Sunday, April 28, 2013

Berry Galette

No special pans are needed to make this fresh tasting berry galette.

I made mine into a large rectangle but you could shape your pastry dough any way you like. A heart shaped galette would be sweet for a wedding anniversary celebration.

You can use any kind of berry you like, fresh or frozen to make this. I used a combination of frozen blackberries and raspberries.

Berry Filling
4 cups berries, frozen or fresh
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup heavy cream
2 heaping tablespoons cornstarch

Heat the berries and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat until simmering. Whisk together the cream and cornstarch and add it to the berry mixture. Cook the mixture, stirring constantly until it is very thick. Remove from heat and let cool for at least 30 minutes before using.
Cool the filling for 30 minutes before using.

2 cups flour
2 tablespoons sugar
2/3 cup vegetable shortening
pinch sea salt
1 cup cold water

In a large bowl combine the flour, sugar and salt. Add the shortening and using your fingertips break in into the flour mixture until coarse crumbs form. Add the water, a bit at a time until the dough comes together into a ball.

1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup flour
pinch cinnamon

In a bowl combine the sugar, flour and cinnamon. Add the butter and break it into the flour mixture using your fingertips.

To Assemble:
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Begin by patting the dough into a rectangle on a floured board.

Roll the dough into a large rectangle that is about 14 x 7 inches. Place the dough on a parchment lined baking sheet and crimp the edges to form a 1-inch dam.

Add the filling.

Add the topping. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 25 to 35 minutes.
The galette is done when it's golden brown.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Chocolate Peanut Butter Buttermilk Cake

We celebrated Cheryl's birthday at the Wednesday Community Meal.

Cheryl who is my dear friend and fellow pantry volunteer loves the combination of peanut butter and chocolate.

For the last couple of years to celebrate her birthday I've made a chocolate cake with peanut butter filling and chocolate buttercream. But this year, I wanted to surprise her with something different.

I thought a peanut butter filling with chocolate ganache and crushed peanuts would be the way to go and taste like a "Reese's Peanut Butter Cup" in between layers of cake. To compliment the richness of the filling, I decided to make a classic yellow buttermilk cake and a not too sweet dark chocolate buttercream.

The four-layer cake was a definite hit with Cheryl and the other Wednesday Community Meal volunteers. 

Here's how to make it:

Note: Make the base for the buttercream the night before you want to make the cake. The base needs to cool covered at room temperature before you add the butter.

Classic Yellow Cake
(makes four layers)
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature
2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
6 eggs plus 3 egg yolks, room temperature
1 1/2  tablespoons vanilla extract
4 1/2 cups cake flour
1 1/2  tablespoons baking powder
3/4  teaspoon salt
2 3/4  cups buttermilk, room temperature

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar on high until light and fluffy, about 6 minutes.

Beat in the eggs plus egg yolks, one at a time, until combined. Beat in vanilla.

In another large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. With mixer on low, add a third of the flour mixture to the butter mixture, beating to combine. Beat in half of the buttermilk, another third of the flour mixture, the remaining buttermilk, and remaining flour mixture until just combined. Scrape down the bowl as needed.

Divide the batter among four greased and parchment lined 9-inch round cake pans. If you have only two cake pans, that's okay. Just cover the remaining half of batter with plastic wrap and bake the cakes in batches.

Bake the cakes for 20 to 25 minutes in a 350 degree oven or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Let the cakes cool in the pan for 5 to 10 minutes before inverting them onto cooling racks. 

Peanut Butter Filling
1 1/2 cup peanut butter (creamy or chunky)
1/4 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
1/3 cup milk

In a mixing bowl, whip peanut butter and butter together. Add vanilla and powdered sugar and beat until smooth. Finally add milk and beat just until the filling comes together and is spreadable. Don't over beat.

Dark Chocolate Ganache
12 ounces dark chocolate, chopped into small pieces
1 cup heavy cream

Place chocolate in a large bowl. Heat the heavy cream in a small pan over medium high heat until it comes to a boil.

Remove the cream from the heat and immediately pour it over the chocolate.

Stir the chocolate until it is completely melted and smooth and glossy. Let the ganache set at room temperature until it thickens up a bit and is spreadable. This takes about 20 minutes.

Dark Chocolate Buttercream
1 cup milk
1 cup sugar, divided
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup cornstarch
1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla
1/4 cup dark chocolate ganache (see recipe above)
2 cups unsalted butter, room temperature

In a saucepan over medium heat, cook the milk and half of the sugar until simmering.
In the meantime, in a small bowl combine the cream, half of the sugar and cornstarch. Mix well with a whisk.

When the milk is simmering,  pour about half of it into the cream mixture and whisk well. Add it back to the milk in the saucepan and heat, stirring constantly until the mixture becomes very thick.

Remove from heat and whisk in the vanilla. Put the mixture into a clean bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let the mixture cool completely.

When the mixture is cool, transfer it to a mixer and whip it on high speed until it is smooth, scraping down the sides every so often. Add the ganache and whip again.

Finally add the butter a few tablespoons at a time and whip until light and fluffy.

Peanut Topping
1 cup dry roasted unsalted peanuts
pinch sea salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Put the peanuts in a small baking dish and bake for 5 to 7 minutes until you can smell the aroma of the nuts and they have browned a bit. Sprinkle them with a pinch of sea salt.

To Assemble: 
Add 1/3 of the peanut butter filling to the cake.

Add 1/3 of the cooled ganache on top of the peanut butter filling.

Sprinkle 1/3 of the peanuts on top of the ganache.

Add another layer of cake and repeat.

Add another layer and use up the remaining filling, ganache and peanuts to top it.

Add  your final cake layer.

Starting at the top of your cake, add the buttercream and work it down over the sides. A spinning cake stand makes this step so much easier.

Decorate as desired. I like to take my frosting spreader and pull it up the sides of the cake for a striped effect.

Another nice touch is added with a bit of frosting in a piping bag and a star tip.

A bit of decoration on the top looks nice.
Add some shaved dark chocolate and dollops of icing in the center and all this cake needs is a birthday candle.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Ribs For Everyone

A hearty serving of ribs with rice and salad.
I had planned to make burritos today at the Wednesday Community Meal but plans change.

Tuesday evening I received a phone call from my cohort Fred letting me know that he was at the church and a freezer that contained our overstock wasn't working properly. The temp was in the high 40's and he told me that he'd hate to see good food go to waste.

We talked for a while and agreed that I needed to scrap the burrito idea and just cook whatever was in the freezer.

So today we prepared 270 pounds of pork ribs. I can't say that anyone complained.

We seasoned the ribs with a rub made of sugar, salt, chili powder, garlic, cumin and oregano and cooked them in a very hot oven for 20 to 30 minutes before covering them, reducing the oven temperature and cooking them for another 60 to 90 minutes.

Alongside the ribs we served a salad and rice. Guests were also offered soup and dessert.

Pudding was one of the dessert choices today.

We served 303 meals in our dining room and packaged 112 meals for guests to take home. We always try to send extra food home with our guests.

It was a crazy busy day but I'm happy that we saved the ribs and they didn't go to waste. So my plan is burritos for next week....but we'll see.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Chocolate Ganache

Chocolate ganache is so versatile yet so simple to make.

It can be drizzled over cakes for a glossy glaze, whipped into a creamy chocolate frosting or cooled and rolled into chocolate truffles.

Only two ingredients are needed to make ganache: chocolate and heavy cream.

Flavorings can also be added but it's essential that they contain no water or they will ruin the chocolate. If you want to flavor the ganache use liqueurs like Grand Marnier (orange) , Kahlua (coffee) or Kirsch (cherry) - two or three tablespoons are all you need.

It's also your choice what kind of chocolate you use. My preference is dark but semi-sweet or milk would work just fine.

Chocolate Ganache
12 ounces chocolate, chopped into small pieces
1 cup heavy cream
optional - two or three tablespoons of flavored liqueur

Place chocolate in a large bowl. 

Heat the heavy cream in a small pan over medium high heat until it comes to a boil.

Remove the cream from the heat and immediately pour it over the chocolate.

Stir the chocolate until it is completely melted and smooth and glossy. If you want to flavor the ganache, add the liqueur.

Let the chocolate cool to the desired consistency and pour over cakes or cupcakes.

Let the ganache cool completely and then whip on high speed until the color lightens and it is smooth and creamy.

Cover the ganache with plastic wrap and let it chill in the refrigerator. Scoop a small amount at a time and roll into balls. The balls can then be dipped into melted chocolate or coated with confectioners sugar or cocoa powder. 

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Freezing Baked Goods

Wrap the scones individually with plastic wrap before placing them in a plastic freezer bag.

I just made a batch of Scottish Oatmeal Scones with currants for Ken who is a dear family member.

Knowing that that he won't be able to eat them all at once and wanting them to stay fresh,  I prepared them for freezing by individually wrapping the scones in plastic wrap and putting them into a freezer bag.

Baked goods freeze very well and now Ken has a stockpile of scones and he can eat them at his leisure.

When Ken wants to have a scone all he has to do is pull one out of the freezer and let it thaw to room temperature or unwrap a frozen scone and heat it in a microwave for 20 to 30 seconds - so easy and so good with a cup of tea.

Be sure to write the date on the bag. Frozen baked goods are best enjoyed within two months of freezing.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Scottish Oatmeal Cranberry Scones

These oatmeal scones are tender, hearty and simple to make. Enjoy them in the afternoon with a cup of tea or for breakfast with a side of fruit. They would also be a great addition to a brunch.

Today I'm taking them as an afternoon snack for my carpool. The kids are always famished after school and the scones will give them a burst of energy and hopefully the incentive to work on homework as soon as they get home....Maybe that's wishful thinking.

Scottish Oatmeal Cranberry Scones
(makes 16)

1 1/2 cups flour
2 cups old fashioned oatmeal
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
4 teaspoons baking powder
2/3 cup dried cranberries
1 egg
1/2 cup butter,  melted
1/3 cup milk

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

In a large bowl combine the flour, oatmeal, sugar, salt, baking powder and cranberries.

In a small bowl beat the egg and then add the milk and melted butter. Mix well.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.

Divide the dough in half and form rounds.

On a floured surface pat each round into a circle about 8 inches in diameter.

Cut each round into 8 wedges and place the wedges on a parchment lined or greased baking sheet.

Bake for 10 minutes or until dark golden brown.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Utilizing The Food We Get

A piece of crispy chicken, a biscuit, gravy and vegetables and rice. We served 361 meals today.

We had a constant line of guests at the Wednesday Community Meal today and in the end served 361 meals.

It was one of our busiest days but we managed because of our dedicated volunteers who know just what to do. 

We served crispy chicken, biscuits, gravy and vegetables and rice in addition to salad, soup and dessert. We didn't have enough cooked veggies to go around so we added them to rice so that they would go farther and everyone would get a taste.

We also had some flats of strawberries from the Oregon Food Bank that were still good but needed to be picked through.

Longtime volunteer Ann did an amazing job of salvaging the good berries and dicing them up for our guests. Looking at them after she worked her magic you'd never know that they had seen better days. With a limited budget, we have to be smart and utilize everything.

Cups of diced fresh strawberries.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Raspberry Baklava

My family was craving something sweet after dinner last night so I came up with this quick raspberry dessert that's assembled just like the wonderful Greek pastry baklava.

All you need to make it is a bag of frozen raspberries, a roll of phyllo dough, cream, cornstarch, butter and sugar. 

You could also add chopped walnuts to the recipe and substitute just about any fruit.

I served it as is but a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream wouldn't hurt.

Raspberry Filling
1 12 ounce bag frozen raspberries
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons cornstarch

Heat the frozen raspberries and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat until simmering. Keep a watch over them and periodically give them a stir.

In a small bowl whisk together the cream and cornstarch. When the raspberry mixture is simmering, add the cream mixture and whisk constantly over medium heat for two to three minutes until the mixture thickens. Remove from heat and let the filling cool a bit before assembling the raspberry baklava.

To Assemble:
Raspberry filling
1 roll phyllo dough
1/4 cup butter, melted

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
In a 9x13 baking dish lay down a piece of phyllo and add a few spoonfuls of the filling on top of it. Spread the filling all over the phyllo using a knife or spatula. 

Top with another sheet of phyllo and brush it with butter. Add a light sprinkle of sugar.

Top with another layer of phyllo and spread with more raspberry filling.
 Keep repeating until you've used up all the filling and phyllo. End with two sheets of phyllo and brush with butter.

Note: If you want to add chopped walnuts to the recipe, add a sprinkle of them when you add the sugar.

Bake for 12 to 15 minutes until golden brown.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Fondant And Edible Ink Cake Decorations

I was recently asked to decorate a birthday cake for a computer programmer with computer logos and symbols and I was honestly stumped for a while.

I first thought I could use royal icing but I wanted something that would allow me to create sharper lines so I decided to draw the images onto rolled fondant using edible ink markers. The fondant was smooth, easy to roll and the ink took to it nicely and dried quickly.

My only complaint is that the ink in the markers wasn't always as vibrant as I liked. Sometimes it looked a bit translucent.

And, I guess I do have one more complaint - I wish I could draw better. Drawing isn't my forte which is why I'd like to try painting onto fondant using brushes and food coloring. Maybe something abstract?

Fondant can be purchased at cake decorating and craft stores. Knead the fondant with your hands to warm it and soften it before rolling.

That small ball of fondant went a long way. I rolled the fondant on a sheet of parchment paper.

I used cookie cutters to cut different shapes.

Americolor edible ink pens.

Let the ink dry completely before adding the decorations to your cake.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Layered Cake Trick

An easy layered cake.

I received a birthday cake request for a cake with "lots of layers like a torte," and filled with raspberry, cream and chocolate ganache.

"Lots of layers" on a cake can be tricky if you bake regular sized cakes and then slice them to achieve more layers. Slicing cakes can be frustrating. It's a task to get them cut evenly, even if you use a serrated knife and really concentrate.

Then there are the crumbs that fall everywhere and the hold your breath moment of lifting the layers apart without them breaking.

Well, you don't need to stress because of this simple trick: bake thin cakes to create the individual layers.

I used two batches of "The Greatest and Easiest Chocolate Cake," to bake five thin 12-inch cakes. I filled the cake pans just 1/4 full and reduced the baking time by half. Let the cakes cool a bit in the pans before inverting them onto cooling racks and letting them cool completely before stacking.

These cooled layers are a breeze to lift and stack. Yeah! A cake with "lots of layers like a torte," and it didn't induce tears.
A just baked layer. It's just about half the height of the pan.

It's important to let the cakes cool completely before stacking. It is ideal if you can make and bake the cakes the night before and stack them in the morning.

Raspberry filling on the first layer.

Chocolate ganache on the second layer.
Vanilla cream on the third layer.
More raspberry filling on the fourth layer and a coating of light chocolate buttercream.