Friday, August 27, 2010


Here is the view from my the living room in my new apartment. I unfortunately can not open the windows here, so I'm having to figure out how to take pictures through the glass. Right now this means that camera usually ends up reflected in it...

Of course, in the down in my room also has a screen (despite the fact that it does not open...), which makes things even trickier.

Here we have different sort of sunrise shot than the ones I usually go for. I rather like it though. It is a little hard to see at this size (you can click it to see it bigger), but the next three traffic lights are all different colors!

Then later that morning

Daring Bakers: Baked Alaska

The August 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Elissa of 17 and Baking. For the first time, The Daring Bakers partnered with Sugar High Fridays for a co-event and Elissa was the gracious hostess of both. Using the theme of beurre noisette, or browned butter, Elissa chose to challenge Daring Bakers to make a pound cake to be used in either a Baked Alasa or in Ice Cream Petit Fours. The sources for Elissa’s challenge were Gourmet magazine and David Lebovitz’s “The Perfect Scoop”. The recipes can be found here.

This challenge turned out to be quite the adventure. The concept behind baked Alaska is that you start with some sort of cake, generously top it with ice cream, cover it with meringue, freeze the whole thing and then manage to cook the meringue without melting the ice cream.

For the cake we were asked to make brown butter pound cake. I mixed up a half batch of the batter and baked two small cakes in the 1 cup pyrex dishes I have with a little bit of batter left over. In retrospect I think it would have baked more evenly if I had split that amount of batter between three cakes that size (or, you know, followed the instructions - but where's the fun in that). Despite the slight issues with baking, the brown butter pound cake was absolutely fantastic.

I started with my mom's recipe for vanilla ice cream and froze it using the stir-every-hour method. It does not not come out as wonderfully smooth as it does in an ice cream maker, but it is still delicious. Once it was frozen, I chopped up a peach and mixed it in. I prefer this version of peach ice cream to the one I made last month.

Then there is the meringue... My meringue skills need work. It was delicious, but even with freezing did not want to actually stay on. The result was a tasty mess, but nothing so impressive looking as baked Alaska is supposed to be.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Daring Cooks: Pierogi!

This should have gone up a couple days ago, but life got busy :-)

The August 2010 Daring Cooks‟ Challenge was hosted by LizG of Bits n' Bites and Anula of Anula's Kitchen. They chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make pierogi from scratch and an optional challenge to provide one filling that best represents their locale. You can find the pdf with the recipes here.

I started with the Russian Style Pierogi recipe and replaced the bacon with Kielbasa sausage. I used red potatoes and apparently didn't cook them long enough because they really didn't want to mash. When I got the filling mixed up (minus the egg, which I simply forgot) I realized that what I had was a lovely potato salad, not something I could stuff in pierogies.

I fixed this problem by running the mixture through the food processor. This approach worked quite well.

The dough was lovely to work with (although I will admit that I was skeptical before it got to sit for 20 minutes - that step is important). I ate them with sour cream - they were quite tasty.

I've been playing with peaches all summer, so the logical choice for a local pierogi was something peach. I chopped up a peach and mixed it with some of my left over cottage cheese and a little sugar and stuffed that in the dough (and ate it with sweetened sour cream).

In the future I would add a bit of flour or cornstarch to any kind of peach filling since the peaches release a lot of juice as they cook. The result wasn't bad but it wasn't anything special either. I think I might try it with a creamier cheese and possibly with the addition of cinnamon and/or cardamom.