terça-feira, 27 de outubro de 2009

Daring Bakers' Challenge October 2009

The 2009 October Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to us by Ami S. from Baking Without Fear. She chose macarons from Claudia Fleming’s The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern as the challenge recipe.

Once upon a time there was a baker woman. One day she decided to bake a brownie she'd seem in a famous chef website and some macarons for a famous challenge. But what she didn't know was that the baker fairy was on vacation and the baker witch was just around the corner. The witch casted a spell: everything the baker woman would try to bake that day would be a fail. And so it was. The brownie didn't bake at all. It turned out to be something like a mousse. Tasty but, not a brownie. And the macarons, I think I should name them 'messyrons'...

Don't you get really angry when something like this happens to you? I do.

I aged the egg whites for 3 days, I grinded the nuts with powdered sugar, I know what soft peaks means. What was wrong? I promise I'll find out and tell you.

I will definitely try it again. Although I think it will be better to wait for the Audax Artifex's (another DK fabulous member) book...

The dough

In the oven


Have you ever heard this: "if life gives you lemons, do some lemonade"?

I had a creme patissiere with vanila and almond extract leftover from the DC chalenge, so I mixed it with the failled macarons, topped with Chantilly, garnished with strawberry and pistachios and Voilá! My kids loved this desert. They asked me to always mess my macarons. Lol


Confectioners’ (Icing) sugar: 2 ¼ cups (225 g, 8 oz.)
Almond flour: 2 cups (190 g, 6.7 oz.) -> I worked with 100g almond and 90 pistachio flour
Granulated sugar: 2 tablespoons (25 g , .88 oz.)
Egg whites: 5 (Have at room temperature)

1. Preheat the oven to 200°F (93°C). Combine the confectioners’ sugar and almond flour in a medium bowl. If grinding your own nuts, combine nuts and a cup of confectioners’ sugar in the bowl of a food processor and grind until nuts are very fine and powdery.
2. Beat the egg whites in the clean dry bowl of a stand mixer until they hold soft peaks. Slowly add the granulated sugar and beat until the mixture holds stiff peaks.
3. Sift a third of the almond flour mixture into the meringue and fold gently to combine. If you are planning on adding zest or other flavorings to the batter, now is the time. Sift in the remaining almond flour in two batches. Be gentle! Don’t overfold, but fully incorporate your ingredients.
4. Spoon the mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a plain half-inch tip (Ateco #806). You can also use a Ziploc bag with a corner cut off. It’s easiest to fill your bag if you stand it up in a tall glass and fold the top down before spooning in the batter.
5. Pipe one-inch-sized (2.5 cm) mounds of batter onto baking sheets lined with nonstick liners (or parchment paper).
6. Bake the macaroon for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and raise the temperature to 375°F (190°C). Once the oven is up to temperature, put the pans back in the oven and bake for an additional 7 to 8 minutes, or lightly colored.
7. Cool on a rack before filling.

Yield: 10 dozen. Ami's note: My yield was much smaller than this. I produced about two dozen filled macaroons.

Additional Information:

David Lebovitz breaks it down: http://www.davidlebovitz.com/archives/2008/09/making_french_macarons.htm...

More macaroon 411:  http://www.seriouseats.com/2007/10/introduction-to-french-macarons.html

Get inspired by our own Tartlette!:  http://www.mytartelette.com/search/label/macarons

Go behind the scenes of Paulette:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qXIvX0-CEu0

Watch a pro pipe macaroons:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t_RfiFoWZKQ&feature=related

Beating egg whites: http://www.glutenfreecookingschool.com/archives/egg-series-no-1-how

Thanks to Ami. This was a real challenge for me. I'll try to do this again and I'm sure this time no baker witch will stop me!

quarta-feira, 14 de outubro de 2009

Daring Cooks' Challenge - October 2009

The October 2009 Daring Cooks’ challenge was brought to us by Jaden of the blog Steamy Kitchen. The recipes are from her new cookbook, The Steamy Kitchen Cookbook.

Jaden wrote:

"So what is Vietnamese Pho? Well, it’s like the most insanely delicious noodle soup popular in Vietnam. The broth is simmered for hours and hours with either beef knuckle/leg bone or with a whole chicken. Other accompaniments include ribbons of rice noodles, fresh herbs like cilantro or basil, a wedge of lime or lemon, fresh bean sprouts and fresh sliced chilies if desired.
What makes Pho so different than any other type of noodle soup is the spices that go into the simmering broth. Warm spices like coriander, star anise, cloves, cinnamon, fresh ginger transform an ordinary broth into a very authentic Vietnamese Pho."

Here is the recipe for “Quick Vietnamese Chicken Pho”:

2 tbsp. whole coriander seeds
4 whole cloves
2 whole star anise
2 quarts (2 liters/8 cups/64 fluid ounces) store-bought or homemade chicken stock
1 whole chicken breast (bone in or boneless)
½ onion
1 3-inch (7.5 cm) chunk of ginger, sliced and smashed with side of knife
1 to 2 tbsps. sugar
1 to 2 tbsps. fish sauce
1 lb. (500 grams/16 ounces) dried rice noodles (about ¼ inch/6 mm wide)

2 cups (200 grams/7 ounces) bean sprouts, washed and tails pinched off
Fresh cilantro (coriander) tops (leaves and tender stems)
½ cup (50 grams/approx. 2 ounces) shaved red onions
½ lime, cut into 4 wedges
Sriracha chili sauce
Hoisin sauce
Sliced fresh chili peppers of your choice

To make the Chicken Pho Broth: heat a frying pan over medium heat. Add the coriander seeds, cloves and star anise and toast until fragrant, about 3-4 minutes. Immediately spoon out the spices to avoid burning.
In a large pot, add all the ingredients (including the toasted spices) and bring to a boil.
Reduce the heat to medium-low and let simmer for 20 minutes, skimming the surface frequently.
Use tongs to remove the chicken breasts and shred the meat with your fingers, discarding the bone if you have used bone-in breasts.
Taste the broth and add more fish sauce or sugar, if needed. Strain the broth and discard the solids.
Prepare the noodles as per directions on the package.
Ladle the broth into bowls. Then divide the shredded chicken breast and the soft noodles evenly into each bowl.
Have the accompaniments spread out on the table. Each person can customize their own bowl with these ingredients.

Jaden said the secrets to making great Chicken Pho is:
1) Toast the spices and char the onion and ginger. This brings out the flavor and fragrance of these ingredients!
2) If you’re cooking the longer recipe (on my site) make sure you’re pre-boiling the chicken first – give it a hard boil for a few minutes to get rid of the scum and stuff in the chicken. This will help you create a crystal clear, clean broth.

You can find a longer version of this recipe, or a beef version, at the Jaden's website, Steamy Kitchen .

As I always make my own beef, chicken or vegetable stock, I chose to make the long version, but a bit different:

Simmering the chicken bones, skimming frequently

Stir-frying the chicken breasts
Charing the onions and gingerToasting the spices
Then place everything in a large pan and simmer for 3-4 hours. Pass the broth through a sieve. Serve with rice noodles and the other accompaniments.

This mouth we had an extra challenge: Chocolate Wontons. This second dessert challenge was about being creative with filling and form.

Variations: Wontons
1.Can be shaped any way you want. Can even be layered like napoleons.
2.Can be filled with your choice of filling, doesn’t have to be chocolate. But the fillings and final wonton must be SWEET - these are DESSERT wontons.

Note: you can find the original recipe at The Daring Kitchen website

I was not in the right mood for fried things, so i decided to steam them (I placed them in a sieve over a pan with boiling water). The filling was crème pâtissière, flavored with vanilla and almond extract and the toppings were: dark chocolate, Turkish dried apricots, pistachios and dried strawberry. I served them with balsamic vinegar caramel.

Thanks to Jaden for this lovely Challenge. I've always loved Asian food. I'd like you could smell this broth. Fantastic!