Friday, December 23, 2005

Christmas Croissants!

I'm not a cookie baker. Should I apologize to my family?

I have been reading my favorite blogs and admiring all the beautifully decorated cookies that will get gobbled up during the Holidays. Peek at Nic's site and Joe, these guys must stay up all night!

Me.....Nothing rings my bell more than dough; pastry dough, bread dough.....I love it!

Nevermind that you have to start these babies a day in advance. Plus I haven't made Croissants for over a year, I might be a little rusty. I'm going to give it a try.
The dough in the photo is on its 2nd turn and sits each time for 2 hours before giving it the final 'wallet fold' turn. Leave the dough in the fridge overnight to ferment and grow!

First thing in the morning I pour my coffee and head to the back fridge to see how the dough behaved. It had risen a bit, but it was manageable! Sometimes a yeasted dough will act up and expand, then you have trouble!
Time to get my gadget out, compliments of M.O.R.A. and roll out my croissants! Somewhere, I learned that a good croissant must have 7 'rolls' (must have been a Frenchman). I strive for this each time, but you can see perfection failed me, and I have some with 8 and more!You leave these to proof in a cold oven with a pan of hot water for steam. They rise, but in a spongy way, if that makes sense!! This takes about 1-2 hours.
When ready for the oven, spritz the tray with water and bake for about 20 minutes.

Mine got a little more 'caramalized' than I would have liked, but very flaky and tasty!
I've got the other half of dough still in the fridge......shall I set my alarm early tomorrow to make sure my family have fresh hot croissants before the feeding fest begins?? We'll see! I'm missing an important family member this Christmas!!!

I hope this finds you healthy and happy and enjoying the season, wherever you are.
Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Lamb Shank Redemption

Boning up for an upcoming class today, I was perfecting some Slow Roasted Lamb Shanks. Before I write the recipe out for the ladies, I like to iron out all possiblities of a belly-flop during class, this means eating the dish, and sometimes a few times in a row, if I'm not happy with the outcome.
The Shanks have just come from their searing and are waiting for the aromatics to soften before they get doused with generous glugs of red wine. Then, baked for 3 hours the meat is fork tender. Served with some creamy Polenta in front of the fire place. Dinner in the suburbs! Well, just one of the items I'll demo for my Weeknight Food Class.

I think Max is giving me 'two paws up'.....he is gazing wantonly at those bones! The glass plate looks like his nose is sitting right on top and inches from the Shanks, but look close, optical illusion, and I must add that no Lamb was harmed in the shooting of this photo!!

This moment of sharing gives me an opportunity to participate in Sweetnicks sponsored WDB#14! This one should be fun, there is a theme of food & dogs, in the same room!

Now......back to my Lamb Shanks!

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Rubies in a Jar!

Checking in with my favorite bloggers, like we all do, I discovered Dr. Biggles & gang on a Podcast in November! It was a fantastic show, lots of Holiday (Thanksgiving) insight and some good recipes were shared.

You know when you 'read' a blog, that blog has a voice......I really thought ol' Biggles was going to talk with a whiskey- voiced, southern-drawl......well, I was wrong, not even a tiny twang was heard! He sounded very Californian.

A very interesting recipe was called-in to the Podcast and I thought I might give it a whirl. Especially since the Cranberries were looking a little sad that were left in the crisper drawer from Thanksgiving. The recipe sounded like a winner and I even added some cherries and dried cranberries to the mix in a moment of inspiration!
It was an oven-baked Cranberry relish/sauce, the recipe couldn't be more simple. You mix the cranberries with some sugar & the addition of frozen cherries and the dried cranberries.....along with a jar of Orange Marmalade. So far, so good.

Then, throw the lot onto a cookie sheet and bake away for 45 minutes. All was well, until the juice started to rise precariously to the edge of the cookie sheet. All I could think about was that sticky mess dripping on my cleaned oven!! The day was saved when I threw in a large pan to catch the mess! Really, the juices got thick and no drips occured! False alarm!

Surprisingly, this little mess worked out. Beautiful in a little jar, served with a lovely piece of Pain Polaine, a slice of goat cheese and topped with this relish. This works just fine for the Holidays. I think it will be great alongside the Christmas Capon or whatever you find in the oven on Christmas Day!
Wish you were here!

Friday, December 02, 2005

A little round loaf

I needed a canapé loaf of Pan de Mie for my Holiday Class next week. I'll be starting the class off with a taste of Foie Gras on a little toast, topped with a spoonful of my Confiture de Vin. I won't demo the Foie or the Bread, but I will be cooking up a batch of Wine Jelly for the ladies!

The recipe I am using is cut in half....I dusted off my round molds (they don't get much use) and started to relax! Taking in the lovely smell of the fresh yeast, shaping my loaves of bread sure beats fighting for a parking place at the already crowded mall! Yes......little old ladies hop out of their cars to guard a parking place, while the husband circles back to the parking spot. Frustrated beauties in stilleto heels shake their fists from their Mercedes SUV.....ahhhhhh, the anger.......I love Christmas! ----Back to my dough!!

I've blogged about Pain de Mie before, so I won't bore you again. To shape this into the little mold, you roll, baguette style, and place into the buttered mold. This is the tricky part, trying to fill the exact amount of dough into the mold to make a perfect little round loaf. Mine are NOT always perfect! Try to fill the mold about 1/3 full. A pro will scale each loaf!

The result, not bad! With the leftover dough I made little rolls sprinkled with cinnamon sugar and topped with a coffee flavored glaze. Fresh dough is never wasted!