Saturday, January 30, 2010

Teaching the kids how to make cookies...

this weekend. We made 3 different types of cookie doughs using the same creaming technique that I learned in Chef Moore's baking class. I figured if the kids liked to have homemade cookies, they needed to learn the technique so they can make their own cookies when I am busy and don't have time. We made good progress, they quickly learned how to measure out all the ingredients before they start mixing.

My older one made progress in creaming the butter and sugar. The little guy made progress in cracking all the eggs, no egg shells in the batter or eggs on the floor. When we got done, we had 3 batches of cookie dough resting in the refrigerator. We made a batch of Oatmeal Raisin, White Chocolate and Macadamia Nut, and Chocolate Chip Pecan. The recipe for the White Chocolate and Macadamia is the same as the Chocolate Chip Pecan, except we replaced the chocolate with 'Guittard' brand white chocolate chips and the pecans with macadamia nuts.
While our cookie dough was chilling in the frig, we made a batch of Caramels for making Turtles.

After the dough had time to chill, we we're able to bake up a test batch for dessert. It was all yummy goodness especially for my two 'Cookie Monsters'.

Four-Star Chocolate Chips Cookie Recipe
1 ¼ cups All Purpose Flour
1 cup roughly ground rolled oats or ‘Quick oats’
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) of unsalted butter, softened
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups chocolate chips
1 cup pecans
½ cup golden raisins or Trader Joe’s Golden Berry Blend

1. In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
2. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter, sugar and vanilla with an electric mixer or a wooden spoon. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
3. Gradually beat in the flour mixture. Stir in the chocolate chips, nuts, and raisins.
4. Cover and refrigerate over night.

5. Preheat oven to 350 degree F.
6. Scoop dough with tablespoon portion scoop, form into balls and place on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or ‘silpat’.
7. Bake 9-11 minutes or until golden brown. Let cookies rest on the baking sheet for 2 minutes before removing with a spatula to wire racks to cool completely.
Makes about 60 cookies.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

On a noodle adventure...

last week we had some wonderful hand shaven noodles at a placed called Shanghai Cafe near Factoria Mall in Bellevue, WA. We tried the hand shaven noodles cooked in 3 different methods, in a clear broth soup, stir fried with chicken and seafood and the famous hand shaven barley green noodles stir fried with chicken. All of it was quite delicious and flavorful. The noodles had the slight chewiness and texture to them. So this weekend with some time on my hand, I decided to try a recipe to make Fresh Udon Noodles.

It is quite an interesting recipe, and you can involve the kids with their help to step on the dough to flatten it. The recipe make about 2lbs of noodles, more than enough to satisfy a family of 5. With the help of a hand cranked pasta machine, we rolled out the sheets of dough and used the fettuccine cutter to cut the noodles out.

We boiled our noodles up and served it in a hot bowl of chicken broth with shredded pieces of Kahlua Pork and bok choy. I also used a portion of the dough and made hand shaven noodles to stir fry up with chicken and bok choy. Both dishes came out tasting delicious.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

It's a double header weekend...

just like baseball, I have those weekends when I have back to back projects lined up. This weekend was to create 2 different cakes for 2 special people. My first project was a whimsical "Smurf" house cake. The theme of the 'smurfs' carried over as a joke from 2 years ago when I made a birthday cake for my cousin Henry. Every time we talk about birthdays, everyone in our family brings up the "smurf blue" cake.

So this year for his birthday, I made him a "Smurf" House cake, complete with mini mushrooms and a miniature 'Smurf' that Evan modeled out of Crayola non toxic clay. The whole cake is a vanilla cake, the roof is filled with Marionberry jam and Meyer lemon cream filling. The house is filled with sliced fresh strawberries and cream.

The other cake is for a special lady who officially returns home today. It is a welcome home cake for my co-worker Tom and his wife, Sue. Sue had her transplant operation last year and had to live near the hospital for several months. She was given the green light by the doctors to be able to return home this weekend. Her cake is vanilla cake with Meyer Lemon cream and marionberry jam filling.

Making Mrs. Small's cake gave me the opportunity to practice my spatula icing skills. It is one of those skills that takes lots of practice to get a smooth cake, and I still have a long ways to go to get there. My favorite part of cake decorating is gumpaste flowers. I could spend hours making individual flowers and assembling them into corsage sprays to put on cakes.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Flight testing a new cake pan...

sounds kind of strange. What would one mean by flight testing... we'll with the Boeing 787 taking it's first flight last December. I thought I'd 'bake' test the Cocoa-Buttermilk Birthday Cake recipe from Dorie Greenspan's cookbook "Baking From My Home To Yours" in a newly acquired cake pan from Sur La Table.

The sales lady at Sur La Table did tell me that the stainless steel pan is a mold pan and not meant for baking. My response was... it's stainless steel, just like my mini madeleine pan from France. As long as I grease it really well, I should not have a problem getting the cake out. Sure enough, the cake came out of the pan without a hitch. Now my dilemna, how and where can I split the cake and fill it? After pondering for a few minutes, to keep it simple, I decided to leave it as is and just soak the cake with some simple syrup and enclose it in a layer of chocolate ganache. Nothing fancy this will have to do for now, the other option was to make a pan of 'Jello' in it. And Jello is not an option for a birthday celebration.

Hopefully the little chocolate airplane cake will be a nice birthday surprise for Jason. Jason is currently flying airplanes for Delta and someday aspires to be a test pilot for The Boeing Co.