Tuesday, August 19, 2008

C is for Cookie : TWD

"Sometimes me think what is love, and then me think love is what last cookie is for. Me give up the last cookie for you."
-Cookie Monster

Theres been a lot of cookies and love floating around Casa Shebake this last week. After humiliating the hubby with a 'cowboy' themed party - including plastic sheriff badges - for his 30th birthday, he repayed the favor in kind by getting a great group of our friends together for a BBQ bash this weekend.

So, after all that work in planning, I decided to show him some love with a batch of cookies for this week's Tuesdays with Dorie. Of course, after all that cake and food, the granola recipe was a welcome healthy break that even Cookie Monster would approve of.

I jotted 'wheat germ' onto my shopping list this week, not really thinking to look it up. So standing in the aisle at the market, I picked the closest in my approximation that I could find - Wheat Bran. Also, not a big fan of raisins, I opted to use dried blueberries, and a full cup of mixed nuts rather than the slivered almonds and peanuts.

The dough came together easily, and baked up nice and golden after 12 minutes. Love, in this case, was giving the hubby the first cookie to sample while we watched the Olympics tonight. He polished the first, and went to grab a second- voicing his approval through a mouthful of crumbs. We give this cookie recipe a 15.695 for the gold medal.

The recipe for Dorie's Granola Grabbers be found over at Bad Girl Baking, or in Baking: From My Home To Yours, written by Dorie Greenspan.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Oompa Loompa Blueberry Ice Cream - TWD

It happens every time--they all become blueberries.
-Willy Wonka

I am a well known fiend for kitchen gadgets. If its something that makes life more enjoyable in the kitchen, there's a good chance I own it. Case in point - I'm a proud owner of a Lemonader (that name, under all circumstances must be pronounced in a very german accent. And as a second side note - I love my lemonader. But then again, I'm a lemonade addict. Anything that produces this fresh squeezed manna for me in under 30 minutes is a gift from the gods.)

Anyhow, it should be no surprise then, that I of course also own an Ice Cream machine. So I was giddy with excitement to put the machine to work for this week's Tuesdays with Dorie challenge of some blueberry ice cream.

Dorie's recipe was actually pretty easy when it comes to mixing up the custard. No egg separation and tempering here. Simply boil, blend, cool, and freeze. What could be easier?

I had some leftover birthday cake from my office on Friday (Not only did I hit 3 decades, they forced chocolate cake on me. Oh the humanity.) So I figured the ice cream would make a nice almost savory addition to the cake at home.

To add a bit of flavor to Dorie's recipe, I used 1/3 brown sugar instead of white, lime juice and zest, and added 1/2 tsp of vanilla to the berries as they were boiling. I served it up with a nice fat slice of chocolate cake, topped with some dried blueberries from the pantry.

These small changes were minor, but added a subtly smooth depth to the flavor of the berries and sour cream. A perfect accompaniment to the chocolate cake without being toothache sweet, and a cheerful color that would brighten the day of anyone celebrating the 1st anniversary of their 29th birthday.

I give the ice cream two thumbs up, and will be interested to try it as an ice cream sandwich next. Maybe with some vanilla sugar cookies for the sandwich.

The recipe for Dorie's Blueberry Sour Cream Ice Cream be found over at Chronicles in Culinary Curiosity, or in Baking: From My Home To Yours, written by Dorie Greenspan.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

So a banana goes to the zoo to see a zebra... : TWD

“I've got spots; I've got stripes, too.”
- Ani Difranco

We're in the throes of tomato overload these days as I find myself the recipient of an overflowing 4 lbs of tomatoes and small forest worth of Basil from my weekly 'tomato subscription' from the local organic farm. But after popping in a dinner of roasted squash and tomatoes with fresh pesto to bake, I was excited to tackle something sweet after all of that savory.

So, I was excited to see a Banana bread picked as this week's Tuesday with Dorie challenge.

I usually always have bananas in the house for banana bread. Problem is, I don't get the chance to bake it as often as I, or my husband's feet, would like. You see, the problem is, my banana bread bananas don't live on the counter. They live in the freezer, ready to jump out at an unsuspecting guest that goes to grab some ice. Its a running joke in our house to watch out for flying bananas when you go into the freezer.

I was excited to try a marbled chocolate banana bread, a nice alternative to my usual recipe for the sweet moist delicacy.

I followed Dories recipe spot on, primarily because of the comments about problems with varying banana sizes. I chose 2 smaller bananas, so I opted to use all of both of them. A couple minutes in the microwave to defrost, and they literally oozed out of their skins with hardly any coaxing or mashing needed.

For the marbling effect, I opted for the spooning method, figuring if nothing else, it might add a pretty effect. I started to run low on the chocolate batter before I could get everything in the pan, so the stripes are more focused to the bottom of the loaf, but it definitely gives it a pretty effect. The bittersweet chocolate contrasts nicely with the sweet banana flavor for a new tasty take on an old favorite.

I'd definitely give this recipe 2 thumbs up, and willing to try it again the next time the bananas in the freezer decide to stage a rebellious escape attempt.

The recipe for Dorie's Black and White Banana Loaf be found over at A Year In The Kitchen, or in Baking: From My Home To Yours, written by Dorie Greenspan.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Peachy Keen Rhubarb Galette : TWD

After the laments of other members of the lack of local rhubarb, I realized that I'd taken the plethora at my local store for granted. So while I was still reasonably priced, I decided to pick up a bunch for this week's Tuesday with Dorie challenge of a summer galette.

To balance out the tart rhubarb, I opted for sweet peaches. I had lofty goals of parboiling, skinning and slicing up some fresh peaches, but time wasn't on my side this week. So in the name of speed, I opted for some where the nice folks at dole did all the work for me. Shh, don't tell anyone.

I loved this pie crust recipe when we used it last time, and was excited to see it in the rotation again. It came together easily, and I let it cool in the fridge while we cooked and ate dinner (pizza on the bbq... yum...). It rolled out quick, and I tried not to eat too much of it before spreading it with a thin layer of apricot preserves and grahm cracker crumbs.

The peaches and rhubarb softened nicely as the crust came out a nice light golden at the 25 minute mark. I was able to add most of the custard, and popped it in for another 14 minutes.

It came out perfect, albeit a little delicate. There was no way I was going to be able to transfer the thing intact to a cooling rack. So I served it up warm with a generous scoup of vanilla bean ice cream.

The galette was a big hit, the crisp buttery crust giving way to a softly sweet with just a hint of tart rhubarb. Two thumbs up!

The recipe for Dorie's Summer Fruit Galette Can be found over at Michelle in Colorado Springs' blog, or in Baking: From My Home To Yours, written by Dorie Greenspan.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Clownin Around in Wilton Course 1, week 3....

Despite last week's score of affordable cherries in mass quantities, I fully admit to keeping a small stash of canned cherry pie filling, for a few reasons. One - its nigh impossible to find tart cherries anywhere near here, and two- The canned filling is a key ingredient in a few of my favorite recipes, and none of them happen to be pies!

The first comes from a recipe I discovered when trying to find the 'perfect' birthday cake recipe. I figured, what would be better than an amaretto style cake, a mix of cherries, almonds, and chocolate? A little bit of digging, and Cast Sugar came to my rescue.

When we were told we could bring a batch of cupcakes for our third week, I jumped at the opportunity to make some nice single serving desserts that I could bring to work and pawn off on coworkers.

I doubled Cast Sugar's recipe and modified it to the following:

Amaretto Cherry Chocolate Cake (adapted from Cast Sugar)

1 c. butter
3 c. bakers sugar
4 eggs
1 1/2 tsp. almond extract
1 1/2 tsp. orange extract
1 c. good unsweetened cocoa powder
3 1/2 c. cake flour (3 1/2 TBS corn starch added to a measuring cup, then add All Purpose flour to make 3 1/2 cups cake flour)
2 1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. salt
2 (21-oz.) can cherry pie filling

Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease or line 36 cupcake wells with papers.

Cream the butter with sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time until well blended. Add almond and orange extracts and beat well. Add the cocoa powder and mix until well combined.

By hand, stir the cake flour (or all purpose/corn starch mix), baking soda and salt together. Add flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix until just combined. Stir in the cherry pie filling. Pour the batter into the tins.

Bake at 350 F for 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the middle comes out clean. Cool.

Chocolate Almond Buttercream (adapted from Wilton)

1 cup solid vegetable shortening
3/4 cup cocoa or three 1 oz. unsweetened chocolate squares, melted
1 teaspoon almond Extract
4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar (approx. 1 lb.)
3-4 tablespoons water

Cream shortening and butter with electric mixer. Add cocoa and vanilla. Gradually add sugar, one cup at a time, beating well on medium speed. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl often. When all sugar has been mixed in, icing will appear dry. Add milk and beat at medium speed until light and fluffy. Keep bowl covered with a damp cloth until ready to use. For best results, keep icing bowl in refrigerator when not in use. Refrigerated in an airtight container, this icing can be stored 2 weeks. Rewhip before using.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Cherry Rhubarb Cobbler : TWD

I'm starting to fear that my friend Joe has infiltrated Tuesdays with Dorie, offering bribes to hosts in hopes that they will pick cobbler week after week.

I like cobbler.

But my like pales in comparison to Joe's downright passion for the baked delight. So much so that he has threatened (more than once) to not let me visit without a cobbler in hand.

Thankfully, they are pretty easy to make, in the spectrum of baked goods. So with a looming BBQ in the distance, I was glad to see a cobbler assigned for this week. I was even more excited when my supermarket had Northwest Cherries on sale for $1.99 a pound. Lets just say I all but added cherries one by one to the bag until I was just at the 5 lbs max. And then I went back later in the week knowing they'd be sold out, but seeking a raincheck... then I was downright giddy when the cashier accidentally gave me TWO rainchecks instead of one. Lets just say I hightailed it for the door before she realized why I was so happy.

I've never baked much with rhubarb, but the tart veggie sounded like the perfect accompaniment to the plethora of sweet cherries. So I kept true to Dorie's recipe, aside from doubling it to fill a 9x11 pan for the party, and for lack of having it onhand, used all white flour instead of white and whole wheat.

The batter came out stickier than I'm guessing Dorie meant for it to... there was no way I was going to be able to form 'biscuits' from it, even after adding a little more flour. So I opted for the method I tend to use with another of my cobbler crust and just kind of glop it on in an even layer. Hey. Its rustic. Cobbler is a very rustic dish.

The cobbler baked up in 45 minutes, coming out a nice golden hue. I only had a chance to snap a picture of the whole thing baked before heading out to the party where it was summarily devoured. Joe and everyone else was in 7th heaven. Multiple sets of thumbs up all around, I'll definitely keep the rhubarb combo in mind when I go to redeem my rainchecks.

The recipe for Dorie's Cherry Rhubarb Cobbler Can be found over at Like Sprinkles on a Cupcake, or in Baking: From My Home To Yours, written by Dorie Greenspan.

PS- if you are a member of TWD and are approached with a bribe of a game of naked twister by the gentleman at the top of the post, just say no. ;o)

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Chocolate Coffee Pudding : TWD

“The proof of the pudding is in the eating.”
Don Quixote de la Mancha

You would think something like chocolate pudding would be stress-free. I figured 'hey. that's not too hard. Let me whip it up before cooking dinner.'

Well, the actual pudding was relatively easy to make. I just should have heeded the other reviewers that commented their food processors were too small, and double check my own. I figured mine would be big enough since its a pretty good size. I was blending along, oblivious to the construction of the processor, and that once it gets up over the edge of the blade attachment, it can leak.


I quickly transferred everything from the processor to the blender, where everything DID fit, and finished it up. It doesn't appear to be any worse for wear, though in the second cooking it was a bit foamy, it settled down when I added the chocolate and butter.

I decided to keep pretty true to the recipe, except for a little bit of punch I opted for some Starbucks coffee liqueur instead of vanilla. The taste isn't too noticeable in the finished product, but overall it is a deep rich chocolaty delite.

We give the pudding 2 thumbs up, though next time I think I'll opt to do all of the work in the blender.

The recipe for Dorie's Chocolate Pudding Can be found over at Its Melissas Kitchen, or in Baking: From My Home To Yours, written by Dorie Greenspan.