Archive for January, 2011

Cassoulet – Daring Cooks Challenge

Monday, January 17th, 2011

Our January 2011 Challenge comes from Jenni of The Gingered Whisk and Lisa from Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drives. They have challenged the Daring Cooks to learn how to make a confit and use it within the traditional French dish of Cassoulet. They have chosen a traditional recipe from Anthony Bourdain and Michael Ruhlman.

I have had duck confit in France, and it was really tasty. When I made it with the duck available here it was ok, but not as good.  Cassoulet is a signature dish and is on many restaurant menus in the southwest of France, but I never have ordered it because there are so many other dishes to try.

I have made Cassoulet before as well, and it was good but not really memorable.   This time I followed the recipe from Anthony Bourdain that is in the Daring Cooks recipe.  I made confit using chicken rather than duck, and used a combination of olive oil and butter rather than the difficult to find (in this area) duckfat.  For beans I used navy beans.

The chicken confit was cooked in a slow cooker, varying the temp setting between low and high, trying to keep it from boiling.  The aroma of the confit was devine.  For the Cassoulet I used a good pork sausage that had no gluten fillers in it.  The confit was made one day, the beans the next, then the Cassoulet assembled the next, and baked again the following day for a comfort food dinner party.

The final baking smelled devine, and the Cassoulet was delicoius.  Everyone had seconds, always a good sign!.  I really liked the fact that on the day of the dinner all I had to do was reheat the Cassoulet and make a salad to go with it. 

Greg and I ate the leftovers the next two days, and they just got better.

In terms of next steps, the confit was interesting, but the Cassoulet would be great without it as well.  I will definitely make this again when I want a conforting meal with friends.

Here is a link to the daring bakers recipes.  Thanks to Jenni and Lisa for getting me to make Cassoulet again with a better method.

http://thedaringkitchen.com/sites/default/files/u11/21_Confit___Cassoulet_DC_Jan_2011.pdf

Apple Quark Streusel Cake

Sunday, January 9th, 2011

Over the holidays while grocery shopping I spied some quark, and decided I better buy it while the store had it.  Exotic groceries are not as plentiful here in the winter.  I like summer for many reasons, but one of them is that the deluge of tourists and cottagers to this area also brings better grocery shopping.

Why quark?  Well long ago in Bracebridge there was a really scrumptious German bakery.  My favourite item at this bakery was the cheese danish.  They were made with a quark filling, very tart and lemony.  On top of the filling was streusel.  The bakery closed many years ago, and I have never found such wonderful danish anywhere else.  So, I though maybe I could make something like that.  After searching around on the internet I found a recipe for a quark streusel cake on the About German cooking blog http://germanfood.about.com/od/baking/r/streuselkuchen.htm.  So, I made the recipe, then had to adapt it by making the dough work with a lot more liquid, and adding apple to the layers.

The taste of the quark layer was very similar to my memory from the bakery danish.  The rest of the cake was quite good as well.  Overall this is a make again cake.  Although there are several steps, making the dough the night before using the Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day method of just mixing the dough and letting is sit worked well and is very easy.  The  is not very sweet, and even though I like cakes that are only a little sweet, I might add some brown sugar to the apple layer next time.  A slice of this is great for breakfast when you cant stand cottage cheese one more day (I try to eat a high protein and nutritious breakfast, but occasionally I fall off the wagon and have something like this instead).

Here is my adapted recipe.  The quantities are pretty forgiving, so feel free to adapt or to use another fruit or no fruit at all, and enjoy the “quarky” goodness of the filling.

Apple Quark Cheesecake

(Adapted from recipe on About.com germanfood)

Ingredients Method
Dough

2 c flour

1  tsp yeast (dry type)

½ cup milk

2 Tbl butter

1 egg

2 T sugar

½ tsp salt

Enough additional water to make a dough (around a ½ cup, but depends on your flour)

Melt the butter in the milk.  Add the yeast and proof this until the yeast develops a foam.

Put the flour in a bowl with the rest of the ingredients, add the milk, egg,  and mix until this turns into a soft dough. You will probably need to add a little water, depends on the size of the egg and your flour.

Let the dough rise at room temp for about an hour or until it has risen and started to fall, then put it in the   fridge or a cool place.  (Basically this follows the Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day method)

The next day push the lump of dough into a greased pan, I used a pyrex pan just one size smaller than 9 x 13.  You could also use a 10” springform pan.

Let the dough rise until it is doubled again (about 1 hour).

Quark Filling

1 ½ cups (about 1 container) of quark

1 tsp lemon zest

1 egg

2 Tbl cornstarch

Mix this all together as for cheesecake.  Spread over the dough.
Apples

Peel, core, and slice about 4 apples.  Granny Smith are good, needs to be a tart apple.

Layer the slices over the quark filling so they overlap each other and completely cover the filling.
Streusel Topping

1 ½ cup flour

2/3 cup sugar (use some brown and some white)

½ cup butter

¼ tsp salt

¼ tsp cinnamon

Note:  This was the original recipe.  I ended up only needing about 2/3 of this, so I saved the rest and froze it for another apple concoction, but if you are using a larger pan you might need all of it)

Mix the incredients like pie dough so you have lumps of butter remaining.

Spread this over the apples evenly.

Bake at 350 for about an hour, watching that the crust gets slightly brown and the apples and streusel are cooked. This cake freezes well.

Raspberry Bavarian Cake

Sunday, January 2nd, 2011

I had several people coming for a New Year’s Day dinner, and wanted to make something new to start the culinary year.  After several minutes, no I confess hours, reading cookbooks, I settled on a recipe on the Tartelette blog.  If you love pastry you must visit Helene’s blog.  Not only is she a fantastic baker, her photography is absolutely mouthwatering, and  her photos give me inspiration for the skills I aspire to reach.

The technique for this cake was to make dacquoise layers.  They are basically merangue layers with almonds in them.  I have made similar cookies before but this was my first cake type dacquoise.  The server on her website seems to be down today, so I will revise and post a link later.  You can just search under Tartelette and the blog usually comes up.  It is called Raspberry Rose Bavarian Cream Cake on her blog.

I revised the recipe by using corn starch instead of flour so that the cake would be gluten free for Greg.  I also did not have rose water so I used orange flower water instead.  The layers turned out great, but perhaps a little soft.  In reading other dacquoise recipes such as Julia Child, they did not have any starch in them, maybe that makes them more crunchy.  Anyway, the really useful technique that I learned in making this cake was to make the raspeberry layer.  You cook the frozen berries until they are dissolved, then add the gelatin, cool, and FREEZE them in a 1/4 sheet cookie pan.  When you assemble the cake there is no mess with trying to spread out a thin layer, you just unwrap your thin little package of raspberry ice sheet and plunk it down on top of the dacquoise layer.  When I have tried to spread soft gooey fillings on other cakes I often end up with crumbs and a messy layering, so this technique is really useful. I was concerned that there might be too much gelatin, but the cake tasted great, and the layers did not melt at all even when the cake had warmed to room temperature.

The bavarian cream recipe is delicious.  It is a pastry cream that is cooked, gelatin added, cooled, then whipped cream is beaten and added to the mixture. The final cake was assembled and refrigerated for a few hours.  I never got the lemon layer made, and really the cake was terrific, I’m not sure the lemon layer is needed, but it does add a warm sheen to the cake in the Tartelette Pictures.  I have frozen the leftovers, so this is a cake you could make all ahead.

Anyway, My guests seemed to enjoy the cake, and this technique could be flavoured in many different ways, so this recipe is highly recommended, but does take a little time to make all the components.  I think maybe the next one could be mango with orange slices on top, ot maybe strawberry and banana, the possibilities are endless!!  Thanks to Helene from Tartelette for the recipe, and you must visit her blog.  Also, here is another example of the cake on the blog Mad Baker http://www.madbaker.net/2009/11/mad-about-raspberry-rose-vanilla-cream-cake/

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