July 21, 2009

Triple-Chocolate Cheesecake

Triple-Chocolate Cheesecake

It was Brandon’s birthday yesterday and as is my tradition I wanted to make him a cheesecake since he’s not a fan of regular cake. But, as I mentioned last week, we are supposed to be on a diet and he, especially, didn’t want to ruin the progress we’ve made. Personally, I think you deserve to eat whatever you want on your birthday (a right which also extends to the celebrators of said birthday, ie me), but he was very adamant about staying within our allotted points (we’re doing weight watchers). In fact, he didn’t even want me to make a cake at all, but I just wouldn’t have that. You celebrate your birthday by eating some damn cake, diet or not diet. So to appease him, I said I’d find a light version. This, of course, filled me with dread. I mean, light cheesecake, what’s the point?!? But it was his birthday, not mine, and I’d committed to it so I was just going to have to make the best of it.

As a point of comparison I decided to find out just how …

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July 13, 2009

BBA Challenge: Ciabatta

Ciabatta

The seventh recipe for The Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge was Ciabatta. This was one I was really excited about attempting but also pretty apprehensive. It’s probably one of the most complicated breads we’ve done so far and from surveying other BBAers on twitter and the forum it was pretty apparent that “results may vary”. Good Ciabatta is full of big giant holes and that involves having a very wet dough, which you can imagine, is hard to work with. In addition to working with the very wet dough for the first time, making this bread involves some special tools as well as setting up your oven in a very specific way, so there’s quite a bit of prep involved.

There were two different versions, using different kinds of pre-ferments: poolish or biga. These are just mixtures of bread, water and yeast that sit out for a certain amount of time to develop flavor and texture. Later you add the rest of ingredients to make the final dough. I chose the biga because the consensus seemed to be that it resulted in bread with bigger holes. I …

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July 9, 2009

Balsamic Chicken with Roasted Tomatoes and Garlic-Roasted Potatoes

Balsamic Chicken with Roasted Tomatoes and Garlic-Roasted Potatoes

Brandon and I started on a diet a few weeks ago. And not one those “I’m eating more fruits and vegetables” kind of things, like an actual counting calories, keeping a food log kind of thing (though of course we are eating more fruits and vegetables, too). The first week was really scary because I thought it would be impossible to come up with a week’s worth of low-fat meals. But now in week 2, I’m realizing that I was very, very wrong. With the help of a couple of great cookbooks, I’m finding that it’s really not difficult and it doesn’t even take a lot of extra time. In fact, all the dishes I’ve made in the past few weeks take MUCH less time to make and both Brandon and I agree that they’ve been really good and filling. If someone else made these dishes for me, I wouldn’t even think they were supposed to be light. They’re just good recipes and they happen to be low fat as well.

Even though I’m on a diet, this isn’t going to …

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July 2, 2009

BBA Challenge Catch-up: Brioche, Casatiello and Challah

Poor Man's Brioche

So I’m still going at a normal pace for the BBA Challenge, but I’m behind on actually posting about it. I keep going back and forth about whether I even want to post about every single bread and that leads to more procrastination. But I think ultimately, I do want written and photographic evidence that I did in fact bake every single bread in this book, in order. I may do these combo posts for bread I have less to say about, but for instance, I have LOTS to say about the Ciabatta I did this week, so that’s going to be it’s own post (hopefully next week).

June 17, 2009

Molten Chocolate Cakes

Molten Chocolate Cakes

I love chocolate cake. It’s one of my biggest cravings, one that pops up over and over again (almost always late at night). But in the last few years, I’ve noticed something disturbing (to me, at least): I don’t seem to be able to eat it anymore. Take last month, for instance:

Brandon was out with some friends so I was home alone. For some reason when I’m home alone I always want to bake so I decided I would finally indulge my chocolate cake craving and make a cake. After looking though my delicious account, I decided to try Smitten Kitchen’s Peanut Butter and Chocolate cake. So I went to all the trouble of making the cake layers and the two different kinds of icing and after a couple hours finally sat down with a delicious looking piece of it to eat. I took two bites, two bites, and I had to set it down. I couldn’t eat anymore. It’s not a bad cake, in fact, it’s a wonderful cake but it was just so rich that it was too …

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June 8, 2009

BBA Challenge: Artos and Bagels

I’m still chugging along with the Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge. So far I’m (mostly) having fun and learning a lot.

Christopsomos

Christopsomos The second week bread was Artos or Greek Celebration bread. I really didn’t have any trouble at all with this bread because it was really similar to my King Cake except that Artos has a lot more spices: cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and cloves. The only trouble I had was the shaping, of course. I can tell it’s going to take a lot of practice to get good at shaping things because I’m just not good at that at all. The version of artos I did was called Christopsomos (though I made it plain, it’s technically supposed to have nuts and dried fruit in it), which is shaped into a boule (an oval, the only shape beside a loaf that I can do without much trouble), but then you roll out two strips of dough and lay them on top of the boule in a cross and then you split the ends and roll them …

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June 5, 2009

Pink Grapefruit and Strawberry Granita

Pink Grapefruit and Strawberry Granita

I have a very obsessive personality. It tends to invade all aspects of my life from how I work to the music I listen to and the amount of time I spend on the internet or how much TV I watch. (I’m not a “casual” TV viewer at all, I either have to see every episode of a show from the very beginning or I don’t watch it at all; I HATE missing episodes and I’ll only start watching a show in it’s second or later seasons if I can catch up by watching the DVDs of previous seasons first.)

But my obsessive personality has a really big effect on how I eat. It’s probably one of the reasons I’ve always been such a picky eater. When I decide I don’t like something, then that’s it, I don’t eat it again. Ever. I haven’t eaten a carrot in 20 years because once in elementary school I threw up in the cafeteria after eating them. Recently I decided I should give it another try, but no, it was just as bad as I remember. (I used …

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May 27, 2009

Lemon Glazed Strawberry Tart with Pastry Cream

Lemon Glazed Strawberry Tart with Pastry Cream

I’ve been on a strawberry kick lately (seriously, I hope you like strawberries because I have two more strawberry recipes coming up). I also finally bought a tart pan last week and I wanted to make something fun and different. This may not sound like such a “different” dessert, but it’s really different for me. The majority of the desserts I make are either cake or cookies (or some variation like cupcakes and brownies). I’ve only make pie during the holidays and as much as I’d LOVE to make my cheesecake all the time I have to force myself to save that for special occasions.

Anyway, I found this recipe in my favorite cookbook and decided to go for it. I’m glad I did because this was damn good but it’s kind of involved. It’s definitely worth the effort to make, but like pies and cheesecake, I think this is a “special occasions” kind of dessert. It’s not difficult, per se, but there’s a lot of steps because you have to make all the parts (the crust, the …

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