Wilton Course 2: Class 3

March 28, 2010

Phew! After all of those flowers we made last week; we got to make even more flowers using royal icing! I was really excited about those; I have heard so many good things about the flowers, how they hold their shapes better and last longer. For the class, we made another two batches of royal icing; all needed to be colored according to the book at home (which I highly recommend). Pssst… I usually like to skip steps sometimes; but for this class, preparation has really helped me make the most out of my time in class with my instructor who is absolutely awesome. I colored all of them; brought several spoons to stir the different batches of frosting; took extra couplers as the book recommended, tips and extra vinyl disposable bags.

During the class; we made five different types of flowers: Victorian rose, pansy, daisy, primrose, and daffodil. The consistency is really key here; so I had to adjust a couple of batches to ensure that the flowers piped to the shapes that they were supposed to. I had the hardest time with the daisy; which was odd, I thought, since they seemed simple. My frosting was too thick and did not flow as nicely.

The picture above showed the flowers from both the second and third night. I will have to make some more to take to the last class, where we would put all of the flowers together on the cake.

Tip: Bring one of those plastic 9×13 cake container to transport your flowers. I did not do this during the second night; and a few of the flowers were disfigured during travel. Even when I did, I still lost some, but at least you wouldn’t have lost as many.

Classic French Baguette

March 27, 2010

I was introduced and fell in love with crusty baguettes a long time ago through a friend of mine who loved them with good sharp cheese and red wine. When I discovered that our local grocery stores actually sell par-baked baguettes at their bakery; these breads became a staple at our house. All we needed was to warm it up in the oven prior to serving and we will be delighted with crusty bread with soft interior at meal times. Since we love it so much, I knew that it was only a matter of time before I had to try my hand in making my own homemade baguettes.

The recipe that I used here was taken from one of the best books out there for bread making, Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. If you have not had the opportunity to read it, I’d recommend it very highly. It is a great bible so to speak for aspiring bakers, because it really simplifies the mistery of bread baking.  The dough used here is boule, and it is so versatile since it can actually be used for baguette, ciabatta, and foccacia to name a few.  

You can also par-bake this bread:  bake them to about 90% of its regular baking time (in this case, about 25 mins), then cool it off on the rack, and freeze them as soon as they’re cooled. When you’re ready to enjoy them, just defrost them to room temperature and warm them up at 350 degree for about 8-10 min. Happy eating!

Adapted from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day

Boule Dough (Artisan Free-Form Loaf)
This recipe makes (4) 1-lb loaf

3 cups lukewarm water, about 100 deg
1-1/2 tbsp granualated yeast (1-1/2 packets)
1-1/2 tbsp kosher salt or other coarse salt
6-1/2 cups of unbleached, all purpose flour

Add yeast and salt to the warm water in at least a 5-qt capacity bowl. You don’t need to get them all dissolved by mixing.

Add all of the flour at once and mix using a heavy-duty stand mixer with dough hook until the mixture is uniform. It should not take more than a few minutes at the most, until everything is uniformly mixed. The dough should be wet and loose.

Cover with a plastic wrap or clean cloth, and let it sit at room temperature for approximately 2 hours. Leave this dough overnight in the refrigerator. (Up till this step, this dough can be refrigerated up to 14 days in lidded, not airtight, container. If you plan on using it at a later time, the dough should be stored in the freezer). The storage time also has been said to improve the flavor.

Baguette direction
1 lb dough of boule
1 tbsp of whole wheat flour

Place a baking stone in the middle rack of your oven. Heat the oven to 450 degree.

Using regular flour, shape the dough into 2-inch diameter cylinder by elongating it with back and forth rolling motion.

You can make this into two small loaves, or one large one. Make sure that if you choose a large one, it will fit on your baking stone. I actually made 3 medium sized loaves from 2-lb of dough.

Place the loaves on a pizza peel covered with the whole wheat flour. Allow to rest at room temperature for 20 minutes.

After the dough rests, glaze the top of loaves with water using a pastry brush. Make slits on top of the loaves using serrated bread knife. Then transfer the loaves directly onto the hot baking stone.

Pour 1 cup of hot tap water into the broiler tray or a regular pie pan, and quickly close the oven over. Bake about 25 mins or until browned.

Cool on a rack before cutting or eating.

Wilton Course 2: Class 2

March 21, 2010

In our second class, we learned how to make three different types of flowers and a leaf using royal icing. We also learned to make shapes using color-flow. The preparation for this class took a little bit longer than I had planned. I made a batch of royal icing and color flow; then colored them both at home and took probably a total of two and half hours (including some clean up). This was definitely worth it; it saved me a ton of time in class.

 This class went by so quickly and by the time it ended; I felt like I wasn’t mastering all of the techniques. We were told to work on it some more on our own at home. Here are some of the pictures of the flowers that I was able to make during clas (those are actually two different flowers, apple blossoms and pansies, but I used the same color because I was very short on time).

Tip: I could have gotten by only making a half of the color flow that the book called for. I only made two bird shapes and then threw away the rest of them.

Shrimp Jambalaya

March 20, 2010

Red and I have only been to New Orleans twice; but we absolutely loved our time there. Our first time there, we went for their annual jazz festival in the spring; which was a blast. The music was incredible and their food was even better!  We haven’t been back in several years now; we got busy with other places to visit and activities to squeeze in. But this meal definitely took us down the memory lane of our fabulous time in New Orleans. I could not find andouille sausages here. Instead, I used spicy chorizo, which I think worked equally well.

Source: Everyday Food, October 2003

1 tbsp canola oil
6 ounces andouille sausage (can be substituted for chorizo or kielbasa), halved lengthwise and sliced into 1/4-inch thick pieces
1 medium onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, ribs and seeds removed, diced
3 stalks celery diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
Coarse salt and ground pepper
2 tsp paprika
8 plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 cup long-grain white rice
1 lb medium shrimp (~ 30), peeled, deveined, and tails removed
1/2 cup thinly sliced scallions, for garnish

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add sausage, cook, turning occasionally, until browned on all sides, about 4-6 sides. Add onion, bell pepper, celery, and garlic; season with salt and pepper. Stir in paprika; cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Add tomatoes, rice and 3 cups of water to skiller; cover and simmer over medium heat until rice is coked and has absorbed all water, about 15 minutes.

Add shrimp to skiller, and cook, covered, until shrimp are opaque throughout, 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat; season with salt and pepper, as desired. Serve hot, garnished with scallions.

Yield: 4 servings

MSC: Lemon Meringue Cupcakes

March 15, 2010

It is that time of the month… cupcakes’ time!!! Megan from My Baking Adventures chose Lemon Meringue Cupcakes on page 142.  I finally got an opportunity to make something lemony that I was hoping can brighten up these dready cloudy pseudo-spring days that we’ve been getting! I knew right away that I wanted to make the lemon curd, but I decided to skip the meringue frosting. Yea, yea I know… it wouldn’t be called lemon meringue without the meringue. I just ran out of time; so I decided to just make the lemon curd and used up the buttercream that I had leftover from my Wilton class 2.

The lemon curd was definitely a must; it made the cupcake “pop”–because it had such an intense lemon flavor.  The cake itself was a bit too dense for my taste; I prefer mine to be light and fluffy. But the combo between the cupcake, lemon curd, and the buttercream frosting (vanilla flavor, although I colored it to look like a mocha color) tasted like summer! Don’t forget to check out the other members’ creation here.

Wilton Course 2: Class 1

March 14, 2010

It has been a while, well seven months to be exact, since I took my first Wilton Course. It’s either I haven’t had availability to be in town for four weeks straight, or the class that I wanted to take was not offered.  I also haven’t decorated a cake since this delicious Beatty’s Chocolate Cake; so I was ready to get my hands dirty again with frosting.  

I did not purchase anything other than the second student’s kit. For our first lesson, we were only required to bring in one recipe of Wilton buttercream frosting  to class. We learned how to pipe shell and reverse shell borders. We also made three different kinds of flowers: rosette (medium consistency), half buds roses (stiff consistency), and chrysanthemum (medium-consistency).

We had to make a full recipe of buttercream frosting and we only used them to practice in class. Be prepared to have something to use up the leftover buttercream frosting from the class.

I did not have the tip for the chrystanthemum for the class (the store ran out of the student kits), so I decided to practice some on my own at home. I had a little bit of challenge getting my mums to be “flat”–they all came up a little bit higher than what the book looks. Red commented that it almost looked like pine cones, and I kind of agreed.  While I was at it, I decided to go ahead and make some roses as well for practice.  I can’t wait for the next lesson.

Raspberry Cream Cheese Braid

March 13, 2010

In some areas around here, there are still probably three to six inches of snow on the ground out here (although I may add that it is quickly melting!). My mind and soul, however, are ready for the spring or even summer! The combination of the cream cheese and raspberry filling in this recipe was such a good tease preparing me for the upcoming warmer months that we all look forward to.

While this recipe looks difficult; I can assure you that it is not.  The brioche dough that I used is so versatile that you can modify the fillings to whatever you like, such as different berries (fresh or frozen), diced apples in the fall, or pears in the winter. If you want something savory on your menu, add chopped up spinach, ham, and ricotta… then viola! This is truly a one-stop meal that would satisfy any craving.   

Brioche dough adapted from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day &  filling adapted from the Fresh Loaf

1 lb of brioche dough (or any other sweet dough of your choice)
Cream Cheese Filling
Raspberry Filling
Egg glaze

Thaw your refrigerated or fresh dough, and roll them on floured surface to fit a rectangular 1/2-sheet size cookie sheet.

Preheat your oven to 350 degree.

Place parchment paper on your cookie sheet; and transfer your dough. Spread the cream cheese filling on the middle third of your dough. Repeat the layer using the raspberry filling.

Make the “braids” by cutting about 1.5-inch apart tabs on each sides of the dough. Alternating the pieces, fold the dough over to cover the filling until it’s all covered. Press gently to seal as necessary.

The dough that I used required it to sit and rest for a minimum of 1 hour (if you used other dough, follow its requirement, whether it’s 45 min or 1 hr resting time). After about an hour, glaze the braid with egg wash. Sprinkle generously with sugar.

Bake for about 35 min or until golden brown. I would have taken mine a tad bit sooner than 35 min, so start watching the color around 25 min mark.

Egg glaze
1 egg
1 tbsp of milk
Beat the egg and milk together. Set aside.

Raspberry Filling
2 cups of raspberries (frozen, or fresh)
1/4 cup of corn starch
1/4 cup of sugar
2 tbsp of freshly squeezed lemon juice
Mix all of the ingredients together to a boil in a medium-heat. Stir constantly to make sure it doesn’t stick to the bottom of your pot. Then let simmer for about 5 minutes. Set aside, let cool.

Cream Cheese Filling
3/4 cup of cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tbsp of egg glaze mixture
2 tbsp sugar
Mix all of the ingredients together. Make sure the cream cheese is well mixed with the other three ingredients. Set aside.

Yield: 8-10 generous servings (1 giant loaf!)

Easy Turkey Sloppy Joe

March 6, 2010

I got into thinking that I haven’t had sloppy joes in a very long time; probably almost four to five years ago. This dish is very simple to put together, can be modified pretty easily and has great leftover! Why don’t I make this more often? I don’t normally use ground beef in my cooking; but this recipe can easily be modified to use ground beef if you prefer. If you want yours to be more chunky, you can have cut up beef instead of ground. And finally, if you want more veggies, feel free to add chopped green peppers or celeries. See… how easy can this get? Happy cooking!

Blissfully Delicious Original

2 lb of ground turkey
2 cups of ketchup
4 tbsp of yellow mustard
4 tbsp of Worcestershire sauce
1-1/2 cups of minced onion
2 tbsp of garlic
2 tsp of salt
1 tsp of pepper
1 tsp of crushed red pepper
2 cups of water

Brown the ground turkey along with minced onion, garlic, and water. Season them with salt and pepper.

When the ground turkey is halfway browned, add the rest of the ingredients, mix together. Let is simmer for about an hour, until it thickens.

Serve on toasted hamburger or other favorite buns.

Yield: 6-8 servings