Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Daring to do it: Hidden Veggies!

Ruth from Makey-Cakey was our March 2013 Daring Bakers’ challenge host. She encouraged us all to get experimental in the kitchen and sneak some hidden veggies into our baking, with surprising and delicious results!
I really like Ruth.  She is a lot of fun to read, and I love her style.  But this challenge was an interesting one for me.  See, as some of you might know, I worked at a bookstore for a long time.  And I loved it.  I was working when the "Deceptively Delicious" craze hit, so I saw a bunch of people learning to hide veggies in their kids' food.  Part of me loved the idea of making sure that kids got their healthy foods, and that their treats could be more healthful.  But a lot of me really doesn't like the idea of lying.  Because that is what it kind of feels like to me.  Yes, I know there are picky eater out there who won't eat certain foods.  Heck, my father is one of them!  (He won't eat asparagus.  He hasn't tried it.  He saw it once, and he doesn't like it.  Really?!)  But hiding the foods just feels...  I don't know... like I am lying.  I try very hard with my daughters to introduce them to foods as they are, and to honor what they say then don't like.  So far I have been very lucky and I have two kiddos who still think broccoli and cucumbers make great treats!
But this challenge had me thinking.  How can I make something with the veggies hidden?  I then remembered that I had one lonely beet in the house.  I seem to be the only one in the family who likes them.  So I decided to use it in a chocolate cake.  A chocolate sourdough cake, actually.
Step one: cook and mash the beet:
Step two: add the mashed beet to the bowl, look at the pretty color:
Step three: mix, ooh and ahh again:
Step four: add the chocolate, and some red and black chocolate chips to help disguise the texture of the beet that didn't get mashed as smoothly as I might have liked:
Step five: bake, enjoy the yummy smell:
Step six: glaze:
Step seven: cut.  I was a little let down that the cake didn't retain nearly as much of the redness as i had hoped, but it was all good.
The cake was moist, chocolaty and yummy.  You couldn't tell that there was a beet in there, but I knew that the secret ingredient added a little to the sweetness, a lot to the moisture and a good dose of health.  (ok, a little dose of health...)  And my dad, who was visiting, and who doesn't eat beets, either, had no idea.  He thought the secret ingredient was cherries...  Nope!
This was a fun challenge.  It might not be something I will do regularly, but it was fun to have done it either way.
Take a look at some of the great recipes Ruth gave us for inspiration, then check out the amazing desserts created by my amazing fellow Daring Bakers!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Surprise! Cake

It is kind of unbelievable what one little sourdough started can do.  I was so excited to create Eve for the Daring Kitchen, and it amazes me that she is still going strong almost a year and a half later.  And I am having a blast with her.  Not just the things we bake, but getting to share her with friends and family, too.  I love it!
This month's Sourdough Surprise was something fun and yummy - cake!  I have made cake with Eve before, and I was excited to do it again.  The biggest problem was deciding what kind of cake to make.  There are so many yummy recipes out there, and narrowing down the list became almost discouraging.  Finally I decided to look at what I had on hand and let that lead the way.  I had lemons, strawberries and blueberries.  Fruity would be the way to go...!  I found this recipe which I adapted to suit my needs. I don't' need vegan substitutes, so I used real eggs and my usual margarine.  I also skipped the lemon glaze and simply sprinkled the top with cinnamon sugar.
I normally find ways around recipes which call for using different bowls for every step, but I decided it might be worth it for this one:
Mix, mix, mix:
Into the pan, sprinkle with cinnamon sugar:
Fresh from the oven, smelling SO good:
And served for Hubby's birthday:

This was a great cake.  We all liked it, and when Ishared it with coworkers they were thrilled! 
I hope you made a sourdough cake of our own.  If you did, link up and let us know!  And if you didn't, I hope you're inspired to make one now, and to share it with the people you love!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Daring to do it: Getting Cheesy

Ok, I might be telling you too much here, but there are times, when I can't fall asleep, when I will think about what might make a cool challenge for the Daring Kitchen.  Cheese has crossed my mind, but I kind of thought that was a joke my mind was playing on me out of exhaustion.  Well, the amazing Sawsan is braver than I am, and she had this challenge in store for us...

Sawsan from chef in disguise was our March 2013 Daring Cooks hostess! Sawsan challenges us to make our own homemade cheeses! She gave us a variety of choices to make, all of them easily accomplished and delicious!

Wow.  Cheese.  Really? 
Yup, really.  Sawsan gave us a variety of recipes to choose from, and was so super supportive of all of us trying new things.  I knew this would be an odd one for me.  Between my lactose intolerance and Little Girl's milk allergy, I wasn't looking forward to lots of playing with milks.  We already keep skim (cow), soy and rice milks in in the fridge, was I really going to have to bring in more?  Well, as I looked around at both the recipes Sawsan provided and others on the web, I decided that, yes, a fourth kind of milk would be making its way into the house.  Raw, whole goat milk.  I had decided to make goat cheese.
First, the supplies -
goat milk:
a strainer over a bowl:
cheese cloth, which I don't have, so an old, somewhat worn, clean pillow case:
candy thermometer:
lemon juice:
Once the goat milk reached temperature (well, once it looked right - my thermometer decided it didn't want to move...) the lemon juice was added to the milk, then it was left to curdle.
Straining out the whey (gotta love the "fancy" straining mechanism I hooked up...):
Drained cheese!
I think I might have drained out more of the whey than I intended to, as the finished cheese was rather crumbly.  But it was really good!  I added some salt, black pepper and nutmeg, which complimented the lemony taste.  I think a drizzle of honey would have made this amazing, and I am planning on making it again!
Having made the goat cheese, I really wanted to try one of Sawsan's recipes.  So I decided to make labneh - a strained yogurt cheese.  But, as usual, I couldn't manage to quite follow the rules.  The recipe calls for Greek yogurt, which is thicker than "normal" yogurt.  But I didn't have the time to go ot to the store. What I had on hand was regular yogurt, and vanilla at that.  So a dessert cheese was in the works!
Vanilla yogurt, mixed with a little salt and a bit of vanilla sugar, set in my fancy straining set up to drain:
Look at all of that whey...
Mmmm....  creamy goodness!
This cheese turned out amazingly thick, creamy and tangy.  So good.
I decided to make some dessert balls of this yogurt, and rolled them in a cocoa-cinnamon-sugar mix.  Yum.

Thank you so much, Sawsan, for pushing us to learn so much this month!  I hope I can find some vegetarian rennet one of these days and try some of the other cheeses you taught us about.  This was amazing.
If you want to be amazed at what you can make at home, check out the cheeses made by my fellow Daring Cooks!