Archive for February, 2011

Panna Cotta with Florentines

Monday, February 28th, 2011

The February 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Mallory from A Sofa in the Kitchen. She chose to challenge everyone to make Panna Cotta from a Giada De Laurentiis recipe and Nestle Florentine Cookies.

I have made florentines before and they are very yummy – far better than the ones you find in bakeries, although they are really not too common anymore.  Because I needed a gluten free version, I looked through a few cookbooks and found an interesting recipe which used no flour in Chocolate Ephipany by Francois Payard.  The result was sort of a butter brickle flavour with crunchy almonds and candied orange.  They are absolutely delicious!! The dark side is that you cant stop eating them so between the florentines and the cream in the panna cotta I gained 2 pounds this week!! I am having nightmares about barbells.

For the panna cotta, I used a slightly different recipe than Gina’s because I didn’t have 3 cups of whip cream.  I found a similar recipe in Dolce Italiano by Gina De Palma and used it with ricotta for some of the cream.  But I didnt have ricotta either so I used sour cream, and the result was delicious.  This is my first attempt at panna cotta, and it is very easy.  The taste is really similar to creme brulee, but less work and no baking, so I will make this again.  I am freezing some to see how it fares, and since I have recently frozen bavarian I think it will work!!.  I have to freeze some so I dont gain even more weight!!! so it is really a self preservation technique.

Both of the above are excellent cookbooks.  I have seen Chocolate Epiphany remaindered at Chapters recently, and it has an amazing recipe for chocolate cookies that have no butter but are wonderful.

Thanks to Mallory for a great combination of flavours in this challenge.

I am posting the recipe for the florentines because it is gluten free and devinely delicious.  If you want the panna cotta recipe there are dozens on the internet, or email me.

Florentines

Recipe Adapted from Chocolate Epiphany by Francois Payard.

My attempt at these resulted in a wonderful taste, but the cooked sheets  were not easy to handle and I ended up just breaking them up into pieces instead of having nicely shaped cookies from a cookie cutter.  I found them really buttery, so next time I will try a little less butter to see if that works.  But, these are divinely  delicious, so consider making them!

Ingredients Method
13 TB (195 grams) unsalted butter

1 1/8 cup sugar

1/3 cup milk

¼ cup honey or corn syrup

Combine all of these and cook in a saucepan until a candy thermometer reaches 230F

Remove from heat and add the next ingredients.

2 ¼ cups sliced almonds

1/3 cup candied orange peel

Add to the cooked mixture above.

Note: This batter can be kept for about 3 days in the fridge if you want to bake later.

Baking Step:

I found the baking quite variable, so you really need to watch this step rather than rely on timing.

Spread the batter very thinly (cover the area completely, but not too think, about 1/8 inch) on a silpat or parchment paper (silpat is better) and bake at 350 for about 8 minutes.  The batter should be a golden brown, so you need to watch it and it will depend on how think etc.
Cutting Step:

The batter will be very runny even when cooked, but as it cools it becomes malleable.  The process is really like nougat.

In the recipe it says to cool slightly and then cut with a cookie cutter.  I found this did not work too well, so  after trying individual cookies and other experiments I just gave up and treated it like a big sheet of candy bark that I cut with kitchen scissors into pieces.  This worked well but they are not too uniform.
Tempered dark chocolate layer:

About 5 oz dark chocolate (I used  house brand candy bars from Metro that is 72% chocolate)

Melt the chocolate, then spread in a thin layer on the back of each cookie piece.  The recipe says to spread with a fork to get the characteristic wavy lines, but my cookies were so thin that I gave up and just spread a think layer.
Serve or Freeze These are best straight out of the freezer.  They are very delicate, so freezing is the best way to keep them intact and also my freezer is down stairs so I get exercise before devouring them.

Tempura and Buckwheat Noodles-Daring Cooks Challenge

Sunday, February 20th, 2011

The February 2011 Daring Cooks’ challenge was hosted by Lisa of Blueberry Girl. She challenged Daring Cooks to make Hiyashi Soba and Tempura. She has various sources for her challenge including japanesefood.about.com, pinkbites.com, and itsybitsyfoodies.com

I am late posting this but trying to do the challenges.  I am not posting recipes for this because I had to turn the recipes into gluten free, and although all were ok, they were not great, so you dont really want to have these recipes unless I try to perfect them.

I used fresh ground buckwheat flour for 75% of the noodle mix.  Next time I would skip the whole grain buckwheat because it looks nasty and does not really add to the taste.  I made lasagna noodles a few days later with just ground hulled buckwheat and I was a lot happier with them.  I used a peanut satay recipe on the noodles, and it was quite good.  Overall, I don’t really love cold noodles.

I absolutely love tempura at our local Wabura restaurant.  I have made it at home several times, but again my conclusion is that this can be made better in a restaurant where they have a good fryer and can serve everyone at once.  Having said that, the restaurant version has wheat in it, so I will continue to make it once in a while for poor Greg.  Instead of wheat flour I substituted a ration of two parts rice flour to 1 part tapioca flour.  The batter came out really good for the first few, crispy and delicious, but then seemed to grow soggy.  Maybe it was that the oil was getting a little water in it, who knows.

This was another good Daring Cooks adventure, but I am going back to Wabura for my next tempura fix, and cold noodles….well, just not my favourite dish. Thanks to Lisa for the clallenge. Blueberry Girl blog

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