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So I realize I haven’t posted in over a month but…oh well. School comes first and now I am GRADUATED!!!!
So Happy and So EXCITED for the summer.
I’ve decided that the BBA Challenge is taking up a lot of my energy so I think that for the next while my blog will focus on just BBA and Daring Kitchen Challenges. I don’t have time to post daily on everything I cook. Maybe by the time that the challenge is over I will have more skills and ideas to get some interesting recipes up here.
For now though I am enjoying focusing on breads.

Even though I haven’t posted, I have been baking so I’m going to spend the next couple of days updating the blog with all the BBA stuff I have done. I did a lot in a short time and now I will be caught up to the rest of the crew (or at least those following the original schedule). I also have a full time job for the summer which means I will have less time than I thought to to bake. But some days with more time will give me the chance to catch up.

This post is on the Brioche, #4 on the list. I was quite nervous about this one because apparently the butter made the dough hard to handle. In the BBA book there are three versions with varying amounts of butter. Mostly for health reasons, I chose to do the Poor Man’s Brioche, which has not only the least butter but also is the simplest.

Overall the recipe was not too difficult (from what I remember!) and boy did they taste good. I should note that I made 16 brioche, in the evening (they were ready at about 8 or 9) and when I woke up the next morning there were 2 left. Seriously! I was kind of shocked and looked around thinking they had been put away but no. That was all that was left.
That’s why I love my family, they love Everything I make barring disaster!

The June Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Jasmine of Confessions of a Cardamom Addict and Annemarie of Ambrosia and Nectar. They chose a Traditional (UK) Bakewell Tart… er… pudding that was inspired by a rich baking history dating back to the 1800′s in England.

Time for another DB Challenge (#2 for me)
I don’t have a lot of time to make this post and I think it will be going up a day late ( have to double check the rules). In fact. as I ame wrigtigng this it is late at night and I am falling asleep, writing this with my eyes closed!
But tomorrow I am baking ciabatta in the mroning and will not have time to write a decent post. I will just be uploading photos and throwing it on there.

So I was pretty excited about this challenge because I had been considering doing a bakewelll tart from one of Jamie Oliver’s cookbooks bor a while. I’ve never made jam before and with school ending I knew that this probably wasn’t the time totry. Later in the summer I am plannign on making strawberry jam. Once the weather he ats up and the strawberries have more falvour. Instead, I decided to buy a nice expensive jam for this tart as it is a big focus in the whole thing. In the end I got Greave’s Rhubarb Raspberry Jam, delicious!

The recipe was not hard to put together, especially since I had made frangipan for several previous recipes. I wasn’t sure if the frangipan should be refrigerated after it was prepared so I didn’t do so, and I think that was a mistake because my final product was nice and tight on the outside, but very oozy on the inside.
Luckily, as I said before, my family isn’t too picky on the issue and the pie was almost gone in a matter of 10 minutes. I tried some and loved it! I hope I get another chance to try it with my own jam!

Sorry again for the short post, but I am just waiting for my poolish (for ciabatta) to ferment and then it’s sleeptime!
woops, changed my mind! I am posting this now but will update it tomorrow with pictures!

The May Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Linda of make life sweeter! and Courtney of Coco Cooks. They chose Apple Strudel from the recipe book Kaffeehaus: Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Cafés of Vienna, Budapest and Prague by Rick Rodgers.

So this is my first Daring Bakers Challenge and I was so excited for it. The best part was that it was something completely new and really challenging. Strudel sounds hard, but it is really fun to make. The recipe involved stretching a dough to paper thinness, before adding the filling and rolling it up. Even though mine never got to the recommended size of 2×3 feet (something my dad thought was a crazy size!) it still turned out pretty incredible if I do say so myself.

I did a sort of test batch for my mom’s birthday. It was filled with cherries and chocolate and it turned out okay. My biggest mistake was putting too much filling so I only got two layers. It still tasted great though.

My successful batch, or what I count as my successful batch, surprised me with how good it tasted! Someone at work requested that I make them an apple strudel (not knowing about the Challenge, believe it or not). I wanted to do something a little more creative so I ended up making a mango apple strudel.

It was amazing. Seriously.

The sweetness of the mango went perfectly with the texture the apples provided. I ground up some walnuts to use as a little base and I had added a sugar/cardamom mixture to the mango and apple filling to give it a touch more sweetness. What was great was that it wasn’t too moist and the apples let the whole filling hold its shape a bit more. It wasn’t mush.

The flavour was sweet and delicious, I had no complaints and neither did anybody else! It was gone by the time I came home from work a few hours later.

This strudel was a huge accomplishment for me and now it’s a dessert that I would love to make again and again. I’m so happy I did this challenge and I can’t wait until the next one!

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Happy Baking:)

PS. What happened unfortunately with the pictures was I didn’t have the camera when it came out of the oven. Then I asked my parents to photograph it while I was at work. Today I realized that they just took this one photo. Now I know. hehe.

Yay Bagels!
I am quite a fan of bagels and was really excited to try them with the BBAC. I have never made them before so I pretty much went in blind. Now it should be noted…my dad is not the biggest fan of bagels.

Peter Reinhart does a great intro to these bagels as he describes his love for the perfect New York Bagel. Unfortunately for me, I suppose, I have not had the good luck to have a bagel in New York. So I think that I did not have too high a standard. This turned out to be a good thing.

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I usually find bagels too dense and hard for me. I am not a fan of the double calories found in bagels either. Now I don’t count calories, but I do acknowledge they exist, we have a love hate relationship, calories and me. So I was interested to see how these bagels would turn out for me.

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I decided to make them as a precursor to my mom’s birthday (it was on Victoria day, do you have Victoria Day in the US?). I made them for Sunday, the day before. I again rediscovered my love for kneading and making bread. It is just so satisfying and obviously a ridiculously good work out! The process went pretty smoothly. My only error was that I overproofed the dough before putting it into the fridge to retard overnight. There is a float test involved, and instead of coming to the surface in 10 seconds, mine floated right away. I knew that there was something not totally right as they looked a bit tooo puffy. I had a feeling they would flatten out. Oh Well!

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The next morning I got ready to boil and bake. I topped my bagels with poppy seeds. During the boiling it again became evident that they had overproofed when they floated immediately once more. They definitely didn’t puff up and look like commercial bagels. However, at this point I had not seen the more successful results of other BBA’ers and I was perfectly satisfied with what I saw.

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The final product was definitely a bit flatter than a regular bagel and had more air bubbles, much less dense than usual. Yet, this turned out perfect for us! We don’t really like super dense bagels anyways and these were soft and perfect. All’s Well that End’s Well!

Happy Baking!
-Natasha

P1090715First of all I would just like to say Happy Birthday mom! I love you soo much!

Ok. Back to business. So last week, I was just searching around foodbuzz and other blogs and somehow came to find a reference to the Foodie Fights. Iron Chef for food bloggers. Hmm…Me being as curious about blogging as I am, I decided to check it out. It is really cool, they pick about 5 bloggers and two ingredients every week and the bloggers have to create something and post it. Then it is voted on and a winner is declared. I signed upright away.

And I was chosen!

I was so excited. Not just to be chosen but that my ingredient was chosen. You see when you sign up you get to choose one ingredient you would like to have for the challenge. It may or may not get chosen. Mine did, I am the raspberry!

So Cauliflower and Raspberries are our ingredients. I don’t know if you’ve noticed but I’ve never seen too many recipes with this combination. At first I had no idea what I was going to do. NO IDEA. Then all of a sudden I had several! I was thinking of doing a soup, a cold cauliflower soup and a cold raspberry soup and combine them. But then I figured that wasn’t too fair since I wasn’t actually combining the ingredients in one dish. I also thought of doing mashed cauliflower and raspberries, like mashed potatoes. Wasn’t cool enough for me.

Then I knew what I would do. A souffle. At least I would try to. This recipe is based on one I found on epicurious which gave me a souffle base to add my own spin too. Since I’m not a strong enough cook yet to make a souffle without any guidance.

 

This souffle is not difficult to make and it turned out quite well. I added a little too much salt but otherwise it was quite good. Now I warn you, this is a truly eclectic dish and it isn’t for everyone. For example. My dad wasn’t a fan but my mom and grandma loved it! What was even better was that it suited the parameters of my grandmother’s special diet. Bonus!

I was really happy with how the souffle came out in the end, since it was made in the middle of a crazy day. It being my mom’s birthday everyone was prepping for tonight’s dinner. But I made it and I was happy with it.

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Please don’t forget to vote for me on Tuesday and Wednesday and check out the results on Foodie Fights on Thursday. I am so excited about this entry!

Please Vote!
Who is the winnerof Battle Cauli-Razz?(online poll)
Here’s the recipe:)

Raspberry Cauliflower Souffle

5 tbsp cauliflower

1/4 cup crushed frozen raspberries

1/2 tsp cardamom

6 tbsp milk, at room temp

1 1/2 egg yolks, at room temp

2 egg whites

1/4 tsp salt

2-3 tbsp butter

2 1/2 tbsp flour

  1. Preheat the oven to 400F. Butter about 6 small ramekins (butter some extra or a few less depending on the size. Mine were Really small so I got about 8 ramekins from this recipe)
  2. Combine the cauliflower and raspberries in a medium bowl.
  3. Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Slowly add flour, whisking constantly to combine (it’s a roux! I love fancy cooking terms). Bring it to boil and give it about a minute to thicken, still whisking. Slowly add the milk, whisking constantly. Remove from heat and add yolks one at a time, incorporating completely each time.
  4. Combine butter and cauliflower/raspberry mixture. Set aside to cool.
  5. Beat the egg whites at high speed to stiff peaks. Check the stiffness every 2-3 minutes, do not overbeat them. They are stiff when as you raise the whisk, the peak does not fall.
  6. Add 1/3 of the whites to the cauliflower mixture and fold into it, to lighten. Add in the rest of the whites. Spoon into the prepared ramekins to about 3/4 full. Wipe the edges of the ramekins clean.
  7. Bake for about 25-30 minutes.
  8. Enjoy!

P1090663Soo, BBA Challenge #2. I’m getting a bit of a head start because I do have exams coming up and well, probably won’t be cooking much then. So unfortunately I can’t do a long post right now, I am trying to catch up on some work (got to stop slacking!!!)  but I wanted to get this up.

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So this bread caused me many problems. I called it the bread of Murphy’s Law. Everything that can go wrong, will go wrong. I took out the poolish (pre-ferment) to get to room temp, but didn’t prep the ingredients. Then, I prepped the ingredients but forgot to take the poolish out when they were ready (I had put it back in while I prepped). Then I made a beautiful dough and realized I forgot to add the eggs! I was so frustrated. I was so upset. And then my grandma saved the day. Calmed me down and added the eggs into the dough bit by bit. 

Bread came out huge and beautiful and golden. It may have risen a bit too much as I might have put a bit too much yeast into the poolish, but it worked out ok. In fact, the spices in the bread give out this amazing aroma that my parents loved. It is a great bread and we are just finishing it up now.

As a group, we are not giving out the recipes as we are encouraging everyone to buy the book and I really recommend it! The breads in there are great and afterwards I know that I will be able to try out even more things and add flavourings and new dimensions to the breads. I am loving the magic of the yeast which grows and adds so much to the bread. I love the BBA Challenge!

I apologize that the pictures aren’t too great, I didn’t have the chance to set up and make better ones.

So, don’t know if anyone’s noticed but we’re in a recession. Also, food is expensive. Also, I live with my parents so they pay for my wonderful obsession. So I do my best to help out. Whenever I can I buy my own groceries, especially butter. I usually purchase my own butter for baking, it goes fast! My family’s really good about it and they rarely never complain. Still, lately I’ve tried to make things up using stuff we already in the house. I’ve literally gone through all of our nuts with my baking over the past week! Soon we will have to go buy more but there is still some usable material.

This brings me to the chicken. Every day my grandma tells me what meat is defrosted, I work with it. Looking around my fridge, I knew that I wanted to try something original and something that would taste good, and something I’d never done before. I want to learn new things and the best way to learn is to…practice! So in my fridge, the first thing I noticed was the pomegranate juice left over from the pomegranate martinis my parents made for mother’s day dinner.

One of the things I’ve learned over the past little while is the magic of the marinade. Common sense I know, but still. I’m new! So I made a quick marinade (there wasn’t too much time!) and added some red wine and honey to give it some dimension, hopefully. It only got to marinade for about 45 minutes and I know this affected the flavour. I gave it a bit of seasoning before putting in the oven and I don’t know if this made a difference but I think that marinading it overnight or at least 3-4 hours would make it even better. Everyone really enjoyed it, but I know it needs a little work. So if you try this, make sure you follow the general marinade rule of a few hours, I just wish I’d thought of it sooner!

Overall this is a fun recipe, and the chicken gets a nice colour from the purpleness of pomegranate juice and red wine. I do recommend this recipe and feel free to offer any suggestions, like maybe how to make a nice glaze for it?

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Pomegranate Chicken

3 boneless, skinless chicken breast

1 cup pomegranate juice

1/4 cup red wine (full bodied)

1/4 cup honey

2 cloves garlic

1 tbsp each of basil and sage

salt and pepper

  1. Combine pomegranate juice, red wine, and honey and pour into a large ziploc (or any plastic bag) with the chicken, seal and marinate  for 3-4 hours.
  2. When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 350 (check note at bottom), drizzle a pan with olive oil (not a sheet pan, deeper) and put it in the oven as it preheats.
  3. When ready to prepare, season the chicken with salt and pepper, and the herbs. Remove the pan from the oven and put the garlic in, stir around. Put the chicken in and place in the oven for 30-45 minutes.
  4. Enjoy!

*Note: Since this was my first time making it, I put it at 350 and waited about half an hour. It was still a little pink inside and I was in a bit of a rush so I put it up to 375. I think it would be fine to keep it at 375 the whole time and the cooking time would be shorter. Feel free to adjust as you need!

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