Any products made from Milk or Cream
Any products made from Milk or Cream
It seems that I have skipped Week 9 – will maybe get back to it sometime. And this week I am taking the recipe a bit further. The Outrageous Pretzel Bars are really that! They consist of a Brown Sugar Cake (Brownie-like) and are topped with a Chocolate Fudge made with Sweetened Condensed Milk and Chocolate Chips. More Chocolate Chips are put on top along with crushed Pretzels. And the recipe is huge – they were cut into 24 Bars but maybe should have been cut into 36. The bars are very chocolaty and filling and one cannot really eat much at a time. That being said, my Husband loved the Bars! He is an avid Chocolate Lover whereas I am not. But they were good, especially the next day after they had time to dry out a little.
I took one-third to my Mahjong Group, froze one-third for one of my sons and we tried to eat the other third. Since my husband is very reserved as to how much he eats and I am only an occasional chocolate consumer, we did have some left over. After a week, the leftovers were thoroughly dried out and of course impossible to eat, but being the improvisor that I am, I just couldn’t throw them away.
My Food Reinvention skills came about when my Sons were small and I got my first Blender. I started using leftovers to make other things. The first was gravy that I turned into soup and so on. I have a really yard time throwing food out so the Outrageous Pretzel Bars were the perfect thing to turn into something else.
I broke up the leftover bars and put them into my Food Processor and chopped them up into as fine a crumb as I could. Then I added about 1/3 cup of melted Butter and 1/4 cup Granulated Sugar. (One could just use a Graham Cracker Crust Recipe for this Chocolate Bar Crust) I did use it as a guide but the Butter called for was too much so I only used about 1/3 as stated above.
Next I pressed the Crumb Mixture into the bottom of my 9″ Springform Pan and baked it for about 5 minutes. You could actually make the pie without baking the crust but the oven was already on for something else, so I did bake it. The problem with baking is that it releases some of the butter and then you have to blot it off.
Next I made the Bavarian Creme. I started out by making a Vanilla Soft Custard which is the base for all Bavarian Cremes. Next I incorporated a cup of Whipped Creme into the Custard. Recipe will be found in the recipe section of this blog.
Once the Creme chilled sufficiently I poured it into the Crust and then chilled the whole thing. When it was ready to serve I took off the sides of the Springform and placed the whole thing, (bottom of pan included) on a serving plate and topped with Chocolate Curls. Next I cut it into moderate portions. The Bavarian Creme was actually much less filling than the original Pretzel Bars themselves.
This Week’s Baking Project was Gougeres – a cheesy version of Pate Choux. In this version the Pate Choux is made with Fat Free Milk instead of water and there is also the addition of Cheese. I used Gruyere but Parmesan or other types of semi-hard or hard cheeses can be used. This Project was fun and seemed to have been participated in by more members than any of the others. At least there certainly was a lot of feedback and posting of photos. Not only was this one fun but it was relatively simple and took very little time as compared to the first few projects that we did, especially the Lemon Chiffon Cake (which I loved). The recipe for the Gougeres is posted in the recipe section of this blog but it came from the book “Tartine” which was named after the Restaurant of the same name.
For anyone who has not made Pate Choux before or even for those of us who have, it is always fun to see the marvel of the Choux Dough Puff Up and form these marvelous pockets which can be filled with anything from an Appetizer, to a Main Course or Dessert. I used mine for Sunday Morning Breakfast with Herb and Tomato Scrambled Eggs along with a Fruit Salad dressed with Fresh Basil and Sweet Mint.
Below are the preparation photos:
The Recipe calls for 1 cup Skim (Fat Free) Milk – I had only 2% so used half milk and 1/2 water. I may have gotten better height in the Puffs if I had only used water.
The Milk or Water (whichever you use) is brought to a boil along with the Butter over medium heat. Then the Flour is added all at one time and vigorously beaten until the mixture all comes together. At this time, the mixture is then placed in a Standing Mixer Bowl and the Eggs are added one at a time. If you don’t have a mixer, this can be done by hand with a wooden spoon, but it will take some energy to do so because the Eggs need to be thoroughly beaten into the Dough.
You can also use a Food Processor, but I have found when making Pate Choux n the Food Processor that you usually end up using 1 less Egg than called for. This is because the speed of the Processor is so fast that the ingredients get incorporated more thoroughly and at a faster speed.
Once all the Eggs have been incorporated then you add the Cheese, Chopped Herbs and Pepper. Beat these items in by hand with a wooden spoon.
Next you can form the Gougeres on a lightly greased (I don’t usually grease the pan because there is plenty of butter in the dough but the recipe in mention does say to do so. You can also line the pan with baking parchment or use a Silicon Baking Sheet, which is my preference.
The Puffs are baked at 350 degrees for at least 25 minutes but if you want a darker and crisper puff 45 minutes is recommended. (The older recipes call for a 400 degree oven but they do seem to rise alright at 350 degrees.
If you make the small size they can be eaten warm as Appetizers or accompaniment to Soup or Salad. If you make the larger ones, the tops can be cut off and they can be filled with a creamed mixture or scrambled Eggs as I did. I made Soft Scrambled Eggs using the double boiler and added diced Tomatoes, Baby Spinach and Cilantro just before the Eggs were done. Serve with Bacon or Sausage and a fresh Fruit Salad.
Below are the Members Photos.
We love Pancakes as I assume most people do. When I was cooking for 7 or 6 or 5 and so on – there were not usually any leftovers when I made Pancakes or Waffles. Now that we are only 2, making a small batch of Pancake or Waffle Batter is almost impossible and rather useless. You can always use the leftover Waffle Batter to make Pancakes or more Waffles the following day or two and you can always use the leftover Pancake Batter for more Pancakes. Unless you make your Pancake Batter somewhat thick, you’d better not use it for Waffles the next day. I like my Pancakes on the thin and light side, so the leftover batter does not do well in the waffle iron. So this morning for Breakfast, I took yesterday’s leftover Pancake Batter and made Pancakes and Eggs with it. A very simple thing to do.
I used my Omelet Pan and made two Pancakes, one for my Husband and one for myself. Next I made Easy-Over Eggs and put one on top of each Pancake. Add a couple of strips of Bacon, a glass of Juice and a cup of Coffee or a glass of Milk and Voila, you have Breakfast. Easy, Simple and Fast and no wasted Pancake Batter. The Pancakes take the place of Bread. Very simple, like 1 – 2 – 3 and you are done!
Ham and Cheese Brioche Pudding was the selection for Week 4. It was decided upon as a nice contrast to the sweet selections from the previous weeks. Unlike the previous 3 selections which we loved, this one will not go on my favorites list. My Husband and I both love Bread Pudding, but as a sweet dish; it turns out that the savory version is not so palatable for us. I am not a fan of Ham but my Husband likes it, and eats Ham and Cheese Sandwiches at least once a week, if not more often, so I decided to stick with the Ham and Cheese Version. The Bread portion of the Pudding is Brioche. I used Challah which is very similar to Brioche. The Pudding itself was beautiful – it raised up and was a beautiful golden brown and had a great texture but would have been more to our liking if it had apples, raisins and some brown sugar in it.
I served the Brioche Pudding for Breakfast along with Maple Syrup and Watermelon on the side.
To make the Pudding you cut up 12 ounces of Brioche or other similar bread (I used Challah which is very similar to Brioche) and place in a buttered baking dish (12” x 12” or even 10” x 10” will do). I made half a recipe and used an 8” x 8” dish which was perfect.
Combine the Eggs, Milk or Cream or Half and Half along with the seasonings which are Salt, Pepper, Cayenne and Nutmeg.
Pour the Custard mixture over the bread cubes and top with Julienned Ham and Shredded Cheese.
In the photos above you may see that the Bread and Custard Cubes are in a different dish than the product with the Ham and Cheese. I mistakenly thought that the half recipe would fit in my ceramic loaf dish but not to be – had to transfer the mixture to my 8 x 8 glass baking dish.
Press everything down so that the bread absorbs the custard and the Ham and Cheese are incorporated into the whole. Slivered Green Onions (which I omitted) are sprinkled on top.
The complete recipe can be found at Cooking – New York Times
Normally Bread Pudding is assembled and then refrigerated overnight so that all the custard is absorbed into the bread. This recipe did not call for that but since we were going to eat it for breakfast, I did do that. I made it in a glass baking dish, so I had to let it warm up for about an hour before baking it. The baking took 45 minutes, exactly what was called for in the recipe. The Pudding should be served immediately or it can be baked and cooled and then cut up into squares as suggested in the recipe or you can just reheat any leftovers that you may have.
Even though I only made a half recipe we still had leftovers which I sent home with my Grandson who loves Ham. I have yet to hear if he has eaten it and if he likes it. Will notate that here when I find out.
I am sure that many people will like this version of Bread Pudding, especially if you are a fan of Quiche. I do like Quiche but never make it with Ham. I usually use Spinach or Mushrooms. I am a Vegie Fan, but not a Vegetarian or Vegan. I am thinking though of becoming a Pescatarian. I do not get stuffed when I eat fish and/or vegetables like I do when I eat meat.
There are variations among the members of our group – some did use Spinach, another used Bacon, etc. And a couple of the members made the Brioche Loaf from the recipe that was given. I did make my bread but it was Challah and since I had it on hand decided to use that instead since it is very similar, both in ingredients used and the end result.
MEMBERS PHOTOS IN THE ORDER THEY WERE POSTED
A Very Berry Torte was the selection for Week Three of our Sunday Baking Project. The recipe was selected from the book – Baking from My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan.
The Torte consisted of a Cookie Crust which differs from the traditional Graham Cracker Crust in that you actually make it from a Sugar Cookie Dough. Jam goes on the bottom and the Cheese Cake Filling goes over the top. It is made in a Spring Form pan which allows you to remove the cake without destroying it – this is especially good when the crust is quite fragile due to the ingredients it is made with. A Spring Form Pan has sides that lock on to the bottom and by use of a spring lock can be removed once the baked product is finished. If you don’t have a Springform Pan you can purchase one at your local Culinary Store or on line at Amazon.com.
The Filling was also a little different than the traditional Cheesecake in that in addition to Cream Cheese it also had Cottage Cheese in the Filling. The Cottage Cheese helped to give the filling a little more texture than normal which turned out quite well.
The preparation of the Torte begins with the Crust which is pretty similar to a traditional Sugar Cookie Dough and it certainly behaves like one in that it is not super easy to work with. To roll the Dough out with as little trouble as possible it is best to refrigerate it first. I did this by flattening the dough into a circle between two pieces of waxed paper. When you do roll it out it is best to roll it between the sheets of waxed paper so it doesn’t break up. You can also press the dough into the Springform pan although I don’t think you can get as even a crust as you would like with this method.
After the Dough is rolled out it is then refrigerated for 30 minutes before baking. To bake the Crust it is best to use a ‘Blind Filling’- a sheet of buttered Aluminum Foil placed on the Dough with Pie Weights. The Weights can be purchased or you can use dried beans. The beans can be stored in an airtight container and used again many times as of course the weights can. The Weights come in various forms – some are metal, others are ceramic. They all work in pretty much the same way and whatever you buy would be up to you.
The recipe said to bake the crust for 30 minutes before removing the weights, but I found that to be a little too long. Try it yourself with different times – every oven is a little different so what I tell you may not work in your oven. I would start out with the suggested time and then adjust it from there if you plan to make the torte again.
After the foil and Weights are removed the crust is returned to the oven for about 5 more minutes to brown the surface. I personally thought the crust was over-done and would definitely try it with less time or maybe not pre-bake at all. If I do bake the Torte without prebaking the Crust I will come back here and post the results.
The Jam is spread over the baked crust – to my taste, 1/3 cup of Jam was not enough to cover the bottom of the crust – next time I would use at least half cup or maybe even more. It is supposed a Berry Tart and you do want to be able to taste it.
1/3 cup thick Berry Jam
To make the Filling the the Cottage Cheese and Cream Cheese are first blended together. Then the Sugar, Salt and Spices are blended and then the Eggs are beaten in. This can all be done in the Food Processor or by hand in a large bowl with a whisk. I think the Food Processor (if you have one) is the preferred method. Much faster and the ingredients will be beaten more thoroughly than if you do it by hand.
9 oz. Brick Cream Cheese
9 oz. Small Curd Cottage Cheese
3/4 C. Sugar
1/4 tsp. Salt
Pinch Ground Cinnamon
Pinch freshly Ground Nutmeg
The Torte should bake for about 60 minutes or until the filling no longer jiggles when the pan is moved. Additional cooking will take place after the heat is shut off and the pan is taken out of the oven. In the older methods of making Cheesecake the instructions say to leave it in the oven (after it has been turned off). I haven’t checked my old recipes but I think the actual baking time would be less. i have the bad habit of over-baking my cheesecakes so if I looked up the old method it would probably be better for me to do it that way.
In the Baked Torte photo you can see the clasp that holds the circular sides onto the bottom of the pan. When the Torte is baked and cooled the clasp is opened and should slide right off. Oftentimes you may have to use a straight-edge spatula to completely separate the cake from the pan.
All in all, this Berry Torte Cheesecake was very good – it tasted delicious even if my version didn’t come out looking beautiful. We had it for Breakfast – after all it does contain Eggs, Cheese and Fruit – items that we often incorporate into our Breakfasts. Of course we didn’t eat the whole thing at once, so it was also eaten for Dessert at another meal.
In the photos below are the plated cake and a slice topped with Whipped Cream.
MEMBERS PROJECT RESULTS
We have several fruit trees in our backyard and an Asian Pear is one of them. This year the branches were so laden with fruit that one of the branches actually broke forcing me to bring in the pears and use them. Some of them were rather small as this was early in the season. But since Asian Pears are usually pretty firm and even crunchy when ripe, I was able to use them. I actually let them sit in the house for about a week to ripen sufficiently. Fortunately, there are still many more pears on the tree that are reaching their potential in size and ripeness.
With this first batch I decided to make a Pear Tart. I love Pears and I love Pastry, especially that made with Puff Pastry. The Tart that I made is really fun to do in that when you place the fruit and filling on the pastry, it is flat. You place the filling on the dough and leave almost an inch of dough all the way around. When it bakes, the sides raise up to form a rim around the tart. The instructions and photos will be give below. Please be sure and try it yourself and see how good it can be.
The ingredients you will need for the Pear Tart is a sheet of Puff Pastry (or you can make your own pastry dough and fit it into a tart pan. The only kind of pastry dough that will raise up around the filling is the puff pastry. So Ingredients listed below.
Puff Pastry (This dough takes a long time to make but it can be purchased in large sheets at a restaurant supply such as Smart and Final.
Pears (peeled and quartered (Any fruit will do)
Tapioca or Corn Starch
Brown or Granulated Sugar
The Equipment you will need:
Silicon Sheet or Parchment Paper. (The Silicon Sheet works best)
Dough Docker or a fork
2 quart Saucepan to cook the Custard in
This Tart make a delicious dessert or can also be eaten for breakfast!
Update to Homemade Ricotta – In July and September I posted Blogs about making your own Ricotta Cheese. The first batch that was made used Lemon Juice to curdle it. The second batch I tried using Rennet Tables but that did not work so well, so here I am back using the Lemon Juice which works great! This batch of Ricotta like the first batch made was very delicious and on a par (if not better) than the expensive brand I usually buy. When I buy Ricotta I buy a whole milk product which has much more flavor and body than the lower fat one. I usually pay between $5 & $6 for it. The batch I made at home this time, cost:
Milk – $2.99
Cream – 75 cents
Lemon Juice – free (the lemons were given to me – if you have to purchase the lemons you will need 1-2 lemons depending on the size – also the price will vary from store to store and from State to State.
Cheese Cloth – about $2.00 worth (but I was able to wash it and will be able to reuse it again)
So, my fresh batch of Ricotta which tasted delicious and was made right in my own kitchen cost me about $4.00 to make, not counting the gas and the hot water for washing the pot. Maybe it was as much as I pay for the finished product but it was well worth it as it is delicious. For the directions for making the Ricotta, please visit Adventures in Cheese Making
Now, what did I do with this batch of Ricotta. I made Cannelloni for dinner tonight and was able to freeze half of them for another meal. If you have four or more eating dinner, the whole recipe will be sufficient for 4- 6 people, depending on appetites. If teenage boys are involved, then you will have dinner only for four. If like us, there are only 2 people at the meal, then you will have at least 2 meals out of it and maybe more.
While the Ricotta was draining I made the Crepe Batter for the Cannelloni Shells and then refrigerated it. Crepe batter needs to rest for at least one hour after being made. For the recipe see Crepe Batter
While the Crepe Batter was resting, I started the Meat Sauce that was to go over the top of the filled shells. Next, I shredded the Mozzarella Cheese that was to go over the Meat Sauce. If you need a recipe for the Meat Sauce you can just use my Fresh Tomato Sauce but start out by sauteing a pound of ground beef, chicken or veal before you add the other ingredients. Or you can use only Tomato Sauce.
After the Crepes are made and the Sauce is simmering, prepare your Ricotta Cheese by adding an Egg, some freshly shredded Parmesan, Basil and about 1/2 tsp. Salt and 1/4 tsp. White Pepper or whatever your taste buds decree. The Basil that I added was actually a combo of minced Basil and Garlic in Olive Oil.
Set the Crepe Shells out on a flat surface and place 2-3 Tablespoons of the Ricotta filling on each Crepe (depending on the size of the Crepe). Fold in the sides and then the top and bottom.
Place each filled and rolled Crepe in a baking dish that has been lightly oiled with Olive Oil. Place them close together. When all the shells are filled, wrapped and placed in the baking dish top with the Sauce and some shredded Mozzarella Cheese.
Bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes or until everything is hot and the Mozzarella Cheese has melted.
Serve immediately with a mixed Green Salad and fresh Italian Bread, if so desired.
This dish will serve from 4-6 people, depending on appetites. We had enough leftover for a second meal and half the Manicotti went in the freezer for a third meal. Of course, we are only two people and so we are lucky enough to have more than one meal out of this dish.
This time I decided to make a batch of Ricotta using Rennet Tablets. It was my understanding that a quarter of a Rennet Tablet would be sufficient to curdle two quarts of milk. Unfortunately, this did not happen. When I used the Lemon Juice the heated Milk curdled within about 2 minutes. With the Rennet, I cooked and stirred with the Rennet added (after the milk came to a boil) for about 10 minutes. Getting frustrated I added Lemon Juice and it still did not look curdled so I added the rest of the Rennet Tablet. It finally curdled but did not yield as much Cheese as the Lemon Juice alone did and it was much looser and did not hold its shape. Fortunately I used the Cheese in Sweet Cheese Turnovers so the thickness did not matter as much. To add body to the Cheese I also used about half a carton of Mascarpone (thick Italian Cream Cheese). Next time I will go back to the Lemon Juice.
To make the Turnovers I placed the drained Ricotta in a medium-sized mixing bowl and added half a carton of Mascarpone, (about 4 oz.) along with 1 Egg, 2 Tablespoons Granulated Sugar (this should be to your taste) and some Vanilla. A pinch or two of ground Cinnamon may also be added if desired. Combine the mixture and refrigerate until ready to use.
For the Turnovers I used commercial Puff Pastry but you can use Pie Crust or any other type of Dough that you prefer.
Have a small bowl of cool water at hand to help seal the pastry edges along with a fork to crimp them.
Lay out the Pastry on a cutting board and cut into 6″ squares. If needed you can use a clean ruler to measure. I usually just eye-ball it. Use a long knife or Pizza Wheel. Keep your eye on the end point and you will end up cutting a straight line. If you try to guide the knife or wheel, it is likely that your pieces will end up crooked. (I learned this little trick from my Mother who used to make all our clothes – when she cut out fabric she always said, keep your eye on the place where you want to end – this will guide your hand and keep it straight) It works every time!
Arrange the squares so that they are facing you as a diamond. Place a scoop of the filling on each square. (I used a #30 food scoop – about 1 1/2 Tbsps.) The filling should be placed just below the mid-point which will give you enough room to fold over the pastry and seal the edges without the filling oozing out the sides.
Using your clean finger or a pastry brush lightly coat the edges of two adjacent sides with the water; fold over into a triangle and then crimp with the fork.
If you plan on baking the Turnovers right away preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Place the Turnovers on the lined baking sheet with at least 2 inches between each turnovers on all sides. Even though there is no leavening agent as such in Puff Pastry, the layers formed by the Butter will puff up tremendously. Once the baking pan is full brush with beaten egg and sprinkle with Turbinado Sugar. Bake in your preheated oven for 20 minutes (DO NOT OPEN THE DOOR UNTIL THE 20 MINUTES ARE UP). The Turnovers should be a golden brown when completely baked – if after 20 minutes they are still too pale then bake for another 5 minutes or until golden brown. The Baked Turnovers are the Feature Photo above.
If you plan on freezing all or part of the Turnovers before baking them you can place them as close together on the sheet that you can as long as they don’t touch each other. Once they are frozen wrap them in plastic wrap or the parchment and place in a freezer bag. You can remove and bake as many or as few at a time as you need.
Now that I had a batch of fresh homemade Ricotta Cheese the next step was to make something with it. I decided to make a batch of Cheese Blintz to serve for Sunday Brunch with fresh Strawberries. The crepes for the Blintz are easiest to work with if the Batter is made at least 1 hour ahead of time and then allowed to rest in the refrigerator. If you try to make the Crepes right after making the Batter there will be too much air in the batter for the pancakes to form properly. Now as far as I am concerned, the thinner the crepes the better, but of course you do need to have them thick enough to hold the filling without tearing. You can use the Sweet Crepe Batter Recipe under the Recipe/Dessert Section of this Blog. deserts/sweet-crepe-shells/ Just reduce the Sugar in the recipe from 1 Tbsp. to 1 tsp.
I made the Crepe Batter with the residual Whey from the production of the Ricotta. This reduces the waste that normally would result from making the Cheese. To make the Crepes, the Filling and the topping just follow the procedure below.
#1 – Make the Batter and refrigerate for at least one hour.
#2 – Rinse, dry, slice and sugar the Berries. If using Blackberries, Boysenberries or Raspberries eliminate the slicing procedure. Place the Berries in a bowl and squeeze the juice of 1/2 of a lime (for every pint of berries) over the Berries and then toss with 1/4 cup of Superfine Sugar. Taste and add more Lime Juice and/or Sugar as desired.
#3 – Make the Cheese Filling for the Blintz. /deserts/cheese-filling/
4. Make the Crepes –
Heat the crepe pan until a drop of water splashed on it sizzles; melt the Butter and stir into the Batter.
5. Filling the Blintz –
6. To Serve –