Saturday, December 12, 2009

Maple Walnut Creme Fraiche Candies

Posted by BAKE-EN at 2:30 PM 1 comments Links to this post

I made Maple Walnut Creme fraiche candies with my mom in mind. She loves maple walnut ice cream more than anything. I wanted to make something for her to eat during the winter when ice cream can be a bit too cold to swallow in Vermont. This recipe is excellent. Smaller sized candies are better as these are very flavorful.

Maple Walnut Candies

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons creme fraiche
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
5 ounces toasted walnut halves


1. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Melt butter in a saucepan over low heat. Stir in granulated sugar, maple syrup, salt, and creme fraiche. Raise heat to medium-low, and cook, whisking frequently, until sugar has dissolved. Raise heat to medium-high. Cook, stirring frequently and scraping sides of pan with a spatula, until mixture reaches the soft-ball stage (240), 10 to 15 minutes.
2. Remove from heat. Carefully stir in the vanilla (mixture will steam and bubble). Let cool, without stirring, for 2 minutes. Add walnuts, and beat vigorously with a spoon until slightly opaque but still creamy, about 2 minutes.
3. Drop small spoonfuls onto baking sheet. Let stand until set, about 30 minutes.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

TWD Apple Turnovers

Posted by BAKE-EN at 6:36 AM 12 comments Links to this post

I had high hopes for these turnovers, but I never fell in love with them. The dough was too sweet and the apple filling not nearly enough. I hoped the sour cream would make the dough tangy, but the cloying sweetness overpowered it.

The upside is that this is a dessert I didn't go back for seconds on. There's something nice about that.

Julie of Someone’s in the Kitchen picked this recipe as this week's TWD pick of the week. You can find the recipe at her website.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

TWD Chocolate Souffle

Posted by BAKE-EN at 12:03 PM 12 comments Links to this post

There's dessert and then there's DESSERT, souffle falls into the latter category. The magic of eggs and sugar whipped and folded together to create a puffy dessert that must be served immediately. Fun to make, serve and especially to eat. Thanks to Susan of She’s Becoming DoughMessTic for choosing this recipe. You can find the recipe for the chocolate souffle on her website.

Souffle's are amazingly easy to make. Some people find them nerve-wrecking, but as long as your ingredients are room temp, and you can whip your whites properly; it's a piece of cake (or souffle in this case). The only change I made to the recipe was I halved it because I was making it for two. I also added a pinch of salt to the egg whites and reduced the overall sugar by 1 tablespoon to bring out the chocolate flavor.

(Souffles as soon as they came out of the oven)

The souffles were just lovely. Airy and very chocolaty. Joe liked them so much he ate two! We pair the souffle with Schweiger Port VII which was perfect with the souffles.

For dinner that night we made a simple risotto with just a bit of finely chopped asparagus topped with an asparagus bacon garnish and buttery seared scallops. We paired our risotto with Patrick Bouland Chiroubles 2006, which was a perfect wine for this dish. Though most people wouldn't pair a red wine with a scallop dish we chose it because it was a nice light Beaujolais. We prefer reds to whites in general, so we frequently drink Beaujolais with meals that are more white friendly. As far as meals go, our scallop risotto and chocolate souffle night will go down as one of the top 10 meals of 2009.

Friday, September 4, 2009


Posted by BAKE-EN at 4:09 PM 6 comments Links to this post

(ratatouille with Bulgar)

Joe and I are the type of people who go to a grocery store and buy veggies that look good. Well, lately lots of veggies have been looking good, and I found myself alone with WAY too many veggies. Luckily, Audrey from Food from Books blogged about Ratatouille last week. Her post was the inspiration for what to do with my cornucopia of produce.

You can find Audrey's post here.

The recipe for this delicious ratatouille can be found here. The only change I made was I tripled the recipe and increased the mint. I love mint in savory dishes. Tomorrow I'll be making a tart with some of the ratatouille and I'll probably try the gratin recipe from Fine cooking too because I made so much. One note about this recipe. It takes a very long time to make. Next time I make this I'll roast some of my veggies in the oven to save time.

Avec Chicago

Posted by BAKE-EN at 2:41 PM 1 comments Links to this post
Publican was Joe's favorite Chicago restaurant, but mine was Avec.

(Photo from Avec's website.)

Avec is a wine bar serving rustic food influenced by Southern France and the Mediterranean. The wine selection there was lovely. We sat at the bar (highly recommend), and our bartender did a great job suggesting wines and food for our dinner.

Panzanella salad with cherries, roasted vidalias, fennel, pickled feta, mustard greens and balsamic. We loved this salad. So much so, that I barely had time to snap a picture before it was gone.

Chorizo-stuffed Medjool dates with smoked bacon and piquillo pepper-tomato sauce. Avec is known for this dish, and now we know why. It's amazing, and the dates are huge! The perfect sweet-savory dish.

Coffee braised pork ribs with radish, napa cabbage, kohlrabi and horseradish vinaigrette. The ribs were so good. I liked the ribs at Avec more than the ribs we had at Publican the night before. These ribs with slightly sweet with lots of meat on them (wish the picture came out better).

Pan-fried lake trout with pain perdu, lemon aioli, cornichons and watercress. This was our favorite plate. The trout was perfectly cooked, just a bit crispy from being pan fried. The slightly crispy fish and the peppery watercress balance the soft savory french toast beautifully. For all of it's fattening qualities (crispy, aioli and custard), this dish was amazingly light.

Another amazing meal in Chicago.

Publican Chicago

Posted by BAKE-EN at 1:53 PM 0 comments Links to this post
Our second restaurant stop in Chicago was Publican for dinner. The restaurant focuses on simple dishes containing mainly pork, fish and vegetables. Clean, simple food. They also have an amazing beer list, and a great wine list as well.

We knew our night would be great when our waiter asked if we had been there before. After hearing we hadn't; he gave us a quick breakdown of the restaurant and offered to come back with beer samples. Yes, please! Within a couple minutes we had two local beers in front of us, and we were ready to order.

Before we begin some of these pictures are lack luster. For more beautiful pictures please go to Publican's website. I try to be as inconspicuous as possible when I take pictures at restaurants; because of that they often don't come out great!

First out came bread with bright flavorful butter. Nice crisp, chewy crust. Tried not to fill up on it, but that buttered bread was hard to resist.

Chefs selection of three hams. Serrano, La Quercia rossa ham and Prosciutto. Our favorite was the Serrano. This was a fun plate to share.

Just dug radishes quartered with butter and fleur de sel. Simple, perfect.

Our favorite (how couldn't it be). Frites with Louis's organic egg. I don't know who Louis is, but I would like to shake his hand. Those eggs were outstanding. The frites were fried in both animal and vegetable fat. So good. Our waiter treated us to a side of aioli, which was perfect for dipping. Not diet friendly, but worth every bite.

Next we had the Market salad which was contained onion, cucumber, haricovert, sungolds, ricotta salata & hazelnuts. I forgot to snap a picture of this one, probably because it was a little too salty for us. The veggies were fresh and the hazelnuts added a nice crunch though.

Finally, we had the Potée which was toulouse sausage, pork tenderloin & two ribs with some vegetables. This was lovely, but we were so full when it came to the table, we could barely eat it. My favorite on the plate was the toulouse sausage while Joe's was the tenderloin which was perfectly pink in the middle.

Writing about Publican makes me wish I lived much closer to Chicago. The next day Joe wanted to go back there for dinner because we had so much fun. The restaurant is beautiful. I loved everything there from the bar with the wooden taps, to the long wooden table, to the bathrooms with a communal sink. This place is about great food and socializing.

One last thing about how great this place is. Oftentimes at restaurants we'll want to keep our food and drink menu nearby, but because of space issues we have to give it to the server. Publican solved this problem. Their chairs all have a shelf below them to hold your menu-clever.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Frontera Grill

Posted by BAKE-EN at 11:03 AM 1 comments Links to this post

Joe and I took a mini vacation to Chicago a couple weeks ago. Our goal was simple, eat as much of Chicago as possible.

First stop: Frontera Grill

When I was a student at the CIA I briefly met Rick Bayless at the Worlds of Flavors conference. Upon meeting him, what stood out was his excitement about food and how nice he was to us students. Friendly, respectful, encouraging, etc. The kind of chef I want to work for. I was happy to hear he won the top chefs masters conference.

Before we begin. Some of my menu descriptions might seem a bit vague, and that's because well; they are. We were there in August, and the menu online has changed to September, some of the items we ordered are no longer available. Hopefully the pictures will speak for themselves.

Enough about that. It's really about the food (and one delicious margahrita).

First up (complimentary):

Peanuts, pepitas and sunflowers seeds with chili flakes

Nice nibblers. Very beer/cocktail friendly.


A baked (fried?) tortilla with black beans, a guacamole-like sauce, frisee, cheese and pork (maybe pork belly?)

For Drinks:

Summer Margaritas and Ayinger beers:

The margarita had a cilantro salt rim and was flavored with cucumber and a lovely tequila.


Tacos al Carbon (description from website: Red chile-marinated Maple Creek pork (pastor style), with charcoaled pineapple, slab bacon and red onion served with two salsas, frijoles charros, guacamole and homemade tortillas.

This was very good. I wished there had been a bit more of the pineapple, bacon, red onion mixture, but other than that it was perfect.

The next item was an enchilada stuffed with braised pork and topped with a sweet mole. Delicious.

(entree picture in back with fork)

Unfortunately we didn't have room for dessert.

Next time we go to Chicago we will go back to Frontera Grill. We had a great experience. Our server and the rest of the wait staff were great. We never felt rushed even though we had a coveted seat on the patio. One of the best lunches I've had.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

TWD Creamiest Lime Cream Meringue Pie

Posted by BAKE-EN at 4:18 PM 11 comments Links to this post

Linda of Tender Crumb decided on Dorie's Creamiest Lime Cream Meringue Pie as this weeks TWD recipe. You can find the recipe at here at her website.

Love isn't a word I use often, but when a recipe for a 9" pie calls for 2 1/2 sticks of butter in the filling ALONE, I feel cupids arrow honing in on my heart.

I followed the recipe for the filling exactly as Dorie described except I added candied ginger instead of fresh. The custard came together very quickly on the stove top, under 6 minutes. After letting the hot mixture cool in the blender for 8 minutes, I slowly incorporated the butter, letting it blend for a full 3 minutes once it was all in there. The liquid was pourable once done blending, but after chilling for 4 hours it became very thick and ultra smooth.

For the crust, I baked extra cookie dough I had in the freezer. I used the vanilla pepper dough I made a while back. Once the cookie dough had cooled, I pulsed it in the blender with 3 pieces of candied ginger. Once that was finely ground, I added a touch of orange juice to bind the dough a bit. Then I patted the crumbs into my buttered tart shells and froze them for about an hour. After the hour, I baked them in a 400 degree oven for 9 minutes.

The very second I deemed the shells cool enough, I made a swiss meringue. For the meringue I used 4 egg whites, 1 cup of sugar, a pinch of cream of tartar and a little vanilla extract. I love making swiss meringues because it's easy, doesn't required a thermometer and always looks beautiful.

This tart/pie is love. The contrast between the sweet light meringue and the dense creamy lime filling is the stuff poets write of. Also nice was the additional spice/heat from the candied ginger in the tart shell. The ginger wasn't that pronounced, but it brought a beautiful brightness to the overall flavor of the tart.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

TWD Classic Banana Bundt Cake

Posted by BAKE-EN at 9:26 AM 17 comments Links to this post

Mary of The food librarian chose banana bundt cake as this week's TWD recipe.

There's not to much to say about this cake other than, make it. Make it now. I loved it. The aromatics of it as it bakes are reason enough to pick up bananas and sour cream at the grocery store. If I could capture the smell of this cake in a candle, I would be a millionaire.

Making the cake is very easy. I halved the recipe and it made 6 mini bundt cakes. They baked for 23 minutes, and looked picture perfect right out of the oven.

How you like them apples? I mean, banana cakes:

(Forgive me, clearly Boston is starting to effect me in a negative way... quoting a movie from 1997. Wow, Good Will Hunting is 12 years old; that makes me...)

For fun, I made three different glazes; chocolate, rum and caramel. Caramel was my favorite because I liked the crunch against the soft cake.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Chocolate Cake with Mocha Icing

Posted by BAKE-EN at 2:35 PM 3 comments Links to this post

At Sofra we make a cake that I like to call a mayo cake. We whip eggs and sugar together then we whip in olive oil very slowly creating an emulsion very similar to an aioli. The resulting cake is amazing. It's moist with a beautiful crumb structure.

The emulsion in that recipe reminded me of some of the older cookbooks I have which contain recipes for cakes with Mayonnaise. Never one to fear mayo, I decided to try out a chocolate cake recipe fromThe Wooden Spoon Dessert book. I tweaked the recipe a bit, but mainly stayed true to it. It's a great recipe to make if you're in a pinch and need to whip up something fast (as is the following icing recipe from the same book). The cake tastes lovely and you would never know the "secret" ingredient.

Chocolate Cake adapted from The Wooden Spoon Dessert Book by Marilyn Moore
Preheat oven 350F
Grease a 9x12" pan (I used mini bundt pans)

Sift together:
2 cups AP flour
4 Tablespoons cocoa powder (I used Vahlrona)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda

In another bowl mix together:
1 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup granulated sugar

Add alternately (3 dry:2 coffee), blending after each addition
reserved dry ingredeints
1 cup cold coffee (I had instant espresso, so I made 1 1/2 cups of hot espresso; chilling one cup and reserving the other half for the icing)

Fold in:
3 oz 70% chocolate (I used Lindt)

Bake in a 9x12 pan fro about 30 minutes or in mini bundt pans for 23.

Quick mocha frosting
again adapted from The Wooden Spoon
Sift into mixing bowl:
1 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar
1 tablespoon cocoa powder

whisk together, then add

4 tablespoons soft butter
pinch salt
3/4 teaspoon vanilla
4 tablespoons of warm espresso (from extra brewed for cake)

I wanted this icing to be runny, so I increased her recipe from 2T coffee to 4T espresso.

Guiness Bread

Posted by BAKE-EN at 2:09 PM 11 comments Links to this post

I love Guinness, and had some left over after making my Guinness mustard. After a quick search on the internet, I found an interesting Guinness quick bread to make.

Bread making doesn't get much easier then the recipe I came up with. Here it is:

3 cups minus 2 tablespoons AP Flour
1 1/4 tablespoons baking powder
3/4 cup evaporated cane sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vietnamese cinnamon
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
12 oz Guinness Stout

Mix your flour through cinnamon in a bowl. Add guiness mix about half way. Add cranberries and walnuts fold into batter mixing till incorporated, but taking care not to overmix. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes or till a skewer inserted in the bread comes out clean.

This bread is great. It's nice to eat on it's own, with some butter. It's also nice to toast and top with some cheese. Next time I make it I will bake it in tiny loaf pans. Once baked and fully cooled I'll slice the bread and dry it out in the oven creating little melba toasts. Then I'll use it as an appetizer with some blue cheese, hopefully my favorite Point Reyes Blue.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

TWD Nutella Swirl Ice Cream

Posted by BAKE-EN at 10:58 AM 13 comments Links to this post

Lynne of Cafe LynnyLu decided on Vanilla Ice Cream as this week's TWD recipe. Check out Lynne's blog for the recipe.

Vanilla ice cream is such a fun base to play with. For today's treat I decided to add nutella (about 1/2 a container) and some finely chopped toasted hazelnuts (about 1/2 cup) to my ice cream. I added the nuts to the base about 4 minutes before it was done churning. Once it was fully churnned I folded in the nutella.

It shouldn't be surprising to anyone that this ice cream was beyond delicious. There is just no way nutella, hazelnuts and vanilla can go wrong (unless of course you're allegic to nuts).

Monday, July 27, 2009

Spicy Guiness Mustard

Posted by BAKE-EN at 1:22 PM 1 comments Links to this post

In my opinion mustard is an underrated condiment. It's uses are endless; sandwiches, vinaigrette's, marinades, meats and fish all benefit from mustard. I even had mustard ice cream at Taylor in NYC (though not sure that was my favorite mustard application). I love all types of mustard, but spicy, grainy mustard's are my favorite. I was excited to see this recipe on Saveurs website.

Anything made with Guinness scores big with me, so I went to Penzey's and picked up some brown mustard seeds to make the spicy Guinness mustard. This recipe was a breeze to make. You combine Guinness, red wine vinegar, spices, sugar and mustard seeds in a bowl and let it sit out for 2 days.

After two days process it for about 3 minutes in a food processor.

That's it. Funny, if you combine all the time I spent "making" the mustard, I'm sure I've spent more time on occasion trying to open a bottle of commercially sealed mustard.

This mustard is delicious. It's complex with a nice spicy kick which will mellow out over time. I'm sure I'll come up with some interesting ways to use mustard, so stay tuned.

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