Sunday, March 29, 2009

March 2009 Daring Bakers! Lasagne

First, the legal notices: The March 2009 challenge is hosted by Mary of Beans and Caviar, Melinda of Melbourne Larder and Enza of Io Da Grande. They have chosen Lasagne of Emilia-Romagna from The Splendid Table by Lynne Rossetto Kasper as the challenge.

There - that should keep the search-bots happy, and establish that I did the deed and posted! I have not been able to keep up with the daring and gorgeous bakers, missing a # of challenges, but I still want to play! So, here is the lovely green pasta. . . .

You may notice that it is NOT in the shape of lasagne noodles, and you would be correct. Truth - this is ravioli from last fall. I have made this pasta a number of times before - I think my first spinach noodles were in the 90's, to be precise, and I LOVE them, but it was just not gonna happen this month. Instead, I used commercial no-boil sheet (Barilla = v. Italian), and made the Bechamel, which for me was the real challenge. I am usually willing to go with ricotta and mozzarella as a filling, but I love the Beschamel, and I am usually not patient enough to make it, thus the challenge. Oh, and not to nitpick or sound too cranky, but this whole exercise is not really baking - this is definitely a Daring Cooks challenge in my book. But whatever, it's delicious . . . .

So, here is the finished product - the Beschamel really adds a wonderful silky quality to the dish, and I love it - I used the recipe from the challenge, with the addition of about 8 oz. of Fontina cheese. And I made a tomato sauce with ground turkey, just because today is a Wednesday and there is no possible way to make the real ragu. So there. Still yum.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Double Chocolate Chunk Cookies

I'm ready for my close-up Mr. DeMille . . . . Hee!
This is quite the seductive cookie - sweet, but not too. A little delicate in texture, but packed with chocolate flavor, with pools of molten chocolate throughout. Simple - no eggs, so it's instantly vegan, if you care about that sort of thing. Oh wait - it's full of butter - nevermind then. . . .

You know those 2# bags of Guittard chocolate chunks you can get at Big John's? They are the perfect perfect chocolate "chip" for these cookies - cut them in half though otherwise they are too big. I tried a batch with toasted hazelnuts too - fantastic, though they are better the next day after the flavors marry a bit.

Divine with coffee - I had two for breakfast this morning! So, to those of you who think I eat cake for breakfast every morning, I don't -sometimes it's cookies! :)

Recipe from Orangette

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

¼ tsp. baking soda

1/8 tsp. salt

4 Tbsp. (½ stick) unsalted butter

2/3 cup granulated sugar

1/3 cup light brown sugar

7 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder

1/3 cup plain yogurt, preferably not low- or nonfat

1 tsp. vanilla extract

½ cup chocolate chips, preferably Ghirardelli brand, either semisweet or bittersweet

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone liner.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt.Place the butter in a medium microwave-safe bowl, and microwave briefly, until just melted. Add the sugars, and sift in the cocoa. (You can skip the sifting if you want, but my cocoa almost always has lumps, and I don’t like cocoa lumps in my cookies.) Stir to blend well. The mixture will be somewhat thick and pasty, like wet sand. Add the yogurt and vanilla and stir to mix thoroughly. Add the dry flour mixture, and stir to just combine. Add the chocolate chips and stir to incorporate.Drop the dough by generous tablespoons onto the prepared baking sheet. (I use my tablespoon-size measuring spoon to scoop and shape the dough into little domes. Rinsing the spoon regularly helps to keep the dough from sticking, and leaving the spoon slightly wet after each rinsing helps too.) You should be able to fit about 8 or 9 cookies, nicely spaced, on a standard sheet pan. Bake for 9 to 11 minutes, or until the tops of the cookies have crackled slightly and look set. Transfer the sheet pan to a wire rack, and cool the cookies on the pan for 10 minutes. Transfer them to the rack to cool completely. Repeat with remaining dough.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Checking in

I lost my desire to post, to take pictures, and to futz around with new recipes - maybe the winter blahs? I am still baking, though to read this blog you wouldn't know it. A whole month of February goes by and no posts -- s'ok, February was not much to write home about, except maybe the sweet mini-vacation in Phoenix (36 hours of free time, one pedicure, one hike up Camelback, one lunch by the pool, one long walk, one glass of champagne, one bargain pair of running shoes at Big 5, one fig scone - kinda packed a lot in!)
Now I am actually feeling like I could start running again - I know! well, maybe anyway. In the meantime, and maybe directly related, I am making puff pastry in 7# batches on the sheeter! Forgot to take pics the last time I baked some but it came up perfectly - golden brown and even. Magical stuff.
Random notes - the flowers on this cake were just divine - ok , that's all for now!