Recipes so good it oughta' be a sin!


Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Lemon Meringue Tart

I've been working on the menu for our party next month. As I mentioned before, I'm doing a dessert tasting. One of the items on the menu is a Lemon Meringue Tart based on a recipe by Ina Garten.

I thought it might be a good idea to test the recipe out before the party since meringues can be tricky. So, last night I stopped by the grocery store and picked up the ingredients.

The results of this test were great. The flavor is delightful and full of lemony goodness. The only drawback in my test was that I had to use my 11-inch tart pan and the recipe calls for a 9-inch. For the filling it didn't seem to matter much, however, I could have used a bit more meringue to mound it up on top more. Still, it worked nicely enough for a test and I know for next month to increase the meringue by half at least.

Since this was a test run, I opted to use a store bought refrigerated crust. However, you can use your favorite flaky pie crust to make it completely homemade.

This is a great spring and summer dessert and sure to impress guests. I didn't even take great pains in piping the meringue and it still turned out beautifully. If you choose to really take some time with it and create nice effects you'll blow your guests away.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Daring Baker's Challenge - Orange Tian

The 2010 March Daring Baker’s challenge was hosted by Jennifer of Chocolate Shavings. She chose Orange Tian as the challenge for this month, a dessert based on a recipe from Alain Ducasse’s Cooking School in Paris.

This was my first Daring Baker's Challenge and it was a qualified success. It's strange but the various pieces all seemed to come together pretty well. However, assembling the dessert was a bit of a challenge. All of the smaller cookie cutters I had or could find in the store were rather thin and wouldn't have provided hardly any space for the orange segments or whipped cream. So, I opted to use some of my 3" cake rings for the mold. This made it a bit thicker and larger than what was shown in the photos by the host of the challenge, but it was the best I could do without ordering new items. But, to be honest, I enjoyed the extra whipped cream with orange marmalade folded into it.

If you're wondering what a tian is it can be defined simply as several ingredients arranged in layers. They can be sweet or savory and technically speaking even a casserole could be a tian.

The Orange Tian consists of a pate sable base topped by homemade orange marmalade then a stabilized whipped cream and topped with orange segments soaked in an orange caramel sauce. This is served with a thickened orange caramel sauce.

It was interesting to do and I really enjoyed the Pate Sable pastry. It reminds me of a cross between shortbread and butter cookies with a very interesting texture. I certainly will be keeping the recipe handy and using this as a fall back "cookie" in the future - perhaps iced or topped with chocolate or other things.

I'll post the recipe for the pate sable separately in the next few days.

So, thanks to the folks at The Daring Baker's Challenge for the Orange Tian!



Friday, March 26, 2010

Quick and Easy Lemon and Almond Biscotti

I'm in the midst of planning for our annual "May Party." This has become a tradition since moving to Arizona. Our first one was held about two months after moving into our original apartment/condo here to bring together our new Arizona friends. Then last year when we relocated to a new place around the corner we held a "housewarming" party and cookout.

This year, I decided to streamline matters a bit. In the past we've done a lot of cooking for the party including grilling out. That made it tough to enjoy our guests because one of us (usually Michael) had to tend the grill. By the time I'd also finished up the other things I was too tired to have fun.

So, this year I'm doing a "dessert tasting." I'll be showing off some recipes from the blog as well as introducing a few new ones as well. One of the new ones will be Ina Garten's Lemon Meringue Tart. It looks fabulous and will make a nice compliment to the other items I'm contemplating.

While I was looking over the recipe for that dish, I ran across another recipe for an Almond-Lemon Biscotti by Giada De Laurentis. It looked fairly easy to do and since I've never made biscotti but love them, I decided to try it while Michael was teaching this afternoon.

The results were pretty good. I enjoyed the light lemon taste with this biscotti. In Ina's original recipe she calls for dipping them in white chocolate. I didn't have any on hand so decided to try them plain. However, I may pull them out of their container tomorrow and add a little of my lemon cookie icing just dribbled over the tops.

So, if you're looking for a quick and easy biscotti recipe, this should certainly be in the running. You'll find Giada's original recipe on the Food Network site.



Friday, March 19, 2010

Toffee Sandies

A little shortbread, a little chocolate, a little toffee - who could ask for anything more? As I pondered whether my first Daring Baker Challenge will be an utter disaster (it's shaping up that way at the moment) I decided I needed to lighten my spirits with something I KNEW would turn out great and satisfy my sorely neglected sweet tooth.

So, I whipped up a batch of Toffee Sandies. These are super simple to do and are sure to please your cookie lovers. It starts with a simple shortbread to which is added chocolate and toffee bits. You can either use the pre-crushed kind from the grocery store or take Heath or Skor bars and crush them up by hand.

I used just a touch of orange peel in this batch for a little extra flavor depth, but it's not necessary if you prefer yours straight up. So, here we go with some Toffee Sandies.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Irish Soda Bread

With St. Patrick's Day upon us, I thought it would be appropriate to make some Irish Soda Bread. This is a very easy quick bread recipe and looks great on the table.

If you've never had Soda Bread, you can think of it along the sames lines as cornbread. The texture is similar and even the taste is somewhat similar although a bit more bland than cornbread.

According to tradition the "X" on the bread represents the cross and scares off evil spirits. This recipe is one handed down from an aunt and is pretty identical to the ones found in the older versions of the Betty Crocker Cookbook. You can use raisins in this recipe if you wish. I opted not to since I'm not a huge raisin fan.

For this recipe, I also did our first video segment! It's a bit rough and I learned a few things while making it that should make future attempts a bit better. In the meantime, enjoy this one and please rate the video on YouTube!

So, Happy St. Patrick's Day or Beannachtaí na Féile Pádraig oraibh!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Old Fashioned Butter Finger Cookies

Here's an old recipe I came across recently. The original title is "Butter Fingers (Christmas Cookies)" and I suppose I can see where they might have gotten that title. However, I think they make a great little cookie for just about any occasion and particularly to go with coffee or tea.

The recipe is really very simple and the results are superb. The cookies are long, perfect for dipping in tea or coffee with a crisp texture. The addition of the ground almonds (or walnuts) gives them the slightest extra crunch and the butter provides the perfect buttery smooth counterpoint.

I chose to dip some of the cookies is melted chocolate and others I presented in the traditional way with a dusting of powdered sugar. These would also be fine with a little glaze.

If you are not familiar with blanching almonds, it's not hard to do. For almonds you want to start with raw almonds then boil some water in a pot or kettle. Place the almonds in a bowl deep enough to be covered. Pour the boiling water over them and leave them not a second more than one minute. That's really important! If you leave them longer they will get soggy and become useless for grinding into a meal. When one minute is up, drain them and rinse under cold water once or twice and drain fully. Once drained, slip the skins off the almonds then grind in a blender, spice grinder or food processor.

So, here's the recipe for the "Butter Fingers" and it's one I think will give you a lot of joy with your morning or afternoon coffee or tea!

 
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