The Daring Bakers: Gateau with a twist

This wasn't my most successful challenge to date. I mean, I didn't have huge problems with it, no fallen cakes, no broken buttercream (I got that all out of my system for the Yule Log), no ultra thin glaze. Nothing like that, just not, in my mind, overly successful.

This month's challenge was chosen by the lovely Chris of Mele Cotte, who asked us to make a Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream. Filberts, for those not in the nut know, are another name for hazelnuts, a nut that is still banned from my household for allergy concerns. Chris, who the other day told her readers a way to make a kickin' good cob of corn on the bbq, allowed that we could change our nuts in the gateau, both due to allergies or cost. Good thing too, as hazelnuts right now are not exactly inexpensive. They are the opposite of inexpensive.

So I decided to use pistachios for my nut, both in the cake and in the buttercream. I love their green color, and salty crunch. And I had some on hand, which reduced my shopping needs. Actually, looking back, I think I had everything on hand to make this, except maybe the cake flour that I had recently run out of. I needed to buy some anyways, so I am going to say that I had everything on hand, including the liquor needed for flavoring the syrup, the buttercream, the glaze. The choice of liquor was also optional, first optional to even use, and then optional what kind to use. I went with Grand Marnier to give an orange touch to the pistachios. (You know, when you don't drink alcohol but only use it in baking, that little sample sized bottle of Grand Marnier goes a very long way.)

Sorry about the horrible pictures. I was in a rush, bringing my finished cake to a family gathering , and wanted a few quick shots before we went.

Now normally I would be jumping up and down with glee to have another good layer cake recipe in my repetoire, and one that was grown up, not intended for children. But it is July, and while we are not having a great summer, the one thing that has been consistent is the humidity. We are either shagged down by high humidity or it is raining. Which makes baking a bit of a pain, and buttercream an even bigger pain. Buttercream and humid weather just do not mix well.

And I had a hard time getting myself motivated to make the cake. I needed a push, an excuse to make a 3 layer, 10 inch cake, and people to eat it. If I had had to make it for just the 4 of us, I would have halved the recipe and made a half inch cake instead. A family gathering provided the push I needed, the excuse.

This cake has lots of steps. Make a syrup. Make a praline, then turn it into a paste. Grind nuts with flour, then gradually add them in to a light and airy batter that was made by whipping egg yolks and then folding them into whipped egg whites. Have lots of left over pieces of nuts that would not sift into the batter. Make a buttercream, turn it into a praline buttercream. Whip some whipped cream. Make a glaze, mine being an orange marmalade glaze, instead of apricot. Make a chocolate glaze, pour over cake, decorate cake. Lots of steps. Lots and lots of steps.

End up with a pretty, but lopsided, cake, sprinkled with pistachios and dotted with praline buttercream.

And the result?

Well, I didn't really enjoy it. I don't like semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate, so not liking that was not surprising. I did not taste pistachio praline in my buttercream (but cursed the nuts alot when trying to pipe rosettes on the cake because the tiny pieces of nuts kept plugging up my tips.) The cake itself alternated between nice and moist from the syrup, and just okay. I liked the cake itself, the nuttiness of it, the texture, though it needed the syrup. Oh and I didn't taste any orange anywhere, not from the zest in the cake, or the liquor in any of the components.

My children barely ate their pieces, but as I've said, this is not a child's cake.

The biggest fan of this cake was my father-in-law, who loved it. Loved it so much that I left the remaining half a cake with him, rather than bring it home. It had everything he loves in a cake, nuts, a hint of alcohol, and dark chocolate.

My biggest issue with this cake was actually something other than flavor. Waste. To me, there was too much waste. The praline paste recipe made a good cup or more of paste, but we only needed 1/3 of a cup. And the cake recipe called for 1 1/2 cups of nuts, which were processed with flour and cornstarch and then shifted into the batter. I processed mine fairly well, but still ended up with more than 1/2 cup of nuts that did not sift into the batter. And while pistachios are not nearly as expensive as hazelnuts right now, they are still pricey and it felt very wasteful to have those bits left over.

Being a Daring Baker is not about the final result. It isn't about the recipe itself either. It is about a commitment, to the group, to the rules, and about pushing your boundaries. This cake pushed a few of my boundaries, so I consider it a success, no matter how the final cake came together. Our hostess for this month, Chris, took alot of flak for her choice, but isn't going to take any from me, no matter how I felt about the cake itself. Sure, I didn't like the cake. Is that her fault? No. Would I have liked it better if someone else made it? Probably not. I made the commitment to be a Daring Baker, and a Daring Baker I will continue to be. Thanks, Chris, for this cake, you Daring Baker you!

So bring on August! I am raring to go!

Now go forth and read, read, read all the other Daring Bakers out there! I know there are going to be some great cakes, and I know there are going to be some disasters. Isn't it great how one recipe turns out so many variations? Go find out for yourself....

No TWD right now

I was planning on making some version of it today, but a small child emergency resulted in my making nothing, not even lunch, today.

Well, I suppose I did throw together the nachos we are eating for dinner right now, rather late. But does shredding cheese over chips count as cooking?

Will try my best tomorrow!

Belated Happy Birthday to Me, and my Blog

If you are a regular reader of my blog (and I know I have few of those, not many, but at least one or two readers!), then you probably have the impression of me that I am always late. I tend to be a last minute entrant to most food events, I get my TWD recipe up late in the posting day, or I post about events with a big, "Ooops I thought I had more time to do this, now I'm late, oh oh!" in the post somewhere.

Believe it or not, that is not even close to reality. If I am only 5 minutes early for something, I feel crowded. I get to work early, I get the kids to school early, I get there early to pick them up! Late is not my style.

Except maybe here....

And speaking of late.... It was my birthday recently, and it was a nice day. Sorta. I spent it on my hands and knees, with big black garbage bags beside me, cleaning my children's rooms while they were away. Isn't that how you are supposed to spend your birthday when you have no job to be at and no children to care for?

Not to worry too much, I did treat myself to a small early birthday present about a week before, my lovely new pasta maker! Which also works out as a very nice birthday present for my blog as well, all that lovely pasta we can make together!

Isn't it pretty and shiny?

Bob is my loyal KA mixer, but for my pasta maker, I had my head set on the stainless steel manual kind. And it gives a nice arm work out while putting the pasta through the rollers. Plus it was friendlier on the budget, much friendlier.

Not bad for a first time, wouldn't you say? I wasn't overwhelmed by the past recipe itself (I used the basic pasta from Everyday Pasta), finding it a bit too soft for rolling, but eventually I managed to get it to a good consistency and turned out spaghetti.

Which I turned into this meal, spaghetti with garlic-chili oil and shrimp. My children ignored the shrimp but otherwise gave it two thumbs up. I liked it. The husband did not.

I received one other gift for my birthday, this time from my husband, a bench for my front porch, so I can sit outside in comfort. Isn't it pretty, in a non-pasta maker pretty kind of way? (insert your giggles here)

Resting comfortably on my seat is the closest I came to birthday cake this year, a slice of key lime cheesecake that I made myself from a friends recipe. Actually, cheesecake is a misnomer. It's not cheesecake, it is key lime pie that happens to have a bit of cream cheese in it. You can't taste it, instead getting the gentle zing and freshness of the lime juice and zest. Tasty, but not cheesecake. (And yes, I will post the recipe at the end, cause this was gooood.)

Another year has past, for both myself and my blog as our "birthdates" are only one day apart. I'd like to, once again, make a few changes here, but am so far at a loss on how to go about doing so, though, like Brilynn, I am open to a volunteer "coach" to come help me do what I want.

I'd would also like some feedback from everyone who reads my blog - pop your head in please, leave me a comment, tell me what you'd like to see different here at All Things Edible. It could be anything from a type of food you think I should try making, a suggestion for a Blog Event, a different color scheme (or how to make my blog fit all the way across the window instead of having blank space at the sides, help me do this!) or a culinary adventure suggestion. As we are coming up on our 300th post, now would be a good time to try something fun!

And now, for you culinary enjoyment....

Key Lime Cheesecake
(sorry, no idea of the original source, this was given to me by a friend and I don't know where she found it.)

1 graham cracker crust
1 envelope unflavoured gelatin (7g)
1/2 cup lime juice
1 cup sugar
2 eggs beaten
2 3oz packages cream cheese softened (we don't get cream cheese that size here so I measured it out on a scale)
1/4 cup butter softened
1 cup whipping cream
1 1/2 tsp grated lime peel
lime slices
whipping cream for top

In small saucepan, soften gelatin in lime juice for 5 min. Blend in
sugar and eggs. Over medium heat, bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat.
Boil gently for 3 minutes stirring constantly. In small bowl combine
cream cheese & butter. Beat well. Pour in hot lime juice mixture. Beat
until smooth and well blended. Refrigerate until cool (about 45 min)
stirring occasionally. In medium bowl beat 1 cup whipping cream until
stiff peaks form. Fold into cooled lime juice mixture & lime peel. Spoon
into cooled pie crust. Refrigerate until firm...about 2 hours. Garnish
with whipped cream and lime slices. Store in refrigerator.

A tribute, through food, for Sher

By now, you probably know that my fellow Daring Baker, Sher, of What Did You Eat, passed away last weekend of a sudden heart attack. There are some wonderfully moving tributes out there to Sher, by people who knew her well, such as Glenna, Kalyn and Mary.

How do you say goodbye to someone you don't really know?

As I mentioned, Sher was a fellow Daring Baker and had been for quite awhile. While I hadn't had much occasion to exchange emails with her, I did regularly exchange comments on our blogs, most especially on Daring Baker Day. Her DB posts always brought a chuckle to me. And her blog was also a great place to go when looking for inspiration for pasta, as she was a regular contributor to Presto Pasta Night, as well as Weekend Herb Blogging.

In tribute to Sher, bloggers around the world have been asked to go visit What do you Eat? and find a recipe of Sher's to make and blog about. What a great way for food bloggers to say, "I'm thinking of you, and you've had an impact on me."

For my choice, I decided to go with this light couscous salad, made last year by Sher for Kalyn's Weekend Herb Blogging. The combination of flavors sounded like they would go very well together, and though I normally wouldn't make a big couscous salad for my family (my being the only person who would eat it), timing worked out well that I had company whom I could share this refreshing salad with. That's my mother's spoon in the picture, threatening to steal the feta.

The only change I made to this recipe was to substitute cilantro for the basil. I have basil in my garden bed, finally planted last week, but did not wish to raid it just yet, whereas I happened to have a handful of cilantro on hand. I love cilantro and would not have objected to a larger handful going into the salad, which I will do next time I make it. I will be making this again, not just to remember Sher, but also because it was wonderfully flavorful and a great light lunch. I won't hesitate to make this for just myself to eat for lunch over several days.

Yes, it is that good.

Thank you, Sher, for being a small part of my life, in your pictures, in your food. I regret that we could not have known each other better.

Zucchini, Tomato, And Basil Couscous Salad

From Sher, What Did You Eat?

1 cup couscous
2 cups water
1/2 tsp. salt
pinch freshly ground black pepper
about 1/2 cup chopped fresh sweet basil (or other herb of your choice)
about 1/2 cup sliced green scallions
1 zucchini, cut in half lengthwise and then sliced thinly
2 large tomatoes chopped rather fine
1/3 cup chopped yellow or red bell pepper
3/4 or 1 cup crumbled feta cheese
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
3 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Note: You can add vegetables of your choice. Cucumbers are very good too, or olives, and pine nuts

1. Bring water to boil, along with salt and pepper. Add the coucous, stir and cover. Remove from heat and let sit for about 5 minutes. Fluff the couscous with a fork before you add it to the salad. You may need to gently fluff it with your fingers.

2. Put the couscous that has been fluffed into a large bowl and add the lemon juice and oil. Add the veggies, basil, and feta cheese. Toss well and serve immediately if you wish. But, it tastes better if it sits for at least an hour. It tastes great served the next day.

Serves 4-6

TWD: Cherry Rhubarb Cobbler from last year

It's Tuesday!

And despite how it looks, I did not make the recipe this week. Actually, I did make it, but I made it last July. No worries, I didn't wait until now to eat it.

So despite the plethora of rhubarb in my garden (which anyone who wants some, please help yourself,) I did not jump all over an opportunity to use some of it up. Cherries are still quite expensive, and frankly, I'd rather eat them plain than put them into something. There aren't alot of fruits that I prefer that way, but cherries is one of them.

Now I have to admit, when it was announced that Amanda of Like Sprinkles on a Cupcake had chosen the cherry rhubarb cobbler as her choice for this week, I didn't immediately decide not to make it. I had to actually go into my book and look at the recipe before I realized it was something I had made before. Then I had to go looking through my picture archives to confirm it. The last step involved going through my blog archives and finding a post about it. Yup, I've made it before, there are pictures, and there is a post about it. This one here. (Yes, my little helper does look very cute in his hat, doesn't he?)

So the reason the recipe didn't jump right out at me was because I didn't really like it. Go figure, a Dorie recipe that doesn't involve peanut butter that I don't like. How did that happen?

In the end, I didn't remake the recipe this week. Aside from the fact that there were only two of us, and other dessert items that we were not eating very quickly, I could not bring myself to remake a recipe, using up expensive, yummy cherries, in something I just did not like.

Sorry Amanda!

But don't let my iffiness of the recipe stop you from hitting lots of other Doranistas and reading their posts. I will be doing the same over the next few days.

I've been tagged and awarded!

What a nice way to start your day, with an award from a fellow food blogger, my new friend Megan, whose blog My Baking Adventures, is on my daily read list (along with her kids blog, Cooking with the Kids.) No cash prizes, or cars, with this award, just recognition, which is a good thing!

Thanks muchly Megan!

A few rules with this ward:

*Put the logo on your blog.
*Add a link to the person who awarded you.
*Nominate at least seven other blogs.
*Add links to those blogs on your blog.
*Leave a message for your nominee on their blogs.

I always have a hard time nominating people for these things, but this award seems to be fairly new, so I have some long time friends I can nominate for this.

Mary The Sour Dough

Ivonne Cream Puffs in Venice

Lis La Mia Cucina

BC - Beans and Caviar

Jasmine Confessions of a Cardamom Addict

Peabody Culinary Concoctions by Peabody

Kelly Sass and Veracity

Helen - Tartelette

Notice a theme going here? These are all fellow Daring Bakers! And blogs I read whenever they show up on my blog reader, right away. All wonderful ladies whom I hope to have a chance to get together with for a big food and gab fest. What could be better than that?

Now to the tag....

Megan actually did this as well, tagged me with 6 Random Things you really want to know about me. This might be harder to pass along, though I might go with some of the same people I tagged with my award.

1. I've just spent a week with no children. Did I take advantage of this and enjoy a spa like week, sleeping in every day and living the carefree life? No, I cleaned my oven, my pantry, my front closet, both my children's rooms, did some touch up painting and other mundane tasks. Sure, my house is cleaner, but did I waste my week?

2. I am the lead singer of our family band on Rock Band for the wii. I don't sing too horribly, though no one will ever offer me a singing contract, but I seem to be able to match the tones well. And I am determined that I WILL survive singing Boston's Foreplay/Long Time on expert!

3. I have not yet started my Daring Baker's challenge for this month. Which is very late for me. I plan to start, and finish it, today. Which means I better check my ingredients and see if I need to go shopping.

4. Last night I swam 1200 meters during swimming, then came home and made a banana milkshake.

5. Last week I had a very quiet birthday, with no cake, no kids and no party. I did get crawfish though. According to the wii fit, I am 26, but really, I just turned 36. As fun as the wii fit is, sometimes it really does not know what it is talking about (like telling me I gained over 20 pounds in less than 36 hours? Or once telling me I'd gained 9 pounds in less than 8 hours. Sheesh!)

You know, coming up with 6 random things is harder than it looks!

6. Even though I will do a blog meme, and pass along awards, I rarely do email fwds, especially the ones that ask you to answer questions about yourself and then forward to so many people before your luck will run out. Once in awhile a really good joke comes along and I will forward it, but mostly I don't.

Hmmm now who to tag....

So double tagging for BC, and for Kelly, and for Lis, and for Jasmine, but I think I will have to let it go at that. Just about everyone else on that list is super, super busy right now with things (and I will do NOTHING to hinder the Tartelette cookbook, so no meme's for Helen!)

Now to go check my recipe and see what I need.

Have a good day everyone!

TWD: Still need to take a picture


Yes, I'm late. No, I didn't forget or not make the recipe. It is actually sitting in my fridge right now, just waiting for me to find the time to take a picture.

Last couple of days have been very busy. Soccer tournament, Taekwon-do picnic, driving to my mothers to drop off my children then coming back, cleaning, cleaning and more cleaning. And more cleaning to come. With some furniture moving in between.

When it was announced that Melissa of Its Melissa's Kitchen had chosen chocolate pudding, I thought my kids were going to be in heaven. They love pudding, with chocolate being their favorite. And it is something I don't make often, or buy for their lunch boxes often. But with this recipe, I may have to make it for the for school lunches as it is simple and comes together quickly. If you are organized, which I was not, but it still came together nicely.

Because of the schedule last week, I actually did not get a chance to make this before the kids went away. So no chocolate pudding for them. I considered not doing it but that just wasn't right. Next I thought I would just make half a recipe, but how do you cut an egg in half? (I know, beat it then measure out half.) In the end I made the entire recipe, but changed it.

I made white chocolate pudding instead.

Yes, I know white chocolate isn't "real" chocolate. I like it in pudding, though, and that's what I wanted to use.

Obviously I omitted the cocoa powder. I increased the melted chocolate from 5oz to 7 oz, to make up the difference in the lack of cocoa, but otherwise left the rest of the recipe alone. It worked, the pudding is smooth and creamy and not overly sweet, despite leaving in the same amount of sugar.

And maybe sometime today I will get a picture taken of it and put it up here.

For now, though, I am going out to lunch with a friend and need to get my butt in gear or I will be late, late, late!

This week is Cherry Rhubarb Cobbler, which I'm pretty sure I made before (and no one liked.) Going to have to see what I can do about that one. Especially as the cherries I saw yesterday were $8.99 a pound!

Well here you go, one picture. It's pudding. White pudding. With the skin. Cause I wanted it that way and I am the only person who is going to eat it.

And for everyone who is curious, I went here with my friend for lunch. It was yummy (I had the Japchae lunch box, Korean Fried Noodles) and very pretty as well, though I didn't bring a camera to take pictures. Oh well!

Blueberry pie, with children

On the hottest day we've had so far this year, I made pie with two children.

Yes, it was messy. But the pie had to be made, today being the day we post about our Double Crusted Blueberry Pies, chosen by Amy of South in your Mouth.

Making pies with kids is similar to playing playdough with them. Give them a chunk of dough, a roller and some cutters and let them go free. Then expect to clean up after them and find bits and pieces of dough in odd places afterwards.

I'm sure both my children would like to see their pies up on the blog, but only one of them gets to. My little sous chef has already eaten his. This belongs to his oldest brother.
I went with mini pies partially to make it easier to work with the children, but also because mini pies have a higher ratio of crust to filling than a big pie. And that works for me. Beside's, they are so cute!

I used to make pies with my grandmother, so it was only fitting that I made pies with my own children. Hopefully they will one day remember that they made pies with me. And remember how good they were.

The only other change I made to this recipe, other than size, was to replace the dry bread crumbs in the bottom of the pie. I didn't have any unseasoned bread crumbs so instead I put my 5 year old to work crushing up mini ice cream cones and used them instead. In half of them. I forgot in the other pies and they don't seem to have suffered from it.

Great choice for this week, when blueberries are aplenty, even if it is too hot to have the oven on.

Next week is chocolate pudding, which will likely send my children into giggles.

Don't forget to check out the other TWD'ers and their blueberry pies. You can find a list of us here.

Something to keep you busy for now

Yes, I know it is Tuesdays With Dorie Day, for Double Crusted Blueberry Pie. It's coming. The dough is chilling in the fridge with plans to make pie this afternoon with my oldest son. It is supposed to thunderstorm this afternoon, and rain, rain, rain, so we needed a plan.

But in the meantime, here are some recipes to keep you busy, maybe even give you dinner. Sorry about the picture, I didn't notice that big bright spot when taking the picture and it is too late to go back and retake it (since it has been eaten already.) On the menu, Tilapia fingers with hot cheese dip and veggies.

Tilapia Fingers (everything is approximate for this)

3 good sized fillets, cut into 4 "fingers" each
1 cup flour
2 eggs, beaten with 1 tablespoon of water
2 cups crushed corn flake cereal
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper
vegetable oil for frying

Set up a breading station, with the flour, mixed with the chili powder in one bowl, the egg and water in one bowl, and the corn flakes mixed with the cheese, salt and pepper in the last bowl.

Heat a high sides pan to medium high with the oil in it. You want enough to cover the bottom of the pan, but not too high.

Dip the tilapia fingers, one at a time, in the flour, shaking loose any excess, before dipping into the egg and then finally the seasoned cereal mix. Carefully place the finger in the hot oil and brown on all sides before removing to a paper lined plate. Repeat until all the fingers are done.

Hot Cheese Dip
makes enough for 6 individual portions

1 250g tub of light cream cheese
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (I used medium cheddar)
salt and pepper to taste
3 tablespoons chives, snipped
3 spring onions, both the green and the white, chopped

An assortment of cut veggies and good bread.

Mix everything together in a large bowl. Scoop the mixture into six individual oven safe dishes. Bake at 400F for 10-15 minutes or until golden and bubbly.

Carefully place one ramekin on each plate with an assortment of the veggies, chunks of bread, and a few Tilapia fingers (which can also be dipped in the cheese, if you want.)

Odds and Ends

No Tuesday with Dorie for me this week, the Cheddar Apple Scones, chosen by Karina. Sorry Karina! Sometimes life just gets in the way of baking. And it has been one of those weeks.

Here are some examples of why it has been one of those weeks....

Pretty, isn't it? Except that it is tempered glass, the top of by patio table. And it shattered on me while I was trying to put the umbrella in it so we could sit outside in the shade on Canada Day.

Fortunately for me, the glass did not cut my feet and was reasonably easy to pick up with the help of my neighbors shop vac and my father-in-law. There was alot of little pieces, but despite our persistence, I'm sure we missed something.

The savory filling for the second half of my danish braid, chicken with broccoli, yellow peppers, red onion, cheddar cheese and a few spoonfuls of mayonnaise. I made way too much filling, enough for 2 large braids, but that's okay because the filling is very good with just a spoon or wrapped up in a buttery leaf of Boston lettuce for lunch.

I took 26 pictures of this piece of the braid and this is the best from that batch, which I think is terrible. The braid was good, but the filling was even better. I think the pastry would have worked better without the orange and cardamom. Next time.

My friend, Bam Bam's Mom, reminded me that butter tarts are also a Canadian dessert, which I had had a mind block on when coming up with my dessert for SHF: Mmmm Canada. Her reminder sent me to the kitchen to throw together a batch. Fortunately I had a batch of pie dough in the fridge, which made these a very quick thing to make, though I had to scrounge for raisins as my 5 year old had eaten all of ours for school snacks.

To cap off my crazy week, I give you this picture. I spent a good hour this morning scrubbing my fridge out. I wiped, I disinfected, I placed things nicely back inside. Then a child came along for some milk.....

One last thing - a huge FELICITATION!!! to my friend and fellow Daring Baker, Tartelette, on her upcoming cookbook! She has been teaching me how to make things for awhile now, and has always been generous with her help and baking secrets! I can't wait to see what her book offers.

For everyone else, I call dips on the Baking With Tartelette Blog Event!