Archive for Miscellany

DB April – Maple Mousse in a Bacon Container

I realize that many of you think this is a crime punishable by law but.. I don’t really love bacon.

I like bacon, yes. I think it smells fantastic. Bacon grease is an excellent way to add flavor to pretty much anything. However, when it comes to breakfast I prefer hearty, fatty sausage to bacon. I find that my perfectly cooked bacon is not always how others make it and I’m also terrible at making bacon the way I want it. In the end, it often amounts to a lot of grease with not-super-awesome texture. I’m usually left wanting.

So when I found out that this month’s Daring Bakers challenge was a maple mousse served in bacon cups I was a little underwhelmed. I’m typically excited upon finding out the challenge and immediately start thinking about when I can make it and who I can serve it to. This time, I waited until the very last minute before leaving for China and just made a single one for myself in case it wasn’t fit for sharing.

I was so wrong. After bite numero uno, I started kicking myself for not making more. Baking the bacon in the oven for exactly 27 minutes yielded a perfectly crisp complement to the smooth and slightly sweet maple mousse. The combination together is indescribably good. I licked my plate afterwards and I’m not afraid to say it. This was a winner.

The April 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Evelyne of the blog Cheap Ethnic Eatz. Evelyne chose to challenge everyone to make a maple mousse in an edible container. Prizes are being awarded to the most creative edible container and filling, so vote on your favorite from April 27th to May 27th at http://thedaringkitchen.com!

Egg Custard

It’s Sunday.

To different people, Sundays mean different things. To some it’s a day of relaxation, some prepare for the busy week ahead, some celebrate their religions, and so on and so forth.

My family?

We eat.

We’re not foodies by any means but I was always raised to love food and to love to eat it. My shining example of this is how we used to drive to Newport, Rhode Island at least once a summer (more if we had out-of-town/country guests or if we were feeling particularly gluttonous that year) to eat lobster. We’d pile up into our van in the early morning and drive the 4 hours to the wharf where we’d pick up some freshly caught and freshly steamed baby lobsters (they’re much sweeter and more tender than their larger friends). From there we’d drive off to Brenton Point State Park where we’d unload the car, sit at a picnic table, and eat our succulent lobsters while watching all the kites being flown overhead.

Then, we’d pack it all up and drive the 4 hours home on the same day. Yup. That’s how my family rolls.

A more local tradition we enjoy is to have dim sum on Sunday afternoons following church services. If you’ve never been to Chinese dim sum, it’s basically carts full of little bites of food that roam around the room that allow you to pick the hot plates at your leisure. It’s almost their form of brunch. You get served right away (provided you like what’s on the carts at the time) and can get full fast ordering plate after plate before you even realize you’re full to the brim.

(We don’t usually eat dinner after this type of gorging.)

One of our favorite carts is the dessert cart which always holds these little babies, the egg custards. After seeing this recipe, I knew I had to try it out. The recipe calls for puff pastry to make the shells which isn’t conventional (they don’t use puff pastry in China) but was a good substitute for a homemade version. The custard itself will remind anyone of the sought after dim sum treat with its creamy and rich texture. These are easy to make in very little time so if you’re still looking for something special for Valentine’s Day I definitely recommend trying these out!

This Week I Ate..

  • Tiny Urban Kitchen’s Taiwanese Meat Sauce over Rice. I used half normal and half dark soy sauce and after it began to simmer I realized that I had accidentally doubled the amount of pork. No difference though! Also, the sauce is NOT meant for consumption. It’s quite salty — Dilute with water as needed. Other than that though it was delicious and reminded my Taiwanese Boy of a dish his mom makes. (Score!) Over rice, this is an easy dinner to pull together.
  • Pizza with caramelized yellow and red onions, mozzarella, prosciutto, and a light sprinkling of gorgonzola. My 93-year-old grandmother loved this! She kept calling the prosciutto “bacon” but whatever. As long as it’s good, does it matter what it’s called?
  • Annie’s Eats Ginger Beef Stir Fry. The sauce was delicious but my beef came out overly tough and the broccoli didn’t soften up as much as I would like. In the future I’d slice the steak much thinner and maybe steam the broccoli a little beforehand. With some adjustments this could be a new weeknight staple.

Egg Custard
adapted from Tiny Urban Kitchen

Makes 10.

Ingredients

  • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry, defrosted
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 c milk
  • 1/3 c granulated sugar
  • yellow food coloring (optional)

Instructions
Preheat oven to 400F.

For shells, Cut out 3-inch rounds of puff pastry. Press rounds into a muffin tin, shaping them like little tarts. Bake for 10 minutes or until slightly browned.

For custard, Lightly beat eggs until yolks and whites are well combined. Try not to beat too much air into them. Set aside. Heat milk and sugar in a saucepan until hot but not boiling and the sugar is mostly, if not completely, dissolved. Remove pan from heat. While stirring constantly, add the beaten eggs in a slow stream. Strain mixture into a clean bowl (or measuring cup to save a step). Allow to cool for several minutes. Add food coloring if using (to achieve more of the typical color, otherwise custards will be pale yellow).

Once shells are baked, decrease oven to 350F and poke holes in the shells to allow for filling. Fill with custard. Bake for 15 minutes or until set.

What’s your favorite dim sum treat?

Apple Crisp + Review

The quest for America.

The quest to land on the moon.

The quest for a map of the human genome.

The quest for the cure for AIDS.

The quest for the perfect apple.

One (and only one) of these things concerned me this weekend.

I went apple picking! (Incidentally, do you enjoy these pictures of yours truly? Do they add to the experience? Or no? I appreciate the feedback.)

It was a gorgeous day in the TriState area so Boy and I took a little trip down to an orchard for some afternoon fun in the sun with some apples.

And I’m sure we’re not the only people who suffer from this problem but we really got into the quest for the perfect looking apple and would pick, and pick, and pick to our heart’s content until the bags got a little too heavy for even Boy to carry. (My heart soared when he grabbed my bag early on in the picking. That meant one hand for pictures and one for apples! Yay!) Then we realized that the two of us had to eat two entire bags of apples. Oh goodness. We picked Granny Smith, Winesap, Fuji, and Empire apples and I couldn’t wait to get started on some fall baking!

I had gone apple picking a few years ago with different friends from school and afterwards held a get-together at my place. I spent the afternoon baking an apple pie and an apple crisp and I think Boy started his crush on me when he bit into that crisp. He couldn’t get enough!

So this year when we finally got around to doing it ourselves, I knew it was the first thing I had to make.

It also nicely coincided with the arrival of my new apple peeler from cookware.com!

Take a look at this little beauty:

Oh baby. I am on a roll with this thing! I was peeling, coring, and slicing apples like no one’s business. It definitely makes the process go a lot faster and it’s actually kinda fun to use! You just crank the apple through the device and it takes care of the rest. All you have to do at the end is make a cut down the middle of the slices to separate them and you’re good to go. Perfect for making pies, crisps, or even just to slice an apple for a snack. I also loved the suction bottom so the device wasn’t slipping and sliding all over the place. You can use it for potatoes etc too. I’m looking forward to trying that out! I highly highly recommend this product. It’s my apples’ new best friend.

 

So, after processing all my apples in under 5 minutes, I got to work on my favorite crisp recipe. Ina Garten is one of my favorite Food Network hosts. Her recipes never cease to impress and they’re often quite simple with perhaps a little twist for an extra oomph. The oomph in this case is the addition of citrus. The result is a wonderful tang to the crisp that’s perfectly offset by the crumbly topping which also has its own oomph in the form of kosher salt though I’m sure sea salt would be extra fabulous!

Apple Crisp
adapted from Ina Garten

Makes one 9″ x 14″ baking dish’s worth of crisp.

Ingredients

For filling:

  • 5 lb baking apples, peeled, cored & sliced (I used Winesaps & Granny Smiths in about equal proportions)
  • 1/2 c granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • zest of one orange
  • zest of one lemon
  • 2 tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

For topping:

  • 1 1/2 c flour
  • 3/4 c granulated sugar
  • 3/4 c light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 c oatmeal
  • heaping 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 lb (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold and diced

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 and grease a 9″ x 14″ baking dish.

For filling, Toss apples in the remainder of the filling ingredients. Pour into baking dish.

For topping, pour all topping ingredients into a stand mixer and, using the paddle attachment, beat until the butter is pea-sized and the mixture is somewhat uniform. Alternatively, use a pastry cutter or two butter knives running in opposite directions (which is what I did) until the same endpoint is reached. Scatter over apples in the baking dish.

Bake on top of a foil-lined baking sheet in case of spill for 1 hour or until brown and bubbly.

Heaven.

What are you making with your fall apples?

Brown Butter Rice Krispie Treats

As promised, I’m back with a delicious (and quick) recipe that’s perfect for back-to-school, fall, end-of-summer, and all days that end in “y.”

I’m still on my rotation that’s slowly sucking the life out of me but there’s only a week left so I think I can do it.

Given the time constraints, I haven’t been in the kitchen much (also, living next door to Whole Foods is pretty gosh darn convenient) but I have made these treats.

Simple and amazingly delicious, these took ten minutes to put together.

Deb’s awesome.

Also, thanks everyone for your cake suggestions! I’m still deliberating but I’ve narrowed it down to a select few and will be very excited to show you what I end up with!

And now.. naptime.

Brown Butter Rice Krispie Treats
adapted from smitten kitchen

I got 25 little snacks out of this.

Ingredients
1 stick unsalted butter
10 oz bag marshmallows
heaping 1/4 tsp coarse sea salt
6 c Rice Krispies cereal

Instructions
Grease an 8-inch square cake pan with butter or non-stick spray.

In a large pot, melt butter over medium-low heat and brown until it smells nutty. The brown bits are welcome so don’t be alarmed when they appear. Do NOT take your eyes off the butter because it can burn really quickly. As soon as the butter browns, turn off the heat and add in the marshmallows. The heat of the butter should melt them but if not, you can turn the heat back on for a bit. Once melted, take off the stove and stir in the salt and cereal.

Spread quickly into the pan and let cool! It’s that easy!

Make these!

Daring Bakers – August

Hi friends!

Miss me?

I know. I’ve missed you too.

Funny how the last post I put up was this wonderful “welcome back from traveling everywhere” post and then I went missing for over a week.

My greatest apologies.

It’s no real excuse but I’ve been studying for my board exam (which I took yesterday YAYYYYYY!!) and applying to residency which goes out September 1 and then I’ll be back!!

Except not.

Because I’m spending the month of September back in NYC at another hospital doing another rotation that will most likely kick my butt.

Over the past couple of weeks though I’ve stocked up on my share of baking and am very excited to share it all with you!

First things first though, I am a day late in posting the Daring Bakers challenge for August. And let me tell you, it was a bit of a challenge!

BUT it made me finally buy an ice cream maker which Boy and I are ecstatic about. We buy ice cream all the time and this way we can come up with our own new flavors to try! So exciting.

My first foray into ice cream was a bit of a flop. I don’t think I cooked the custard long enough and instead of freezing into a soft ice cream, we had ice cream soup. Delicious ice cream soup, but still. Ice cream soup. My second try came out much better and I’m quite proud. This was tons and tons of fun.

Thanks to Elissa for hosting this month’s Daring Bakers challenge!!

Brown Butter Pound Cake Ice Cream Petit Fours

Check Elissa’s blog 17 and Baking for the recipe. Also, congratulations to her on picking up and going to college all the way in Boston when her wonderful parents are in Seattle. Good luck, Elissa!

The August 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Elissa of 17 and Baking. For the first time, The Daring Bakers partnered with Sugar High Fridays for a co-event and Elissa was the gracious hostess of both. Using the theme of beurre noisette, or browned butter, Elissa chose to challenge Daring Bakers to make a pound cake to be used in either a Baked Alaska or in Ice Cream Petit Fours. The sources for Elissa’s challenge were Gourmet magazine and David Lebovitz’s “The Perfect Scoop”.

I made the brown butter pound cake verbatim. Oh my word brown butter is amazing! The pound cake was not as dense as I had hoped it would be but the flavor of the brown butter really shined and made it delicious regardless. For the ice cream, I added 3/4 tsp of mint extract to the mixture and when it was nearly done churning, added in a few handfuls of chocolate chips to make Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream! If you do this, however, I recommend cutting down on the vanilla and chopping up your chips unless they’re minis.

Excited to see what’s in store for me next month!

I’ll be back later this week after my application’s submitted for some cupcake action. Stay tuned!


ps. I also learned this month that I can’t dip things in chocolate for beans. Any tips??

– Sharlene

Candied Nuts – Repost

For all your entertaining needs, these nuts are seriously amazing. I ate the entire batch myself and do not regret it at all. I do regret, however, not having made them since. I’ll have to rectify that when I return. Originally posted on April 7, 2010.

I don’t like nuts.

Okay. That’s a lie.

I don’t usually like nuts.

If given the choice between a baked good with nuts or.. nothing, I’d go dessert-less. Even if I was craving chocolate. I just don’t like the crunch in my baked goods.

Sure, I can scarf down a bowl of cashews with the best of them. (By the way, my dad’s cashews and toasted/roasted/who-knows-what-he-does garlic? Wowza.) But other than cashews, I don’t really eat nuts.

Oh I also pad thai, including the nuts if they are present. I basically lick the bowl clean. YUM!

Anyway. Yeah. Not so much with the nuts.

But me and these nuts? We’re best friends.

How did that happen?!

Well if you really want the whole story read the whole thing. For the abridged version, only read what is in the brackets below (I stole this method from the missals in church. I hope that’s okay.)

I originally wanted to make this poppy seed lemon cake. I’ve been staring at it since Deb posted it in January. Doesn’t it look divine? Then with the springtime weather and my lemon/orange/all-things-that-smell-like-cleaning-products kick, I had to, HAD TO make it. And Deb gave suggestions for what to do with the 8 egg whites I’d have left over! Win! Because I didn’t really feel like making an angel food cake. It’s never really been my thing. Also, two cakes? For one person? That just seems overboard. So I looked over the recipes and settled on three, THREE uses for my to-be-yolkless egg whites including these here nuts.

One problem.

The sole bundt pan within my apartment was filled with a sour cream coffee cake my roommate had made for work last week.

*shakes fist and glares at cake*

What was I to do? It’s her bundt pan in the first place. (Why the heck don’t I own one?!) So, alas, no poppy seed lemon cake was to be made that day. I went grocery shopping for the week and didn’t buy poppy seeds or lemons Okay I bought lemons. I’m obsessed. But no poppy seeds! No hazelnut brown butter cake. No amaretti cookies. No nuts.

Nuts. (Get it?)

But when I got home from the grocery store and finished making dinner I just didn’t feel right. I had to bake something. But what? I looked around for the usual suspects. Chocolate chips? For cookies, muffins, or brownies even? Plain sugar cookies then? Maybe something with the lemons you bought for no predetermined purpose? Pecans? PECANS?! I HAVE PECANS?! I saw a recipe for pecans! Pecans I will make. Pecans I will shake. Pecans I will bake.

And so I did.

And now we’re best friends. One, because they gave me something to bake when I thought all hope was lost. And two, because they literally haven’t left my side since I made them. I carry them in baggies with me. (What? I needs snacks!)

[Abridged: The whole story was kind of pointless. These nuts are yum.]

Sugar-and-Spice Candied Nuts
Adapted from smitten kitchen, originally from Elizabeth Karmel of Hill Country

Ingredients
1/3 c dark brown sugar
2/3 c granulated sugar
1 heaping tsp kosher salt
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 lb walnut or pecan halves or whole peeled hazelnuts [I used pecans. Heaven.]
1 egg white, room temperature
1 tbsp water

Instructions
Preheat oven to 300F.

Sift together sugars, salt, cayenne, and cinnamon and mix, making sure there are no lumps; set aside. Beat egg white and water until frothy but not stiff. Add nuts, and stir to coat evenly. Toss nuts with sugar mixture until evenly coated. Spread sugared nuts in a single layer on a cookie sheet fitted with parchment paper. Bake for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Remove from oven, and separate nuts as they cool. When completely cool, pour the nuts into a bowl, breaking up any that stick together. [Or keep them in chunks for one-handed munching if, say, you’re using a mouse with the other hand.]

Addictive.

– Sharlene

DB – Chocolate Pavlova

More horizon expanding coming your way. Watch out now!

Firstly, I was pleasantly surprised to find out on Friday that I’m a finalist in Cupcake Hero as the cupcake chosen by the host to go up against the cupcake with the most votes. Thank you all for your support and I hope I win but I’m already on top of the world by being chosen! I hope the flavor of the cupcakes comes through when Dorothy makes them! I’m definitely encouraged.

Moving on to other good news.

I finished my ACLS course today and am now certified to save lives. Yay!

Also..

I’m going to Vegas in a couple days. VEGAS! YIP YIP!

Just booked it a couple days ago. I know. Super last minute. At the end of my third year I managed to cease functioning and neglected to plan a vacation in a timely fashion which led to this last minute-ness. But it works out because we got a really great deal.. and will be staying here for 3 nights. Oh yeah.

I don’t really like gambling which would seem like the logical thing to do in Vegas. (But Vegas has other things to offer. Like this show. Which I’m seeing. Happy happy joy joy!) To me, it’s basically signing up to lose money and maybe some people have a good time doing just that but I don’t. Especially since I currently make no money and am hundreds of thousands of dollars in education-induced debt. I don’t mind watching other people gamble though. And getting some free drinks on the floor.

When it comes to baking though I’m learning to be more of a gambler. This past week has been a huge growing experience. I’ve taken some risks and it’s been a complete success! I entered my first Cupcake Hero, submitted to Regional Recipes, and now am presenting my first Daring Bakers challenge. It’s been so great pushing myself to try new things and be creative at the same time. Sure I had to make a couple things more than once but, in the end, things were delicious and looked decent enough. I’m a baker in progress and loving the journey. Corny, I know, but I’m basically on top of the world right now and I tend to get sappy when I’m happy.

Shoot me.

This challenge wasn’t too difficult. I did have to re-do the pavlova because I didn’t bake the first one long enough but it tasted great both times so I didn’t exactly mind making a second batch. And (I’m typing it out loud so I stick to it) although I followed the recipe verbatim this month because I was shivering in my booties, next month I plan on mixing it up and putting my own spin on things. Yeahhhh gambling!

The June 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Dawn of Doable and Delicious. Dawn challenged the Daring Bakers’ to make Chocolate Pavlovas and Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse. The challenge recipe is based on a recipe from the book Chocolate Epiphany by Francois Payard.

Chocolate Pavlova with Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse
a Daring Bakers challenge by Doable and Delicious

Chocolate Pavlova
3 large egg whites
1/2 c plus 1 tbsp white granulated sugar
1/4 c confectioner’s (icing) sugar
1/3 c cocoa powder

Instructions
Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 200F. Line two baking sheets with silpat or parchment and set aside.

In a mixing bowl, whip egg whites until soft peaks form. Increase speed to high and gradually add granulated sugar 1 tbsp at a time until stiff peaks form. Sift the confectioner’s sugar and cocoa powder over the egg whites and fold it together. This will take a little bit but be patient, young grasshopper.

Fill a pastry bag with the meringue and pipe into shapes or just free-form it.

Bake for 2-3 hours until the meringues become dry and crisp. Cool and store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse
1 1/2 c heavy cream
zest of 1 average sized lemon
9 oz 72% chocolate, chopped
1 2/3 c mascarpone
pinch of nutmeg
2 tbsp orange juice

Instructions
Heat 1/2 cup of the heavy cream and the lemon zest in a saucepan over medium high heat. Once warm, add the chocolate and whisk until melted and smooth. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and let sit at room temperature until cool.

Place the mascarpone, the rest of the cream and nutmeg in a bowl. Whip on low for a minute until the mascarpone is loose. Add the orange juice and whip on medium speed until it holds soft peaks. (DO NOT OVERBEAT AS THE MASCARPONE WILL BREAK.)

Mix about 1/4 of the mascarpone mixture into the chocolate to lighten. Fold in the remaining mascarpone until well incorporated.

Mascarpone Cream
1 c whole milk
1 1/2 c heavy cream, divided
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
6 large egg yolks
6 tbsp sugar
1/2 c mascarpone

Instructions
Whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until the mixture turns pale yellow.

Combine the milk, cream and vanilla in a saucepan over medium high heat, bringing the mixture to a boil. Take off the heat. Pour about 1/2 cup of the hot liquid into the yolk mixture, whisking constantly to prevent scrambling the eggs. Pour the yolk mixture into the pan with the remaining cream mixture and put the heat back on medium. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon until the mixture thickens enough to lightly coat the back of a wooden spoon. DO NOT OVERCOOK.

Remove the mixture from the heat and strain it through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl. Slowly whisk the mascarpone into the anglaise and let the mixture cool at least 2 hours in the refrigerator or overnight.

Put the cream in a bowl and beat with electric mixer until very soft peaks are formed. Fold the cream into the mascarpone mixture.

Assembly:
Pipe the mousse onto the pavlovas and drizzle with the mascarpone cream over the top. Dust with confectioner’s sugar and fresh fruit if desired (I topped mine with mango.)

– Sharlene

Cottage Cheese Pufflets

Giveaway from Whisk for a KitchenAid hand mixer and cookbook set! Yay!

So that’s it. Third year’s over. Simultaneously, my head just said both “already?” and “took long enough.” Does that every happen to you?

It was the first year of the rest of my clinical life. It was my first real exposure to the inner workings of a hospital. To the fine balance between the relationships between patients, doctors, nurses, therapists of all sorts, and social workers that ultimately determines outcomes, to the healthcare pitfalls in America. It was also my first chance to take something I had read about for years and apply my knowledge. To listen to a heart and hear a murmur and know deep within me that I actually hear it instead of just nodding along to an attending’s suggestion that one may be present. To spend time with a patient, figure out what’s going on, make suggestions to get to the bottom of it, treat, and see results. To feel as sense of responsibility for patients and in their care.

And now, at the end of a full year of surgery, internal medicine, pediatrics, ob/gyn, psychiatry, and family practice, I feel learned, matured, and TIRED.

VERY tired.

We have two weeks between third and fourth year, one of which is filled with classes at school but no required studying and one full week free. I’m ecstatic.

First order of business: Party. Check. Had one last night, made a very quick version of what ended up tasting like strawberry toaster strudel (read: puff pastry layered with strawberries, sweet cream made of cream cheese, whipped cream, and condensed milk, and a strawberry syrup of sugar, water, strawberry gelatin, and perhaps a splash of vanilla).

Second order of business: Bake. Check. Made these cottage cheese pockets of goodness. ‘Twas one of the best ideas I’ve ever had. Even though I had to wait a night and it was a two-part event.

Third order of business: Eat. Between me and Boy, we ate the entire (half) batch in an evening. I had originally intended to bring a dozen or so to my resident who is living a lowly existence of night float.. but given the circumstances (read: there are no more puffs), I will have to think of something else. Small price to pay for a stomach full of these bundles of joy.

Cottage Cheese Pufflets
adapted from Dorie’s Baking from My Home to Yours

This half-recipe makes about 30.

Ingredients
1/2 c (1 stick)  unsalted butter, room temperature
1 tbsp sugar
pinch salt
4 oz cottage cheese
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 c + 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
¼ cup thick preserves, marmalade or jam [I used blackberry preserves.]
Confectioner’s sugar, for dusting, optional

Instructions
Cream butter and sugar together. [Dorie says to use a food processor. I just used my hand mixer.] Add cottage cheese and vanilla and mix some more until velvety and it looks like whipped cream cheese. Add the flour and pulse/mix just until blended.

Wrap dough and refrigerate anywhere from 3 hours to 3 days. [I spread it out in a freezer-sized plastic bag which made it easier to roll out later.] You can also freeze the dough for up to 2 months and defrost it, wrapped, overnight in the refrigerator if you so desire

For baking, preheat oven to 400F and line two baking sheets with parchment/silicone mats.

I suggest you roll the dough out between sheets of wax paper as it is very very sticky! Working with one half at a time, roll the dough out to 1/8 inch in thickness, preferably in a rectangular or square shape. If the dough gets too soft, stick it back in the fridge for a bit. Cut the rolled-out dough into 2-3 inch squares, dab on a tiny bit of jam, fold over, and seal the edges. Line up your little pufflets about 1/2 inch apart on the baking sheets. Poke a hole in the center of each as a steam vent. You can also flash-freeze the pufflets at this point in time and then bake them straight from the freezer at a later date with 2 extra minutes added on.

Bake each sheet for 10-12 minutes. Let cool a bit before eating as the jam inside is hot hot hot!

Perfection.

– Sharlene, MS4 (previously, MS3)

    Cottage Cheese Pufflets
    recipe courtesy of Dorie Greenspan’s BFMHTY *
    1 c unsalted butter, room temperature
    2 T sugar
    1/4 t salt
    8 oz cottage cheese
    1 t vanilla
    1 2/3 c flour
    1/4 c jam or fruit preserves
    powdered sugar for dusting
    1. Blend the butter, sugar and salt in a food processor until creamy. Add the cottage cheese and vanilla. Process another 2 minutes until the mixture is the consistency of whipped cream cheese. Add the flour and pulse until dough forms.
    2. Dump dough out onto a piece of plastic wrap. Shape into a rectangle, wrap and refrigerate at least 3 hours.
    3. Preheat oven to 400.** Roll dough to 1/8 inch thickness. Cut the dough into 2 x 2 inch squares (I used a circle cookie cutter because it was easier). Add a dab of jam to each square, slightly off center. Fold opposite corners together to form a triangle. Seal edges and poke a minute steam hole in the top.
    4. Bake on a parchment lined cookie sheet for 10-12 minutes. Cool on a wire rack and dust with powdered sugar once they’ve cooled a bit.

Chocolate Mousse

“I know you forgot about me but it’s okay I won’t tell anyone.”

On Tuesdays, Grand Rounds for Internal Medicine are held at 8am at the hospital I’m at right now. As medical students and residents, we show up at 7am every day for sign-out (the team on at night tells the day team what happened to their patients etc), eat breakfast depending on the resident (mine believes in this thank goodness), and then round on patients. On Tuesdays, you see as many patients as you can before 8 with enough time to make it to the conference room to snag a seat in the back where no one will see if you (accidentally) fall asleep despite the 2 cups of coffee you’ve already had (really just one cup but a 16- or 24-oz cup is really not a single cup at all, let’s not kid ourselves).

Yesterday, however, while I was sitting at the nurses’ station trying to copy down labs for one of my patients, my two residents proceeded to walk by, chit-chatting, and forgot to pick me up to go to rounds. Being the good little student that I am, I saw them, grabbed my stuff, and proceeded to trot after them without saying a word.
Halfway to the elevator, my one resident saw me out of the corner of her eye, scowled, and didn’t look my way again.

She thought I was a creepo stalker.

I’m not a stalker! I’m your med student! Remember me? We’ve been together for over a week now! We laugh and I’m eager to learn? Hello?

When we finally reached the elevator and they had no choice but to turn around they figured it out.

We had a good laugh. I really do love my residents and they’ve never done anything mean to me whatsoever to make me think they intentionally left me behind. All was quickly forgiven and forgotten.


The same thing happened with me and chocolate mousse except it was I who forgot, not the mousse.

Chocolate mousse was one of the first things I tried out as a young baker. Sometime around 13 or 14 I started trying out things other than boxed cakes and mousse and apple pie were at the top of my list. I often made mousse throughout high school because it was light and comforted me through the stresses of teenage angst (I grew up in the era of Dawson’s Creek) while making me feel as if I wasn’t eating a bajillion calories that would contribute to any amount of embarrassing weight gain. I was, after all, trying to obtain the affection of some popular guy who didn’t even know my name. Must. Be. Skinny. So. Guy. Notices. You. [Mind you, I graduated with 700 other kids so this was quite the task I was setting myself to. By the way, the guy never noticed me. Surprise surprise!] But, yes, mousse became one of my favorite things to make.

For some reason, I haven’t attempted a mousse since those high school days and when I thought of it the other day, knew I had to make it. I don’t know what recipe I made in high school but the one I found from David Lebovitz definitely did the trick. Oh and bonus? Boy loved it too. And we don’t really care if the other gets fat. [Boy, if you’re reading this, please don’t get fat. That can lead to diabetes, cancer, and heart problems. I know you know this and that you’re more conscious of healthy eating than I am but just thought I’d remind you. Kisses!]

So chocolate mousse, I’m sorry I forgot you for all those years. It’s nothing compared to my residents forgetting me for two minutes. But I’m glad you’ve forgiven me and tasted just as good as I remember. You’re the bestest. Let’s do this again sometime, yes?

Chocolate Mousse
adapted from David Lebovitz who adapted it from Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child.

Makes 6-8 servings depending on the size. I opted for 6.

Ingredients
4 large eggs, separated
pinch of salt
2/3 c, plus 1 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
6 oz bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
6 oz unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/4 c dark-brewed coffee
2 tbsp dark rum
1 tbsp water

Instructions
Beat the egg whites with the salt until soft peaks. Whip in the tbsp of sugar and beat until thick and shiny, but not completely stiff. Add vanilla.

In a medium bowl, place the chocolate, butter, and coffee. Heat the bowl over a pot of simmering water (about 1/3 full), stirring, until smooth. Remove from heat.

Fill a large bowl with ice water and set aside. In another large bowl [bowl #4!], set over the pot of simmering water, whisk [or use a hand mixer] the egg yolks with 2/3 cup of sugar, the rum, and water for about 3 minutes until the mixture is thick, like runny mayonnaise. Remove from heat and place the bowl of yolks in the bowl of ice water. Beat until cool and thick.

Fold the chocolate mixture into the egg yolks. Fold one-third of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture, then fold in the remainder of the whites just until incorporate. Don’t over-fold or the mousse will collapse! Transfer the mousse to a serving bowl or divide into serving dishes, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, until firm.

Delish!

– Sharlene

Candied Nuts

I don’t like nuts.

Okay. That’s a lie.

I don’t usually like nuts.

If given the choice between a baked good with nuts or.. nothing, I’d go dessert-less. Even if I was craving chocolate. I just don’t like the crunch in my baked goods.

Sure, I can scarf down a bowl of cashews with the best of them. (By the way, my dad’s cashews and toasted/roasted/who-knows-what-he-does garlic? Wowza.) But other than cashews, I don’t really eat nuts.

Oh I also pad thai, including the nuts if they are present. I basically lick the bowl clean. YUM!

Anyway. Yeah. Not so much with the nuts.

But me and these nuts? We’re best friends.

How did that happen?!

Well if you really want the whole story read the whole thing. For the abridged version, only read what is in the brackets below (I stole this method from the missals in church. I hope that’s okay.)

I originally wanted to make this poppy seed lemon cake. I’ve been staring at it since Deb posted it in January. Doesn’t it look divine? Then with the springtime weather and my lemon/orange/all-things-that-smell-like-cleaning-products kick, I had to, HAD TO make it. And Deb gave suggestions for what to do with the 8 egg whites I’d have left over! Win! Because I didn’t really feel like making an angel food cake. It’s never really been my thing. Also, two cakes? For one person? That just seems overboard. So I looked over the recipes and settled on three, THREE uses for my to-be-yolkless egg whites including these here nuts.

One problem.

The sole bundt pan within my apartment was filled with a sour cream coffee cake my roommate had made for work last week.

*shakes fist and glares at cake*

What was I to do? It’s her bundt pan in the first place. (Why the heck don’t I own one?!) So, alas, no poppy seed lemon cake was to be made that day. I went grocery shopping for the week and didn’t buy poppy seeds or lemons Okay I bought lemons. I’m obsessed. But no poppy seeds! No hazelnut brown butter cake. No amaretti cookies. No nuts.

Nuts. (Get it?)

But when I got home from the grocery store and finished making dinner I just didn’t feel right. I had to bake something. But what? I looked around for the usual suspects. Chocolate chips? For cookies, muffins, or brownies even? Plain sugar cookies then? Maybe something with the lemons you bought for no predetermined purpose? Pecans? PECANS?! I HAVE PECANS?! I saw a recipe for pecans! Pecans I will make. Pecans I will shake. Pecans I will bake.

And so I did.

And now we’re best friends. One, because they gave me something to bake when I thought all hope was lost. And two, because they literally haven’t left my side since I made them. I carry them in baggies with me. (What? I needs snacks!)

[Abridged: The whole story was kind of pointless. These nuts are yum.]

Sugar-and-Spice Candied Nuts
Adapted from smitten kitchen, originally from Elizabeth Karmel of Hill Country

Ingredients
1/3 c dark brown sugar
2/3 c granulated sugar
1 heaping tsp kosher salt
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 lb walnut or pecan halves or whole peeled hazelnuts [I used pecans. Heaven.]
1 egg white, room temperature
1 tbsp water

Instructions
Preheat oven to 300F.

Sift together sugars, salt, cayenne, and cinnamon and mix, making sure there are no lumps; set aside. Beat egg white and water until frothy but not stiff. Add nuts, and stir to coat evenly. Toss nuts with sugar mixture until evenly coated. Spread sugared nuts in a single layer on a cookie sheet fitted with parchment paper. Bake for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Remove from oven, and separate nuts as they cool. When completely cool, pour the nuts into a bowl, breaking up any that stick together. [Or keep them in chunks for one-handed munching if, say, you’re using a mouse with the other hand.]

Addictive.

– Sharlene

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