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.