And The Winners Are . . .

Random.org picked the numbers 4, 6, and 10, which means Amanda Z., Lori, and N are the winners of the cookbook giveaway. Congratulations! Thank you to all the readers for helping me celebrate 3 yrs of Fruit Tart!

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Daring Bakers: Tuiles

I waited too long to have much opportunity to play with this recipe, or I would have done several renditions with different flavors and shapes. For these I followed the recipe as given. I shaped some using a butterfly stencil I made when decorating Tartlet 1’s room and the others I simply spread into circles.  I swirled a little red food dye on a few because I wanted to pair it with some raspberry cream.  I have a little batter left in the fridge and I think the next batch I’d like to try to make into little cups.

I need to learn a better way to handle them when I pull them out of the oven as I think I burned my fingerprints off! 😉   Still, this was a fun challenge and I enjoyed trying something new and I really appreciated that it didn’t take three days to make! We were to pair them with something and I used some chocolate custard and raspberry cream.  The flavor possibilities are endless and would make for fun play.

This month’s challenge is brought to us by Karen of Bake My Day and Zorra of 1x umruehren bitte aka Kochtopf. They have chosen Tuiles from The Chocolate Book by Angélique Schmeink and Nougatine and Chocolate Tuiles from Michel Roux.

Thank you Karen and Zorra for a fun challenge!

Happy Thanksgiving!

We are actually having a low-key day at home rather than a big festive Thanksgiving.  Because I don’t really like turkey very much, we’ll be having a ham later and we’ll spread out some of the Thanksgiving favorites over the entire weekend rather than trying to stuff ourselves with them today. In addition to the ham we’ll have Praline Sweet Potatoes, a different twist on mashed potatoes that I hope to report on later (and maybe with the potato water I’ll also make Potato Bread & Focaccia from my first Daring Baker challenge), green peas, green salad, and Thanksgiving wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without pie — especially Cherry Pie and Crumb Top Apple Pie.

I actually went shopping today.  There were a few things I wanted to pick up and Meijer really tempted me with the Super Jumbo George Foreman Grill on sale today only for $35 (reg $80 at Meijer). I debated the purchase in the store because the Next Generation grills have removable plates for easier cleaning and come in pretty colors, but I really liked my old Foreman grill and it wasn’t *that* hard to clean. So today, price and size (the ‘super jumbo’ is almost twice as large the other one they had) won out over looks. By the time I wear this one out I can get a large, pretty one with removable plates for less money 😉 I’m excited to have a counter top grill in the kitchen again for winter!

I hope you have many things to be thankful for today and someone to share it with!  I’m thankful for my family, for my friends, for the many blessings in my life and for you, my blog readers.  Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Birthday, Husband!

Yesterday was The Husband’s birthday.  There was also a pre-Thanksgiving party at work, so he asked if I would make him a special dessert.  He doesn’t often ask for a specific treat, so it’s hard to say no.  But I was surprised by his request. A little more than a week ago, I made a peanut butter cheesecake with chocolate ganache topping when we had some friends over. The Husband really liked it. I mean, *really* liked it. As in, we still had a couple of slices in the refrigerator when he asked if I would make it for his birthday. I suppose it’s not too surprising for a guy whose favorite candy is the Reese’s cup, but still . . . when there’s still some in the fridge? Well, for a birthday, ok.

The first time I made this I was using some leftover cream cheese and didn’t measure anything out for a 9-inch springform pan.  This time I used a 10-inch pan.  Cheesecake is easy to modify by size because the proportion is roughly for each 8 oz pkg of cream cheese you need 1/4 c. sugar and 1 egg, so feel free to scale down for your pan size.

Someone asked me about cutting the cake so the top looks good.  The secret is to use a thin, sharp knife and wash it with very hot water between each and every cut.

Peanut Butter Cheesecake with Ganache

Crust:
1 sleeve graham crackers, crushed
1/4 c. butter, melted
2 Tbsp. sugar

In a medium bowl, stir together crust ingredients. Press into the bottom of a 10-inch springform pan. Bake at 350 F for 10-15 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove from oven and cool.

Cheesecake:
4 – 8 oz pkg cream cheese
3/4 c. creamy peanut butter
1 1/4 c. sugar
5 eggs

Turn oven down to 325 F and place a pie pan of water on the bottom rack.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese until smooth and no lumps remain, scraping the bowl frequently. Add peanut butter and beat at high speed until mixture is smooth.

Add sugar. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well to incorporate each time. Scrape the bowl frequently, making sure to get all the way to the bottom of the bowl each time. Spread into the springform pan, smoothing with a rubber spatula.

Bake at 325 F for 45-55 min or until center is set. Cool for 10 minutes. Slide a knife around the edge and release the side of the pan. Cool completely; refrigerate.

Ganache:
1/2 c. whipping cream
1 c. chocolate chips

In a small pan, heat the whipping cream to simmering. Remove from heat and stir in chocolate until smooth. Spread over the top of the cheesecake.

Keep refrigerated.

Daring To Be Crispy

Well, sorry I’m a day late on the Daring Bakers reveal.  I baked it on Thursday as I was leaving for my Ladies’ Retreat and didn’t have time to compose a post before I left.  So, by now, the whole world must know that the Daring Baker challenge this month was a lavash cracker (I did not make mine gluten free) with a vegan dip or spread.  I followed the cracker recipe as given, letting the dough retard in the fridge overnight before rolling out the crackers and using only kosher salt on the tops.  The Husband loved these.  It reminded him of the pilot bread that he loved while fishing in Alaska.  As I was making them I thought I probably wouldn’t want to make them again, but The Husband may be requesting them and The Tartlets seem to have enjoyed them as well!

For the dip I made some curried red lentils.  The Husband ate the remainder as a thick soup.  This is not an exact recipe, but seasonings can be adjusted to taste:

Curried Red Lentils

1 lb. red lentils, washed several times.
3 c. vegetable broth (or chicken broth if you weren’t concerned about it being vegan)
1/2 c. red wine (optional)
1 small onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced or crushed
1/2 tsp. fresh grated ginger (or that’s what I would have used if I had it, instead I used a pinch of dry)
1 t. ancho chile powder
1 t. cumin
2-3 Tbsp. mild Indian curry powder (I used Sharwood’s)

water as needed

Place lentils, broth, wine and onion in a medium pan over medium-high heat, cooking until most of the liquid is absorbed, adding water if needed. Reduce heat to medium-low and add seasonings, stirring frequently until lentils are tender.

RECIPE – Recipe Reference: The Bread Baker’s Apprentice: Mastering The Art of Extraordinary Bread, by Peter Reinhart. Ten Speed Press, Berkeley, CA. Copyright 2001. ISBN-10: 1-58008-268-8, ISBN-13: 978-158008-268-6.

Here’s a simple formula for making snappy Armenian-style crackers, perfect for breadbaskets, company and kids…It is similar to the many other Middle Eastern and Northern African flatbreads known by different names, such as mankoush or mannaeesh (Lebanese), barbari (Iranian), khoubiz or khobz (Arabian), aiysh (Egyptian), kesret and mella (Tunisian), pide or pita (Turkish), and pideh (Armenian). The main difference between these breads is either how thick or thin the dough is rolled out, or the type of oven in which they are baked (or on which they are baked, as many of these breads are cooked on stones or red-hot pans with a convex surface)…

The key to a crisp lavash,…is to roll out the dough paper-thin. The sheet can be cut into crackers in advance or snapped into shards after baking. The shards make a nice presentation when arranged in baskets.

Makes 1 sheet pan of crackers

1 1/2 cups unbleached bread flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp instant yeast
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1/3 to 1/2 cup + 2 Tb water, at room temperature
Poppy seeds, sesame seeds, paprika, cumin seeds, caraway seeds, or kosher salt for toppings

1. In a mixing bowl, stir together the flour, salt yeast, sugar, oil, and just enough water to bring everything together into a ball. You may not need the full 1/2 cup + 2 Tb of water, but be prepared to use it all if needed.

2. Sprinkle some flour on the counter and transfer the dough to the counter. Knead for about 10 minutes, or until the ingredients are evenly distributed. The dough should pass the windowpane test and register 77 degrees to 81 degrees Fahrenheit. The dough should be firmer than French bread dough, but not quite as firm as bagel dough (what I call medium-firm dough), satiny to the touch, not tacky, and supple enough to stretch when pulled. Lightly oil a bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it around to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.

3. Ferment at room temperature for 90 minutes, or until the dough doubles in size. (You can also retard the dough overnight in the refrigerator immediately after kneading or mixing).

4. Mist the counter lightly with spray oil and transfer the dough to the counter. Press the dough into a square with your hand and dust the top of the dough lightly with flour. Roll it out with a rolling pin into a paper thin sheet about 15 inches by 12 inches. You may have to stop from time to time so that the gluten can relax. At these times, lift the dough from the counter and wave it a little, and then lay it back down. Cover it with a towel or plastic wrap while it relaxes. When it is the desired thinness, let the dough relax for 5 minutes. Line a sheet pan with baking parchment. Carefully lift the sheet of dough and lay it on the parchment. If it overlaps the edge of the pan, snip off the excess with scissors.

5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit with the oven rack on the middle shelf. Mist the top of the dough with water and sprinkle a covering of seeds or spices on the dough (such as alternating rows of poppy seeds, sesame seeds, paprika, cumin seeds, caraway seeds, kosher or pretzel salt, etc.) Be careful with spices and salt – a little goes a long way. If you want to precut the cracker, use a pizza cutter (rolling blade) and cut diamonds or rectangles in the dough. You do not need to separate the pieces, as they will snap apart after baking. If you want to make shards, bake the sheet of dough without cutting it first.

5. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the crackers begin to brown evenly across the top (the time will depend on how thinly and evenly you rolled the dough).

6. When the crackers are baked, remove the pan from the oven and let them cool in the pan for about 10 minutes. You can then snap them apart or snap off shards and serve.

Presents!

To kick off the launch of Foodbuzz, they have sent lovely presents to their featured publishers — an apron and a spatula! Just in time for some muffin baking I need to do this week.

Ready To Party

As I just mentioned in my last post, we’re getting ready to have friends over. This post isn’t directly related to food, but since food is a major part of having friends over & those friends need a place to sit while they eat, this does count in a roundabout way.   We have had these resin chairs for about 10 yrs; sometimes they’ve gotten wrapped in a tarp for winter, sometimes stored in the shed, but have spent a large part of their lives in the elements.  They look hideous, don’t they?  No amount of soapy water and elbow grease would get them clean.


Two passes with the bleach rag.

Just before we left on our trip to Montana, I was cruising the internet and one click led to another and another and now I have no idea where I saw someone had done this or I would give them credit, but a lady had wiped her old resin chairs with a sponge dipped in a bleach solution and they looked nearly white as new. So I decided I was going to try that before the year was out. Having people over is always a great impetus for projects, isn’t it?


Five passes with the bleach rag.

I made a strong bleach solution and dipped a rag in it and wiped it over the chairs, about 10 times each. The seats made the greatest difference and the arms the least, I think. Then I rinsed them thoroughly with the hose (wouldn’t do for the guests to have stains/holes in their pants, would it?). I didn’t take a picture when I was finished, but while they weren’t quite like new, at least now they look like they’ve only endured the elements for a couple of years rather than 10! 😉