TwD: Baking Cantuccini with Julia

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Can anything baked be bad when the scent of cinnamon permeates the air while baking? The answer is no. These heavenly smelling cantuccini, or classic Italian biscotti, were this week’s Tuesdays with Dorie: Baking with Julia assignment, and they were a snap to make. The very dry dough came together quickly with a bit of kneading. However, I encountered a bit of messiness while shaping the dough, as it got extremely sticky. I didn’t want to add more flour, so I wet my hands a little bit, and the dough became much easier to handle.

The cantuccini’s baking method lends itself to an afternoon inside when you want to catch up on bills, reading, or simple chores as the cookies require two trips in the oven with a 30 minute cooling in between. These cantuccini look shorter and “squatier” than their pre-packed coffeehouse counterparts, but their taste is so much better. Not much effort for a ton of little cookies that will keep for up to a month!

If you’d like to try your hand at these cantuccini, pick up a copy of Baking with Julia: Savor the Joys of Baking with America’s Best Bakers and join the bi-monthly baking group, Tuesdays with Dorie, where we choose recipes to collectively bake each month!

ffwD: Quiche Maraîchère

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Earlier this week, I started working at a new law firm. The only downside to this new firm’s location is that it’s extremely far from the grocery store I normally shopped at during my lunchbreaks with my old law firm. This change meant that getting all the veggies for this week’s assignment before Friday was next to impossible and had to be put off until Saturday. Luckily, I found out that the grocery store chain has a location closer to my apartment, so making the trek on Saturday morning for the red bell pepper, leeks, celery, and carrots turned out to be a fairly quick excursion.

Making this quiche was extremely easy because I already had a whole wheat version of Dorie Greenspan’s tart dough in the freezer! This meant the only prep that needed to be done was the chopping of all the veggies. Too bad I hadn’t planned a trip to the grocery store sooner, or I would’ve been able to enjoy this quiche during the week instead of grabbing salads every night! I’ll definitely be making this again.

This quiche maraîchère was made for French Fridays with Dorie, a group of bloggers who are cooking their way through Dorie Greenspan’s Around My French Table: More Than 300 Recipes from My Home to Yours.

ffwD: Visitandine

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It has been a roller coaster week for me, both professionally and personally, but I’m hoping to find some semblance of normalcy soon. Getting back into the swing of French Fridays with Dorie has helped. However, I was a bit puzzled when I read this week’s assignment, visitandine, because I found two handwritten notes in my cookbook indicating “can be a bit dry” and “worth it despite the folding”. Seeing as I cannot recall ever making this cake before, I can only assume that I meant to write those comments on the quartre-quarts recipe, which happens to be on the page before the visitandine recipe.

Setting aside the comments, this cake was very good. Somewhat chewy, which I like, and not dry. However, that could’ve been helped by the whipped cream and fresh strawberries. Oh, and I really liked the flavor of the browned butter in the cake, so that step is definitely worth doing again. Overall, a great cake!

This visitandine was made for French Fridays with Dorie, a group of bloggers who are cooking their way through Dorie Greenspan’s Around My French Table: More Than 300 Recipes from My Home to Yours.

(A little late) ffwD: Scallop & Onion Tartes Fines

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Last Friday, I was disappointed when I wasn’t able to make these scallop & onion tartes fines with the Doristas. (I was judging a student trial competition from Thursday through Sunday, rendering anything beyond takeout impossible.) However, I’m glad I finally made them, albeit five days late, because I immensely enjoy scallops in any way, shape, or form. And, oh my, these were delicious. I mean, how can you say no to scallops, caramelized onions, bacon, and puff pastry? Definitely a winnner and worth the wait.

These scallop and onion tartes fines were made for French Fridays with Dorie, a group of bloggers who are cooking their way through Dorie Greenspan’s Around My French Table: More Than 300 Recipes from My Home to Yours.

TwD: Baking Mocha Brownie Cake with Julia

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I apologize for not commenting on your blogs as much lately. My life is a bit crazed at the moment, and now I’m fighting a cold. However, luckily for me, I was able to make this mocha brownie cake before my symptoms took over. And, I must say, I just love the look of the chocolate ganache, although my photo might not do it justice.

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The cake itself was over-the-top chocolately, obviously, so make sure you have plenty of milk to drink. The baking of the cake and preparing of the ganache were easy enough, but this cake definitely requires a good amount of time, what with the cooling of the cake itself and setting of the ganache icing between layers and on top. Other than that, I can see myself making this again for a special occasion but not regularly as I’m not a huge chocolate fan.

If you’d like to try your hand at this mocha brownie cake, pick up a copy of Baking with Julia: Savor the Joys of Baking with America’s Best Bakers and join the bi-monthly baking group, Tuesdays with Dorie, where we choose recipes to collectively bake each month!

ffwD: Sausage-stuffed Cornish hen

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How delicious was this week’s assignment? I’d never had Cornish hen before; although I wasn’t expecting anything spectacular, I did enjoy how all the flavors went together. The spicyness of the sausage, the slight sweetness from the pan-drippings glaze, and the hint of saltiness from the hen itself. However, this will have to be a “sometimes treat” recipe as one Cornish hen set me back $7.00 a pound, so I only bought one. Maybe I’ll try this same stuffing and cooking method with a garden-variety whole chicken…

This sausage-stuffed Cornish hen was made for French Fridays with Dorie, a group of bloggers who are cooking their way through Dorie Greenspan’s Around My French Table: More Than 300 Recipes from My Home to Yours.

ffwD: Two Tartines from La Croix Rouge

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This week’s ffwD assignment was inspired by two appetizers served at a French cafe Dorie frequents called La Croix Rouge. The first, tartine norvégienne, calls for paper-thin slices of smoked salmon on toasted bread slathered with butter and topped with capers. I couldn’t see myself eating butter with salmon, so I went the bagel route and used cream cheese as the spread.

The second, tartine saint-germain, uses mayonnaise as the spread, paper-thin slices of rare roast beef, and cornichons as garnish. For this one, I skipped the cornichons and used rare beef tenderloin from the supermarket. Although neither of my tartine had paper-thin slices, they were no less delicious. Definitely worth buying a whole jar of capers for salty zing!

These two tartines from La Croix Rouge were made for French Fridays with Dorie, a group of bloggers who are cooking their way through Dorie Greenspan’s Around My French Table: More Than 300 Recipes from My Home to Yours.

TwD: Baking Buttermilk Scones with Julia

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I have been craving scones for some time now, and after realizing that satisfying this craving by induling in afternoon tea at the Drake Hotel for the past three weekends solely for the scones is pretty ridiculous and close to madness, it had to stop.

So, how jazzed was I about baking this week’s assignment? Pretty excited because these buttermilk scones were seriously some of the best scones I’ve ever had. Who knew that the tablespoon of orange zest would really bring such lovely flavor. Very nice!

If you’d like to try your hand at these super easy and very tasty buttermilk scones, pick up a copy of Baking with Julia: Savor the Joys of Baking with America’s Best Bakers and join the bi-monthly baking group, Tuesdays with Dorie, where we choose recipes to collectively bake each month!

David Lebovitz’s Angel Food Cake

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I had some leftover egg whites and wanted to try my hand at making an actual angel food cake. Granted, I’ve made a version of angel food cake before called “vanilla cloud cake” that incorporated similar ingredients but produced a much softer, pillowy, and moist cake than the usual angel food cake. I didn’t have all the ingredients I needed for that cake, so the traditional angel food cake recipe would have to do. And, what better recipe to follow than the one by David Lebovitz?

This cake turned out like the stickier and somewhat drier angel food cake I’m used to having. I did notice that the cake baked up evenly and did not sink in the middle when I turned it over. (The vanilla cloud cake I mentioned before has a tendancy to do that.) This was a very delicious cake that I had no problem enjoying, even while watching what I eat! You can find this easy and tasty recipe here.

Homemade Pasta: 1st Attempt

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Last weekend, I had a hankering for homemade pasta. After doing a little research online for recipes, I settled on David Lebovitz’s homemade pasta recipe.

The recipe was simple and used only three ingredients: semolina flour, all-purpose flour, and eggs. Everything seemed to be going okay, but I noticed the dough was rather dry and crumbly in my mixer, so I added an extra egg. I was so excited about making my own pasta that I skipped the step about letting the dough rest for an hour. Oops. Oh, well.

Once I kneaded the pasta dough, I used a rolling pin to flatten the dough seeing as I have no pasta roller attachment for my mixer. This also meant that I had to use a pizza cutter to eyeball the cutting of the flat dough into strips. I made my strips about the width of fettucine.

The noodles themselves were pretty tasty. I thought I was going to taste gritty bits of semolina, but I didn’t. Even with the extra effort in rolling and cutting out the pasta, it was definitely worth it to make my own pasta dough. However, I can’t imagine doing anything fancier for the sauce than Smitten Kitchen’s tomato sauce with onion and butter recipe, which tasted perfect on these noodles with just a bit of Parmesan on top.

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