not cream and egg yolks had  I not made it myself…..The best I have ever made?  That’s debatable Ray!!!!!

Tossin' it!

Plated Up!

Best ever? WTF-ever!!!

Is he MAD???

I am going to make this short and sweet to start, because I truly think I may have lost it!!  As, some of you may know, I have but one kitchen enemy; my attempts to conquer it have resulted in mediocre results, at best.  I have always been told it is best to start with the basics and at the beginning and that is exactly what I thought I had been doing each time I attempted to beat this beast.  Tonight it hit me that perhaps I had the basics but at the beginning was really not where I was starting.  Hmmm…..

So old school it is going to be, way old school, like 1000′s of years old school!!!

For those of you that know where this is headed, wish me well and cross every available appendage you can!!  For those that don’t follow along!!!!  Hopefully, all will be revealed in about a week.

The Basics.

Goin' Old School.

Till Tomorrow.

"Here's the story, of a Bia named Dana.... that's the way she became the Bia Bunch!"

Oh no!!!  My blog has been hijacked!!!  Apparently someone is having a birthday and her friends hog tied me and forced me into using my blog to send her birthday wishes!!!!  This is a group of kick ass people that I knew going against would not be in my best interest, so I succumbed!!

Bia, you know I had absolutely nothing to do with this, as you are aware of the “skinny” on how I feel about ya!!!!  But I value my life enough not to mess with these people, so here ya go……

_______

Kristy Jackson

Happy Birthday to my fabulously gorgeous friend Dana!!!! When you’re lucky enough to meet somebody so phenomenal in your life it makes it easier to smile through the tough times. They also often lead you to meet other wonderful people! I’m very blessed to have her as a friend and am thankful for that every day ♥

_______

Diane Cindrich

Happy Birthday Dana… I am so lucky and glad to have someone as special as you in my life. We have so many great memories together. Our trip to Bonita Beach is way up there though. I will always be here for you and hope that things eventually get easier for you. I love you girlie.

_______

Erin Kelly Jones

Happy Birthday to one of the most beautiful people I know, my Dana!! Girl, you are a one of a kind amazing person and I really don’t know how I went on so long without you! One Birthday Swipe coming your way! Love You!!!

_______

Amber Weber

tell dana- i hope she has a very wonderful birthday and everytime i go to the zoo and see pink flamingos i always think of her! Happy Birthday!

_______

Jordan O'Malley

Dana,
Happy Birthday!! You are one of the funniest and sweetest people I know. I hope you have an amazing birthday, you absolutely deserve it!

Love you!
- Jordie

_______

Ray Conley

Happy Birthday Dana,
You are a very strong good person who should have all her heart wants and needs. All I can think of is sitting out front of Station Square with her smoking and making fun of all the assholes going the wrong way. And all the fun we had at station square over all the years boy do I miss those days.
Ray

_______

Alicia Andrews Sattler

Dana, We have a lot of great memories together. Seems like we have known each other forever. I guess it has been since the 5th grade. I hope you have a very happy birthday and many more to come. Love ya, Alicia

_______

Carri Finkbeiner-Rapp

Dear Dana,

Have a Happy Birthday! I can’t wait to hang out with you next week. We don’t get together often enough, and you are such a wonderful person to hang out with. It’s not easy finding a friend who is smart, beautiful, sensitive, strong willed yet unappreciated…. like me! I love you, filth!!!

Carri

GO ARIES BITCHES!!!

_______

Kristin Durst

Dana was introduced to me from my other friend Dana. My Dana noted what a wonderful person she is and what a great hair stylist she is. I emailed your Dana and she took the time to reply in such a detailed and friendly manner. She was wonderful to talk to in the few times she has cut, styled or done something to my hair. She sent me such a cute message and it was so genuine when my boyfriend and I broke up a few months ago. She has a big heart and is a wonderful person. I hope she has a wonderful birthday!

Kristin D.

_______

Carol Donovan

Dear Dana, you are one of the greatest people Ive ever met, I wish you the best on you Birthday and everyday and if you were here I would give you a big hug and sing HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU Love ya Carol

_______

Megan Carney-Tardio

My fondest memory is that I first met her at Carlow college practically the first day!! We have been friends since that!! One thing that I can say is that I truly value our friendship and she is like a sister to me throughout the years and that I will always be there for her!!

_______

John Sleeping Bear

“OH, BUT I DON’T!!”

_______

In case anyone is interested in the Cake, well it was a Key Lime coconut cake with a key lime buttercream.  The recipe for the cake can be found here and the buttercream was my kiwi buttercream with key lime juice subbed for the kiwi.

Once again, I am straddling the fence on being tardy, but not because this one wasn’t done in time, just I hadn’t edited photos and I thought I had one more day!!!  Same song, same dance, different day.

Since it was the photos that slowed me down, I am going to make this a pictorial post.  Of course, I will give you an idea of what I think about this month’s challenge…….. Fantastic!!!!  In this house we are not much for fruit desserts, unless it is an apple or cherry pie, so I was skeptical.

Tian ROCKS!!!!

The 2010 March Daring Baker’s challenge was hosted by Jennifer of Chocolate Shavings. She chose Orange Tian as the challenge for this month, a dessert based on a recipe from Alain Ducasse’s Cooking School in Paris.

Jennifer chose a fantastic recipe with which to challenge us.  We were to make everything by the book with the only exception being, we were able to play with the citrus we chose.  I opted for Ruby Red grapefruit and I kicked the caramel up a bit with the addition of Rosemary.  The recipe can be found here, as well as on Jennifer’s site.

Now for the pretty but late pictures!!!!!

I began with the marmalade…

First Blanch of the grapefruit.

Dicing the blanched fruit.

Adding the sugar..... for some reason I particularly like this picture.

Next the fresh squeezed juice.

Marmalade in the works.

Processing the filled jars....

Next came the Pate Sablee, which I only have pictures of fresh out of the oven…someone didn’t make sure there was a charge in his camera battery…. No Names, PLEASE!!

Baked in the cutters to reduce spreading.....

Pate Sablee bases cooling......

Skinless segments, I alway enjoy cutting citrus this way....

Gathering components for assembly, but must do the caramel first....

The sugar and rosemary beginning to become caramel.....

Caramel all done.......

adding half the caramel to the segments.....

One tian down. And a glimpse at the layering process....

Finished, unmolded, now smile for the camera!!!!!

Chalk one up for the Bear!!!  As you may well know, I spend a bit of time in the kitchen and very few things scare me in there.  I am always game to give new things a try and I usually succeed.  There is one ingredient in the kitchen which has caused me much grief….I have attempted its use numerous times and my success rate is minimal.  In fact my failure rate is so high that I have dubbed myself…..SleepingBear-Killer of Yeast.   Not tonight kiddies!!!

Ray and I were off today and we used it to do a few things around the house, as the day progressed thoughts of dinner came to mind.  Truthfully, I had no plan so it was one of those look in the fridge and see what needs to be used soon kind of days.  The freezer revealed a couple of chicken breasts and the deli drawer contained 3 thick cut slices of applewood smoked bacon and a smallish chunk of cheddar….”yea, what am I going to do with that?”.  Finish up the last of the household chores and think.

The wheels began to turn and bechamel came to mind.  Pasta came to mind.  We are getting there!!  After just a little more thought, I came up with a “white lasagne”.  Dice the bacon, fry it up, slice the breast into thin crosscuts, fry them in the bacon drippings.  Use a couple Tbs. of the bacon drippings as a starter for the roux for the bechamel.  A quick batch of fresh pasta sheets, layer it all with a bit of cheddar and dinner will be served.

As of late Ray has been on a bread baking kick, which he is actually getting pretty good at (unlike moi!) and we have a little less than half a loaf of his bread leftover from the other day.  Homemade bread, unfortunately can get dry rather quickly and this half loaf is currently in the “only good for toast” stage.  I wasn’t getting cleaned up and dressed to run to the store for something to sop up the excess bechamel but I also wanted that exact thing.  What the hell, give the yeast thing another try!   hahahaha

A quick search for a simple and quick breadstick recipe and I was on my way.  The milk and onions were sweating on the stove awaiting to become the sauce.  The chicken was browning wonderfully in the bacon drippings.   The pasta sheets were drying just slightly awaiting to be layered.  And the kitchenaid was kneading the dough for the breadsticks.  Everything was happening at once, not a moment to breathe….one task to the next and then again on to the next.  The breadstick dough is a single rise for approximately 50 mins, so I got the lasagne together, set it aside and then formed the sticks.  Into the oven the lasagne went and onto the counter went the sticks… but will they raise or have I once again killed millons of yeast spores in one fell swoop???

50 minutes later this is what I saw…

Living Yeast at it's best!!!

The lasagne came out of the oven and in went the sticks.  15 minutes of rest for the lasagne and bake time for the sticks and dinner was served!!!

Fresh out of the oven "John didn't kill the yeast" breadsticks.

Dinner is served.

No this is not a post about cows, their milk or their cream…at least not directly…it is a post about Tiramisu.  Specifically, The February 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge which was hosted by Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen and Deeba of Passionate About Baking. They chose Tiramisu as the challenge for the month. Their challenge recipe is based on recipes from The Washington Post, Cordon Bleu at Home and Baking Obsession.

Not the beauty I had envisioned!

Currently we are in the Lenten season and even though I am no longer a practicing RC, I think this is going to be a post of confessions.

Confession #1-  I was not overly fond of this version of Tiramisu, forgive me Aparna and Deeba…it is not that there was anything wrong with this one, other than the fact it is not the version that I often make.  In my version I do not combine the zabaglione, pastry cream and whipped cream but I alternate layers of lady fingers, zabs, lady fingers, pastry cream to the top, I then just put a small dollop of unsweetened whipped cream as a garnish and to help cut the richness of the entire dessert.

Confession #2- I had visions of grandeur as far as presentation, unfortunately that was all they were but visions.  I did not end up with the gorgeous savoiardi rimmed dessert I saw in my mind.

Confession #3- I thought that this was going to be a fun joint endeavor with Ray, you may know him as my partner in life but now he too is a partner in the DB.  So, I figured a joint effort and fun for all.  Apparently not!!  On baking day I overheard him say, “I am going to take you out”.  When I called him on this he then said, “that is NOT what I said.  I said, “I am going to BAKE you out!””  Rivals in the kitchen it shall be!!!!!!!  He isn’t exactly kitchen savvy but can hold his own and if I figure out how, I will give him props on his non-blogging post of his Tiramisu.

Confession #4- This is the part where I actually learned something I didn’t really know but it is also something that could cause me to become an ex DBer…… I did NOT make my own mascarpone!! May the powers that be hear my defense, please!!!!!  Apparently, there is a huge difference between Pasteurized and Ultra-Pasteurized dairy products.  Pasteurization is a lower temp longer time method which kills off the “bad critters” but leaves beneficial enzymes still intact.  Ultra- Pasteurization is a high temp quick time method which basically zaps everything in the milk, both good and bad.  Well, here in the States, Federal regulations make it a difficult task to find any dairy that is not Ultra-Pasteurized.  So, unless you are a dairy farmer or live damn close to one, finding only Pasteurized cream is almost impossible.  Off to Sunseri Bros. I went for my ready-made mascarpone.  I know I broke the rules but I confessed, so please, please, please Aparna, Deeba and the Powers that be forgive my indiscretion and let me remain a member of the fold!!!

Now that I have confessed and also sought absolution, let me tell you about the challenge.  Despite the fact that it was not my Tiramisu, it was a very good one at that.   I still prefer the separation of flavors as opposed to combining them.  The zabs and pastry cream recipes were pretty much on course with what I am used to.  The Savoiardi recipe is a little different from what I have used in the past but turned out stellar.  So much so that I think I may never buy a store-bought lady finger again.  If one actually breaks it down, especially in these times of tightened budgets, why purchase something pre-made when it can be done so easily and much more cheaply at home?

Final thoughts on the challenge would be to give it a go.  Aparna and Deeba came up with a great challenge which encompassed different techniques which when combined truly do come together in a heavenly fashion.  Thank You Ladies, Thank You Very Much!!!!

I will now leave you with an almost step by step pictorial on my making of the Savoiardi.  You can find the recipe for the Savoiardi/Lady Fingers and all other components here.

Starting the whites
Finished Whites- looks like a snowball, appropriate considering the weather we have h ad.

Incorporating the yolks into the whites- Love egg yolk gold!!!!!

2 steps later the fingers are piped- Not enough hands to photograph the folding in of the flour or the piping.

An attempt at creative flair, I dusted some cocoa stripes onto the fingers before baking.

Lady Fingers fresh out of the oven.

The February 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen and Deeba of Passionate About Baking. They chose Tiramisu as the challenge for the month. Their challenge recipe is based on recipes from The Washington Post, Cordon Bleu at Home and Baking Obsession.

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