{twd} Nancy’s Pick!

Ack! Weekends have been full with yard work, junk-clearing (no, I really don’t need my college textbooks), and social obligations that I haven’t had much time to bake.  However, there was no way I was going to miss this week’s Tuesdays With Dorie.

You see, this week, the host is Nancy of The Dog Eats the Crumbs. Nancy is awesome. She’s been a great blogging friend and I’ve had tons of fun baking along with her via Twitter.

And Nancy selected an awesome recipe: Swedish Visiting Cake. When I first paged through Baking…From My Home to Yours, the cake intrigued me.  Traditionally, it’s baked in a cast-iron pan and it’s a very simple/easy almond-vanilla cake to make.  Really, it is so easy and it was a big hit with the family–there is no reason why I won’t make it again.

Thanks, Nancy! A great pick! For the recipe, visit her blog or buy the book.

{twd} a simple flan

Unlike last week, in which I made the Cocoa-Nana Bread but didn’t blog about it, this week I didn’t make the Milk Chocolate Mini Bundt Cakes. And I’m blogging about something completely different.

The Caramel-Topped Flan was a Tuesdays with Dorie selection way back in March 2008. If you haven’t made it, you need to make it ASAP. If you have made it, you need to make it again NOW. A very simple recipe with very simple ingredients. The right texture, flavor, and looks of a great flan. I made it for a margaritas and ceviche party I  attended and it was a big hit.  Steph at A Whisk and a Spoon hosted that week and you can find the recipe HERE or in the book.

I have nothing against Milk Chocolate Mini Bundt Cakes, I just didn’t have time to make them this week. They didn’t require a visit to the store–I had all the ingredients on hand. I attempted to make them twice, or at least to the point of removing the butter from the refrigerator to soften it and then a few hours later putting it back into the refrigerator.

When do we get the 30 hour days and the 8 day weeks??

Vacation Pictures, part four

2-December, Wednesday Bora Bora, French Polynesia

On Tuesday, as we were experiencing lots of rain and big waves due to the cyclone, the Captain makes an announcement that he just talked to people on Bora Bora and it has been raining there the last two days. This was my third visit to Bora Bora and I was spending most of the day diving, but really wanted it to be sunny. Luckily, the weather gods were smiling on us and we woke up to a perfect day as we arrived Wednesday morning.

There were so many divers diving in Bora Bora, they needed to organize the tanks and all the equipment with labels. This my tank for dive #2 that day.

Driving the Zodiac to the dive site. Okay, not really–they wouldn’t let me. I asked them to take a picture of me pretending to drive the boat. :P

Lemon sharks. Not dangerous.

I’m in the upper right next to Jean-Michel Cousteau.

Finding Nemo?

Since I had some free time in the late afternoon I decided to visit Bloody Mary’s, the famous bar and restaurant on Bora Bora. I took a cab from the dock to the restaurant and the driver  couldn’t stop talking about Couples Retreat. The movie was filmed at the St. Regis on Bora Bora and the movie rented the driver’s boat for a month.  If you’ve seen the movie it’s the boat used in the shark scene.

3-December–Taha’a, French Polynesia

Other than being remarkably beautiful, Taha’a is known as vanilla island because 80% of Taihitian vanilla is grown there. I bought lots of vanilla of course. :P

We spent the day at Motu Mahana with snorkeling, kayaking, waterskiing, and a beach BBQ.

Coming up in Vacation Pictures, part five:

  • Moorea–last dive of the trip
  • Tattoos!
  • Fun times in Papeete, Tahiti

Rice Gelato

Last year, while on Taha’a, I bought a bunch of Tahitian vanilla beans. I used my last Tahitian bean to make the Rice Gelato from David Lebovitz’s The Perfect Scoop. Today, I’m back on Taha’a (80% of Tahitian vanilla beans grow on this island) and stocking up on vanilla beans. I think I will buy twice as much as I bought last year because this will be my last trip to the region for quite awhile (if ever again).

This recipe was definitely worth using my last bean. In addition to vanilla, the gelato is flavored with orange zest and tastes like frozen rice pudding. You can find the recipe HERE.

{db} Macarons! I got the feets!

The 2009 October Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to us by Ami S. She chose macarons from Claudia Fleming’s The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern as the challenge recipe.

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It often seems like the things I’m most trepid about making turn out to be easy. It happened with bagels and it happened again with this month’s Daring Bakers challenge. I’m back on track after missing two months and I was so excited when I found out the baking challenge was to make macarons.

I’ve wanted to bake these lovely French cookies for awhile and even took a class on how to make them at Surfas through Gourmandise Desserts. It was a fun class and I learned a few tips. The most important tip I learned was feet-achievement (the ridge at the bottom of each cookie half)  is a direct function of enough rest time after piping and before baking. You have to allow enough time for the exterior to harden before they go into the oven. That’s it. Now that I’ve made them once, I can’t wait to make them again. In fact, I decided I will make them every time I make ice cream. Use the yolks for ice cream and the whites for macarons. Perfect.

I made vanilla macarons using vanilla sugar and filled some with leftover peanut butter frosting, some with Nutella, and some with both peanut butter frosting and Nutella. I also sprinkled some with honey powder. The cookies came out perfect. Crunchy on the outside, with a slight chew. I served the macarons at my pizza party along with a gazillion other desserts and people loved them. It was very cool.

Thanks to Ami for hosting this month’s challenge. For the recipe visit her blog, Baking Without Fear.

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