Archive for July, 2012

International Baking Camp Brownies

For those who attended our Preteen/Teen International Baking Camp on Thursday, July 26, 2012, the Brownie Recipe that was supposed to be in the packet and the Brownie Recipe that we actually used are printed below.



½ cup shelled Brazil Nuts

2 Tbsps. Sugar

3/8 (1/4 cup + 2 Tbsps.) cup unsalted Butter

3/4 cup Sugar

3 Eggs

½ cup Flour

1 tsp. Baking Powder

½ cup Cocoa

1 Tbsp. Milk


  • Place the Nuts along with the 2 Tbsps. Sugar in a food processor and PULSE just until the Nuts are roughly chopped; set aside.
  • Cream the Butter with the remaining Sugar and Eggs.  Be sure to mix until all the ingredients are well-blended.
  • Combine the Flour with the Baking Powder andCocoa; add to the Butter mixture and mix well.
  • Stir in the Milk and the chopped Nuts.
  • Grease an 8” square baking pan; spoon the Batter into to the prepared pan.
  • Bake in an oven which has been preheated to 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  • Cut into 16 pieces and serve.  Wrap any leftover pieces in plastic wrap and store in an airtight container.

Yield:  16 – 2” squares


Here is the recipe that we actually used.




1 cup unsalted Butter                                          1 Tbsp. Vanilla

6 oz. unsweetened Chocolate, broken up              1 ½  cups Flour

1 cup Brown  Sugar                                            ½ tsp. Baking Soda

1 cup Granulated Sugar                                      ½ tsp. Salt

4 Eggs                                                               Vegetable Spray



  • Spray a 9 x 12” baking pan and turn the oven to 350 degree.  Be sure that the baking rack is in the middle of the oven.
  • Place the Butter and Chocolate in a microwave proof mixing bowl.
  • Place in the microwave for 90 seconds; remove and stir until the Chocolate and Butter are completely melted.
  • Stir in the Sugars; add the Eggs and Vanilla and beat lightly, just until the Eggs are blended, then stir in the Flour, Baking Soda & Salt.
  • Pour the Batter into the prepared pan.
  • Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes; to test the Brownies, insert a toothpick 1” from the sides.  If it comes out dry, the Brownies are done.
  • Cut into bars.







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Posted by sylveee - 2012/07/28 at 2:07 PM

Categories: Baking, Dessert Ideas, Main, Pre-Teen Classes   Tags:



Since there are still more peaches, I had Rice Krispies with sliced Peaches for Breakfast.



After Breakfast, I decided to ‘feed the freezer’.  I do this every year with peaches and apples, since our trees are so productive and because we love fruit turnovers for one of our breakfast items.  To make the Turnovers, the procedure is pretty much the same as for making the pie.  The peaches have to be washed, peeled, pitted and sliced and then tossed with a thickener, sweetener and some spices.  Next, I let them sit for awhile while the juices are released.  Then, I put the peaches in a colander and let the juices drain into a saucepan.   The saucepan is then put over medium-high heat to reduce the liquid.  The reduced liquid is re-added to the peaches and gently tossed.


The next step is to prepare the dough.  You can make pie crust, a cream cheese tart crust or purchase frozen puff pastry or make Danish.  I love Puff Pastry, but do not necessarily like to make it as it is a long and tedious process.  Danish, on the other hand is somewhat easier to make.  Since I have Puff Pastry in the freezer, decided that I had better use that before it gets dried out.  I purchase the Puff Pastry Sheets in a 25 lb. box that fortunately fits in the freezer that we have in the garage.  The sheets are separated with parchment paper, so you can take out the sheets one at a time as you need them.  In addition, the parchment paper can be used on your baking sheets to bake the turnovers on.


Puff Pastry can be purchased in the market, but this puff pastry is sold, rolled up and it tends to crack  when thawed and unrolled.  I much prefer the sheets.  The sheets are large enough to cut into 6 5″ squares.  I usually just ‘eye-ball’ and it usually comes out pretty close .  In the photos, I used a ruler to show how to cut the pastry.


Measuring – cut into 3 crosswise portions and 5 lengthwise portions to equal 6 squares



Once the pastry is cut thawed and cut into squares, turn them so that they form a diamond, rather than a square.   I then put a spoonful (use a slotted spoon) of filling on the lower half of each diamond.  Have a small container of water nearby, so that you can moisten the edges (two adjoining edges) so that when you fold over the dough, it will seal.

Adding the Filling


Use a fork to crimp the edges to make sure they stay together.  Take a small paring knife and make slits in the top of the turnovers.  If you like, you can use a fork to make a letter indicating what kind of filling is inside.  (A for apple, P for Peaches, etc.)



Crimping the Edges

Cover a baking sheet with parchemtn paper and place the completed turnovers on the paper.  They can be close together if you are going to freeze them.  To bake, they should be at least two inches apart.  Once the pan is filled, I then place a sheet of plastic wrap over the turnovers and make a second layer.  Cover the whole pan with more plastic wrap and then cover with foil over the plastic wrap and freeze.

Plastic Wrapped


Once the turnovers are frozen, they can then be placed in plastic bags and then returned to the freezer.  This way, you can take only as many as you need.


To bake Puff Pastry Turnovers, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Place your turnovers on a parchment covered pan about 2 inches apart.  Brush with a beaten egg or egg white and sprinkle lightly with coarse sugar.  Bake for about 20 minutes or until a medium golden brown color.  Let cool for about 5 minutes before serving.


Peaches can also be used for upside down cake,  or as toppings for waffles or ice cream.

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Posted by sylveee - 2012/07/22 at 8:04 PM

Categories: Baking, Dessert Ideas, Fruit, Main, Pastry   Tags:




The week of July 9th – 13th was our ‘Back to Basics’ Culinary Camp for 10-16 year olds at Let’s Get Cookin’ in Westlake Village.  I teach all the Kids & Parent/Child Classes as well as Birthday Parties & Private classes.  I also teach Food Processor Classes.  The photos below depict the activities during this week.


Day One was introductory with all the Basics such as Safety, Measuring, Equipment, etc. being taught.  We also made Breakfast food on the first day and unfortunately, I forgot to take pictures.  The menu for this day was:


Almond Raisin Granola

Ginger Snap Granola 

Breakfast Shake 

Waffles  & Fruit Toppings


Cooking Bacon and Sausage

Home Fried Potatoes

All the students worked in groups and helped to make at least three different items.  In addition, after a brief demo, each student made their own omelets with choices of vegetables, meat & cheeses to incorporate into them.  Depending on their appetities, each student made either a one egg or two egg omelet.  The omelets were eaten as soon as made, but the rest of the food was kept warm and served all at one time so the students could sit down as a group and also practice their social skills.

Day Two was a lunch menu which included  Bread Product, Salads, Sandwiches and a Dessert.  The dishes made were:

Buttermilk Biscuits

Jalapeno Cornbread

Tomato Basil Soup

Quick Clam Chowder

Corn Chowder 

Shrimp Salad Wraps

Baby Belle Sliders 

Southwest Chicken Salad

Honey Mustard Salad Dressing

Ribbon Pasta Salad

Fudge Brownies

Again, the Students worked in Groups of four or five and at the end sat down and enjoyed their labors.  Shown below are some photos of ‘Lunch Day’.

Making Slider Buns for the Baby Portobello Sliders

Jacob – Slicing Tomatoes for the Baby Belle Sliders


The sliders buns are a yeast dough that the students made from scractch.  Some were finished with Poppy Seeds and some were finished with Sesame Seeds.






Provolone Cheese, Tomatoes, and Lettuce also went with the Sliders.









Making the Dressing for the Baby Belle Sliders



The Dressing was made with Mayonnaise and Sundried Tomatoes


Day Three was Dinner.  For this Menu we made:


Garlic Dinner Rolls

Baby Lettuce Salad

Caesar Salad

Vegetable Garden Chili

Macaroni and Cheese Supreme

Chicken Croquettes

Rémoulade Sauce

Beef Stroganoff 

Scalloped Potatoes

Vegetarian Chili


The Vegetarian Chili was made with a multitude of Vegetables including Golden Beets, Broccoli, Onions, Tomatoes, Northern Beans & Mushrooms.  Since the Menu for today was quite large and tomorrow’s menu was Desserts only, we saved the Chili for Thursday so the students would have something healthy to eat along with their desserts.  Also, the longer the Chili cooks, the more flavorful it is.  Also, standing refrigerated overnight helps to intensify the flavors.  The Chili was served the next day with shredded Mozzarella Cheese and garnished with snipped Chives.


Test Tasting the Chili



Dean & Ethan making Caesar Salad




















Day Four was Desserts.  For this Activity the students were asked to make requests on the first day of camp.  From the requests that were made, the following were chosen to best represent all the students desires.


Vanilla Bean Cheesecake

In Oreo Cookie Crust


Chocolate Lava Cake

With Raspberry Sauce

Pate Choux

Pastry Cream

Lemon Curd

Apple Pie

Berry Pie

All the desserts turned our really good, but the one of the best ones was the Raspberry Covered Cheesecake.

Cheesecake with Raspberry Sauce

The Tiramisu was also very good as were the Cream Puffs made from the Pate Choux.  The Cream Puffs were filled either with Lemon Curd or Vanilla Pastry Cream.  The ones with the Pastry Cream were glazed with a Chocolate Glaze.  Looking at the photos, you will see that the Chocolate Glaze turned out to be much more than a glaze.  The Chocolate Lovers, loved them though.  And everyone in the group was a Chocolate Lover!

Pate Choux filled with Lemon Curd

Pate Choux filled with Pastry Cream and topped with a Chocolate Glaze

We did not have time to bake all the pies so, they were taken home to be finished baking by the students.  They were purposely made in individual pie tins as we made a lot of desserts and I knew from experience that we probably wouldn’t have time to completely bake the pies.

Apple Pies and Berry Pies

The Chocolate Lava Cakes were made in individual ramekins and they of course had to be eaten right away to experience the molten chocolate inside.

Day Five was our Mystery Bag Day.  Each team of students were given a bag with a Protein, a Starch and a Vegetable.  In addition, they were allowed to use any spices and herbs available plus a number of vegetables, fresh herbs, eggs, butter and other ingredients that were put our for their use.  The rule was that they must use all the ingredients in their bags.  The students were very creative and came up with some very interesting and beautiful.  When they were finished, each group had to present what they made to to the other students and describe in detail what they made.  In the end, the food was served buffet style and all the students sat down together and enjoyed their lunch.  (See photo at beginning of this blog)

Shrimp Cocktail by Morgan Irwin & Crew. The Shrimp were dressed and placed in a cabbage bowl along with Cocktail Sauce on the side.




Artisan Greens Salad





















Radicchio Salad




J.J. & Emmerson



















Jasmine Rice – made on Mystery Bag Day to go with the Scallops






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Posted by sylveee - 2012/07/21 at 10:55 PM

Categories: Breakfast Ideas, Cooking for Everyone, Cooking for Kids, Dessert Ideas, Dinner Ideas, Lunch Ideas, Main, Pre-Teen Classes, Salads   Tags: , , , , , , ,



A week and a half ago, our peaches were too green to pick.  Now they are falling off the tree and it is all I can do to keep up with them.  Of course, the Squirrels and Birds are helping us do that, but they started even before the peaches were ripe enough for us to eat or to even cook with.  Fortunately, there is an ample amount for all of us.  Every morning I go out and pick the ripest peaches, (the ones that come off the tree easily) and then clean up the half-eaten ones on the ground.  Would love to leave them there for the animals, squirrels, birds and rabbits, but unfortunately, they also attract fruit flies, so unless we get them picked up, we have a fruit fly infestation and that is not good.

The peaches are very good this year, but one can only eat so many peaches at one time, so the secret is to use them for items that can be frozen or canned.  Tuesday, we gave a big bag to the cleaning people to take home and yesterday, I proceeded to use them to make peach jam, peach muffins and peach gelato.  On Sunday, I made a fresh peach pie that we had for breakfast on Monday and Tuesday and even had some left over for snacking.  It was a deep dish pie and used a lot of peaches.  The more the better.


To make the peach pie, the first thing you want to do is to make the crust.  You can use a basic pie crust  /pies-pastry/peach-pie/or a sweet tart crust. sweet-tart-and-pie-pastry/ It all depends on how you want to present your pie.  I used the basic crust and instead of using all butter which is what I usually use, I used half Crisco®.  Using Crisco® will give you a flakier crust whereas I think the all-butter crust tastes better.  It is 6 of one and half a dozen of the other.  Refrigerate the dough for the crust while you are preparing your pie filling.

The next step is to peel, pit and slice the peaches.  If the peaches are not totally ripe, it may be possible to remove the skin with a serrated peeler.  If that doesn’t work, then you need to boil a small pot of water and have a bowl of ice water handy.  Make a cross – wise slit in the top and bottom of the peaches and then lower one or two at a time into the boiling water.  (A slotted spoon or spider would be a handy tool to do this with so that you do not get burned by the hot water.)  Leave the peaches in the boiling water for a minute or two, (this will depend on the ripeness of the peaches) and then remove them and place them in the ice water.  When the peach is cool enough to handle, take a paring knife and starting at the top, peel off the skin.  It should come off easily.  If it doesn’t, then put it back in the boiling water for another minute or two.


Peeled Peach

I have found that the following procedure works well:

  1. Place the first two peaches in the boiling water for about two minutes, then transfer them to the ice water.
  2. After you have peeled the first peach, put another one or two in the boiling water and then peel the second one.
  3. Slit the tops and bottoms of the next two peaches, transfer the ones in the boiling water to the ice water, place the new ones in the boiling water and then repeat the procedure until all the peaches have been peeled.

Once all the peaches have been peeled, make a cut around the peach,   lengthwise, and using your thumbs, pull them apart.  Remove the pit from the half it remains in and then slice the peaches into the desired thickness.


Place the sliced peaches in a large bowl; mix a proportionate amount of thickener (usually cornstarch) together with sugar, (I use brown sugar), spices such as cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg.  Add the peaches and gently toss to coat all the peaches.  If your peaches are quite ripe, the sugar will extract a lot of liquid from the peaches.  Let them sit in the bowl until the moisture has been extracted, then place a colander over a saucepan and pour the peaches into the colander.  Place the saucepan with the peach liquid on the stove over medium heat and cook, stirring constantly until the sugar/liquid mixture has thickened.  Return the peaches in the colander back into the bowl and add the thickened mixture.


Re-adding the thickened liquid




           Toss gently and then pour into the pie pan.


In Pie Shell









Add either a lattice top crust or a full top crust and then bake according to your recipes instructions.


Lattice Top

Top Crust Added







Pie Baked with complete Top Crus


To make the Peach Jam, the first thing I did was to wash and sterilize the jars.  Boil them in water for 5 minutes or run through the dishwasher.  Place your lids and seals in a small saucepan and boil for 3 minutes.

I peeled the peaches (see above) and then removed the pits and placed the fruit in the food processor fitted with the chopping blade.  I chopped the peaches, measured them and put them in the jam pot.  A large 6-8 quart saucepan will do.  I then measured the sugar and lemon juice and combined it all with the chopped peaches.  I used commercial pectin for this jam.  Just follow the directions on the package of pectin.  If you do not want to use pectin, you use equal parts fruit and sugar and about ¼ cup lemon juice.  You do have to know how to test the cooked fruit to see if it has reached the proper temperature for setting. It is easier just to use the pectin, especially if your fruit is very ripe.



Peach Jam in Dish


Peach Jam in Jars – sealed and coolin upside down to seal lids












Once the jam is made, ladle it into the sterilized jars, seal and then turn upside down.  To be sure that no bacteria is alive inside the jars, process them for 5 minutes in a boiling water bath.  The water must be at least one inch over the tops of the jars.  Remove, turn upside down on a clean dish towel and allow to sit until cool and the jam is set.


While preparing the fruit for the jam, I prepared twice as much as I needed which gave me four more cups of chopped fruit to work with.  I made Peach Muffins with half and Peach Ice Cream with the other half.  Lots of peaches, but really good.  If you can’t use all the muffins (or make it in a loaf pan) at once, freeze some for a later use.   /fruit-muffins/


Giant Peach Muffins


The remainder of the chopped peaches was used for Peach Ice Cream.  /fresh-peach-ice-cream/


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Posted by sylveee - 2012/07/19 at 11:45 PM

Categories: Baking, Dessert Ideas, Fruit, Main, Pastry   Tags: , , , , , , , ,