Sunday, November 23, 2008

Greetings from Roller Coaster Ice Show Land

You've probably noticed I haven't participated in the last couple of TWDs. I need to take a break from the group until after the new year because of my holiday ice show gig. I lucked out and have an apartment with a kitchen with great roommates, but limited access to the grocery store and good baking supplies. I'm going through serious baking withdrawals and disappointed to be missing out on all the holiday baking adventures, but I'm so happy to be doing this show for myself. Really really happy. Sometimes, I guess you just need a year working at a desk to gain some perspective. Don't worry, my pink KitchenAid is in good hands and being looked after by my sister-in-law while I'm away. Thank you to everyone for their sweet and supportive comments!

Happy Holidays!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Tuesdays with Dorie: Rugelach

I had really high hopes for these pastries. They remind me of home-made crescent rolls that you can go crazy with. And I love crescent rolls. My family always had to make extra for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner when I was a kid because I would eat just the rolls. I've seen them at all my favorite places, but have never tried them. And this was definitely a pastry project, but nothing that was out of my league. This rugelach is made with a very tangy and workable cream cheese crust and the fillings of your choice. I cut the recipe in half and made three different flavor combos. Half of my dough I used for the traditional recipe Dorie gives and the other half for some savory combos I was inspired to try after reading her own blog on these little guys. Here were my fillings:

1) Raspberry jam, walnuts, dried cranberries, and semi-sweet chocolate.
2) Pesto, sun-dried tomatoes, olives, and Parmesan cheese.
3) Garlic cheese, oregano, sun-dried, tomatoes, and Parmesan cheese.

Everything tasted amazing before I popped them in the oven. The crust, the fillings, especially the raspberry jam with the chocolate, omg......!

Making the dough old-school style.

The sweet half

Some savory bits

All lined up pre-bake.

I'm not sure why, but these did not taste as good as they did before I baked them. The filling burnt to a crisp. We're talking charred-black cranberries and tomatoes. This surprised me because I pulled them out of the oven when the dough was just a touch brown. Once I pulled out all the black burned crispy bits, then I was left with about one bite of okay rugelach. The sweet ones are my least favorite. The savory ones didn't burn as badly and the pesto ones turned out the best. I actually wished I had more because they burned the least and made for a really yummy lunch. I know this recipe is one of those that will take me a few tries to master.

Thanks to Piggy for keeping me on my toes with this week's TWD!

See...I really did those TWDs.

I was just too busy and sick at the time to tell you about them. Here's a quick flashback on the biscotti and muffins.

Gretchen chose the Lenox Almond Biscotti. This is the second time I've made this biscotti. I love making biscotti. I think it's because there are a million ways to make them and I was so surprised at how easy it was. I kept these simple for lack of time, and ingredients. Just the basic almond, corn meal, and some chocolate chips. I didn't stand them vertically like soldiers, but next time I'm going to try that technique to make them crunchier. They were perfect for munching on while us girls were getting ready before my brother's wedding.

Biscotti log pre Bake #1

Biscotti log pre Bake #2

And this very bad picture of one little lone biscotti was all that was left after my roommate and I enjoyed the leftovers the next couple of mornings.

The next TWD was the pumpkin muffins hosted by Kelly. I love pumpkin, but since I've been sick I haven't been able to stomach the thought of pumpkin baked goods for some reason. Which is very, very sad. I made them for my co-workers and used it as an opportunity to use my new silicone scone pan I got for my birthday. As a result I got muffins masquerading as scones. My boss loved them and said they were the perfect muffins because they were just like muffin tops only, which is always the best part. I used golden raisins and dried cherries, but I think next time I would use cherries or cranberries, and zero raisins.

Muffins dressed up as scones. Just in time for Halloween!
See, I'm not a TWD blogging slacker, after all!

Where in the World are the Pumpkin Kisses???!!!!

I was browing all the baking blogs out there in internet-land and came across these amazing looking carrot cake cookies over at the Del Sisters Kitchen. Doesn't that cookie look amzing?? I wanted to make it right away. Then, I saw they used Pumpkin Hershey's kisses. Pumpkin?? Kissess?? What?? Omg, it must be the best combo ever. The deal was sealed. I went to buy the ingredients and after 6 weeks of searching, I've finally come to the conclusion that they're not being sold in Colorado. It's killing me a little bit. The afternoon I made these I went to every single possible grocery store, drug store, and Target in a two mile radius of my parents house (where I was borrowing their kitchen and laundry for the day).

Did you know they make candy corn, caramel, marshmallow, white chocolate, dark chocolate, truffle, candy cane, and almond kisses. But I can't seem to find these so called pumpkin kisses. After much distress, no really, this was an agonizing decision, I seriously settled for the almond ones for these cookies.

These cookies are delicious, addictive and so creative! I ate 3 right out of the oven. I think you can go without rolling them in more sugar before baking, because they were very sugary. In fact, everything on these girl's blog is delectable looking. I kind of wished I lived at their farm so I could eat all their delcious creations. Now if Hershey's made a cream cheese kiss these cookies would be carrot cake perfection.

The Muffin Lady and Altitude Attitude

Back in August I bought this book. and being bored at work is a very dangerous combination. I wanted to get some more info on high-altitude baking, especially on how to alter recipes for high altitude. One of the reasons I chose this book is that the author is local and sells to a lot of my favorite local businesses, including the Tattered Cover, which I go to at LEAST once a week. I've been trying the recipes as often as a I can.

I made the Peach Cobbler first with fresh Colorado peaches from the farmer's market. This was unreal. I brought it to a cook-out for a friend's birthday. Unfortunately, I learned with a group of boys at a bbq, you can't bring a dessert which requires a fork. They ate store bought chocolate chip cookies over the cobbler. No one ate it and I went home, sulked, and ate half of it myself before throwing it down the trash chute so I wouldn't eat it all. Lesson learned.

After another trip to the farmer's market I made some peach bread and muffins. These were really delicious and moist and my mom requested the recipe again in muffin form for my brother's shower. They're really good the first day, but go really bad after that, although I haven't figured out why.

Yesterday I made her banana bread topped with some chocolate and peanut butter chips. I think it's the best banana bread I've ever had. This got divided up so quickly I don't even have a picture.

And now for the rest of the story.....

In September some of my co-workers and I went up to Vail for the weekend for a girl's trip. On Sundays Vail hosts the largest farmer's market in Colorado. As we were walking through all the stalls I instantly recognized my book perched high on a table covered in brownies and cookies. "Are you the muffin lady??!!" I asked. She was indeed the muffin lady and I was so excited. I told her how I just bought her book and the peach cobbler was so good I ate half of it by myself in one sitting.

And you know how you meet someone and they're not at all like you thought they would be? This is a perfect example. The next thing she asked is if I wanted to buy her next book. "But, I just got your first one". I replied. With the her newest book in my face, I had to politely beg off right before my friend took an awkward pic with me and her. Pushy, pushy. Well, her recipes are really good and she did yell after me as I left to e-mail her if I ever had any questions.

On a side note, we ran into this cupcake stand for a local cupcakery. My friends instantly starting chatting up the girl about how we're obsessed with cupcakes and we're going to open our own shop, etc, etc. And you know what she said? "Don't open it in Vail!" Well fine, snarky-pants. We won't try your cupcakes anymore. Another awkward picture that she so wasn't having.

Lesson: Be nice to your fellow bakers. Even if you have a small business to defend. Maybe it's the altitude.