09 November 2008

Harvest Spice Muffins •

I viewed the butternut and acorn squash with dismay; Not already! You cannot have spots on your beautiful skin! I just placed you in my pantry not a week...umm, two...was it three weeks ago? Well, time to get busy and bake them up—hopefully using that okara in the process.

Harvest Spice Muffins •

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Whisk together in a large mixing bowl:

1 cup wet okara (this is referring to the okara straight from your machine)
1 cup cooked and pureéd squash (I used a combination of acorn and butternut squash)
1/2 cup buttermilk (I had some that I had to use up, use soy milk if avoiding dairy altogether)
1/4 cup safflower oil
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Sift together in a large mixing bowl:

3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1-1/2 cups unbleached white flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 ground flaxseed meal
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

Set aside:

3 tablespoons cinnamon/sugar optional for topping

Add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, mixing until just combined. DO NOT OVER MIX. Line your muffin tins with paper liners. Fill the liners 2/3 of the way with batter. Sprinkle cinnamon/sugar on top if desired. Bake muffins 25 to 30 minutes until golden brown.

27 September 2008

daring bakers challenge • lavash crackers

This month’s challenge was hosted by Natalie (Gluten A Go Go) and Shel (Musings from the Fishbowl). We were allowed to use any topping for our crackers. We also were allowed our choice of dip, salsa or spreads as long as it was vegan and gluten free. I really loved this recipe. It was manageable and the end result was delicious. I made four batches in total, deciding on a sweet version on the last batch. My topping of choice on this batch was a mixture of cinnamon and sugar. The dip was a tasty blend of tofu, applesauce and spices. I ate my savory crackers in one day—for shame!

Lavash •

Makes 1 sheet pan of crackers

1-1/2 cups (6.75 oz) unbleached bread flour or gluten free flour blend (If you use a blend without xanthan gum, add 1 tsp xanthan or guar gum to the recipe)
1/2 teaspoon (.13 oz) salt
1/2 teaspoon (.055 oz) instant yeast
1 tablespoon (.75 oz) agave syrup or sugar
1 tablespoon (.5 oz) vegetable oil
1/3 to 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons (3 to 4 oz) water, at room temperature
Poppy seeds, sesame seeds, paprika, cumin seeds, caraway seeds, or kosher salt for toppings

In a mixing bowl, stir together the flour, salt yeast, agave, oil, and just enough water to bring everything together into a ball.  You may not need the full 1/2 cup + 2 Tb of water, but be prepared to use it all if needed.

For Non Gluten Free Cracker Dough:  Sprinkle some flour on the counter and transfer the dough to the counter.  Knead for about 10 minutes, or until the ingredients are evenly distributed.  The dough should pass the windowpane test (see http://www.wikihow.com/Determine-if-Bre … ong-Enough for a discription of this) and register 77 degrees to 81 degrees Fahrenheit. The dough should be firmer than French bread dough, but not quite as firm as bagel dough (what I call medium-firm dough), satiny to the touch, not tacky, and supple enough to stretch when pulled.  Lightly oil a bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it around to coat it with oil.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.


For Gluten Free Cracker Dough:  The dough should be firmer than French bread dough, but not quite as firm as bagel dough (what I call medium-firm dough), and slightly tacky. Lightly oil a bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it around to coat it with oil.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.

Ferment at room temperature for 90 minutes, or until the dough doubles in size. (You can also retard the dough overnight in the refrigerator immediately after kneading or mixing).

For Non Gluten Free Cracker Dough:  Mist the counter lightly with spray oil and transfer the dough to the counter.  Press the dough into a square with your hand and dust the top of the dough lightly with flour.  Roll it out with a rolling pin into a paper thin sheet about 15 inches by 12 inches.  You may have to stop from time to time so that the gluten can relax.  At these times, lift the dough from the counter and wave it a little, and then lay it back down.  Cover it with a towel or plastic wrap while it relaxes.  When it is the desired thinness, let the dough relax for 5 minutes.  Line a sheet pan with baking parchment.  Carefully lift the sheet of dough and lay it on the parchment.  If it overlaps the edge of the pan, snip off the excess with scissors. 


For Gluten Free Cracker Dough: Lay out two sheets of parchment paper.  Divide the cracker dough in half and then sandwich the dough between the two sheets of parchment.  Roll out the dough until it is a paper thin sheet about 15 inches by 12 inches.  Slowly peel away the top layer of parchment paper.  Then set the bottom layer of parchment paper with the cracker dough on it onto a baking sheet. 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit with the oven rack on the middle shelf.  Mist the top of the dough with water and sprinkle a covering of seeds or spices on the dough (such as alternating rows of poppy seeds, sesame seeds, paprika, cumin seeds, caraway seeds, kosher or pretzel salt, etc.)  Be careful with spices and salt - a little goes a long way. If you want to precut the cracker, use a pizza cutter (rolling blade) and cut diamonds or rectangles in the dough.  You do not need to separate the pieces, as they will snap apart after baking.  If you want to make shards, bake the sheet of dough without cutting it first. 

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the crackers begin to brown evenly across the top (the time will depend on how thinly and evenly you rolled the dough).

When the crackers are baked, remove the pan from the oven and let them cool in the pan for about 10 minutes.  You can then snap them apart or snap off shards and serve.

Vegan Harvest Dip •

12 ounces Soft Tofu
1 cup homemade applesauce (the chunkier the better)
3 tablespoons to 1/4 cup brown sugar
1 to 2 teaspoons cinnamon
dash nutmeg
dash cloves
dash salt

12 August 2008

triple dog dare • august

O.k., I know. I have a big “L” on my forehead right now. Loser, Lazy, Lightweight...

Pick one, pick them all. Who knew my summer would turn out to be so busy?!  I know I could set aside my Leisure time, what Little there is of it. I could be working on my blog, instead of wandering around in my yard, admiring my flowers and cherry tomatoes. But memories of swirling snow and frigid air invade my thoughts and make me extremely reluctant to sit in front of a computer on such beautiful days. So I hope you all will forgive me and stick by me. I will return to more frequent posting soon...very soon. I have decided to post all three Triple Dog Dare Challenges together, a summer collection of sorts.  

The Triple Dog Dare for August is Herbs. And don’t worry, there will be a winner for every month!

11 July 2008

triple dog dare—july •

Just a quick note. I should have known better than to start this Dare right before my annual Independence Day party. I simply had too much to do in too little time. Thank you all for your submissions. At any rate, when I get back from my mini-vacation, I will post the submissions from the June Triple Dog Dare and the winner of the Major Award! Thank you all for your patience. In the meantime, the Triple Dog Dare for July is vegetables.

29 June 2008

2nd daring bakers challenge • danish braid

This month’s Daring Bakers challenge was hosted by Kelly of Sass & Veracity, and Ben of What’s Cookin’?.

How did I feel about this chalenge? I loved it! Other than being a little time consuming, it was very easy to do. My only problem was getting it to rise. It seemed rather flat to me. We had the choice of using a different filling than the recipe stated. I had some sour cherries in the freezer from last summer that had to be used—so I placed a layer a homemade marzipan on the bottom and a layer of sweetened cherries flavored with almond extract on top. I made it on Father’s Day as a treat for my husband. He thought it was delicious. Instead of making another braid with the remaining dough, I opted to make individual twists with apple butter. We actually preferred the twists.

Danish Braid •


Makes 2-1/2 pounds dough

For the dough (Detrempe)  
1 ounce fresh yeast or 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1/2 cup whole milk
1/3 cup sugar
Zest of 1 orange, finely grated
3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped
2 large eggs, chilled
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
3-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt

For the butter block (Beurrage)
1/2 pound (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour

Combine yeast and milk in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on low speed.  Slowly add sugar, orange zest, cardamom, vanilla extract, vanilla seeds, eggs, and orange juice.  Mix well.  Change to the dough hook and add the salt with the flour, 1 cup at a time, increasing speed to medium as the flour is incorporated.  Knead the dough for about 5 minutes, or until smooth.  You may need to add a little more flour if it is sticky.  Transfer dough to a lightly floured baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Without a standing mixer:  Combine yeast and milk in a bowl with a hand mixer on low speed or a whisk.  Add sugar, orange zest, cardamom, vanilla extract, vanilla seeds, eggs, and orange juice and mix well.  Sift flour and salt on your working surface and make a fountain.  Make sure that the “walls” of your fountain are thick and even.  Pour the liquid in the middle of the fountain.  With your fingertips, mix the liquid and the flour starting from the middle of the fountain, slowly working towards the edges.  When the ingredients have been incorporated start kneading the dough with the heel of your hands until it becomes smooth and easy to work with, around 5 to 7 minutes.  You might need to add more flour if the dough is sticky.

1.    Combine butter and flour in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and beat on medium speed for 1 minute.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and the paddle and then beat for 1 minute more, or until smooth and lump free.  Set aside at room temperature.
2.    After the detrempe has chilled 30 minutes, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface.  Roll the dough into a rectangle approximately 18 x 13 inches and ¼ inch thick.  The dough may be sticky, so keep dusting it lightly with flour.  Spread the butter evenly over the center and right thirds of the dough.  Fold the left edge of the detrempe to the right, covering half of the butter.  Fold the right third of the rectangle over the center third.  The first turn has now been completed.  Mark the dough by poking it with your finger to keep track of your turns, or use a sticky and keep a tally.  Place the dough on a baking sheet, wrap it in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
3.    Place the dough lengthwise on a floured work surface.  The open ends should be to your right and left.  Roll the dough into another approximately 13 x 18 inch, ¼-inch-thick rectangle.  Again, fold the left third of the rectangle over the center third and the right third over the center third.  No additional butter will be added as it is already in the dough. The second turn has now been completed.  Refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes.
4.    Roll out, turn, and refrigerate the dough two more times, for a total of four single turns.  Make sure you are keeping track of your turns.  Refrigerate the dough after the final turn for at least 5 hours or overnight.  The Danish dough is now ready to be used.  If you will not be using the dough within 24 hours, freeze it.  To do this, roll the dough out to about 1 inch in thickness, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and freeze.  Defrost the dough slowly in the refrigerator for easiest handling.  Danish dough will keep in the freezer for up to 1 month.

Makes enough for two braids

4 Fuji or other apples, peeled, cored, and cut into ¼-inch pieces
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
4 tablespoons unsalted butter

Toss all ingredients except butter in a large bowl.  Melt the butter in a sauté pan over medium heat until slightly nutty in color, about 6 - 8 minutes.  Then add the apple mixture and sauté until apples are softened and caramelized, 10 to 15 minutes.  If you’ve chosen Fujis, the apples will be caramelized, but have still retained their shape. Pour the cooked apples onto a baking sheet to cool completely before forming the braid.  (If making ahead, cool to room temperature, seal, and refrigerate.) They will cool faster when spread in a thin layer over the surface of the sheet.  After they have cooled, the filling can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.  Left over filling can be used as an ice cream topping, for muffins, cheesecake, or other pastries.

Makes enough for 2 large braids

1 recipe Danish Dough (see below)
2 cups apple filling, jam, or preserves (see below)

For the egg wash:  1 large egg, plus 1 large egg yolk

1.    Line a baking sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper.  On a lightly floured  surface, roll the Danish Dough into a 15 x 20-inch rectangle, ¼ inch thick.  If the dough seems elastic and shrinks back when rolled, let it rest for a few minutes, then roll again.  Place the dough on the baking sheet.
2.    Along one long side of the pastry make parallel, 5-inch-long cuts with a knife or rolling pastry wheel, each about 1 inch apart.  Repeat on the opposite side, making sure to line up the cuts with those you’ve already made.
3.    Spoon the filling you’ve chosen to fill your braid down the center of the rectangle.  Starting with the top and bottom “flaps”, fold the top flap down over the filling to cover.  Next, fold the bottom “flap” up to cover filling.  This helps keep the braid neat and helps to hold in the filling. Now begin folding the cut side strips of dough over the filling, alternating first left, then right, left, right, until finished.  Trim any excess dough and tuck in the ends.

Egg Wash
Whisk together the whole egg and yolk in a bowl and with a pastry brush, lightly coat the braid.

Proofing and Baking
1.    Spray cooking oil (Pam…) onto a piece of plastic wrap, and place over the braid.  Proof at room temperature or, if possible, in a controlled 90 degree F environment for about 2 hours, or until doubled in volume and light to the touch.
2.    Near the end of proofing, preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Position a rack in the center of the oven.
3.    Bake for 10 minutes, then rotate the pan so that the side of the braid previously in the back of the oven is now in the front. Lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees F, and bake about 15-20 minutes more, or until golden brown.  Cool and serve the braid either still warm from the oven or at room temperature.  The cooled braid can be wrapped airtight and stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days, or freeze for 1 month.

23 June 2008

okara egg bake •

I tend to make this dish when I can’t bear to hear any more complaints in my day. Any one of my readers with children old enough to speak will know where I am coming from. Now, I know they are darlings. Of course you love them. Unconditionally. But after one of those days where you bounce from one crabby darling  to the next, and your patience was left down in the laundry room where you picked up another hamper full of supposedly dirty clothes, the last thing you want to hear out of their mouths is how much they really don’t like the dinner that you just spent two hours on. Now, this doesn’t happen very often in my house. Because frankly, if it did, they would be cooking their own dinners. But it does happen, usually when we are all too hungry, too tired (nap times were abandoned long ago) and too hormonal to show each other some common courtesy. The darlings love this recipe; it is not too spicy, it is full of their favorite vegetable and cheese. Their only complaint (you knew there had to be one) is that there isn’t more to enjoy the next day. I think I can live with that one.

Okara Egg Bake •

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons unbleached white flour
1 cup milk 
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 egg yolks, beaten
1 cup grated extra sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup wet okara (this is referring to the okara straight from your machine, not drained or dried)
3 egg whites, beaten until stiff but not dry
3 cups chopped broccoli, cooked and drained
1/2 of a red bell pepper, chopped
3 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced
3 green onions, sliced thinly
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Stir in flour and salt, and quickly whisk in milk. Stir constantly until thickened. Add cheddar cheese to white sauce and stir until melted. Add okara, and mix well. Add egg yolks slowly, whisking well. Add nutmeg, parsley and black pepper, broccoli, red pepper and onions. Fold in beaten egg whites. Butter a casserole dish (approximately one and a half quart), sides and bottom. Sprinkle with the parmesan cheese, pressing it up on the sides of casserole. Set the casserole dish inside a 13" x 9" baking pan that has water in it one inch deep. Pour in egg mixture. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes until puffy, golden brown and center is set.

17 June 2008

okara lasagna •

This is a cheesy, vegetarian version of lasagna using Okara Pasta. I am very fortunate to get pint jars of my mother’s home canned spaghetti sauce. The recipe for her sauce (what information I pulled out of her—she doesn’t follow a true recipe)follows. 

Okara Lasagna •

1 recipe Okara Pasta, made into lasagna noodles.
1 pint spaghetti sauce
1 (10 ounce)package of frozen chopped spinach-defrosted and drained throughly.
12 to 16 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl combine:

1 cup ricotta cheese
1 cup wet okara (this is referring to the okara straight from your machine, not dried)
1 large egg
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes
2 teaspoons dried basil
1 teaspoon oregano
2 cloves garlic, finely  minced
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Mix above ingredients throughly, set aside. Spray a 13" x 9" pan with cooking spray. Spread 1 cup of spaghetti sauce on the bottom of the pan. Layer lasagna noodles, one-half of ricotta mixture, one-half of spinach, one-third of mozzarella cheese. Repeat with sauce, noodles, ricotta mixture, spinach, and mozzarella. End with a layer of noodles and mozzarella cheese. Spray a large sheet of foil with vegetable spray and cover pan. Bake for 25 minutes. Remove foil and bake for 15 minutes, until lightly browned on top. Let cool for 10 to 15 minutes before cutting and serving.

Gma’s Spaghetti Sauce •

In a large skillet sauté:

2 green peppers, chopped
2 medium onions, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely minced


1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 (8 ounce) cans tomato paste
Salt and pepper to taste
Water as needed

*Sometimes, mom tells me, she adds paprika, brown sugar, and ground carrots to her sauce.

04 June 2008

triple dog dare challenge •

I was viewing some of the recipes from the Joust the other day, when I ran across this post by Peter from Souvlaki For the Soul. Aren’t those photos just gorgeous? In that beautiful conglomeration are beets and parsnips, two vegetables that I just do not have any kind of association with. Why is that? I lamented to my husband that there are so many items in the grocery store that I just pass by, without even giving them a second thought, just because I have never eaten them before. Or had a bad experience with growing up. My mother, when she fried eggplant, would laugh at me because the smell would literally run me out of the house. I hate brussels sprouts, though my sister raves about them. My little darlings have never eaten a turnip, just because I have never picked one up at the grocery. That is about to change. Introducing: the Triple Dog Dare challenge. 

Ralphie as Adult: [narrating] NOW it was serious. A double-dog-dare. What else was there but a triple-dare-you, and then, the coup de grace of all dares, the sinister triple-dog-dare.

Schwartz: I TRIPLE-dog-dare ya!

Ralphie as Adult: [narrating] Schwartz created a slight breach of etiquette by skipping the triple-dare-you and going right for the throat!
From the film A Christmas Story.

The Very Simple Rules:

Every month The Dog will dare you to pick up a specific item that you have never had before. This month will be FRUIT

Post about your experience on your blog. You can create a dish if you would like. Or not. Our main objective is just to try something new. 

Include the Triple Dog Dare logo with a link to this announcement in your post, and then update later with a link to round-up.

Send an email to: okaramountain.tdd(at)gmail(dot)com (this is a special address)by the 27th of each month.

  Subject Line: Triple Dog Dare
  Your name and location
  Your blog URL
  Link to your Triple Dog Dare post.
  If you would like, a photo of your item or experience, 200 x 200 pixels.

After all the entries are in, I will post the round-up, and randomly choose (with the help of a little darling) the winner of a “Major Award”. 

Mr.Parker:  It’s a Major Award!

Swede: Shucks, I wouldn’t know that. It looks like a lamp.

Mr. Parker: What is a lamp, you nincompoop? It’s a Major Award. I won it!
Swede: Damn, hell, you say won it?
Mr. Parker: Yeah, mind power, Swede; mind power.
From the film A Christmas Story.

This month’s major award will be a two hand-painted wineglasses, which you can use to wash down your chosen entry if need be! (Photo will be up soon)


250 pixels

300 pixels

400 pixels

About the Triple Dog Dare Logo

The dog in the logo was created by my oldest darling. She fashioned the drawing after our “precious” (I do not call him that) dog, Pippin. Pippin was not named after the apple variety (though the girth would apply) but the character from the Lord of the Rings trilogy by J.J.R. Tolkien, the inquisitive and lovable hobbit, Peregrin Took. Pippin, like his namesake, lives to eat. Almost anything. 

02 June 2008

coconut-ginger scones/lime-ginger curd •

I love my little darlings. I am sure you all know that. But let’s face it—they cost. A lot. Even if you are conservative with the frivolous funds you throw their way, they will drain every cent from you. And they are worth every cent. Where am I going with this rambling? Diva from The Sugar Bar is hosting an event called Beauty and the Feast. The challenge is to pick a cosmetic/beauty/body etc. product that has either a name that is food-related or has food-related ingredients. You are to create a dish inspired by your product, then post about it. Back to the children. You see, if I have any frivolous funds left over from the children picking me bare, I do not buy beauty products. I would rather spend it on something special to cook with (vanilla beans, spices, or even alcohol) instead of beauty products or cosmetics. So I pick up generic products that do the job. And you know what? Generics are boring. My darlings, though, think nothing of taking my money and buying beauty products with it. So I raided their products for this challenge. In my rummaging, I ran across a small bottle of Burt’s Bees Citrus and Ginger Root Body Wash. It smells divine. Hmm, maybe they are on to something here. Listed in the ingredients (a moment, please, while I find my reading glasses)is coconut oil, ginger root oil, lemon oil, lime oil, and honey among many other items. The following is my inspiration. The scones baked up moist, flaky and delectable with the hint of ginger. The curd has a very zesty zing. Both recipes are definitely keepers!

Coconut-Ginger Scones •

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl combine:

2 cups unbleached white flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup desiccated coconut

Stir this with a fork to mix well. Then add:

3/4 cup golden raisins

In a small mixing bowl combine:

1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup wet okara (this is referring to the okara straight from your machine, not dried or drained)
1/4 cup honey
1 tablespoon grated ginger root

Set aside for top of dough:

3 tablespoons butter, melted
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup chopped toasted almonds
1/4 cup desiccated coconut

Add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. DO NOT OVER MIX. The dough will be quite sticky. Transfer dough to a lightly floured board. Knead 8 or 9 times, then pat into a 8 inch circle. Spread 3 tablespoons melted butter on top and sides of dough circle; and sprinkle sugar, chopped almonds and coconut mixture on tops. Cut circle into 8 wedges; put them on an ungreased cookie sheet roughly 1 inch apart. Bake 15 minutes, or until golden brown around edges. Serve with Lime-ginger curd.

Lime-Ginger Curd •

3/4 cup butter
1 cup fresh squeezed lime juice
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon ginger liquid (liquid obtained from grated ginger root that has been pressed in a sieve)
6 eggs

In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine butter, lime juice, sugar, lemon juice, and ginger liquid. Stir constantly (do NOT boil) until very hot and thickened slightly. Remove from heat and cool for at least 20 minutes. Meanwhile, with an electric mixer, beat eggs until thick and creamy. Add the juice mixture to the eggs, beating until combined. Put mixture back into saucepan and stir (over low heat) until very hot and thickened. Do NOT boil. Remove from heat and pour into jars (strain if you want). Keep refrigerated. Makes approximately 4 to 4-1/2 cups.

See here for original recipe without okara.

Coconut-Ginger Scones with Lime-Ginger Curd

Moist, delicious scones with a hint of ginger. Serve them ...

See Coconut-Ginger Scones with Lime-Ginger Curd on Key Ingredient.

01 June 2008

an appetizer with an identity crisis •

I have had all month to think about an entry to the 12th Joust over at the Leftover Queen’s forum. Elle from Elle’s New England Kitchen chose three incredible ingredients: Lime, Almond and Raspberry. I immediately thought of something sweet but Elle mentioned that she would like to see some savory entries. Well, I could not seem to get my mind around anything savory...I finally gave up. I set out yesterday to make a candy-like bar with a crisp almond-chocolate crust, raspberry buttercream layer, lime buttercream layer and chocolate layer on top. Sounds divine, no? Well, you win some, and you lose some. My chocolate layer seized up, and my buttercream was too thin, and melted into the chocolate layer when I poured it on. An thought occurred to me, maybe I was meant to make something savory after all. I had two hours to narrow down my choices. I wanted to make it vegetarian, so everyone in the family would eat it. I finally decided on an appetizer, because frankly, I don’t have many appetizer recipes on my blog. After testing the first batch of appetizers, we all agreed it was missing something—perhaps something SWEET? I threw in some golden raisins to balance the salty, tangy and subtly spicy taste. The other identity issue? The filling is PINK! With a glass of chilled white wine—perfect party food.

A Sweet and Savory Appetizer •

Crust: Approximately one half recipe of Slug dough.


1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon lime zest
1 teaspoon lime juice
2/3 cup sweet vidalia onion, (chopped and sauteed in butter and olive oil until translucent) cooled slightly
1/2 teaspoon chipolte pepper in adobo sauce, finely chopped
1 cup frozen red raspberries, thawed, and drained
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup chopped golden raisins
1/2 cup chopped toasted almonds (need more for tops if desired)
Freshly grated pepper to taste

Glaze: 1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water.

In a large mixing bowl, combine filling ingredients. Place filling in refrigerator while you shape the dough.

Divide dough into three pieces. Roll one piece of dough out on a lightly floured surface until it is between 1/8 inch and 1/16 inch thick. Cut into 2 inch squares. Place a scant teaspoon of filling in the middle of each square. Bring points together in the middle, press together, and seal seams. Make sure all seams are sealed well, otherwise the filling will seep out. Place appetizers (16) on a greased baking sheet to rise for approximately 30 minutes. Continue with remaining dough and filling. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brush appetizers with egg glaze and sprinkle toasted almonds on top. Bake appetizers for approximately 15 minutes or golden brown. Remove to wire rack to cool slightly. Serve warm. 

UPDATE: Being that I was finishing this post up at 9:00 p.m. last night, I didn’t finish making all the appetizers. I had a small taste of the filling today, and the flavor melded superbly overnight. So my suggestion: try and make the filling ahead of time.

31 May 2008

okara apricot scones with pecans •

I took the original recipe for my favorite scones from the community cookbook  Creekside Two. The recipe was submitted by a good friend, Deb, who is an excellent cook. I have wanted to experiment with okara in it for a long time, and yet I hesitated. This is a great recipe just as it is, always getting such good results, and frankly I didn’t want to mess up a good thing. But I do have this mountain of okara to constantly deal with. And then I came across another fun event: Waiter, there’s something in my...which is hosted by Andrew from Spittoon Extra. This month featured dried fruit and nuts. Finally, a great excuse to adapt my favorite scone recipe. I am happy to report that the scones baked up just beautifully! 

Okara Apricot Scones with Pecans •

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl combine:

2 cups unbleached white flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sugar

Stir this with a fork to mix well. Then add:

1/2 cup dried chopped apricots
1/4 cup golden raisins

In a small mixing bowl combine:

1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup wet okara (this is referring to the okara straight from your machine, not dried or drained)

Set aside for top of dough:

3 tablespoons butter, melted
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup chopped pecans

Add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. DO NOT OVER MIX. The dough will be quite sticky. Transfer dough to a lightly floured board. Knead 8 or 9 times, then pat into a 8 inch circle. Spread 3 tablespoons melted butter on top and sides of dough circle; and sprinkle sugar and chopped pecans on top. Cut circle into 8 wedges; put them on an ungreased cookie sheet roughly 1 inch apart. Bake 15 minutes, or until golden brown around edges.

Original Scone Recipe •

2 cups unbleached white flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup dried fruit
1/4 cup golden raisins
1-1/4 cups heavy cream
3 tablespoons butter, melted
2 tablespoons sugar

Follow mixing directions above.

28 May 2008

1st daring bakers challenge-opéra cake •

My first Daring Bakers challenge, and what a challenge it was! I wanted to join this fantastic group for that reason. To challenge myself, and stretch myself creatively in the kitchen. Ever since I gave birth to the little darlings, I have been baking-impaired, hardly having enough time and patience to get dinner on the table, let alone an elaborate dessert. They are old enough now to entertain themselves (and help with dishes afterwards), and I find myself itching to be more creative and adventurous with recipes. 

Now, would I have made an Opéra Cake, ever? Absolutely not. I would have seen the number of steps, and would have been sufficiently intimidated. But I was pleasantly surprised how manageable it really was. The hosts (Lis, Ivonne, Shea, and Fran) changed the recipe up a bit, in honor of Barbara over at Winos and Foodies, creator of Taste of Yellow for LiveStrong Day. Instead of using dark ingredients (chocolate, cocoa or coffee) we were instructed to use only light colors and ingredients. 

I flavored the cake with orange extract and vanilla extract. I did the same for the buttercream, adding orange zest. I placed drained mandarin oranges on top of the buttercream when I assembled the cake. The syrup was also flavored with orange and vanilla extracts. The garnish was candied orange slices (another first for me). My first impression was mixed. I was proud of the fact that I persevered and made this cake, but I was disappointed with the taste. It was just too sweet! My family had no difficulty taking it out of my hands and gobbling it down, however. My Opéra Cake would not have won any awards for beauty; I know this. But I am very happy I made the effort. Thank you, Daring Bakers!

Opéra Cake •

The elements of an Opéra Cake are as follows:

Joconde: A thin sponge cake that is made using nut meal, traditionally almond meal.

Syrup: The joconde is flavored with a sugar syrup.

Buttercream: The first two layers of the joconde are covered in buttercream.

Ganache/Mousse (optional): In some recipes, the final layer of joconde is covered in a ganache or mousse. (I did not do this layer)

Glaze: The final step is a glaze that gives the cake a very finished and elegant appearance (unless it is too hot and runs off your cake, like mine did).

This recipe is based on Opéra Cake recipes in Dorie Greenspan’s Paris Sweets and Tish Boyle and Timothy Moriarty’s Chocolate Passion.


(Note:  The joconde can be made up to 1 day in advance and kept wrapped at room temperate)

6 large egg whites, at room temperature
2 tbsp. granulated sugar
2 cups ground blanched almonds
2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
6 large eggs
2 teaspoons extract
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Divide the oven into thirds by positioning a rack in the upper third of the oven and the lower third of the oven.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line two 12-1/2" x 15-1/2" jelly-roll pans with parchment paper and brush with melted butter. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or using a handheld mixer), beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Add the granulated sugar and beat until the peaks are stiff and glossy. If you do not have another mixer bowl, gently scrape the meringue into another bowl and set aside. If you only have one bowl, wash it after removing the egg whites or if you have a second bowl, use that one. Attach the paddle attachment to the stand mixer (or using a handheld mixer again) and beat the almonds, icing sugar and eggs on medium speed until light and voluminous, about 3 minutes.
I added 1 teaspoon of orange extract and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract at this point. Add the flour and beat on low speed until the flour is just combined (be very careful not to overmix here). Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the meringue into the almond mixture and then fold in the melted butter. Divide the batter between the pans and spread it evenly to cover the entire surface of each pan. Bake the cake layers until they are lightly browned and just springy to the touch. This could take anywhere from 5 to 9 minutes depending on your oven. Place one jelly-roll pan in the middle of the oven and the second jelly-roll pan in the bottom third of the oven. Put the pans on a heatproof counter and run a sharp knife along the edges of the cake to loosen it from the pan. Cover each with a sheet of parchment or wax paper, turn the pans over, and unmold. Carefully peel away the parchment, then turn the parchment over and use it to cover the cakes. Let the cakes cool to room temperature. 


(Note:  The syrup can be made up to 1 week in advance and kept covered in the refrigerator.)

1/2 cup water
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 to 2 tbsp. of the flavoring of your choice (i.e., vanilla extract, almond extract, cognac, limoncello, coconut cream, honey etc.)

Stir all the syrup ingredients together in the saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature.

Buttercream (I used the recipe from the Daring Bakers March Challenge Dorie Greenspan’s Perfect Party Cake)

1 cup sugar
4 large egg whites
3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Put the sugar and egg whites in a mixer bowl or another large heatproof bowl, fit the bowl over a plan of simmering water and whisk constantly, keeping the mixture over the heat, until it feels hot to the touch, about 3 minutes. 
The sugar should be dissolved, and the mixture will look like shiny marshmallow cream. Remove the bowl from the heat.
Working with the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer, beat the meringue on medium speed until it is cool, about 5 minutes. Switch to the paddle attachment if you have one, and add the butter a stick at a time, beating until smooth.
Once all the butter is in, beat in the buttercream on medium-high speed until it is thick and very smooth, 6-10 minutes.
During this time the buttercream may curdle or separate – just keep beating and it will come together again.
On medium speed, gradually beat in more lemon juice, waiting until each addition is absorbed before adding more, and then the vanilla. You should have a shiny smooth, velvety, pristine white buttercream. Press a piece of plastic against the surface of the buttercream and set aside briefly.


(Note:  It’s best to make the glaze right when you’re ready to finish the cake.)

14 ounces white chocolate, coarsely chopped 
1/2 cup heavy cream (35% cream)

Melt the white chocolate with the heavy cream. Whisk the mixture gently until smooth. Let cool for 10 minutes and then pour over the chilled cake. Using a long metal cake spatula, smooth out into an even layer. Place the cake into the refrigerator for 30 minutes to set.

Assembling the Opéra Cake

(Note:  The finished cake should be served slightly chilled. It can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 1 day).

Line a baking sheet with parchment or wax paper.

Working with one sheet of cake at a time, cut and trim each sheet so that you have two pieces (from each cake so you’ll have four pieces in total):  one 10" square and one 10" x 5" rectangle. 

Place one square of cake on the baking sheet and moisten it gently with the flavoured syrup.

Spread about one-third of the buttercream over this layer.

Top with the two rectangular pieces of cake, placing them side by side to form a square. Moisten these pieces with the flavoured syrup.

Spread another third of the buttercream on the cake and then top with the third square of joconde. Use the remaining syrup to wet the joconde. Spread the remaining buttercream on top of the final layer of joconde and then refrigerate until very firm (at least half an hour).

Make the glaze and after it has cooled, pour/spread it over the top of the chilled cake. Refrigerate the cake again to set the glaze.

Serve the cake slightly chilled. This recipe will yield approximately 20 servings.

26 May 2008

okara thumbelinas/tangerine-ginger curd

Ever since Pixie and Rosie’s Putting Up event, I have wanted to try my hand at making curd. I have never eaten curd. I didn’t even know if I liked it. But one thing is true, I love anything citrus. So reading through those posts in which the authors raved about their curd creations made me drool. When Tartelette decided to host Sugar High Friday #43: Citrus (the monthly event created by The Domestic Goddess), I knew it was the perfect opportunity. That and the fact that I had a bag of tangerines that the darlings were ignoring languishing on the counter. The cookie recipe is adapted from one my mother always made during the Christmas holiday. She rolls the cookies in walnuts and puts her homemade jam in the middle.

Okara Thumbelinas •

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2/3 cup butter
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 egg yolks
1/2 cup wet okara (okara that has been taken right from your machine, not dried)
1 teaspoon vanilla

1-3/4 unbleached white flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 egg whites, slightly beaten
1 to 1-1/2 cups finely chopped almonds

1/3 cup tangerine-ginger curd

In a large mixing bowl cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the yolks, okara and vanilla and mix well. Gradually add the flour and salt, mixing well. Shape into 3/4" balls; dip in egg whites, then roll in almonds. Place on greased cookie sheets approximately 1" apart. Press down center of cookie with your thumb. Bake for 15 to 17 minutes. Cool slightly, then move to wire racks to cool completely. Just before serving, fill centers with curd. Makes approximately 3 dozen.

Tangerine-Ginger Curd •

3/4 cup butter
1 cup fresh squeezed tangerine juice
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon ginger liquid (liquid obtained from grated ginger root that has been pressed in a sieve)
6 eggs

In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine butter, tangerine juice, sugar, lemon juice, and ginger liquid. Stir constantly (do NOT boil) until very hot and thickened slightly. Remove from heat and cool for at least 20 minutes. Meanwhile, with an electric mixer, beat eggs until thick and creamy. Add the juice mixture to the eggs, beating until combined. Put mixture back into saucepan and stir (over low heat) until very hot and thickened. Do NOT boil. Remove from heat and pour into jars (strain if you want). Keep refrigerated. Makes approximately 4-1/2 to 5 cups.

20 May 2008

tastes to remember • apple bars

Sarah over at Homemade: Experiences in the Kitchen has started a new event called Tastes to Remember. I have so many tastes to remember (most of them fondly, except for the occasional “wild game” that my father brought home) as my mother was/is a great cook. Not only did she cook, she baked AND preserved food. AND she did all this with six monsters under her feet. AND her house was cleaner than mine will ever be. *Sigh*  These bars were one of our favorites growing up. My mother always had a plate of these goodies ready with a big glass of cold milk when we arrived home from school. She knew that all that learnin’ gave us an appetite. A great recipe to have at hand,  because it has NO DAIRY ingredients. So when you run out of eggs, milk, and butter and are craving something sweet—reach for this recipe...it will not let you down. Of course, I added okara (the whole point of my blog) but the original recipe follows my altered one. 

Apple Bars •

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl whisk together:

1-1/2 cups applesauce (homemade if you have it!)
1 cup safflower oil 
1 cup wet okara (this is referring to the okara straight from your machine, not dried)
1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons vanilla

In another large mixing bowl combine:

4 cups unbleached white flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
2 teaspoons salt
1 cup nuts (I usually use pecans or English walnuts)
1 cup raisins


2 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons liquid (milk, cream, soy milk or water)

Combine the wet ingredients with the dry; mixing until dry ingredients are incorporated. Grease a 10-1/2" x 15-1/2" jelly roll pan. Spread the batter (it will be thick) evenly in the pan. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until golden brown and center tests done. Let cool in pan for approximately one hour, and frost with powdered sugar glaze. Cut into bars.

Original Apple Bar Recipe •

2 cups applesauce
1-1/2 cup oil
2 cups granulated sugar (you can cut back on this)
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons vanilla
5 cups flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon cloves
2 teaspoons salt
1 cup nuts
1 cup raisins

Follow directions above for baking and Powdered Sugar Glaze.

pixie’s and rosie’s putting up event •

This event could not have come at a better time for me. I will be the first to admit it: I do better with deadlines. I have been wanting to make my own jam for almost a year (yes, folks, you read that right...almost a YEAR). I had strawberries in the freezer from last June that really needed to be used. You see, my mother is the jam and jelly maker of the family. I remember helping her prepare the fruit; washing, stemming, coring and slicing. But for the life of me, I don’t ever remember watching her process the jam from start to finish. Could it be that she waited until all the gremlins were at school to fill those jars with hot, steaming deliciousness? At any rate, I have been very intimidated by the whole thing. So the Putting up Event came at the right time, giving me that extra little nudge I needed. That and the fact that we finally ran out of all the jam and jelly that my mother had given me on her last visit. My first jam is nothing exotic or different. Just strawberry jam. But I will tell you what my youngest darling said. “Mommy, this is WAY better than the stuff we get at the store, you should sell this!” Good enough for me!

12 May 2008

an award and a silly tag •

I am honored! Elle from Elle’s New England Kitchen has awarded me the “Arte y pico” Award. She comments, “It's awarded to blogs for their creativity, design, interesting material, and that also contribute to the blogger community, no matter what language”...that was right off her website. Such an honor, especially coming from Elle, who cooks and bakes up some wonderful creations! I have to pass the award on to 5 blogs. Here are the rules:

1. Pick 5 blogs that you consider deserve this award with their creativity, design, interesting material, and also contribute to the blogger community, no matter what language.

2. Each award has to have the name of the author and also a link to his or her blog to be visited by everyone.

3. Each award-winner, has to show the award and put the name and link to the blog that has given her or him the award itself.

4. Post the rules.

The 5 blogs I choose:

1. Cooking with Anne

2. A Southern Grace

3. Palachinka

4. The Xocoatl Express

5. Thursday Night Smackdown

A Silly Meme •

Marja from Palachinka has tagged me for this silly meme. Here is how it works, and keep to the foodie theme if you can:

Pick up the nearest book. Open to page 123. Find the fifth sentence. Post the next three sentences. Tag 5 people and acknowledge who tagged you. 

Unfortunately, my cookbook is not nearly as interesting as hers. I am using The All-Purpose Cookbook—Joy of Cooking. I am reminded reading through it why I NEVER use this cookbook. It irritates the living **** out of me. First things first...the reading glasses. Ah! Here we go—the fifth sentence on page 123: Oddly enough, deep-fat frying is still another kind of dry heat cooking. 

I ask you, who cares? I just want something fried and chocolate...NOW!

The next three sentences: Here the heat is not only transferred by the oil or grease used as a cooking medium, but by the moisture in the food itself—some of the steam from the food juices being forced into the fat and then out into the atmosphere. Among dry heat pan-processes, sautéing, page 253, uses the least fat. Pan-broiling and pan-frying are successive steps beyond sautéing and away from the driest heat.

*Yawn* I know you are all sitting on the edge of your chairs waiting for the rest. Sorry to disappoint you. Thank you, Marja, for making me dig out that book...my good friend, Jill, is having a tag sale this weekend. Maybe it is time to pass this one on! I am tagging:

1. Cake Chica from Glass Slipper Cakery

2. Emiline from Visions of Sugarplum

3. Lidian from Kitchen Retro

4. Dharm from Dad-Baker & Chef

5. Francie from Ramblings of a Frantic Home Cook