Category Archives: Baking

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”

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Baking My Way Into 2015

This took much longer than I had anticipated. We are getting ready to chow down. Happy New Year! Here are some more pics.

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

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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