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(Vote Now!) May Bon Appetit Challenge is Here!

7 May

So I’m about a week and a half late posting about the May issue. No…my Bon Appetit didn’t get lost in the mail, I’ve just been really busy – honest, I promise! Between the spaghetti bridge project in physics and prepping for my AP Calculus¬† and U.S. History exams, I’ve had not much time to do bake. (Oh, have I let my love affair with food wither?)

But finally I am here typing away on a Friday afternoon the first chance I can get after taking my AP History exam today. Only one more AP to go then I’m done … and finals come along… oh dear.

Enough of my griping though, here’s the challenge¬† info:

Voting will be open until next Thursday evening/Friday morning (May 13-May 14)!

I chose two rhubarb recipes because I’ve never baked with rhubarb before nor have I made a bread pudding before. The apple tart was included because when it was described as a “pecan pie without the pecans”, I had to try it since I love pecan pies. It’s a good reliable recipe that I can work with to fine tune my tart-making skills.

So here are the contenders for the May Bon Appetit Challenge:

Contender 1: Rhubarb and Ginger Brioche Bread Pudding

Contender 2: Strawberry and Rhubarb Crumble

Contender 3: Apple Treacle Tart

For these recipes and more about the Bon Appetit May issue, click here.

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Easter Sunday: Cream Puffs with Lemon-Cream Filling

4 Apr

Lemon Cream PuffsI am glad that the cream puffs won the vote because making these has been such a great learning experience.

You might be thinking, “Learning experience? … Doesn’t that mean something went wrong …. ?”

Ah, but not this time. I learned while making these simply because I’ve never made cream puffs before. Sure, I had attended the Sur La Table summer secession last year when the cream puffs were made, but my group was not assigned to make them. All I saw was the delicious-looking (and tasting) result.

So when the vote came in, I now had a reason to bake the cream puffs myself! And not just cream puffs, lemon-cream filling cream puffs! Bon Appetit chose well for their April/Easter issue.

Since I had never made cream puffs before, I read and read and re-read the procedure dozens of times. Strangely enough, I was methodical and did no improvising. Whole milk? Yep. Grated fresh lemon peel? Sure thing. Heavy whipping cream? Got it right here.

And boy, was I happy that I did. The cream puffs turned out beautiful and tasty. I wish I could share the puffs with all of you, but to taste these lemon cream puffs, I guess you’ll have to make them yourselves. For the recipe, please check out my previous post here. (Although, I must mention that the filling didn’t quite fill all the puffs, so I’d recommend making two batches of the lemon filling.)

If, on the other hand, you took on my April Bon Appetit challenge, then I encourage you to leave a comment or email me at nell.notebook@yahoo.com.

Once again, Happy Easter!

Lemon Cream Puffs

Join Me in the April Challenge: Cream Puffs with Lemon-Cream Filling

2 Apr

Well, the vote is in and the Lemon Cream Puffs recipe is the winner! (Thank you all for voting!) I have not made them yet, but I wanted to post the recipe for those who wanted to join me in my Bon Appetit April challenge.

I would have probably made the puffs tonight for dessert, but as I reading over the ingredients, I am lacking whole milk and fresh lemon juice. Since I’m hoping to follow the recipe exactly without substitutions, I can wait until tomorrow afternoon to make them. (“Patience is the key, young grasshopper!” rings way too true right now.)

The Garden Project (a mini digression)

Butternut Squash, courtesy of The Official Body Building BlogAs the sun is setting and its rays light up my living room at the moment, I can’t help but actually soak it all in. I’m done with my homework for the day (with more studying to come next Monday) and I’ve got the wonderful and beautiful Saturday to look forward to tomorrow. The possibilities are endless!

“Why are you so extra cheery?” you might be asking yourself.

Well, because of the fact that I am now officially on Spring Break for a week! I finally have the time to do what I want to do: wake up late(r), watch Rachel Ray on weekdays, bake, visit some friends, and (hopefully) start my vegetable garden!

Ever since I fell in love with Butternut Squash, I’ve been wanting to grow some of my own. Because of the confines of my apartment, I don’t have a lawn, backyard, or any place with potential to nourish a growing seed, I thought I would buy large container and plant the squash there.

With spring here and summer on its way, I figured I could put the container on the top of the apartment complex, like on the roof. I have no idea whether it is legal or not, but I do know that the roof is strong enough – it can support several people. Direct sunlight is important for squash so the roof is a great plus too. If it is illegal, then I guess putting it inside near the window will have to do.

If I do end up planting my squash over break, rest assured that I will update you! I’d be happy to chronicle the happenings of my Apartment Garden. Maybe my experiment with its ups and downs will help you – if you do decide to plant your own vegetables – produce even better produce. If not, you can always simply sit back and read about my adventures.

For more information on growing vegetables in containers, check out the Sloat Garden Center website.

Without further ado, here is the April Challenge:

(Oh, please do not be daunted by the long recipe. I’d love to hear about your adventure in the kitchen while you bake these).

And, if I do not post before then, Happy Easter! :)

Cream Puffs with Lemon-Cream Filling

Courtesy of Sisi Carroll’s recipe in the Bon Appetit April Issue, found here

Ingredients

lemon cream filling

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated lemon peel
  • pinch of salt
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced
  • 1 cup chilled heavy whipping cream

cream puffs

  • 3/4 cup water
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 3/4 cup (1.5 sticks) unsalted butter, diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour (sifted, then measured)
  • 6 large eggs, divided

assembly

  • Robin eggs malted milk candy (optional)
  • 4 ounces high-quality white chocolate (such as Lindt or Perugina), finely chopped

special equipment

  • Pastry bad with 1/2-inch plain round tip

Procedure

Lemon-Cream Filling

  1. Combine sugar, egg, lemon juice, lemon peel, and pinch of salt in heavy small saucepan; whisk to blend. Add butter. Stir constantly over medium-low heat until curd is hot and thick enough to coat spoon (do not boil), 4 to 5 minutes.
  2. Transfer lemon curd to small bowl. Press plastic wrap onto surface; chill until cold and slightly firm, at least 2 hours. This can be made 2 days ahead. Keep chilled.
  3. Transfer chilled lemon curd to medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat cream in another medium bowl until peaks form. Fold whipped cream into curd in 3 additions. Cover and chill filling 1 hour. This can be made 2 hours ahead. Keep chilled.

Cream Puffs

  1. Position 1 rack in top third and 1 rack in bottom third of oven and preheat to 425 degrees F. Line 2 large rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Bring first 4 ingredients to boil in heavy large saucepan over medium heat, stirring with wooden spoon until butter melts. Add flour all at once and stir vigorously until dough forms and pulls away from sides of pan. Continue to stir until film forms on pan bottom, 1 to 2 minutes longer. Transfer dough to large bowl. Cool 5 minutes, stirred occasionally.
  3. Add 1 egg to dough and beat until blended using wooden spoon. Add remaining 5 eggs, 1 at a time, beating until dough is smooth and shiny, 2 to 3 minutes.
  4. Working in batches transfer dough to pastry bag fitted with 1/2-inch plain round tip. Pipe 1- to 1 1/4-inch mounds, spaced about 2 inches apart, onto prepared baking sheets. Using wet finger, smoother tops of mounds.
  5. Bake puffs 15 minutes. Reverse baking sheets. Reduce oven temperature to 350F. Continue to bake until puffs are dry, firm, and deep golden brown, 30 to 35 minutes longer. Cool puffs on baking sheets.

Assembly

  1. Cut each puff horizontally in half. Pull out any soft dough. Fill puff bottoms with 1 tablespoon lemon-cream filling. Please egg-shaped candy atop filling, if desired. Press on puffs to adhere.
  2. Place white chocolate in medium metal bowl. Set bowl over small saucepan of barely simmering water. Stir until chocolate is soft and almost melted. Remove from over war; stir until completely melted and smooth.
  3. Using a teaspoon, drizzle white chocolate decoratively over each cream puff. Arrange filled puffs on platter. Refrigerate until chocolate glaze sets, at least 15 minutes and up to 3 hours.

Bon Appetit Challenge 2: Easter Lemon Cream Puffs or Strawberry Poptarts

25 Mar
Strawberry Poptarts

Strawberry Poptarts

Easter Lemon Cream Puffs

Easter Lemon Cream Puffs

Ah, well the first Bon Appetit challenge (British Flapjacks) went very well – the prep and the product so I’ve decided to keep with the Bon Appetit monthly challenges.

When the April 2010 issue of Bon Appetit finally arrived two days ago, I quickly plopped down on my bed sun shining through the blinds and started to scan from beginning to end. Though I did not have time to actually read through all the stories, I looked at every single recipe in there and decided that two recipes in particular were just calling my name: the Easter Cream Puffs and the Homemade Strawberry Pop-Tarts.

As you can see in the pictures that I scanned from the magazine, these two treats look deliciously mouthwatering. However, there are differences between the two as well. The lemon cream puffs are more on the fancy Easter brunch side while the strawberry poptarts are more of a family quick-fix snack. This is what you’ll have to keep in mind when you vote for the next Bon Appetit Challenge! Remember, you get a week to vote until next Friday, and the following weekend I’ll bake up the winning desert and then post up the recipe for all of you to try!

Out of the Oven: British Flapjacks

14 Mar

I finally got around to making the British Flapjacks chosen by several voters last Friday. (Check out my previous post here for the original post).

First of all, I have to say that making the flapjacks was the easiest baking challenge I have ever done. In fact, it was not even a challenge even when taking in the time I started preparing. I debated whether or not to start because it was approximately 7:15 p.m. However as I was preparing all the oats, syrup, and sugar, I realized that the directions in the Bon Appetit article “Bar None” by Molly Wizenberg were fewer than 5 steps.

I literally looked at the microwave clock, then the ingredients neatly resting in their bowls, the clock again, and then back at the ingredients. I peered into the other room where my mom was sitting in front of the couch watching the 7 p.m. news. I wondered, “Should I? Do I have time?”

I stated to answer my own question, “Maybe if …” But before I could dissuade myself from stopping, I preheated the oven, buttered the pan, and mixed all the ingredients together. I carefully guided the gooey mass of oats, sugar, and syrup into the pan, placed the pan in the oven, and then set the timer.

British Flapjacks

And that’s when I saw it: the time. It was only 7:36 p.m. I stared at the glowing numbers. “Really? That’s all it took? 30 minutes to prep?” I am so accustomed to slaving away in the kitchen to produce a batch of anything that I could not believe it had only taken 30 minutes.

Because of the ease of the recipe, I’m sure you too – if you choose to try baking the flapjacks, which I suggest – will find this a recipe worth keeping. If I must compare the process, I must say that author Molly Wizenberg describes it best, “the method is, weirdly enough, very similar to the process for making Rice Krispies Treats: Melt butter and something sweet in a saucepan, add cereal, then press the mixture into a pan.”

But I must warn you when you make this you will just die with each mouthful of flavor. Again, in the words of Molly Wizenberg, “On first appraisal, it was all about texture, chewy in the center and crisp around the edges. But about two chews in, the flavor came: deep and hearty, the way good oatmeal can be, with a gentle amount of sweetness and a good hit of butter. I now think of this as the Flapjack Reveal. You take a bite, and it tastes good, if a little wholesome. But you keep chewing, and in a second or two, the flavor opens up threefold, big and toasty and rich, and your salivary glands start going, and you think, This is delicious. I don’t know what this thing is, but I’m going to need another.

British Flapjacks

Recipe from Molly Wizenberg, Bon Appetit

Makes 16 cookie bars

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
  • 1/2 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup golden syrup*
  • 2 1/3 cups quick-cooking oats (not instant or old-fashioned) (If using old-fashioned, add 17 more minutes to baking time, and check back before the last 5 minutes).
  • Pinch of salt

* A type of syrup popular in Great Britain; available at some supermarkets, specialty foods stores, and British import shops

Procedure

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Butter 8x8x2-inch metal baking pan.
  3. Combine first 3 ingredients in heavy medium saucepan. Stir constantly over medium-low heat until butter melts, sugar dissolves, and mixture is smooth. Remove from heat. Add oats and salt; stir until coated. Transfer mixture to prepared pan and spread out in even layer.
  4. Bake until top is golden (edges will be darker), about 25 minutes. Cool in pan on rack 5 minutes. Cut into 4 squares; cut each into 4 triangles (mixture will still be soft). Cool completely in pan before serving.

There you go – recipe and all! I highly suggest that you try making these delicious British cookie bars. They are truly a cross between a chewy oatmeal cookie and a crunchy granola bar. The taste has this familiar aspect of it but also this exotic taste.I suppose it’s familiar because of the oatmeal flavor and the “homemade-ness” from a simple oven, but there’s something about it that makes it just a delightful morning or afternoon snack.

British Flapjacks

Bon Appetit: New Foodie Project!

27 Feb

Okay, so ths post is going to be a short one, but I basically wanted to announce that I will be doing a baking recipe from the magazine Bon Appetit every month! My friend was kind enough to give me a free subscription to the magazine since it came with the promotion. She herself is an avid cookerista and she thoughtfully remembered that I shared a similar passion.

For the March 2010 issue of Bon Appetit, which features a beautiful rendition of Eggplant Parmesean in its lasanga form, I have narrowed down my two choices to: British Flapjacks and the “picture-perfect” Buttermilk Spice Cake with Pear Compote and Creme Fraiche.

The thick, crunchy granola-like British Flapjacks

The delicate, sweet Buttermilk Spice Cake

Please comment below on what you think I should bake! :D I will let people comment/vote until next week Friday!

Happy weekend to you all if I do not get the chance to update the blog until next weekend!