Sunday, November 27, 2011

I've moved!

Hi everyone -

I've started a new blog over at Walloping Teaspoon . Please visit me there, and don't forget to subscribe. Thanks!


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Maple Bacon Fun Dip with Rosemary Shortbread

And then, almost whole year later...

Food-related things have gotten a lot more interesting in the past few months, and that's very exciting, not only because I'm eating well and learning about new foods and preparation techniques, but also because it's sparked my interest in writing again. Double bonus!

Everyone's pretty sick of eating baked goods and chocolate around the office, so when a coworker's birthday rolls around, it's a creative challenge to come up with savory twists on sweet themes.

The theme for this morning's birthday party is Candy Land (a la Katy Perry), and my contribution to the spread is Maple Bacon Fun Dip with Rosemary Shortbread Dip Sticks. Bacon Fun Dip (aka Bacon Lik-M-Aid) started as a great idea from the culinary mind of Jonathon Zellar . I made it my own by whizzing well-cooked bacon with large granules of maple sugar in the food processor. It's crunchy, only the tiniest bit sweet, and best of all, it sticks to the shortbread sticks after you lick them - just like the real thing. Double dipping is strictly prohibited.

I adapted the Rosemary Shortbread recipe from The original is here, and following is my rendition.

3/4 sticks (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
1 tablespoons Grade A maple syrup
3 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried rosemary, crumbled

Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare an 8 in. x 8 in. square pan with nonstick cooking spray.

In a bowl with an electric mixer beat butter and maple syrup with sugar until creamed together. In another bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and dried rosemary. Beat flour mixture into butter mixture until just combined.

Dump mixture into prepared pan. With floured hands press dough evenly into pan. Score dough into 4 in. x 1/2 in. pieces. Bake shortbread in middle of oven 20 to 25 minutes, or until pale golden, and let stand in pan for 5 minutes. While shortbread is still warm, loosen edges from pan with a small knife and invert onto your hand covered with a kitchen towel. Invert shortbread onto a cutting board and cut through scored lines to make sticks.

Makes 32 shortbread cookies.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Dragon's Beard

I felt like a zombie when we arrived in Sydney. Over 22 hours of travel will do that to a person (we had a very long layover in Los Angeles, if you curious how all that time stacked up). On our first day/night in Australia, Dave and I were determined to get out and see things instead of succumbing to unbelievable jet lag. We ambled through the Chinatown Night Market, refusing table offers from persistent maitre-d's. (Or where they drug dealers? Not sure - too tired to tell.) We stopped at a confectionery stall to watch an impressive candy-making demonstration.

Dragon's Beard is a Chinese treat that dates back over 2000 years. The outer part of the candy is made by folding and pulling sugar repeatedly until it turns into superfine threads, like hair. The strands are wrapped around a finely ground filling of toasted coconut, peanuts, and sesame seeds. Because of it's fine texture, Dragon's Beard is extremely sensitive to heat and humidity. It's shelf life is pretty much nonexistent, so it kind of felt like a privilege to see these candies being made by hand, and then getting to eat it immediately.

There is a lot of texture wrapped into a Dragon's Beard. The crumbly filling is hard to control once the silky exterior has been broken. The freshly pulled sugar still retained a bit of heat, allowing it to stretch by inches when bitten. There's a pretty embarrassing photo of me on my first bite of Dragon's Beard in which my eyes are rolled far back into my head with pure bliss. It's indicative of how yummy the candy was, but I'm thankful to Dave for not including it in the Flickr stream for our trip.

Check out some more of Dave's photos from Australia. There are more to come, and I'll be writing a bit more about fun things from our trip soon.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Tiramisu Terrine - Daring Bakers February

Alright, here's the deal. I spent some time earlier this week prepping for this month's Daring Bakers challenge. Tiramisu, the long way. This one requires a lot of advanced steps and timing, and I thought that I was all over it. The brandy-spiked pastry cream and zabaglione were chilling, the mascarpone was straining, and the ladyfingers were cooling. All's right, right?

Last night, as I began assembling these prepared components into the main attraction, I realized that it had slipped my mind to bring home heavy whipping cream to round out the luscious tiramisu filling. I'm convinced that it was a Freudian slip, triggered by the fact that I had spent half of the day developing a recipe for Black Bottom Banana Cream Pie. Yesterday I consumed more than anyone's fair share of whipped cream before the work day was done. I'm pretty sure my subconscious, or my hardening arteries, were telling me to give the heavy cream a rest. Thus, with no cream on hand, I decided to wing it. Thickest mascarpone, silken pastry cream, and boozy zabaglione were whisked together. Delicate ladyfingers were soaked in extra-strong American coffee (whoopsie, also forgot the espresso). Individual ramekins were lined with plastic wrap and filled to the brim with alternating layers of the caffeine-laced cookies and spoonfuls of filling. I pressed firmly on the third and final layer of ladyfingers before dousing them with the remains of the filling, covered them, and left them to freeze.

Today, viola, it's Tiramisu Terrine for one. Without the addition of all of that extra whipped cream, the brandy and coffee flavors really sing, and even a faint hint of lemon shines through. After warming up for a few minutes, with a simple strawberry and balsamic vinegar salad on the side, this baby is cool, creamy, and fantastic.

Let's hear it for Freudian slips, y'all.

The February 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen and Deeba of Passionate About Baking. They chose Tiramisu as the challenge for the month. Their challenge recipe is based on recipes from The Washington Post, Cordon Bleu at Home and Baking Obsession.