Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Daring to do it: Croissants

This was an awesome challenge that deserves a wonderful, glowing write up. But things are busy right now... So unfortunately this post will be fairly basic. But this is something I want to make again. And again...!

The Daring Bakers go retro this month! Thanks to one of our very talented non-blogging members, Sarah, the Daring Bakers were challenged to make Croissants using a recipe from the Queen of French Cooking, none other than Julia Child!

I love croissants. But I don't eat them too often because of that whole butter thing... Lactose intolerant me doesn't like to overdo the dairy... So I made my croissants with soy milk and margarine. They worked really well. I made the recipe twice. First time I followed the recipe (well, except for those two dairy changes/substitutions).
Some process pics:

Out of the oven - half plain, half with cinnamon sugar on top.The inside. Not as fluffy as "professional" ones, but darn tasty!!I was impressed with the flavor, the texture, and the butteriness, despite not using butter! So I made them a second time. This time I made half cinnamon sugar:

Look at those layers!!
Then the other half I made into pain au chocolate. Yup. Chocolate.

Thank you, Sarah! I love this recipe, and I think this is something I am going to do a lot! They were not nearly as difficult or time consuming as I had feared, and they worked SO well! If you can control your urge to lick the screen, take a look here at what my fellow Daring Bakers made!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Daring to do it: Stock and Soup

Peta, of the blog Peta Eats, was our lovely hostess for the Daring Cook’s September 2011 challenge, “Stock to Soup to Consomm√©”. We were taught the meaning between the three dishes, how to make a crystal clear Consomm√© if we so chose to do so, and encouraged to share our own delicious soup recipes!

I have long wondered about the difference between "stock," "broth," "consomme" and "soup." Thanks to Peta, I have a little bit more of an understanding!! For this challenge we were asked to make stock, then take it to another level. I was not brave enough (read: didn't think I could) to attempt a vegetarian consomme, but I did make one of my favorite soups, which, oddly enough, I had never made myself before! And I made a yummy side for the soup, which really made this challenge super yummy, even if I didn't stretch myself as much as maybe I could have...
My first Daring Cooks' challenge taught me to make stock. In the year and a half since, I have made stock quite a few times, and I tend to keep vegetable ends and cuttings in my freezer for that purpose. For this stock I used the ends of some leeks, onion skins, broccoli stems and asparagus stems, as well as some fresh carrots and celery and seasonings. It all went into the slow cooker overnight, and when I woke up what had started like this:
had turned into this:
Off to a good start! When we woke up, Hubby commented on how good the soup smelled... With a stock that smelled that good, I knew the soup would have a great flavor.

One of my favorite soups is one my mother makes. It is a quinoa vegetable soup, and it is really quite good. Hearty but not too thick, warming and a complete meal, thanks to the wonderful food that is quinoa. Somehow, though, I never get around to making it myself. Thanks to Peta, I finally did! I had to make a few changes to the recipe, based on what I had in the house, but it seemed to work out well.
The veggies:
There were also split peas and (of course) quinoa, Add it all into the pot, let it do its thing, and then you have this:


Peta asked us to make some sort of accompaniment to go with our soups. I really wasn't sure what to make, though, since this soup really can stand alone. I could make bread of some sort, or try again to make bread bowls... Nothing called to me. So I turned to Mark. No, not my husband Mark! Mark Bittman, of course. MY favorite cookbook is his How to Cook Everything
Vegetarian. In there I found his recipe for cheese shortbread. Kind of like Cheez-Its for grown ups. Perfect!

These were so good. Better warm, but perfect with the soup. We wound up breaking them into pieces and stirring them right in...

Thank you, Peta, for giving me the kick I needed to make this soup! You were a supportive host, and it has been so much fun to see how everyone has taken something seemingly simple and made it so creative!! If you want to see what my fellow Daring Cooks came up with, then take a look here!