Thursday, June 27, 2013

Daring to do it: Pie

Rachael from pizzarossa was our lovely June 2013 Daring Bakers’ host and she had us whipping up delicious pies in our kitchens! Cream pies, fruit pies, chocolate pies, even crack pies! There’s nothing like pie! Smile

To say I was excited when I saw the announcement of this month's challenge would be a HUGE understatement. I love pie.  Like, really and truly love it.  And, ever since  discovered home-made crust, I make pie kind of regularly.  Rachael's challenge was really exciting to me not only for the chance to make pies, but also to learn some new ones.  Of the four recipes Rachael gave us, I had only ever made one - and it wasn't even the same recipe, just the same type of pie.  So this was going to be fun.
Now, I am kind of disappointed in myself for this month's showing.  I really wanted to make nine kinds of pie.  (If anyone knows the picture book reference to all nine kinds of pie we like best, I might have to find a way to bake a pie just for you!)  But, after one intensive week of pie baking, I didn't have the chance to make any more...  So four pies was all I managed...
First was a strawberry pie which my family has made for a long time:
I started with the cookie crust from the Crack Pie recipe Rachael provided:
I then decided to kick it up a notch:
Yup.  Chocolate.  How could that not be good?
Add the berries and the berry glaze:
Slice, eat and enjoy!
Next I made the chocolate caramel tart provided in the challenge. 
Start with a pastry crust, which I love making:
I also love using my tart pan...  It's the little things in life...!
After the shell is prebaked, yummy home made caramel goes in:
Then comes the chocolate mouse layer:
Bake until rich, dark and decadent:

Once again, slice and enjoy:
This pie is SO good.  I mean, it is amazing.  I have already had the request to make it again!  I did make a few recipe adjustments to make it non-dairy, but they didn't seem to alter the end product, and I will totally be keeping this recipe!
Next was a recipe I have had in my collection for a while but I hadn't tried before.  Brown Sugar Pie:
This time I used my tried and true pie crust recipe that I know by heart:
Then whip together the sugary filling:
Another pie bake, another chance to slice and enjoy!
Sweet!  This was kind of like a pecan pie without the pecans.  I really liked it!
Finally I made a double crust fruit pie: 
I again used my regular pie crust recipe, doubled.  Roll out the bottom layer, using between half and two thirds of the dough to leave enough overhang, then fill with fruit:
The fruit in this case was all I had in the house - peaches, plums, nectarines and an apple to fill it up.
I then used my handy little pie rolling 'bag" to roll out the top crust and cut out some sort of design: 
But I didn't like the way it wound up with that big hole in the middle.  So I played:
I kind of felt like a rock star - that looked so cool!
Last time for the month I got to slice and enjoy:
Pie month ROCKED.  Rachael, you have me on a pie kick again, and I can't thank you enough.  Neither can my family, who loved this challenge as much as I did!
Check out what my fellow Daring Bakers made this month, but please keep a napkin handy to wipe up the drool!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Surprise! Crepes

My first introduction to crepes was the yummy cheese-filled blintzes my mom used to make.  I had no idea they were called crepes, though, for the longest time.  I just knew them as the wrappers for blintzes...  Live and learn, right?
And learn, I have.  Crepes are so much more versatile than blintzes.  (Not that there is anything wrong with blintzes!  I still love them!)  There is almost nothing more decadent than a warm crepe folded around gooey Nutella...  :)
For this month's Surprise I was unsure what to do with sourdough crepes.  Of course blintzes were on my mind, but with a dairy allergic kiddo, that wasn't in the cards.  I just wasn't sure if sourdough would lend itself better to sweet or salty, especially when the recipe called for Eve to be the biggest ingredient - barely diluted, well soured starter... 
The batter was very thin.  I know it is supposed to be, but I was worried it was too thin, not having added any flour other than what Eve had going for her.
As expected, the first crepe out of the pan was not a good indicator:
Soon a rhythm was reached, though:
Stack o' crepes.  I had tasted the first, not-too-pretty crepe on its own, and I was still not sure what to think.  It was pretty sour...  What to do?
Spread with some yummy apple cinnamon preserves:
Roll it up!
Serve to two adorable little girls asking for something "special" to eat.
Success!  Big Girl, who was asking what the "strange" smell of the starter was, told me these were the best crepes she had ever eaten.  (Mind you, at 4, she has not exactly sampled a large variety of crepes, but it was still cute...!)  The sweetness really cut the sourness, and it worked really well together.  I love being Surprised by what my starter can make!!
Check out how the other crepes turned out!!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Daring to do it: Meatballs

This month was a ton of fun in the Kitchen.  It was a great example of how something basic, like the meatball, can be turned into something fun and creative!

The June Daring Cooks’ challenge sure kept us rolling – meatballs, that is! Shelley from C Mom Cook and Ruth from The Crafts of Mommyhood challenged us to try meatballs from around the world and to create our own meatball meal celebrating a culture or cuisine of our own choice.

Oh yeah - it was also fun because my sister and I got to host it!

When we were trying to decide what our challenge would be, Auntie Twin, a.k.a. CMomCook, a.k.a. Shelley, and I kept coming back to basics.  I was hesitant about meatballs because, well, the name says it: meatballs.  What would us vegetarians do?  Then she decided to give the challenge the working title of "roundish ground stuff," and I got over my hesitation.  This was going to be fun.

If you want to read the whole post and recipes, check it out here.

For now, I will just share with you what I made in preparing for the challenge.

First were the Florentine cannellini bean and spinach balls:
These were baked first, then simmered in tomato sauce.  I think these might have been my favorite.

Next were quinoa and spinach balls:
These were pan fried, which I had never done before. 

I did make one type of actual meatball, since I was visiting my parents' home.  These are sweet and sour meatballs using a combination of beef and turkey:

Vegan tofu balls:
I used flax seed egg replacer to make these truly vegan.  This was also the first time I had ever had a meatball sub of any kind, and I really loved it!

Thank you to Shelley for all of your hard work this month. And thank you to all of the amazing Daring Cooks who participated!!  Check out what they did here!