Monday, February 27, 2012

Buttermilk Pie - by Summer

Because I had little to no pictures last post, I made sure to really document this recipe! I had originally planned on making this pie over the weekend since my dad loves pie, but we ended up having a lot of other dessert stuff, so I held off until today.
I like making my own pie crust, so instead of using a frozen one, I went the from scratch route.  I surprisingly do not own pie weights.  In stead I have a bag of dry beans that I use specifically for blind baking. 

Pie crust out of the oven.

 It was pretty easy to make the rest of the pie.  Like Lisa, I had a lot of lumps when combining the flour, sugar, lemon zest and butter.  But by the time I added the rest of the ingredients, it was fine.  I just used a whisk and did it all by hand.
Fresh lemon zest
Pie filling
My pie baked for just about 50 minutes.  Sometimes I feel like I tend to under cook things, so I really tried to be patient and wait until I really felt it was ready to take out of the oven.
My husband and I dug into the pie after dinner tonight.  It wasn't quite what I was expecting.  There seemed to be a strange after taste, which we determined was the nutmeg.  I'm pretty sure that Lisa left it out and I kind of wished that I had too.  I did some research and there are versions without the nutmeg.  I'm bummed that I didn't like it more.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Great Big Coconut Cake - by Lisa

I got an email from my Father-in-Law, Larry, after my most recent entry. He said: The next time you start baking you must call me so I can be there to give you an evaluation of your baking skills! So how could I resist extending an invite for the very next day for when I was planning to make this cake?! :) He got to see firsthand as I put together all the ingredients for this recipe, and also get tortured along with hubby and me while we impatiently waited for it to finish baking up. (Which for some strange reason smelled like popcorn!)

Anywho, this was a pretty straight up bundt cake recipe just with some coconut milk and flakes thrown in. It came together really easily, and the batter on this was quite tasty! I could see how this would make a nice vanilla cake if I didn't want to do coconut. Anywho, I got it all mixed and poured into the pan and opted to bake this in the smaller right side tall oven on my stove. Consequently, I shortened my timer by 10 min to make sure it didn't over bake. Turns out it was ready after about 50 min.

While it cooled, I made the glaze. I reserved 3 Tbsp from the coconut milk that went into the cake, but it wasn't quite enough to thin the glaze to the desired consistency. So I just made do with about 1 extra Tbsp of whole milk.

With the glaze from a couple other recipes, I never quite understood how I would use a fork to distribute the glaze over the cake. Heh. Now I understand that those other glazes were too runny! This was the perfect consistency.

This cake was well received by all tasting parties. :) We got to enjoy it while it was still nice and warm. Larry gave it a very thorough examination and detailed review, and ultimately declared it worth the trip! :) I also liked it, and I was surprised to find the coconut flavor was really quite mild. The cake also wasn't super sweet, so I can see how this would certainly make a nice brunch treat.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Yogurt Panna Cotta - by Summer

Ok - I really need to get this posted!  I made this back on Friday and do to lack of pictures or trouble with the pictures I did take, I have dragged my feet on doing a post. 

We have another custard-type dessert this month.  I wasn't as nervous about making or trying this, after the pots de creme that we made earlier.  And this recipe was super easy!  It called for very few ingredients and took hardly any time to make.  When I started making everything, I realized I was out of half-n-half, so I used cream instead.  I also couldn't find the right size container of full fat Greek yogurt, so I bought a bigger one and used my scale to weigh out the correct amount. 

I made it a day a head of time and like Lisa, I also made the brandied cherries to put on top of it.  I served this to our friends and between the two families, we have 4 kids under the age of two, so dinner and dessert time was a little crazy.  Everyone ate it up and the adults loved the cherries on top.  I used the leftover cherries a couple of days later on top of some vanilla ice cream - yum!

The one picture that I do have from making this dessert is of my little guy licking the bowl clean after I poured the dessert into individual bowls.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Yogurt Panna Cotta - by Lisa

Whipping up this dessert was super simple! I think I had everything done, including clean up, in 20 minutes (for the panna cotta part that is).

I started with the gelatin. While it set up, I whisked together the half 'n' half, sugar and salt on the stove top.

That took just a couple of minutes, and then I combined it with the gelatin. After whisking that together, I stirred together the yogurt and vanilla in a separate bowl.

From there I combined the half 'n' half mixture with the yogurt mixture, poured it into individual cups, covered them and set them in the fridge to set up overnight. So easy!

Beth suggests serving this dessert with her brandied cherries, and since that sounded good to me, that is exactly what I did! Since the panna cotta needed a night to set up, I decided to make the brandied cherries the following afternoon.

The cherries were just as easy to make as the panna cotta! I purchased the smallest bottle of brandy I could (since we're not exactly brandy connoisseurs :P ) and a bag of frozen cherries. I had everything else I needed already in my pantry. (FYI, I periodically juice a bunch of lemons at once and then freeze the juice in ice cube trays. This gives me a fantastic supply of 1 Tbsp sized cubes of fresh lemon juice!)

It all got mixed together on the stove top, and within 10 minutes, I had a delicious looking pot full of brandied cherries. I left it on the counter top to cool for the rest of the afternoon.

The tasting moment finally arrived. I let my almost 4 year old have some after dinner (sans cherries), and he positively devoured it! Next up was hubby who, I think, devoured his even faster than our son! He thought it was yummy, creamy and delicious. Next up was me. I sampled both the cherries and the panna cotta individually first. I really liked the taste and texture of the panna cotta. It was sweet with just the slightest bit of tang. I wasn't as excited about the brandied cherries tho. I think I would like them better without the brandy flavoring. However, when I mixed the two together, it created a pretty nice blend of flavors, and I liked the bursts of cherries mixed in with the panna cotta. Overall, this really is an impressive looking (and sounding!) dessert that truly is super simple to make. :)

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Buttermilk Pie - by Lisa

It's pretty obvious that we're getting close to the end of this cookbook and to all the recipes we put off because they didn't appeal to either of us for one reason or another. For me, this is one of those recipes. :P I've never had a slice of buttermilk pie before, nor am I even sure I'd heard of it so I've been hesitant about finding out how this one will turn out.

Making this pie was pretty straightforward. Beth suggests that you use a frozen pie crust (for which I am immensely grateful given my track record with pie crusts), but I decided to try something a wee bit different. I'd heard Trader Joe's makes a killer pie crust, and I've had a box of two sitting in my freezer for several weeks. I finally pulled out one of them, and used it for this recipe. All I had to do was let the rolled crust thaw and then use as needed. This recipe also requires that you "blind bake" the pie crust so that you don't end up with a soggy bottom. (Hee!) She suggests that you use uncooked rice to keep the crust from puffing, but instead I was thrilled that I finally got to use the pie weights that I bought ages ago! :)

As my oven is a bit testy, I noticed that the edges of the pie were already beginning to brown during the blind baking session. So I used my pie crust shield to slow that process down. I'm pleased to report the plan worked!

Post blind bake
While the crust was baking, I put together the rest of the recipe for the filling. I was a little concerned that the butter/flour/sugar/zest mixture looked dry whereas the recipe mentioned it should have no lumps. I switched to the paddle attachment but that didn't seem to make much difference. I switched back to the whisk and finished up adding the remaining ingredients. It was much more liquid than I expected, so I was hoping it would firm up while it baked.

Getting ready to go in the oven

So I checked it at 37 min and it was definitely done. Any worry about it not firming up was completely unwarranted! However, there is a good chance I overbaked it since the pie itself was almost cake-y when I pulled it out. It was supposed to jiggle a little, but there really wasn't any jiggle at all. I do have to say, this pie made the whole house smell so good!! I was getting eager to have a taste.

I left it to cool and then placed it in the fridge for another 2 hours. Finally, it came time to have a slice, and I have to say I was very pleasantly surprised! It was lemony and sweet and very custard like. I also liked how the TJ's crust turned out. Overall, I am pretty happy with how this recipe turned out. I never would have tried it on my own, so hurray for something new!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Chai Pots de Creme - by Summer

I'm not going to lie, I was not excited about making these.  I don't even know why . . . I think the name just scared me off or something.  And I usually like some crust/cake/carbs in my desserts, so I wasn't too sure about this custard stuff.  And I am not a tea drinker, much less a Chai tea drinker, so that was another thing.  But when I was reading over the recipe, Beth said you could substitute another kind of tea or even espresso powder for the Chai.  And just like that it suddenly sounded a bit better!

This only required a few ingredients - some half-n-half, egg yolks, sugar, espresso powder and a hint of salt.  They were super easy to prepare - heat the half-n-half, whisk into egg yolks and sugar, bake in a water bath, then chill.  One step that I should have eliminated was straining the mixture before baking.  It didn't occur to me the point of the step until I was doing it (to strain out the tea - hey - I'm sleep deprived - give me a break!) But it didn't harm anything - it just ended up being an unnecessary step.  Mine baked for about 31 minutes and quite honestly they could have baked a little bit longer even.

My husband tried one first and he really liked it a lot.  In fact he ate it up quickly, so I was eager to try some too.  When I finally got around to tasty it, I was in love!  I would say it's almost my favorite thing we have made so far - it was that good!  I loved the flavor and it was so smooth and creamy.  We each had ours with some whipped cream, but I could eat it plain too!  I will DEFINITELY be making this again and again!

Chai Pots de Creme - by Lisa

This was one of the recipes I'd put off picking for a long time because of the ingredient calling for chai. But finally when I gave the recipe a closer look, I noticed Beth suggested you could substitute another tea, like jasmine. Since chai and I don't get along so well anymore, I jumped on the chance to swap out for the jasmine as that also happens to be one of my favorite teas! This recipe was really quite simple to assemble and had a surprisingly small list of ingredients. The only extra item I needed was the half 'n' half. While the half 'n' half and tea infused on the stove, I whisked together the egg yolks, sugar and salt. Everything got mixed together, and then strained to remove the foam. I didn't have much luck removing the foam this way, so I pulled out my slotted spoon and that did the trick.

Then I poured the mixture into their ramekins, poured in the water for the water bath and carefully moved it into the oven.

And here is where things went kinda wrong. I started the timer at 23 min since my oven tends to good things a little faster. They definitely were not ready that soon. I set another 5 on the timer and no dice. This process went on until the one hour mark. The recipe says they should be done at around 25-30 min. I triple checked my oven temps, and it was all correct. I have no idea what the problem was and was getting frustrated by being held hostage in the kitchen. I was relived to finally pull them out and let them cool.

After letting them chill overnight in the fridge, I tried one out this afternoon. The texture was nice and creamy (tho mine had a little skin on it since I didn't press the plastic wrap all the way down), tho I was disappointed that I couldn't really detect the jasmine flavor. It was still a nice flavor - I could definitely appreciate the sugar and half 'n' half, but it wasn't anything to get me terribly excited. Between the cooking time and lack of extra flavor, I don't think I'll try making these again.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Great Big Coconut Cake - by Summer

We were having some good friends over for dinner this weekend and I thought this cake would be the perfect thing to make.  It's an impressive yet casual cake and pretty easy to make.  I was worried that the coconut flavor would be over powering, but it's not.  The only thing extra I had to buy to make this was the coconut milk and coconut flakes - both were ingredients for the cake and glaze. 

This was a pretty typical cake recipe and it came together really fast.  My cake baked for just over 50 minutes.  I was rushing around when making the glaze, so I completely forgot to sprinkle the top with coconut flakes! 

Everyone loved the cake.  The toddlers (my little guy and our friends' daughter) both thought it was tasty.  When asked for a quote for the blog, toddler girl said "it tastes like strawberry ice cream".  LOL!  You never know what kids are going to say!  I can't remember what my little guy said - it may have been nothing as he was too busy shoveling the cake into his mouth.  As I mentioned above, I was worried it would taste too much like coconut, but I loved the flavor.  I was eating a piece after lunch today and decided that next time I make it, I might try making a chocolate glaze to go with the cake!