Friday, June 27, 2014

Italian Pastry Twists

I'm just going to come out now and say that this recipe was obnoxious. I'm not sure where things went wrong, but they went wrong quickly and I couldn't seem to get control back!

First of all, how can you screw up fried dough? Everyone loves it... it's immensely bad for you so how could you not love a funnel cake engulfed in powdered sugar? Oreos engulfed in dough. Ugh. However, these examples are not the way this story goes.

My dough ended up being so thick that I thought I somehow doubled the amount of flour it called for, but even after doubling the wet ingredients it was still too thick! Plus I had double and triple checked how much I was supposed to put in. WHAT HAPPENED!? Well maybe I really did just screw it up and wasn't paying attention. Try out the recipe and let me know! This really is minimal effort and you fry the dough so it literally just takes a few minutes. This recipe comes from The Ultimate Cookie Book by Catherine Atkinson. Me mum acquired it when we lived in the UK for a spell.

Italian Pastry Twists

Yield: a hell of a lot more than I got out of it, which was about 8 pieces
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 egg
pinch of salt
2 tbsp granulated sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp melted butter
4 tbsp sherry oil for frying (I used Crisco)
confectioners sugar for dusting

1. Sift flour into large mixing bowl and make a well in the center. Add the egg, salt, sugar, vanilla extract and melted butter.
2. Mix with hands until the mixture starts to come together. When the dough becomes stiff add enough oil to make the dough soft and pliable. Knead until smooth and then wrap in plastic wrap and chill for about an hour.
3. Roll out the pastry thinly on a lightly floured surface and cut into 40 strips each about 7x1/2". Tie each strip loosely into knot.
4. Heat oil in pan to 375°F and deep fry the knots in batches, for 2-3 minutes until puffed up and golden.
5. Drain the pastry twists on a paper towel, dust generously with powdered sugar and serve either hot or cold.

This was as close as I could come to getting the dough rolled out thinly! Then it took a lot of manipulation to get it to do what I wanted with the knot.

And there you have it. It's going to take me a little while before I'm recovered from the trauma of this so that I may try once again to fry up some Italian Twists. Let me know if those measurements work out for you, or may try just adding in the flour to the wet ingredients until you have something workable and let me know how much flour it took!

These actually were still pretty tasty, although pretty thick. Of course, anything sprinkled with powdered sugar at the very least tastes better.

Good luck and enjoy!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Honey Baked Peaches

When I picked out this recipe I thought "sure! this sounds simple enough." However, since I'm in the horrible habit of not reading through a recipe before I judge it, it was much more difficult than I had anticipated. It wasn't so much that it required any certain skill level... it was more of an experience thing. For example, I had never pitted a peach before. Wow. Let me just tell you, it's much more difficult than I had anticipated! However, I'll share a few of the things I tried which seemed to work. If you have any advice for my future endeavors, please share! I cut this recipe to one third of its size to serve 4.

This recipe was found on Food


10 ripe peaches

1 tbsp honey

½ cup almonds

1 tub mascarpone

¼ cup pouring cream

1 tsp vanilla extract

¼ cup water

170g caster sugar

1. Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C fan). Slice peaches in half  (follow groove in peach) and remove stones. Use a spoon to help pry open the fruit, and microwaving for 10 seconds can also help. Place peaches cut side up on baking tray and drizzle with honey. Bake for 20 to 30 mins until softened.

2. While peaches are in the oven place almonds on second baking tray and place in oven for 5 -7 mins with peaches. When roasted, remove almonds and place onto clean baking tray lined with baking paper. Set aside.

3. While peaches and almonds are baking combine mascarpone, pouring cream and vanilla extract in small bowl and chill in fridge until required.

4. Place water and sugar in saucepan and bring to boil. Simmer, swirling pan intermittently (but do not stir!), until sugar has dissolved and mixture turns light-mid golden brown (approx 15 to 20 mins), then quickly remove from heat. Immediately pour hot toffee over roasted almonds, coating evenly. Leave praline to cool and harden. You can place your praline in the refrigerator to speed up the cooling. Place in food processor and blend to a mid-fine texture.

5. Remove peaches from oven and spoon praline into center stone holes of each peach half. Arrange 3 peach halves per plate and top with mascarpone cream.

 First of all, my almonds got a little over toasted. Instead of the 10 minutes the original recipe recommends, I would remove them after 5 to 7 minutes.

 I left the peaches in the oven after I turned off the heat to continue cooking and stay warm while I completed the remaining tasks.

Despite the overly toasty almonds this still turned out really well. It was crunchy, creamy and juicy and the almonds even added a bit of bitter to all of the sweet which was very interesting. I'm not sure I would do this recipe again, except the mascarpone cream which turned out to be absolutely amazing. I may have to invent some other dish to utilize it.


Sunday, June 8, 2014

Martha Stewart's Bread Pudding

I have always been a little bit in awe of Martha Stewart. I used to say I was going to be the next Martha Stewart minus the prison time. She has just been such a great DIY inspiration for so long in so many people's homes. Out of the hundreds of Stewart recipes I have collected, I decided to try out her Maple-Pecan Bread Pudding

This is another very simple recipe to pull off. There's a bit of mixing and that's about it for the preparation. I substituted walnuts for the pecans, and mixed the maple syrup in with cheaper syrup. These instructions are pretty exactly the same as Martha Stewart's with a few add-ins. 

Maple Walnut Bread Pudding
Yield: 8 servings

Butter, room temperature, for baking dish
1 baguette (8 ounces), thinly sliced
2 cups half-and-half
2 large eggs
2/3 cup pure maple syrup (preferably Grade B), plus more for serving
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
Heavy cream, for serving (optional)

  • Instructions:
  • 1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter a 2-quart baking dish and set aside. Arrange bread on two large rimmed baking sheets; bake until dry (but not browned), about 15 minutes. Let cool.
  • 2. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together half-and-half, eggs, syrup, vanilla, and salt. Add bread to custard and toss. In prepared dish, stand slices upright in rows. Pour any remaining custard in bowl over top and let stand 10 minutes.
  • 3. Sprinkle bread pudding with walnuts and bake until center is hot and most of custard is absorbed, about 30 minutes. Let cool slightly. Serve with maple syrup and cream, if desired.

I have to say this was quite awesome. My mother, who claims to not like maple syrup, even seemed to really enjoy it. The pudding was very moist yet firm and not sloppy. It was very well flavored and I am really quite a fan of this recipe now. I have a tendency to never repeat recipes (there are so many, I have to try them all!) but I can already say that I would consider using this one multiple times.


Friday, June 6, 2014

Summer Challenge!

I'm beginning a new blog for my summer cooking challenge, and this could possibly become my overall cooking and baking blog. I want to keep these posts short and sweet so I can keep track of what recipes I use, and so I can let you know how good they are! Hopefully this won't become a Pinterest-recipe-fail blog!

This may also end up having crafting as well, the possibilities are endless! Plus I think I'd like to have my other blog, Why Is Why, reserved for artwork, tutorials and writing... and maybe even other artsy stuff.

Here are the parameters of my challenge: I will bake twice a week for the duration of summer. At the end of summer I may decide to continue, but for now that's all I will put on myself. This will last about 10 weeks, which amounts to 20 items! The list of recipes I'm going to try are as follows, in no particular order:
coconut lime pull apart bread, oolong donuts with milk tea glaze, biscoff pie, coconut tres leches, peaches and cream streusel bread, gooey cinnamon roll cake, turtle upside down cake, mini lemon hand pies, blueberry lemon cheesecake bars, maple pecan bread pudding, caramel banana upside down bread, mini pear pies with bleu cheese, almond cake, honey roasted peaches with almond praline and mascarpone, pecan tassies, fig and date ravioli, Italian pastry twists, chocolate salami, AND almond and vanilla cookies with praline coating. Whew!

So, first up I have some super easy lemon hand pies I made. This recipe comes from Lemons For Lulu and includes how to make your own lemon curd filling. Sort of by mistake, but not altogether a sad one, I just ended up buying a jar of lemon curd. I pretty much just copied the instructions found there with a few changes.

Lemon Hand Pies
Yield: about 13
  • 1 14.1 package refrigerated Pillsbury Pie Crust
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 cup Lemon curd
  • 1/3 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1/8 teaspoon vegetable oil
  1. Bring pie crust to room temperature. Unroll one pie crust on a floured surface. Using a 3" cookie cutter cut crust into circles and place dough on a cookie tray. Repeat with remaining pie crust. Place trays of dough in the refrigerator to chill about for 15 minutes.
  2. Preheat oven to 425. Prepare egg wash by lightly beating together the egg and the water. Remove dough from refrigerator and place a spoonful of lemon curd onto the center of one tray of dough. Brush edges with egg wash and place circles from second tray over each lemon topped pie. Using a fork, crimp the edges to seal the pies. Generously brush the tops of each pie with remaining egg wash. Using a pairing knife, carefully cute 3 slits onto the tops of each pie. Bake pies for 12-15 minutes or until golden. Let cool completely.
  3. In a small bowl, melt chocolate and vegetable oil together. Drizzle white chocolate over pies with a fork. 

These were absolutely delicious and the directions needed no changing (unlike the stupid sugar cookie recipe I tried a few days ago). I absolutely recommend making these, they are probably the only type of pie that make the phrase "easy as pie" make sense.