Sunday, August 31, 2008

Daring Bakers Go French!

Hello again, folks! It's time for another Daring Bakers Challenge! And this month, we go to Meeta (from the blog What's For Lunch Honey?) and her "Sugar Daddy" Pierre Herme and his chocolate eclairs.

I admit, when it comes to Daring Bakers Challenges, I always have a mini-panic attack when the recipes are announced at the beginning of the month. I mean, you just know the recipe is going to be about 4-5 pages long (sometimes longer), but still, I always have my super-wince ready.

This month's challenge was special to me, because I got to make my eclairs in my new kitchen!! I was so stoked when I saw that my new kitchen is about twice the size of my old one, with a gas range and stellar lighting (for taking those glamour shots of my food, of course).

I shouldn't have been afraid of this recipe at all, it was super easy. I took the advise of my fellow DBers and took the steps one at a time. I made the choux pastry dough the night before I assembled the eclairs, and they baked up like a dream. I warn you, if you do freeze your dough beforehand, allow them to bake about twice as long as the recipe calls for. If you want the recipe, go on down to Meeta's blog, I have it on my personal blogroll, as well as the Daring Bakers Blogroll.

Here's a nice shot of these babies just before they came out of the oven.
And after glazing, my little eclair sitting pretty, just waiting to be eaten up with a nice cup of tea.
I also made cream puffs. Those little devils! I can't stop eating them!! I like how in this pic, you can see the delish vanilla beans in the pastry cream. While we're on the topic of pastry cream, I pretty much wore about half the pastry cream when I was piping it into my eclairs. The darn tip on my frosting bag was so narrow, that instead of the pastry cream wanting to pipe into the eclairs, it decided to squirt itself back out the other side and onto my arm. Several times. I'm lucky I had enough leftover to finish the challenge!

If you haven't yet, you really should try this recipe out. You will NOT be disappointed! I'll be taking these darlings to work with me, because as my husband puts it, "Those are dangerous!" I am not to leave any in the house, they must all come with me to work, haha. Anyway, enjoy!


Sunday, August 24, 2008

Pass the Paella!

Hello, my friends! At last, we have moved into our new house in Kodiak, AK, and my new kitchen is divine!! Thank goodness our new house came with a gas stove, I cook so much better using a gas range than an electric one. It's taking us a while to unpack all of our stuff, but I made sure to unpack the kitchen first!

I remember, on one of our hotel stops on the way from Haines, AK to Homer, AK, I was staying up late one night and caught an episode of "Throwdown With Bobby Flay" on the Food Network, and his challenge was paella. I didn't stay awake long enough to see how Mr. Flay did with his, but I did end up dreaming about blissful platefuls of warm, spicy paella. And I've never had any until I made some tonight!!!

I know for certain, I will be making this again. I know there's some speculation going around the 'net about whether or not you need a paella pan to make a good paella. Well, I don't have one, I made mine in the largest skillet I had on hand, and it turned out just fine. I even had that yummy scorched bottom that everyone raves about.
I got the recipe from trusty ol', I just searched for "paella" and about 1,000 recipes came up! I searched around for the one that best suited the ingredients I already have on hand (like we all do, lol), but I still had to go and get more seafood. I love that with this sort of recipe, you can tweak it a little here and there to suit your needs. My needs being that I had to include a whole grain (I used Trader Joe's Brown Rice Medley with barley and radish seeds, too), ginger (I added about 1/2 tsp of ground ginger) and citrus (the lemon slices, which when cooked are super easy to squeeze all the yummy juices out of) for this month's Royal Foodie Joust. I haven't been able to participate in Jenn the Leftover Queen's Royal Foodie Joust in months, simply because this move really threw me for a loop cooking-wise.
I'm very happy with how this turned out, and like I said, I will definitely be making this again!! Here's the recipe (with my little tweaks added in):
Seafood Paella (adapted from
-4 tablespoons olive oil
-1 onion, chopped
-2 cloves garlic, minced
-1 red bell pepper, chopped
-2 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves - cut into 1 inch cubes
-1 (5 oz) package uncooked Mahatma saffron rice
-7 oz Trader Joe's Brown Rice Medley
-5 cups chicken broth
-1/2 cup white wine
-1 pinch saffron
-salt to taste
-ground black pepper to taste
-1/2 bag of frozen baby octupus, thawed and cut into 1 inch pieces
-2 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
-1/2 cup frozen green peas
-15-20 large shrimp, peeled and deveined
-1 lemon, sliced

Heat olive oil in paella pan over medium heat. Add in onion, garlic and bell pepper; cook and stir for a few minutes. Add diced chicken and rice; cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in 3 1/2 cups stock, wine, and saffron. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to the boil, and simmer for 15 minutes; stir occasionally.
Taste the rice, and check to see if it is cooked. If the rice is uncooked, stir in 1/2 cup more stock. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally. Stir in additional stock if necessary, up to 2 cups additional stock, 5 cups total. Cook until rice is done.
Stir in octopus, tomatoes, and peas. Cook for 2 minutes. Arrange shrimp and lemons on top. Cover with foil, and leave for 3 to 5 minutes. Once the lemons become slightly tender and the shrimp are nice and pink, it's ready to serve!
Next time, I'll definitely add chorizo sausage, some mussels and perhaps a little bit of cilantro. I think I'll also substitute regular brown rice for the Trader Joe's Medley, it seemed a bit off in texture due to the radish seeds. Otherwise, it was a pretty wonderful meal!! I can't wait to have some more with some homemade sangria!