Thursday, November 24, 2011

Rice Pudding and Caramel Apples

F R E N C H   F R I D A Y S   W I T H   D O R I E
Thanksgiving. I'm hoping there were plenty of pumpkin pies, pecan pies, apple pies, pumpkin cheesecakes, and even a chocolate tart here and there. I'm betting Dorie's wonderful rice pudding was probably not found on many dessert tables this season. It should be.

This "two-parter" starts with a milk pudding - flecked with arborio rice. Visions of tapioca fill my head when rice pudding is mentioned, but the large grains of arborio make this a moist, tender and texturally-interesting pudding. 

My ever-flowing bowl of autumn apples were my one inspiration (nudge) to try this recipe. This apple & caramel compote combines the best of two worlds - caramel sauce and tender flavorful apples. Layered with a rich, rice pudding, it's a combination I would never think to pair, but the result is the perfect autumn dessert. Served warm, alongside my pumpkin pie, (for those traditionalists), it made for a delectable Thanksgiving dessert.

One can't help but be thankful for unique desserts like these.

– mike

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Hazelnut Cinnamon Chip Biscotti

'TIS TIME FOR A BREAK.  A BREAK from your regularly-scheduled BAKED SUNDAY MORNINGS "Boston Cream Pie Cake".  Think of it as a coffee break. A trip to Denver with my parents to visit my brother and his family left me but a day to read up on the infamous Boston cake - and left me slightly panicked . I decided to draw upon the BAKED Bill of Rights - the Right to Substitute. To see all those wonderful  high-brow Boston Cream Pie Cakes, visit the round-up at BAKED SUNDAY MORNINGS. 

Oh Frangelico
Drawing upon and ancient recipe from the "BAKED - New Frontiers In Baking" archives - Hazelnut Cinnamon Chip Biscotti - the "chips" being chocolate chips. Studded with toasted, chopped hazelnuts and a healthy dose of cinnamon - they're accented with yet another BREAK in the repertoire . I substituted hazelnut liqueur in lieu of vanilla extract.

Objects are closer than they appear.
I might have been baking too hastily, but the recipe states to form "one log" with your dough - which will form a 3 1/2 inch wide loaf. Mine measured 9 1/2 inches. This BAKED recipe makes large biscotti. Wait, more like gargantuan-sized biscotti. Whether large or small, these are the most flavorful biscotti I've ever tasted. A must try - along with their alternative add-in:  dried cherries and pistachios replace the hazelnuts and chips.

If I must, I'd suggest another BREAK - do yourself a favor and split the dough in half. Make normal-sized biscotti. But that's just me - the Rule Breaker.

 – mike

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Thanksgiving Roundup Cauliflower Potatoes

TIME TO GET YOUR TURKEY PLATTERS OUT. A bit early I admit. I'm serving this for Phyl's Thanksgiving Round-Up. Visit his blog (Of Cabbages & King Cakes) for the Round-Up - it's a "full-on turkey dinner for ideas and suggestions when planning your menu" type of Round-Up. With Phyl being the master of ceremonies, guess who's in charge of the big bird?

My contribution to Phyl's Thanksgiving table is neither a tart or pie. It lies somewhere within the side dish category. I call them fancy mashed potatoes. Faux potatoes is yet another I bounce around. Instead of the almighty potato, cauliflower takes center stage.  Cooked and then mashed (in either a blender or food processor for smooth texture), the addition of cream cheese and butter are all this dish needs - aside from a dash of salt & pepper.  It's a wonderful hybrid selection - and is a quick and easy dish for any occasion. This need not be served in such a fancy way, but after all, Thanksgiving is but once a year, is it not?

Give the lowly cauliflower a try this Thanksgiving - you'll find my recipe right below the Fancy Spoon.

Happy Thanksgiving!

– mike

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Pumpkin Cheddar Muffins

'TIS MORE OF THE PUMPKIN SEASON. It was rather fitting that these muffins came up on the baking schedule. And just when I thought a pumpkin recipe would be nice - one where I can use up that half of a can of pumpkin in the refrigerator.

Rather than tempt you with a traditional pie or a pumpkin whoopee pie, this week's BAKED recipe is a savory muffin flavored with pumpkin puree and shredded sharp cheddar cheese. They entice you to add a little cayenne and black pepper as well. What you end up with is a moist, spicy autumn muffin. 

As with most muffins, these are quick and easy to prepare. To give them a little more flair I baked them in a festive little seasonal muffin liner - the ones you stumble upon and think 'why did I buy these'? Right before they head for the oven, their tops get sprinkled with more sharp cheddar, along with a pumpkin seed. I bought some roasted, salted pumpkin seeds at the store, just for the occasion. To me they're hardly edible - unless I bought the wrong seeds. Flair, they add more flair. . .

For more cheesy, savory, spiked with pumpkin muffins, visit the round-up at BAKED SUNDAY MORNINGS. 

  – mike

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Honey Almond Scones

T U E S D A Y S   W I T H   D O R I E
Special thanks to this week's host: 
Jeannette of The Whimsical Cupcake

Yet another scone recipe from Dorie. Is it my imagination or has there been an influx of scones in the past few months? No worries here - they're one of my favorite baked goods, and this one makes its debut with fresh alfalfa honey. 

There are actually two Tuesday with Dorie recipes each week until the end of the year. As we're baking our way to the end of this magnificent book, recipes are doubled. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get to the Far Breton (I didn't even get "near" the Far Breton), but it will most likely make an appearance among the upcoming holiday baking repertoire. 

These scones feature a combination of whole wheat and all purpose flour - the sugar was replaced by honey and the addition of ground nuts (almonds in my case) give these an earthy, wholesome flavor and texture. I spiced up the almond flavor by adding a quarter teaspoon of almond extract and, as usual, brushed them with cream and dusted with sanding sugar before baking. Natural, earthy scones always taste better with a little sparkle and shine.

– mike