Monday, December 26, 2011
Thursday, December 22, 2011
Saturday, December 17, 2011
As the weather finally cools down and the holidays quickly approach, it's time to busy ourselves with days and evenings full of gift wrapping, cookie making, fancy dinner planning and hopefully many a holiday party!
Saturday, December 10, 2011
Monday, December 5, 2011
Here's the deal. If you're going to like Christmas, you need to like the whole shabang, right? I'm not talking commercialism and the modern practice that has turned into Christmas, but you know, the old traditions and magic of Father Christmas, snowy evenings, fires, simple decorations... and don't forget baby Jesus in the manger!
Sunday, November 27, 2011
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
Monday, October 31, 2011
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Sunday, October 16, 2011
Apples fresh from the tree, sliced and placed in buttery pastry, accompanied by a rosy, fragrant cinnamon sauce...
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Silk Road – An Asian Epicurean Journey
October 15, 2011 - 7pm-10pm
Mexican American Cultural Center
Journey down the Silk Road, from China to the Middle East, and experience exquisite Asian cuisine paired with unique wines and spirits.
This unique culinary experience includes seven food and wine pairings from local Asian restaurants, a tea bar sponsored by Zhi Teas, and a silent auction. Sommeliers Rachel Wilson and Claudia Alarcon, will be your guide to this fun evening covering each food region and wine pairing.
Vegetarian options are available. Must be 21 or over to participate.
All proceeds benefit SAHELI for Asian Families, which provides critical services to domestic violence, sexual assault and trafficking survivors. What other opportunities do you get to stuff yourself silly while doing good for others?
Saturday, October 8, 2011
Tuesday, October 4, 2011
Friday, September 30, 2011
Monday, September 26, 2011
Friday, September 23, 2011
Monday, September 19, 2011
On this, my second blogaversary (and 100th post! Not even planned!) I invite you dear readers, into this lovely challenge of croissant-making!!
In honor of this anniversary, I would like to thank you, my friends, fellow bloggers and of course, my very supportive family (am I receiving an Emmy right now? I'm a dork!) for always giving me such lovely compliments about this little blog, when you are in fact the ones who inspire it all. As many complaints as I receive about the interwebs and the lack of face-to-face interaction therein, there is something very comforting about sharing my cooking life and otherwise with all of you. That's how it started out two years ago and that is how it will continue!
But I tell you this ; for the very sweet words some of you often give me about my knowledge of things culinary, I'd like this post to bring me on back to earth with it. Croissants just ain't easy. But just as the awe inspiring Julia Child was known to be raw and ever-real in the kitchen, throwing caution (and rolling pins...and omelets) to the wind, not afraid to mess up, so was I in joining in this challenge.
Enjoy reading the other blogs who took part and at least laugh at me and my lack of pastry knowledge that somehow didn't result in total disaster. In the meantime, hope you like the new look! As sad as I was to take my beautiful wedding dress (and husband, of course) off of the banner, I think two years of marriage and blogging are cause for a change of scenery.
Joumana at Taste of Beirut
makes the most incredible version of these!!
Julia Child's Croissants : My Way
I followed her instructions to the T, made a few changes, took a few notes and did it again.
In the end, I was more satisfied with my results the first time around but both times made Pain au Chocolat and Butter Croissants with Basil Jelly.
makes 2 cups
1 cup water
12 basil leaves
1 cup sugar
1/4 box pectin
Steep finely chopped basil leaves for 20 minutes after water has come to a boil. Stir in pectin and sugar (and a drop of green food coloring for fun but NOT three drops or you will have kyrponite like me!) Allow to cool at room temp in a bowl then refrigerate, covered, to allow the jelly to set up for about one hour.
On my first OR second go around, I could not find pastry flour ANYWHERE and used all purpose unbleached. This produced the most croissant-like result. The second time I incorporated cake flour, which I do not really recommend but it does work, if you're in a pinch.
* = my diversion from Julia's recipe/suggestions that helped me
1 tsp dry yeast
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tbs sugar
1/4 c warm water (not to exceed 110 degrees)
Combine and allow to sit for up to ten minutes or until foamy.
2 c flour mix *I used 2 c all purpose, unbleached
1 tbs sugar
3/4 tsp salt
1/3 to 1/2 c tepid milk (only use as much as the dough needs or it will be too sticky!!)
2 tbs oil (4 tbs if using bleached flour)
Combine with yeast mixture and mix together with spatula to form a heap of dough. Knead for 3 minutes or until glossy. Julia recommends the lift-and-throw as well as old school punching and rolling with the heals of your hands.
Place in a bowl (*I recommend a lightly oiled bowl) and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to rise 1 to 1.5 hrs in a warm (75 degrees) place until doubled in size.
Punch into a flat circle, cover with wax paper and chill for 30 minutes.
The dough and butter must stay cold in these next steps. Work very quickly and if butter starts to poke out from your dough, dust with flour. You will be dusting with flour for the remainder of this process, I assure you...
Remove from fridge and quickly roll out into a 9 inch dough circle. You will need a ruler at this point or a lovely measured mat like my mother had. QUICKLY beat a stick of butter with a rolling pin until smooth and place it in the middle of the dough circle to measure about a 5 inch radius. Fold over on all sides and roll this out to a 5x15 inch slab. Fold into an envelop shape. Roll out once more to a 5x15 slab, fold into an envelop, cover with paper and chill for 1-2 hours.
In order to achieve the 82 layers of dough and 81 layers of butter, you must repeat the former process that we call "turns" 2 more times and again chill for 2 hours.
After this 2 hour chill, Julia says to roll the dough out to a 5x20 rectangle, cut in half and chill half of the dough until ready to use. Then to cut into three sections, cut crosswise and roll into croissant shapes that way.
For Pain au Chocolat, cut into 6 smaller rectangles, place a row of chocolate (I used 60% chips) and roll loosely, seam side down and place on a lightly buttered baking sheet, covering with plastic wrap. Allow to rise for 1 hour or until doubled.
For croissants, instead of the crosswise cutting, I recommend rolling the dough out into a circle and cutting like a pizza to achieve even croissant shapes! Also place these on a lightly greased baking sheet and allow to rise for one hour. I covered mine with baking cloths.
For the one hour of rising time, I went ahead and set my oven to 475. Once they have risen, cover with a light egg wash with one tsp of water and bake for 8-10 minutes or until browned. Allow to cool on a rack for 10 minutes before serving!