Monday, September 28, 2009

Vols Au Vent


The September 2009 Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Steph of A Whisk and a Spoon. She chose the French treat, Vols-au-Vent based on the Puff Pastry recipe by Michel Richard from the cookbook Baking With Julia by Dorie Greenspan.

Puff pastry is in the ‘laminated dough” family, along with Danish dough and croissant dough. A laminated dough consists of a large block of butter (called the “beurrage”) that is enclosed in dough (called the “d├ętrempe”). This dough/butter packet is called a “paton,” and is rolled and folded repeatedly (a process known as “turning”) to create the crisp, flaky, parallel layers you see when baked. Unlike Danish or croissant however, puff pastry dough contains no yeast in the d├ętrempe, and relies solely aeration to achieve its high rise. The turning process creates hundreds of layers of butter and dough, with air trapped between each one. In the hot oven, water in the dough and the melting butter creates steam, which expands in the trapped air pockets, forcing the pastry to rise.

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I procrastinated this challenge this month. I could list reasons but they aren't great. However, It wasn't a huge challenge to me as I've made croissants in the past and making puff pastry dough is pretty similar. Roll dough, add butter packet. Lots of rolling in "turns" and putting it back in the fridge when its not cold enough. Eventually you have it incorporated in such a way that you get lots of tasty flaky layers.

It's a time consuming process and on top of that I had to choose a filling. I was never inspired by anything new to try and finally just used vanilla pudding and kiwis. They made a lovely light dessert. Honestly, making puff pastry is not something that gets me excited or that I ever really plan to do again. I guess its good to know I can though right?

As far as mistakes, I skipped the egg wash and that was not smart b/c the layers need something to help them stay together. I also improvised on my hole cutters and so some had too big of holes and some had too little. Luckily after you add filling, it doesn't really matter. They taste good either way. If you would like to make them, be sure to visit another Daring Baker's page for the recipe. Either way, check out all those daring bakers. Some of them are super creative!


Saturday, September 26, 2009

Artisan Bread in 5 minutes a day


I finally got a copy of this awesome book from the library and it was worth the wait! While many of the ideas are explained on the blog, the book is a good read and full of interesting info. I made our first loaf yesterday and it was amazing. It actually did have the custard crumb interior with the perfect crust. It was delicious and I only got one piece! So we're having more today. The recipe really is super simple. It is about the technique. If you haven't read this book yet or tried this method, you really need to check it out. It will change how you view baking bread at home. I am excited for the sequel on healthier breads as well.

Link to master recipe for basic bread dough in this method.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Spanish Lentils & Rice

I love this simple dish. It's super tasty, super simple, frugal and a great variation from typical casseroles that are heavy and meaty. The lentils & rice make a good complete protein so you can just add a salad and its a quick, easy, healthy, complete meal. Approximate cost: $2.50 for entire casserole.

Spanish Lentils & Rice
from 2003 Southern Living
Makes 4-6 servings
approx 20 min. prep, 30 min cook, 20 min bake

3 1/2 cups water
1 cup uncooked long grain white rice
1 cup dried lentils
1 tsp salt
1 onion, diced
1 bell pepper, diced
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 (10 oz) can ROTEL Mexican festival diced tomatoes
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

Bring first 4 ingredients to a boil in medium saucepan, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20-25 minutes until lentils are tender.

Saute onion and bell pepper in large lightly greased skillet over med-high heat until tender. Add cumin, chili powder, garlic powder and cook, stirring constantly for 2 minutes.

Stir onion mixture and tomatoes with rice mixture, and spoon into lightly greased 13x9 baking dish.

Bake at 350 for 15 minutes, top evenly with cheddar cheese, bake 5 more minutes.

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