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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.  This is the first month of Daring Baker’s for me, and it was a doozy!

For this challenge, we had the option of two different pasta frolla recipes.  I chose Version 1, which was a simple mixture of sugar, flour, lemon zest, butter, egg and salt.  This choice was based, unfortunately, on a single element: time.  This one came together with the fewest ingredients and in such a short amount of time.  One note, not sure if it was because the winter air leeched the moisture out of my ingredients, or if there is just not enough liquid in the recipe, but I ended up adding about 2 Tbsps of cold water to get it to come together.  To fill, we were allowed to go crazy.  I decided to settle on a simple raspberry preserve with the juice of a lemon.

Raspberry Crostatta

3/4 cup of powdered sugar
1 and 3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
a pinch of salt
1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
grated zest of half a lemon
1 large egg and 1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten in a small bowl
2 Tbsps cold water
21 ounces of raspberry preserves
Juice of 1 lemon

  1. Combine flour, powdered sugar and salt in a bowl.
  2. Add butter and rub/cut into flour mixture
  3. Add in beaten eggs and zest in a well in the center of the flour mixture (I kept mine all in the bowl, but it can be done straight on the counter top) and mix in with a fork until everything is moistened.  Here is where I added in my water, a tablespoon at a time, and began to lightly knead with my hands.
  4. At this point, create a ball of dough, and then cover with plastic wrap.  Refrigerate for 2 hours, or overnight.
  5. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  6. After the dough has been chilled, retrieve from the fridge and unwrap.  Mine was stiff enough that I needed to use a combination of my hands and my rolling pin to force it out (gently) into a circle large enough to cover the bottom of my 9 inch cake pan.
  7. Once the dough was rolled out, I placed it in the pan and pushed to the edges.  After pinching off the excess dough that peeked over the rim of the pan, I pricked the bottom of the tart pan multiple times to prevent from any bubbles or uneven puffing from forming along the bottom.
  8. Place the preserves and lemon juice in a small pot on the stove and heat until pourable.  Pour into pan, and spread to even out.  At this point, the excess dough can be rolled out and cut into shapes to be place on the top of the crostatta.  For example, a U!
  9. Bake at 375 degrees F for 25 minutes, or until pastry is a golden brown.  Allow to cool for a least an hour, or until set, and then serve!

Well.  Here begins yet another week.  And, I’m soooo not ready for it.  Although, I do have something very fun to look forward to in the middle of it.  Yup, its my BIRTHDAY! Wooo! Now that I’ve got that off my chest, I can say, I’m pretty disappointed that SOMEONE isn’t going to be joining me for it on this side of the pond, but since I can’t make it to hers a few days later, I won’t be too upset about it.

Anyways, because life is stressful with the end of the semester no longer creeping, but instead sprinting full speed, towards me, I’ve been baking like a fiend.  These are delicious, beautiful, and super-crazy simple.  Although, don’t make them too big, or your Pakistani friends won’t be able to eat them because they’re too rich. This is super fun, with a ba-gillion different ways to make it. I’ve already done a spicy chocolate chip, as well as an oatmeal butterscotch and milk chocolate chip cookie.  These….weren’t my favorite.  I (sort of) liked them, but there are a few things I wanted to change about them.  Like the dough.  And the filling.  Maybe I should try a whole new recipe?  I’ve done some other, naughtier, things, but I’ll give you a whole post for that.

But here has been my favorite sweet treat from the last few weeks.  It’s crazy simple (provided you have the caramels) and I could see it being doubly delicious (but a little more time consuming) if you wanted to make your own caramel.  But, of course, I have a couple things to change.  1) Don’t use as much chocolate (I know, blaspheme).  It overwhelmed the taste of the rest of the ingredients. 2) I would increase the size of the oatmeal cookie portion by half (so a total of 1 1/2 batches) because there wasn’t quite enough in my opinion. 3) Increase the caramel.  Mine oozed to sides, so there was only a little in the center, but a lovely amount on the edges.  By how much? Oh, maybe 18-20 oz. of caramels instead of just 14 oz. You’re call, really.

Oatmeal Chocolate Caramel Bars

from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe

*Notes: These are the measurements from the original recipe.  I’ll make these again with my suggestions and post an update.

1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 cup melted butter

14 ounce bag of caramels
1/2 cup whipping cream or milk
1 12-ounce package semisweet chocolate chips*

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degree. Mix the first six ingredients together and sprinkle half on the bottom of a 9X13-inch baking pan. Bake 10 to 15 minutes, until lightly browned.
  2. Meanwhile, melt the caramels and whipping cream or milk in a saucepan over low heat or in the microwave at 50% power, stirring often, until the mixture is smooth.
  3. When the bars have been removed from the oven, sprinkle the chocolate chips over the crust and pour the melted caramel over the top.
  4. Sprinkle the rest of the crust over the top and bake in the oven for an additional 10-12 minutes, until the caramel is bubbling and edges are lightly browned. Cool the bars completely before serving so they can set up properly.

Guess what I did?!  I joined the ranks of the Daring Kitchen (just in case you somehow missed the title)!

Wow, how cool do I feel? Really cool. Like a legitimate blogger! Now if I could get someone aside from my best friend (who actually made the blog and posts more often than me) to read it…

Anyway, I’m super stoked for this upcoming Daring Baker’s challenge.  I think whole process is going to be very fun, pushing me to try out things outside of my comfort zone (you know, cookies, brownies and pasta).  I can’t wait to make Ammar help me with this one, even though I KNOW he’s going to complain the entire time.  Good thing I know he’s just kidding (or at least I hope so).

Now that I’ve announced that to the world, I am going to continue to waste some time.  Yes, I know I should be working on some French homework.  Or studying up for the next quiz in my Strategic Management class. Or, hell, even working on my thesis.  That bullshit REALLY needs to get done.  Instead, I shall write this lovely blog post, sharing some recipes and musics!

So as of right now, I’m in loooooooooooove with the Cold War Kids.  I just downloaded two of their albums (Loyalty to Loyalty and Robbers & Cowards) both of which are mind blowing.  Just lovely.  I’ve also popped back into the Dirty Projectors and discovered they’ve created an album with Bjork, which is tooooootally perfect for their vibe.  Some of my new favorites are:

On and Ever Onward – Dirty Projectors and Bjork

Saint John – Cold War Kids, Dr. Dog and Elvis Perkins

Another gal I’m digging the hell out of is Oh Land.  Amazing! She’s from Copenhagen, Denmark (I have a total soft spot for anything Danish now) and is sweet and lovely, with catchy lyrics and tunes.  White Nights and Son of a Gun are two of her’s floating around on the blogosphere.

As for recipes, I’ve got two very relaxed ones for you.  One was an easy one skillet meal and the other was a Lemon Pound Cake with Glaze.  Ammar and I made these last week, and both of them were delicious.  Although I must say, we spiced up the Chicken, Rice and Bean dish for the better by adding a habenero pepper, both of them were easily made and took little to no time.  The only thing on the pound cake is let it cool before you eat it, because warm it tastes too eggy for me.  However, once cooled, I didn’t get that at all.

Red Chile Chicken with Rice and Black Beans

From My Kitchen Cafe

*I felt like mine could have used a little more broth (maybe 1/4-1/3 cup more) and as noted above, I added a habenero pepper to turn up the heat a little bit.

2 tablespoons canola oil, divided
2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 1.5 pounds), cut into 1-inch pieces
1 ½ tablespoons chili powder, divided
1 medium onion, diced
1 habenero pepper, diced
1 ½ cups rice
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 ½ cups chicken broth
1 (15 oz.) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup chopped green onions (about 3-4 green onions), roots and wilted outer leaves removed before chopping
Sour cream  and cheddar cheese for serving

Heat one tablespoon of the oil in a medium-large heavy pot over medium heat. Sprinkle the diced chicken breast with salt and ½ tablespoon of the chili powder. Place the chicken in the hot oil and brown on all sides.  The chicken doesn’t need to be cooked all the way through. Once browned, remove from pan to a plate.

Add the second tablespoon of oil to the pot and add the onion, pepper and rice. Cook on medium-low, stirring for several minutes, until the rice turns from translucent to opaque. Add the garlic and the remaining 1 tablespoon chili powder. Cook one minute, and then add the broth (here is where I might add a bit more broth to prevent from a gummy texture) and salt (between 1/2 to 1 teaspoon) to taste. Stir well. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to low. Cover, and cook for 10 minutes.

Add the chicken to the pot along with the beans, give it all a good stir. Recover the pot and cook on low for 10-12 minutes longer, taking care that the mixture isn’t cooking to hot or else it will burn on the bottom.

Sprinkle the green onions and test a kernel of rice. It should be tender, in which case you can sprinkle the cheddar cheese over the dish, place the cover back on, remove it from the heat and let it stand 5-10 minutes or until cheese is melted. If it’s not cooked, cook for another 5 minutes or so, stirring and checking often to make sure the mixture doesn’t burn.

Serve with salsa and sour cream.

I have no idea what’s wrong with me.  I started out the day just fine.  Got up, got a silly boy a ticket to a football game, went to the gym, worked out, went back home, showered, got ready, went to my parents’ house, and watched some football.   The Utes beat Wyoming 30 to 6 and TCU spanked BYU (31 to 3).  All in all it was a good kind of day.  But somewhere along the way I got grumpy.  Really grumpy.

So now that I’ve made it home all I can do is find things to bitch about.  Things my roommate does, things the people who are in my group for MGT 5700 do (or don’t do), things I do.  Sheesh, its hard being me.  So I’ve decided to sit down and chow down on the leftover cookie dough from last night.  And speaking of last night, I made cookies.

And I found a nice chill song to try and mellow out to while I catch up on recipes.



Now that you have that to bake to here you are!  The recipe that I adapted last night for oatmeal(ish) cookies.  This is nothing like the oatmeal recipe that I usually use (one of my mama’s) but it was a fun diversion from the norm.  And besides, I couldn’t find my mama’s recipe anywhere.

Spicy Oatmeal, Chocolate Chip and Walnut Cookies

Note: This recipe is adapted from Smitten Kitchen’s version.  What I changed was instead of butter I used all vegetable shortening, walnuts instead of pecans, added 1/4 tsp. of both chili powder and chipotle powder instead of the cloves and orange zest.

1/2 cup vegetable shortening
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon chili powder and chipotle powder
1 cup quick-cooking oats
1 cup chopped walnuts
12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a large cookie sheet with parchment or grease the cookie shet.
  2. Using an electric mixer, beat the shortening in a bowl until light and fluffy. Add both sugars, salt, and vanilla, and beat until well mixed, about three minutes.
  3. Stir in eggs, one at a time.
  4. Add half of the flour and all of the salt, soda and spices to the creamed shortening with the mixer on low speed. Once the flour has been incorporated, add the second half.
  5. Stir in the oats, walnuts, and chocolate chips. Drop the dough, by the tablespoon, onto the cookie sheet and bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden.
  6. Remove from the oven and cool the cookies on a rack. Store at room temperature in a cookie jar or other airtight container.

Today has just been one of those days.  The kind that sort of slink by peering at you from out of the corner of their eye.  I just looked up and it was gone.  The weather was beautiful, though, with bright sunshine and fall colored leaves starting to peak out on the mountains.

Not wanting to waste such a stunning sight, I made my way to the public library after work.  And did something very naughty.  I found the cooking section, sat down and went to town.  I would have brought almost 7 of those recipe books back home with me but I had a tiny purse and plans to scour Smith’s baking aisle on the way home to stock up on a few necessary items.  As it is I brought home two baking books, Ratio (one I’ve heard rave reviews on) and Artisan Breads (one with these breathtaking pictures of stunningly crusty and rich loaves), and one other, The Lightness of Being.

I’m stoked about the Artisan Breads book, mainly because I’ve got this crazy need for bread making in my life right now.  A few days ago I completed my first experiment with sourdough bread, and it has only bolstered my need to explore the world of bread even more.  This loaf is soft and tangy on the inside with a chewy crust on the outside.  The boule ( the French term for bowl is merely a round loaf), however, was about the size of a “wagon wheel” (per Texas Joe) so next time I’m definitely going to go for baguettes or rolls.  The bread is also amazing with the spinach, walnut and roasted garlic pesto I made last weekend.

Sourdough Bread

From How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman

*Note, this first part is the recipe for the starter.  This takes about 2 days to get the “sour” for the sourdough bread, so start it about 48 hours before you really want to get started.  To maintain the starter, take half out (like for the bread loaf) and mix in 3/4 cup flour and 1/2 cup water into the remaining starter.  Do this every week and starter will maintain itself “forever.”

1 1/2 cups flour

1/8 teaspoon yeast

1 cup warm water

  1. Mix the flour, yeast  and water together in a bowl. Cover loosely and place in an out of the way place (the recipe suggests the top of the refrigerator).   Stir every 8 to 12 hours; the mixture will eventually bubble and start to smell sour.  If the kitchen is warm this can take as little as 24 hours (mine took the full 48 hours and its about 70 degrees Fahrenheit).

3 1/2 cups flour

1/4 teaspoon yeast

1 1/3 cup water

2 teaspoons salt

  1. The night before you plan to bake, put half of the starter in the mixer (the recipe uses the food processor, but I just used my hand mixer) and add the additional flour, salt, and yeast.  As the mixer is going pour in the water and process until a sticky dough is formed.  It will be a little too sticky to knead by hand.
  2. Put the dough in a large bowl, cover and let sit for a few hours at room temperature or overnight in the refrigerator.
  3. For a boule: Sprinkle a small amount of flour on the counter and dump dough out of bowl. Start to shape into a ball by “tucking in” the dough towards the bottom center, rotating, and repeating to create a surface tension on the top. (I didn’t use the counter much for this.  I just held it in my hands and worked the dough over the counter.) Pinch the seam that will form on the bottom of the loaf together.
  4. Place dough ball on a well floured clean kitchen towel in a colander or round basket seam side up.  Cover with towel and let rise 2 to 6 hours.
  5. Preheat oven about 30 minutes before baking to 450 degrees F.  Turn dough out onto baking sheet and cut the top of the loaf a few times.  Spray the inside of the oven with water to create steam and then slide baking sheet into oven.
  6. Bake at 450 degrees F for 20 minutes (spray the inside of the oven with water 2 or 3 times in the first 10 minutes) then turn oven down to 350 degrees F and bake 25 more minutes.  Loaf should have a golden brown crust.  Remove and cool on a wire rack.

Spinach, Walnut and Roasted Garlic Pesto

*Note: These measurements are all estimates considering I just sort of threw this together. Also this is the easiest in the food processor.

4 cups spinach

1/2 to 3/4 cup toasted walnuts

1/2 head roasted garlic

1/4 cup olive oil (more might be needed)

1/3 cup parmesan

  1. Place walnuts, parmesan, and roasted garlic in food processor.  Process until chunky.  Add spinach in batches, using olive oil when necessary to keep things going smoothly.

Ooooookay!  So sorry I’m the worst post-er ever in the history of this blog, but I’ve finally figured out how to post something! Wooo!  And here it is:  The epic list of what new things I’ve made over the past few weeks.

  • Buttermilk Chocolate Loaf Cake
  • Vanilla Cupcakes with Strawberry Frosting
  • Chocolate Layer Cake with Vanilla Frosting and Raspberry Filling
  • B-b-q Chicken Pizza
  • Chili Verde
  • Alfredo Sauce with Farfalle, Chicken and Broccoli
  • French Bread (two different recipes)
  • Texas Sheet Cake
  • Potato Soup with Chipotle and Bacon

There are two more things in the making: Sourdough Bread and Homemade Oreos. 🙂  Wow, I need a life.