Some bakings

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It turns out I need surgery. On the follow-up x-ray you can see my patella fragments shifted around. The type of surgery I’m having is called open reduction internal fixation, which means my orthopedic surgeon slashes open my knee, repositions the pieces of my bone in the correct places, and then uses screws to pin everything together. The outpatient surgery lasts about an hour and a half. I’ll probably spend more time at the hospital waiting for the surgery to happen than actual time in surgery.

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I spent yesterday afternoon traversing the medical clinic for my orthopedic appointment and pre-surgery work-up–blood draw, EKG, chest x-ray. Based on my google research, I should be out of my splint in six weeks. Just in time for our wedding. 🙂 We were joking yesterday that we may have Paul walk down the aisle instead of me.

Even though my surgery is not scheduled until 5pm I haven’t been able to eat since midnight. So what do I decide to do? Spend time writing a blog post about things I can’t eat. 😉

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1. Napoleons with Vanilla Bean Pastry Cream and Dairy Milk Chocolate Ganache–I used my homemade puff pastry again, my vanilla beans I bought in Tahiti, and Paul’s supply of Dairy Milk Chocolate to make these for Paul for his return home from a week-long work trip.

2. Pebbly Beach Fruit Squares–these are crunchy chewy cookies out of Alice Medrich’s Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchycookbook. They’re a bit of work , in that you have to roll the dough and cut the squaresThe recipe calls for the use of any dried fruit and any flavor combination. I used dried cranberries and lemon zest. I really enjoyed the fresh, light taste and the crunchy yet chewy texture of these. If you have this cookbook, I encourage you to bake these. I think they are a great spring cookie and different from the usual sugar cookie. If you don’t have this cookbook, I encourage you to buy it. I haven’t had a recipe fail me yet. You can find the recipe online:pebbly beach fruit squares.

3. Tarte Fine— I made this the same day as the Parisian Apple Tartlet because it uses almost the same ingredients and is another recipe to cross-off my Tuesdays with Dorie v1.0 list. I used my homemade puff pastry again (!) and vanilla bean sugar. Leslie of Lethally Delicious was the host and you can find the recipe on her site.

4. Irish Soda Bread (again)–Paul suggested slow-cooked scrambled eggs and Irish Soda Bread for his first meal home. In a highly unusual move, this marks the third time I’ve made this recipe from Baking with Julia.

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This post is 100% produced on my iPhone–pictures, links, etc. I apologize in advance if some things don’t work. My lap top is broken, Paul’s camera is out on loan to his sister, and I can’t sit at a computer these days.

Parisian Apple Tartlet

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With a broken knee, I’m housebound. I can’t drive and I can’t walk. I went from an insane activity level to zero.  I now have a total love and appreciation for streaming NetFlix, my iPhone, and pain medication.

Baking is something that has always relaxed me and now it can help me take my mind off not being able to run, hike, bike for weeks. I needed to bake something, anything, but it had to be something I had all the ingredients on hand and it had to be something small. My main eater, Paul, is out of town for work and I also don’t have access to my co-workers.

The Tuesdays with Dorie group baked the Parisian Apple Tartlet in June 2009. It’s very easy to assemble,  makes only one serving, and it’s one more recipe to cross off my list of unbaked recipes from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking…From My Home to Yours. Perfect. It’s a circle of puff pastry topped with apple slices and sprinkled with sugar (I used vanilla sugar). I made it a bit more complicated by making my own puff pastry using my go-to recipe from The Art & Soul of Baking.  Jessica of My Baking Heart was the host way-back-then and you can find the recipe on her blog.

‘quick’ puff pastry and palmiers

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If this was the quick method for puff pastry, I’m not sure I want to ever attempt the authentic method of making it. Actually, it was fairly quick. I just had to have a lot of faith while rolling it. The recipe for Quick Puff Pastry comes from Cindy Mushet’s The Art and Soul of Baking.

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I have now learned that puff pastry is butter with a little bit of flour. Similar to croissant dough, but without yeast, puff pastry requires three turns–rolling, folding, and refrigerating. The ‘dough’–Cindy even uses dough with quotes–is shaggy and doesn’t form a smooth mass until the final roll. She says to trust her. And trust her I did. You can find the recipe for Quick Puff Pastry HERE. I’ll warn you before you look; it uses 4 1/2 sticks of butter.

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Palmiers, or elephant ears, are crisp cookies made with puff pastry rolled in sugar.  They are simple to make once you have puff pastry.  You roll out the dough in lots of sugar and then you roll the ends up into each other. Refrigerate it for a bit, then slice, roll in more sugar, and bake.  The secret of getting nice and crispy palmiers is to allow enough time for the sugar to start caramelizing before flipping the cookies over. You want a nice golden color around the edges which is a sign that the sugar is doing its thing.

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Because of the way they are cut and baked, palmiers puff out not up. I was so excited when I saw that my puff pastry was actually puffing. I did a happy dance in the kitchen. Then tweeted about it.

I made plain palmiers, but you could use vanilla sugar or add some spices to the sugar.They’re great on their own, but even better with ice cream. They supposedly keep up to two weeks. I wouldn’t know anything about that; they didn’t last that long!

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Palmiers

Adapted from The Art & Soul of Baking
  1. Generously sprinkle sugar over work surface. Place puff pastry in center and sprinkle top with more sugar completely covering it. Roll dough out to a 16 by 10- inch rectangle, sprinkling top and bottom as needed to prevent sticking.
  2. Starting at each short end, fold over the first two inches. Repeat, folding the dough over the next two inches. When the two sides meet in the middle, fold one over the other.  When you are done, the ends should look like a heart. Wrap roll in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  3. Place rack in middle and preheat oven to 350 F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpat. Pour some sugar in a small bowl. Take roll out of refrigerator and cut 12 1/4-inch thick slices, dip both sides in sugar, and place 2-inches apart on baking sheet. Rewrap roll and return to refrigerator. Bake the cookies for 7 to 10 minutes or until golden at the edges. Flip cookies over and bake for 9 to 12 minutes longer, until they are a deep golden brown. Transfer to rack and cool completely.  Repeat with remaining dough. You could also freeze it for baking on another day.

Nutella is always good

Today is World Nutella Day!!!

For some unknown reason, Nutella is not as big a thing in the United States as it is in the rest of the world. Groceries in the US , if they have it at all, place Nutella way up high on a small little portion of shelf next to the infinite varieties of Peanut Butter. To me, Nutella is heaven on earth and it is a mystery why we don’t have shelves and shelves of it.

I was recently in a grocery store in Pape’ete, Tahiti and when I saw this I just had to take a picture:

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A Wall of Nutella!!

So thank you to Ms Adventures in Italy, Bleeding Espresso, and World Nutella Day for creating and coordinating  World Nutella Day.

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In honor of World Nutella Day, I made Sugared Puff Pastry Crisps with Nutella. I meant to add sliced banana, but I ate all of the bananas. 😛  There really is no recipe for this, it’s more of an assembly-type thing.

You take packaged puff pastry, roll it to 12″ x12″. Cut out 2″ circles, brush a little bit of melted butter on both sides,  and press each circle into sugar (I used vanilla sugar this time). Lay each prepared circle on parchment paper on a cookie sheet. Cover with another piece of parchment paper and then place another cookie sheet on top of it. Bake at 400 F for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from oven and cool completely on a rack.  Slather on the Nutella and enjoy! YUM!

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Or you can just eat Nutella straight from the jar with a spoon, which is always good. 😛

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Updated: OMG, I can’t believe I forgot to include this picture also from Pape’ete, a Nutella Macaron:imgp2351