Sunday, March 29, 2009

Daring Bakers March Challenge - Lasagna

After much procrastination, my lasagna is finished. I waited until the last minute to complete this month's challenge again. Most likely because I was
daunted - making homemade pasta is not something I do regularly. But I was game and I wanted to try. First off, I made the spinach pasta. I ended up
using 4 eggs in the recipe provided to get, what I thought, was the right consistency. Looking back now I realize it was too soft. As it rested, I made the bechamel and meat sauces - two things I can do.

When the time came to roll the pasta, I used the pasta roller attachment for my KitchenAid stand mixer. It was so much fun and effortless to use!
Feeding the pasta dough through was really nifty to see even though every sheet I got had holes in it. Now that I'm over the anxiety of trying to make my own pasta, I will definitely give it another go.

Once the sheets were rolled, I assembled it all and put it in the oven to bake. When it came time to eat it, I had mostly positive reviews. I only had two issues with the pasta that were my own fault. In some places, the pasta was too thick where it was overlapping and in some places it was too thin and sort of disintegrated into the final dish. However, overall I am pleased with the results as it tasted fantastic!

I would like to thank Harbinger for sending me the KitchenAid Artisan Stand Mixer Gourmet Pasta Kit. It came at the perfect time for this Daring Bakers challenge. This amazing kit came with a pasta roller, fettuccine cutter, pasta server and spoon, cleaning brush and two boxes of Ecco La Pasta pasta flour, one egg and one spinach. The roller worked beautifully and the instructions were very easy to follow.

The March 2009 challenge is hosted by Mary of Beans and Caviar, Melinda of Melbourne Larder and Enza of Io Da Grande. They have chosen Lasagne of Emilia-Romagna from The Splendid Table by Lynne Rossetto Kasper as the challenge.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Empire Cookies

I bet you've seen these cookies at your local grocery store. Empire cookies have a distinctly elegant look due in part to the shiny sugar glaze and cherry on top. If you've been meaning to try them out, definitely do - they're delicious.

The one aspect of this cookie that I really liked was that there was no chilling time required for the dough. After you mix it up, you can roll it out right away and get to work with your cookie cutters. I would definitely recommend stirring all the ingredients with a wooden spoon as the recipe suggests. I started with my mixer and was a bit worried because the batter was coarse and crumbly but when I switched to a spoon it creamed together nicely.

Rolling, cutting and baking went smoothly as well. Once they were cool, I filled some cookies with raspberry jam and some with a non-traditional dark chocolate spread, spread the glaze on and placed a sliver of candied cherry on top.

You need to give the cookies a little time for the glaze to set. Once it it, these little sandwiches are perfect little almondy bites. The cookies is tender, the jam tart and the glaze sweet - all components of one great cookie. My neighbour loved it with the raspberry jam and Mr. CB enjoyed the chocolate version. All in all, they're worth the time and effort to make and look great on a platter. Perfect for showers, high tea and lazy Saturday afternoons.

Recipe: Empire Cookies

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Beautiful Buttermilk Muffins - Orange Poppy Seed Version

I've been slacking off on my baking lately. I have all these recipes earmarked to try but can't get around to making any of them! Out of necessity, and an acute lack of packable lunch snacks, I made muffins last week.

The base recipe is for a basic buttermilk muffin. From there you can add in all kinds of stuff to jazz them up. There are some variations after the original recipe that may inspire you.

For budding bakers, muffins are a good place to start. Lining the pan means clean up can be kept to a minimum and no fancy techniques are needed to produce tasty baked goods.

These muffins are great and not dry at all. The size is perfect for kids, not huge and not flat. They're freezable so you can make them ahead of time and grab one when you're on the go.

Recipe: Beautiful Buttermilk Muffins