OMG! Cheese. Oh, and some quinoa and mushrooms too.

I love cheese. All kinds. I love cheese with bread and wine. I love cheese with fruit. I love cheese-smothered anything.

I have a new favorite cheese: La Tur.

imgp3427It’s an Italian triple-cream cheese made from cow, sheep, and goat milk. It’s heaven. Pure heaven. I bought it because I was looking for Crescenza and couldn’t find it. A Whole Foods employee recommended La Tur. I’m so glad WF did not have Crescenza.

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I was looking for Crescenza for Quinoa and Crescenza with Sauteed Mushrooms {<—recipe here}, the next recipe out of Super Natural Foods on my list. Definitely try this recipe. The quinoa is cooked with wine, garlic, and onions. I used extra-virgin olive oil  instead of clarified butter. And of  course I used La Tur instead of Crescenza, which takes it to a whole other level. The mushrooms are quick and easy to make, sauteed in olive oil with a bit of red pepper flakes and salt.

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I paired the quinoa with a green salad and Old-Fashioned Dinner Rolls {<—recipe here} from a The Art & Soul of Baking recipe.  I made the cloverleaf variation, which is just one roll divided into 3 and stuffed and baked  in a muffin tin. The roll was absolutely delicious, but when La Tur is in the picture it takes a back seat. :P

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{DB} Tuiles

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After the complexity of December’s Daring Bakers challenge, I was excited about the relative simplicity of the January challenge.

This month’s challenge is brought to us by Karen of Baking Soda and Zorra of 1x umruehren bitte aka Kochtopf.
They have chosen Tuiles from The Chocolate Book by Angélique Schmeink and Nougatine and Chocolate Tuiles from Michel Roux. Please visit the hosts’ blogs for the recipe.

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Tuiles are light wafer cookies that can be shaped immediately after removing them from the oven. And immediate means immediate. The cookies start to harden within seconds. I took the easy route this month and didn’t make complex shapes or use stencils. I just used the back of a spoon to thinly spread the batter onto my Silpat, making only two to four cookies at a time.

In addition to the tuiles we were also challenged to make something light and fruity to pair with the cookies. I made a Blood Orange and Cranberry Sorbet using a recipe from David Lebovitz’s The Perfect Scoop.

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In making the Tuiles, I used orange zest to a little bit of color and to complement the sorbet. Both the tuiles and the sorbet were abosulutely delicious. I loved the flavor of the zest. It added a nice zing.

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I also went back and completed the Daring Bakers February 2007 challenge of the Chocolate Intensity, a flourless chocolate cake from Tish Boyle’s The Cake Book. You can get the recipe here. This cake was out of this world and a big hit at work. People could not stop talking about it.

Vegan Cookies

imgp3280Okay, so I’ve been good perfect at sticking with my plan to eat vegan on Tuesdays. There are a lot of yummy recipes that either just happen to be vegan or can easily be adapted. As long as I plan my day and bring plenty of food with me to work, it has been a breeze. This week I decided to venture into vegan baking. After all the butter in my recent croissants and other baking, I really wanted to make something healthier.

Don't you want one?
Don’t you want one?

I found this recipe in the Feb 2009 issue of Vegetarian Times. I liked it because it didn’t call for any unusual ingredients. The actual title of the cookie is: The Heart-Healthiest Chocolate Cookies in the World. And they are, because they are made up of walnuts that you grind up into your own walnut butter, oat flour, oatmeal, chocolate. For the life of me, I can’t find the recipe either my copy from the magazine or online. Please let me know if you find it online.

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For Vegan Tuesday I also made: Sweet Potato-Pecan Burgers with Carmelized Onions {<–recipe here}, from the Jan/Feb 2009 issue of Cooking Light and Roasted Green Beans and Cashews {<–recipe here} from the Feb 2009 issue of Gourmet. Both were very delicious. The burgers took some time to make, but they were worth it. They held together and didn’t break apart when cooking, which is a hazard with homemade veggie burgers.

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The roasted green beans were super easty to make. You just toss the green beans, cashews, and shallots with olive oil and season with  salt/pepper and toss the whole thing in the oven. Please note that either the temp or the time is wrong as written in the recipe. I would roast at 400 for 25 minutes or so.

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{TWD} Ginger and Apples

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One of the benefits of joining an online baking group where other members select the weekly recipe is that you end up baking things you never in a million years would  bake it on your own. This week’s Tuesdays with Dorie selection is probably the very last recipe I would bake in Dorie Greenspan‘s Baking…From My Home to Yours.

Heather of Sherry Trifle (<–go here for the recipe) selected Fresh Ginger and Chocolate Gingerbread for this week. I’m not a gingerbread fan. I don’t like gingerbread cookies and gingerbread people send me  screaming around the holidays. On the otherhand, I love ginger. Fresh, pickled, crystillized. It doesn’t matter the form.

Never one to back down from a challenge, I forged ahead with the task at hand and made a half-recipe. I made a few other changes too. Instead of using bittersweet chocolate in the cake, I used milk chocolate (I stuck with bittersweet for the glaze) and instead of molasses (I’m not a fan of it)  I used Golden Syrup. I also didn’t bother to look for stem ginger.

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The result: OMG. I couldn’t stop eating it. It was so good. I loved the flavor, I loved the texture. I loved it still warm when I removed it from the pan. I loved it at room temperature. I loved it the next day. I loved it with the glaze. The next time the holidays roll around I am going to make this.

It turns out that I like gingerbread just fine, well more than just fine obviously. It’s the MOLASSES flavor I can’t stand. Molasses is the culprit. In the end, my co-workers only received 1/2 of the 1/2 recipe I made, but that’s okay because I again went back and completed another recipe that was selected before I joined TWD: Russian Grandmothers’ Apple Pie-Cake.

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Natalie from Burned Bits (<–go here for the recipe) selected the apple pie-cake way back in March 2008. One of the Playing Around options given by Dorie was to make turnovers and that’s what I did. Apple Pie-Cake-Turnovers. These were absolutely wonderful. The crust is cakey and the filling is out of the world. In fact, making the filling recipe as is gives you way more filling than you need for the turnovers. I’ve been eating the leftover filling for breakfast with yogurt. Very delicious.

So on Monday, my co-workers received very delicious gingerbread and yummilicious apple pie-cake-turnovers. Everyone loves me. Yes, they do.

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Raisin, Rosemary, & Cinnamon Focaccia

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I made another winning recipe from the Art & Soul Baking–really, you need to get this book–this weekend: Raisin, Rosemary, & Cinnamon Focaccia. I also saw Slumdog Millionaire. If you haven’t seen it yet, Go! It’s a story about destiny, about love, about friendship.

Focaccia is typically made from pizza dough and instead of rolling it out into discs, it is pressed into a jelly roll pan. Dimpled and brushed with olive oil, sprinkled with salt, and maybe some fresh herbs plain homemade focaccia is amazing.

The flavor combination of this focaccia at first may seem a bit odd to you, but give it a chance. It works, it really does. It reminds me a of a cinnamon-raisin bagel, but revved up with the kick of rosemary. The flavor first hit me as I mixed the dough and then again has I pressed it into a pan. However, when it was baking in the oven and the scent wafted through my house I knew I was making something great.

This is a breakfast focaccia. It uses milk instead of the typical water to make the dough. This gives the bread a more tender crumb and also makes it a bit sweeter. Instead of sprinkling the focaccia with salt prior to baking, it is sprinkled with turbinado sugar.

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Raisin, Rosemary, & Cinnamon Focaccia

Adapted from The Art & Soul of Baking.
  • 2 1/4 cups (18 ounces) warm whole milk (110 F to 115 F)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 5 cups (25 ounces) bread flour
  • 3 tablespoons (1 1/2 ounces) olive oil, plus more for brushing
  • 2 cups (10 ounces) plump, sweet raisins ( I used a combo of golden and regular)
  • 1/4 cup very finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons turbinado sugar
  1. In the bowl of your stand mixer, combine warmed milk, sugar, and yeast. Whisk in 1/4 cup of the flour and let sit for 10 minutes or so until yeast is activated and foamy. Whisk in another 2 cups of flour and use paddle attachment and mix on low speed for 4 minutes.
  2. Add raisins, olive oil, rosemary, cinnamon, and salt, switch to dough hook and knead until well blended. Add remaining flour and knead for 2 minutes. Scrape down sides and turn dough over in bowl to make sure everything  is well mixed. Knead for another 2 minutes.
  3. Lightly oil a tub or bowl and place dough, lightly coating it in oil, into it. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until it doubles in size.
  4. Prepare a 12″ by 17″ jelly roll pan by lightly brushing it with olive oil. Scrape risen dough onto prepared pan and lightly punch down to release some of the air. Gently begin stretching and pressing dough to fit the length and width of the pan. If at anytime it seems like the dough is resisting, brush it with olive oil and let it rest for 10 minutes.
  5. Brush the dough with olive oil and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise  until it is almost double in size approximately 45 to 60 minutes.  Meanwhile place a baking stone in the oven and preheat it to 375 F.
  6. Remove plastic wrap and dimple dough by gently pressing your finger tips into the dough.
  7. Sprinkle dough with turbinado sugar. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until bread is a deep golden brown and registers 200 F on an instant-read thermometer. Transfer to a cooling rack and immediately brush with olive oil. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Makes 20 3″ by 3″ squares.

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This focaccia is great plain, but even better smeared with mascarpone. YUM! This recipe as also inpired me to try new flavor combinations. I’m thinking dried cranberries and thyme. I’ll let you know how it turns out…