Peach Crostada

Peaches have always been one of my favorite fruits and it need not be summertime in order for me to enjoy them. I purchased a can of fruit pie filling, in order to enjoy the delectable flavors of a peach dessert. This technique is a rustic pie called a Crostada, and is easier to slice and serve than a traditional pie. Serve after it is cooled with ice cream or a dollop of whipped Creme Chantilly.

 Copyright © 2015 “Sleeping Kitten – Dancing Dog!” All rights reserved.

"Sweet dough folded over in a rustic way, brushed with heavy cream and sprinkled with sugar"

“Sweet dough folded over in a rustic way, brushed with heavy cream and sprinkled with sugar”

 

'The crust is flaky and complements the softness of he peaches"

‘The crust is flaky and complements the softness of the peaches”

"Double pans allow for an even bake without complications of a burnt bottom crust"

“Double pans allow for an even bake without complications of a burnt bottom crust”

"The filling needs to bubble before it is removed from the oven"

“The filling needs to bubble before it is removed from the oven”

 

"Baked to a golden Brown ... once cooled the bottom crust has a crunch which is precisely what one wants to achieve"

“Baked to a golden brown … once cooled, the bottom crust has a crunch which is precisely what one wants to achieve”

January The Difficult Month

DSCN3831January is one of the strangest, and sorrowful months of the year. Between Christmas and a bittersweet New Years Day is an imperceptible chain, intent on imprisoning my soul, to drag me down into the pit of hidden memories. Thoughts I tend to push to the recesses of my mind, but they always clamor to be revisited during this solemn time.  I hide behind the snow-filled days busying myself in my kitchen, and with long bouts of slumber. I lie nestled beneath the warmth of down-filled comforters and soft plush throws. I even watch to see the delayed openings of the government and the closings of county schools. My sister and I loved hearing school would be closed due to inclement weather. We would bask in the glow of sleeping in and having our friends over to listen to records, have long chats about current events, and we would play board games or cards for hours on end.

This time of year is a transitional time for me because so many of the people I shared these holidays with are no longer living. I am made to reflect on how I expected my future (the world was my oyster) would be in a world headed for better and exciting times. And for me they were until the late eighties, when the war on drugs began, the cities were really unsafe and things seemed to go downhill from there. Is it wrong for me to yearn for those innocent times when life was simpler and happier? I suppose a few more days of lethargy are here and then like a magic trick, the weight of this is whisked off and I am reborn for the coming year. It might have something to do with the end of the Chinese Year around the end of the month and sometimes into February. The Year Of the Wooden Horse begins January 31, 2014. So … one more week and I’ll be back to my funny self.

DSCN3833 DSCN3836 DSCN3846 DSCN3841DSCN3844 DSCN3840Here are some golden raisin cream scones I made. They had a hint of orange because of the zest I incorporated. The bottom of each scone is a golden brown.

DSCN3875 DSCN3861 DSCN3872 DSCN3864 DSCN3848 DSCN3855 toasted almonds cream cheese frosting lemon curdAnd then a vanilla, almond white cake, with a layer of lemon curd, cream cheese frosting and toasted almonds. It was a bit warm in the center when I cut and assembled it. It was awesome, but it tasted even better chilled. Homemade cake is very filling.

Copyright © 2014 “Sleeping Kitten – Dancing Dog!” All rights reserved.

Teesa’s Kitchen

"Apples & Pears"

“Apples & Pears”

The thing that separates my cooking and baking from others, is the absolute care I take when combining ingredients. I immerse myself in technique and process, I pay close attention to the details and I always toss in some love.  I dwell on the ingredients and imagine them all becoming more than they were born to be. In a world such as ours, we have such beautiful and creatively packaged natural foods. Man alone would never conceive the abundance and variety. I give thanks to God, My Creator, Mother Earth and The Universe for blessing me and my kitchen so richly.

I will say that the pecan cinnamon streusel cake was baked in a loaf pan, as I did not have any 8″ X 8″ pans at hand. It called for 20-25 minutes, but ended up being baked a full 40 minutes in the oven. This resulted in a mysterious and smoky cinnamon, sugared pecans (the streusel). The crunch was unbeatable! The cake was moist, flavorful and the texture sublime. From now on I will always prepare it in the loaf pan just so I can experience its crunch at full throttle.

The lemon curd is an all-time favorite. I make it twice per year because it is very rich. As you can tell by the photographs I have the necessary ingredients for some dacquoise, frangipani and apple and pear tarts. I’m into my last ten days of baking until next winter solstice. Since my camera seems to be feeling better, I shall snap more pics of the newest recipes. Oh, how I long for a brand new, pristine and  professional pastry kitchen. I would teach people to do what I do.

Copyright © 2014 “Sleeping Kitten – Dancing Dog!” All rights reserved.

"See the texture"

“See the texture”

"Nuts - Dried Fruits - Filling - Extract"

“Nuts – Dried Fruits – Filling – Extract”

"Lemon Curd"

“Lemon Curd”

"Pecan Cinnamon Streusel Cake ~ The crunch was remarkable!"

“Pecan Cinnamon Streusel Cake ~ The crunch was remarkable!”

A Noteworthy Absence

"Moist ~ Heavy ~ Poppy Seed Cake"

“Moist ~ Heavy ~ Poppy Seed Cake”

Do you ever just want to slink down beneath the covers and return to the foggy dream you were in? I have to tell you that during the holidays and into the new year, I work myself practically around the clock. In the back of my mind is the conversation I hold with yours truly, and it starts off with this sentence: “All right Theresa, time to put yourself in motion and dance your ‘Kitchen Ballet’.” (I have decided this will be the name of my future cookbook.) This internal voiceover is behind the debate over ingredients and it helps conduct the organization and production of my annual bake-a-thon. Over the course of three to four weeks, I purchase, stock my refrigerator and pantry shelves, review recipes, make copious notes and bake new recipes. I don one of my aprons, prepare my mise en place of the ingredients and equipment I will be needing, and I apply all necessary techniques of which I am so fond.

Baking is so different from cooking. Naturally its cooking, but with a meal, you can toss in some of this or that. With baking, it is like turning your kitchen into a mini laboratory. It’s where the magic happens. When I cook I do experience the flow of a dancing ballerina, but when I bake the food chemist is revealed (figuratively speaking), because everything must be measured precisely, the correct temperature adhered to and then the fundamentals of turning components into something new is endless. You can take butter, eggs, cream, flour, salt, chocolate and a few spices, to create an entire cookbook of delectable desserts. A little baking soda or baking powder is capable of providing the lift of help whenever needed. Magic happens when ingredients you have carefully combined are placed into a preheated oven. Try sitting before the oven window and watch it progressively change before your very eyes. And the aroma that alerts you that it is almost done, is powerful enough to make your mouth water. Sometimes having to let the finished goods cool on a wire rack it almost more than one can bear. This is especially true whenever yeast is used while baking breads.

Copyright © 2014 “Sleeping Kitten – Dancing Dog!” All rights reserved.

"Spiral Cut Ham"

“Spiral Cut Ham”

"Round Brownies"

“Round Brownies”

"Chocolate Mousse"

“Chocolate Mousse”

"Angel Food Cake in the pan"

“Angel Food Cake in the pan”

"Honey Oatmeal Bread"

“Honey Oatmeal Bread”

"Retro Cinnamon Sugar Coffee Cake"

“Retro Cinnamon Sugar Coffee Cake”

"Angel Food Cake"

“Angel Food Cake”

Over the holidays, my camera was acting up and the dratted thing kept saying battery exhausted and would immediately shut itself off. This provided me with the chance to berate and then later, to cajole and plead with it to behave properly. I did think about putting it into the oven but decided that would be folly indeed.

Here is a list of things I chose to bake:

Angel Food Cake

Chocolate Mousse

Vanilla Pudding

Pistachio Pudding

Brownies

Honey Oatmeal Bread 

Banana Rum Bread (no nuts)

Mini Cheesecakes w/ Cherry Topping

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate Dream Cookies

Snicker Doodle Cookies

Peanut Butter Cookies

Retro Cinnamon Sugar Coffee Cake

Rum Muffins w/ Heavy Rum Glaze

Rum Cinnamon & Raisin Buns w/ Rum Icing

Gert’s Mama’s Pound Cake

Poppy Seed Cake w/ White Fluffy Icing

Puff Pastry Apple Tart

Maple Pecan Muffins

Between family, neighbors and some persons who work with Joe, the holidays were helped along with the joy and work from my kitchen. It is very satisfying to feed others and this act of culinary love is best when shared. I hope everyone enjoyed a peaceful time and got to try the goodness from your kitchen and from others, too. So, for an entire week after (being totally overwhelmed) January 6th, I take this time to reflect, sleep and chill out. It’s my mini-vacation and my secret way to relax and unwind. Happy New Year!

Copyright © 2014 “Sleeping Kitten – Dancing Dog!” All rights reserved.

Favorite Things Friday

The other evening I was watching the CBS American Baking Competition” on T.V., when they challenged the home cooks to prepare a technical bake-off. The guest judges selection was a Napoleon Dessert. This is mostly baked in the shape of a pave, or rectangle. It usually consists of three to four layers of pastry and then in between, each is filled with pastry cream and ganache. Many times the pastry cream is flavored and sometimes even the ganache has added flavorings as well. They mentioned the bakers were to use puff pastry and I was momentarily befuddled. I thought for sure it was made using a dacquoise (meringue rectangle). Out of the six presentations there was only one presentable endeavor. The rest were all hot messes!

whati'mreadingI grabbed one of my culinary books and proceeded to delve into the world of French pastry. Oh my! It had been too long since I prepared a dessert like this and I found that had to eat my own thoughts (in place of eating my own words). Napoleon is made using disks of puff pastry. I read up on puff and laminated dough (trying not to drool on the pages) and decided to get the ingredients tomorrow so I can make some next week. I’ll have to set aside a whole four hours to prepare, chill, turn and roll out (repeating this method X5) the puff pastry dough. When finished it will need to rest in the refrigerator overnight. The lamination is in the layers upon layers of butter-strewn dough. Incorporating a whole pound of butter, it starts out a little shabby and then is turned into the smoothest of dough. There is a total of 1,471 layers once it is baked … I have this on the authority of my Chef Instructor from LAC. The butter-cream I’ll make takes a bit of time and then I will freeze some of the blocks for later use, and I’ll also freeze some of the puff dough. This gives me the freedom to take it out and use it as needed. Better to have it ready (on hand) for those unexpectedly brilliant baking moments.

Icouldn'tresistI visited Barnes and Noble Bookstore yesterday, just before closing. I had been instructed by my sister to grab the latest copy of “Poets & Writers”, a publication released every two months. She had told me about this a few months back, and so as I was at the counter, thanking the assistant for their help, I espied a carry bag with Nancy Drew on the front. He told me $1.99 was the price and I nodded my acceptance of this addition to my checkout total. He slipped the receipt along with the magazine into the bag and handed it to me. I carried my exciting new things outside, all the while smiling delightedly at the thought of all of my old myoldfriendsNancy Drew Mysteries at home on the shelf. My guilty pleasures! I had been thinking of revisiting my schoolgirl reads, because Nancy Drew and I spent many, many hours solving crimes together, as I helped her figure out who was responsible for this and that. Such fun! The small girl inside me is and always will be tucked away in my heart.

In the cabinet I also noticed some of the cups my sister and Joe had brought back to me after their travels abroad. I do not drink from them though, because I want them to remain unstained and intact. They’re more for decoration and as mementos of their thoughtfulness.worldymugs

While there I peeked inside an old jewelry box I had became owner of, after the passing of Auntie, Jean Haislip Evans, in June 2001. Inside this box were some trinkets and costume jewelry. Also, there was a 1935 (stamped Hawaii) one-dollar bill. As you can see it has been autographed but I do not know by whom. I just noticed this is a “SILVER CERTIFICATE”.  Now I will need to research this to learn what it means. Don’t worry … I’ll look after them Auntie.

Auntiesthings

 Hawaiian 1935 autographed dollar billSo this is what I’ve been doing today and since it is still evening I’m sure I’ll think up some more things to get into before Joe gets back home.

A Surprise For Harper Jane

Harper Jane’s surprise arrived today. A week ago, my niece Rachael brought her darling daughter, Harper to visit expressly to prep, mix, roll-out & cut and then bake sugar cookies. Harper did such a god job Uncle Joe and Auntie Teesa decided to order her very own uniform. While there was about a half of a cup of flour on her shirt and the floor, we had a special time. I had my hands too full to take photographs, but we will snap them next time. Harper and I plan to prepare miniature pies (blueberry, cherry, apple and perhaps a few chicken pot pies as well. She will look awesome in her chefs jacket and I will wear mine when next we explore my kitchen. What a beautiful child!
Harper Jane Student Chef & Baker 1 Harper Jane Student Chef & Baker 2 Harper Jane Student Chef & Baker 3 Harper Jane Student Chef & Baker 5 Harper Jane Student Chef & Baker 4

Have A Joyful Kitchen

whitechocchippecancookies wccpbaking bakedtilapia perfectlybaked toastingwalnuts wccpcooling wccpstacked patesucree dontrushtheprocess veggieshrimppilaf incorporate dryintowet scoopedand flashfrozen restandchillcookiedoughbeforescooping chocolatedreamcookies escarolesalad readytobake cameratookitsownpicture whiteloaf breadart covershapedloavesfor secondrise addingdarkchocolatechips punchdown snickerdoodles gentlyrollout lighttheskyapronmugsmousepad chocdrmcookiesfrashfrozen allowbreadtocool honeyoatmealbread cookiejar DSCN2837 patesucreereadytofreeze firstrise divideinhalf balancedmeal carefullyrollup panfriedbreadedsalmonIt appears WordPress has changed things so this will be a long post of photographs depicting what I have been doing in a room that holds so much creative and delicious promise. My kitchen. It’s not very large, but it is packed with the essential items to help me turn out an array of cooked and baked foods. I suppose you can click the photographs to view them better and I promise everything tasted heavenly. Thought of the day … have a joyful kitchen that brings you comfort and peace. Happy New Year! Please forgive the wallpaper.bbrycrmscones

Recycle Ripened Bananas!

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Banana Bread 

2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned into measuring cup and leveled)

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp baking soda

Measure into a small bowl and set aside

~~~~~~~~~~~~

3/4 cup sugar

1 stick butter (softened)

2 large eggs

1/3 cup whole milk

1 tsp pure vanilla

1 cup ripened bananas  (two to three mashed and measured)

~~~~~~~~~

1) Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees Continue reading

No Cure For Hot Hands

(This story was originally posted on my BrooWaha pages on February 10, 2010)

"Chocolate Cake"

The assignment was to cut the cake: “No matter how I tried I was a wretched mess!” (Imagine Lucille Ball!)

Culinary Schools are the best environment for learning the intricate methods for achieving perfectly prepared meals. That was the main reason I attended L’Academie de Cuisine, one of the top ten culinary schools in the United States, right outside Washington, DC. I wanted to turn out those gorgeous, divine French concoctions of confectionary perfection. Eight months of schooling, including about three to four months of simultaneous externship for Pastry Arts and I’d be ready to graduate.

During the second month of classes students are introduced to the complexities of cocoa beans, and the labor-intensive production methods that are used to produce those tasty decadent desserts and candies we have come to adore. There are hours of listening to Chef lecture on the mysteries of this bitter nut. Percentages of solids and fats, temperatures and tempering, are repeated during the next few days in order to impress upon the students that chocolate is complex, sometimes difficult to work with and can be really difficult to master. After those classes, I can never look at another chocolate candy bar in the same way. I really had no idea.  Continue reading

October Cooking

Cooking for the past week, a birthday gift for a little girl who lives downstairs and a little doodling, too. Happy Halloween!

On the Menu

What I’ve been up to in the kitchen yesterday and today. I used the end slice of bread and cut it into tiny squares, placed some beneath each chicken breast and baked. Without any added ingredients, the chicken basted the stuffing and the results were scrumptious!

Baked Chicken

It doesn’t take much to turn chicken into something more. Depending upon which seasoning you use,

whether you bake or fry or saute, and if you use a sauce or gravy, chicken is a versatile meat.

3-6 chicken breasts rinsed and patted dry

1 can cream of mushroom soup

15 uncooked mushroom slices

1/3 cup white wine

1/4 cup water

salt & pepper to taste

3/4 tsp paprika

1 Tbsp Herbs de Provence crushed and sprinkled on top        Continue reading

In My Kitchen

 

The say silence is golden but I think bread is golden as well. Eat some of my bread and you might not talk but you will make Mm Mm Mm sounds!

Blueberry Streusel Cake

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Preheat oven 350º and spray non-stick cooking spray onto a 9″ baking pan.

Streusel

1 cup all purpose flour

1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup butter (cut into cubes)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

1) Combine flour, salt and brown sugar in a medium bowl.

2) Cut in the butter, by using your hands or a pastry blender, until large moist crumbs appear.

3) Chill for fifteen minutes.

The Cake

4 Tbsp butter (softened)

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp allspice

3/4 cup sugar

1 large egg

2/3 cup buttermilk * (I used whole milk and lemon juice 3/4 cup)

1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries (toss rinsed and dried fruit with 1 Tbsp flour, just prior to adding to the mixed batter) *(Next time I will rinse the blueberries and toss them in sugar instead of flour)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

1) Stir flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and allspice together in a medium bowl.

2) In a large mixing bowl and using a mixer, beat the butter and sugar until fluffy.

3) Add large egg and beat well.

3) Alternating the dry ingredients and the liquid, add to the mixing bowl and blend, ending with the liquid.

4) The batter will appear stiff.

5) Toss the fresh blueberries with the flour and gently add and fold them into the batter.

6) Spread into baking pan and cover the top with the streusel.

7) Place baking pan into oven on top of a cookie sheet. This will prevent the bottom of the cake from burning.

8) Bake 45 to 50 minutes, until toothpick come out clean.

9) Allow cake to cool on baking rack for at least 10 to 15 minutes and then sift 10X sugar on top, if desired.

Serve while still warm, perhaps fifteen minutes after removing from the oven.

* Adapted from a Martha Stewart’s recipe.

Rocking Dinner Rolls

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I have to tell you how wonderful these taste. Try this recipe from Sugar Pies yourself and wrap your family round your little finger. They’ll be begging for more. Check out my post on Half Hour Meals and get the recipe there. You will be very happy you did!

Cookie Monster

Toll House Cookies

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

 

1 cup (2 sticks, 1/2 pound) butter, softened

3/4 cup granulated [white] sugar

3/4 cup packed brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 eggs

2 cups (12-ounce package) NESTLE TOLL HOUSE Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels

1 cup chopped nuts

 


COMBINE flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla in large mixer bowl. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition; gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels and nuts. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.

BAKE in preheated 375-degree [Fahrenheit] oven for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Let stand for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

PAN COOKIE VARIATION: PREPARE dough as above. Spread into greased 15″x10″ jelly-roll pan. Bake in preheated 375-degree [Fahrenheit] oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool in pan on wire rack.

FOR HIGH ALTITUDE BAKING (>5,200 feet): INCREASE flour to 2 1/2 cups; add 2 teaspoonfuls water with flour; reduce both granulated sugar and brown sugar to 2/3 cup each. Bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit, drop cookies for 8 to 10 minutes and pan cookies for 17 to 19 minutes.

 

 

 

On My Menu: Beef Wellington

Chef Gordon Ramsey is always having his Hell’s Kitchen cooks make Beef Wellington. Never made it before and I went  searching on the computer the other day for a recipe. It uses duck liver pate and I don;t want to use this in my recipe. So I kept looking. I noticed this photo and saw that Chef Paula Dean has a recipe that teaches us to make an oyster pate. Now I can go for this.

Just planning ahead as my sister will be coming in from the West Coast after the baby is born (our niece is the Mother-to-be), and I want to try some new recipes before she gets here. Being prepared is like band rehearsal, I practice so I will know the best way to fix the dish. For instance, if I’ll use frozen puff pastry sheet, or if I go the whole route to make real puff pastry or a quick puff. I also want to make brioche, and I can prepare the doughs I’ll need for other foods, and in many cases freeze them. Like croissants … she likes the apricot and pain au chocolate ones.

There are quite a few recipes I want to experiment on at least once before she arrives. I can present some well-planned dinners and should be full-proof, because I planned ahead and tried new things. I also want to make Savarin and eclairs and custards and mousse and Paris Brest. I’ll take photos so there will be evidence. I really miss being a student in culinary school. Perhaps I should apply for a scholarship and become a full-time student. I know I graduated already, sshh … I want to go back and make all those French desserts. Students only get to taste a little but really, the most important part is making it.

One Potato … Two Potato …

Three potato … Four. I was amazed to see purple and blue skinned new potatoes, when we visited Butler’s Orchard on Sunday afternoon. This is a perfect sized for two portions or two to three vegetable pizzas. Or as the French would call it, Pissaladiere. Here is the original recipe I was taught at culinary school. I will of course, make it my very own way using these potatoes, Onion and garlic, too. Yummy with a Parisian accent.

Laminated Dough

Pissaladiere This is the French pizza.

1   18″ x 12″ flat puff dough docked and fully baked  ** (see below)

(cooked and seasoned onions drained)

spiced and herbs

anchovies

sliced black olives

Assembly:

1) Spread onions onto the baked shell

2) Sprinkle with your choice of herbs and spices

3) Place the anchovies in strategic “X” and dot the crosses and points with olives.

Bake 350º 10 to 15 minutes.  Serve hot.

Yields 8 portions.

What I intend doing will be to omit the anchovies and replace them with thinnest slices of potatoes that have been lightly sauteed in butter and onions with garlic. Then I will drain and follow the recipe.


Quick Puff

Also known as rapid puff or rough puff.  You can make it flaky as well as tender if you make it well.

16 oz gold medal unbleached flour

1 t salt

8 oz water

drops of lemon

12 to 16 oz butter 1/2″ cubes (cold)

——————————————

Two double turns or six single turns.  Rest 20 minutes in between.

1) Mixing bowl with paddle, combine all ingredients until just mixed.

2) finish by hand.

3) Roll out onto cold surface with lots of flour about 1/8″ to 1/4″ thickness.

Shape and rest in fridge before baking.  375º to 400º 18 to 25 minutes.  There is nothing to cook in this puff pastry you are just browning the dough.  Drying time.  Cool on rack.