Thursday, January 29, 2009

January Daring Baker: Tuiles

This month's challenge is brought to us by Karen of Bake My Day and Zorra of 1x umruehren bitte aka Kochtopf. They have chosen Tuiles from The Chocolate Book by Angélique Schmeink and Nougatine and Chocolate Tuiles from Michel Roux.
It's 10pm on the post day and I'm still in the process of getting mine together. I made the dough last night, but Dean took next to no nap today and I had book club tonight. Yes, I know, I put this off to the end so there's no excuse. I honestly was not happy about this challenge. After the holidays I did not want something sweet. Sure this had a savory option, but it just felt like a lame cracker challenge. I wanted something savory, bready, yeasty, salty, SOMETHING other than sweet/cracker. But whatever. Maybe that's just the pregnant lady in my talking.

Ok. Now that I'm finished and I've eaten them, I have to say this was a decent recipe. It made me think of mini strawberry sponge cake tacos or something. The one completely covered in chocolate was total overkill and made me feel sick. Honestly, my favorite was the plain tuile with strawberries and whipped cream. No chocolate. The chocolate rim wasn't bad, but it overpowered the cookie's taste. Matt liked them too. They were easy, cheap and quick. So I guess they get a good rating. You're supposed to be able to shape these easily right out of the oven, but I found mine were a little too springy to really hold a tight shape. Maybe I made them too thick, but I liked the taste and consitency of them anyway.

Following is a recipe taken from a book called “The Chocolate Book”, written by female Dutch Master chef Angélique Schmeinck.
Yields: 20 small butterflies/6 large (butterflies are just an example)
Preparation time batter 10 minutes, waiting time 30 minutes, baking time: 5-10 minutes per batch

65 grams / ¼ cup / 2.3 ounces softened butter (not melted but soft)
60 grams / ½ cup / 2.1 ounces sifted confectioner’s sugar
1 sachet vanilla sugar (7 grams or substitute with a dash of vanilla extract)
2 large egg whites (slightly whisked with a fork)
65 grams / 1/2 cup / 2.3 ounces sifted all purpose flour
1 table spoon cocoa powder/or food coloring of choice
Butter/spray to grease baking sheet

Oven: 180C / 350F

Using a hand whisk or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle (low speed) and cream butter, sugar and vanilla to a paste. Keep stirring while you gradually add the egg whites. Continue to add the flour in small batches and stir to achieve a homogeneous and smooth batter/paste. Be careful to not overmix.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to firm up. (This batter will keep in the fridge for up to a week, take it out 30 minutes before you plan to use it).

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or grease with either butter/spray and chill in the fridge for at least 15 minutes. This will help spread the batter more easily if using a stencil/cardboard template such as the butterfly. Press the stencil on the bakingsheet and use an off sided spatula to spread batter. Leave some room in between your shapes. Mix a small part of the batter with the cocoa and a few drops of warm water until evenly colored. Use this colored batter in a paper piping bag and proceed to pipe decorations on the wings and body of the butterfly.

Bake butterflies in a preheated oven (180C/350F) for about 5-10 minutes or until the edges turn golden brown. Immediately release from bakingsheet and proceed to shape/bend the cookies in the desired shape. These cookies have to be shaped when still warm, you might want to bake a small amount at a time or maybe put them in the oven to warm them up again. (Haven’t tried that). Or: place a bakingsheet toward the front of the warm oven, leaving the door half open. The warmth will keep the cookies malleable.

If you don’t want to do stencil shapes, you might want to transfer the batter into a piping bag fitted with a small plain tip. Pipe the desired shapes and bake. Shape immediately after baking using for instance a rolling pin, a broom handle, cups, cones….

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Crockpot Swiss Chicken

Ok. This recipe is so easy and delicious in my opinion. I RARELY use the crockpot because I can't ever get things other than roasts to turn out well. But this one is a keeper and Matt once said he could eat this meal once a week. I got if from my friend Pam, but I've modified it slightly because we like the sauce a little more plentiful and slightly thinner.

Crockpot Swiss Chicken: serves 2-5 people depending on how big those people are. (i.e. children)
2-3 chicken breasts, pounded thin and sprinkled with salt and pepper
4-6 slices of Swiss cheese (Gruyere is the absolute BEST, but it can be expensive. The baby Swiss seems to melt a little better than just regular Swiss.)
1 small can cream of chicken soup mixed with
1 can of milk (I use the soup can to measure the milk)
1 Box of stuffing (I usually use chicken flavored)
2-4 Tbsp melted butter (Kinda just depends. I start with less and use more if it seems to need more.)

  1. Mix the soup and milk in the Crockpot and then push down the chicken with the cheese slices on top so it's covered with the mixture. (That just cuts down on dishes, but you can do it however you please.)
  2. I generally cook the chicken in the milk/soup mixture about 2-3 hours on high first.*
  3. After it cooks a couple hours, sprinkle the stuffing on top, lightly pushing some of it down into the sauce and leaving some exposed.
  4. Pour the melted butter evenly on the exposed stuffing, cover and cook on low 1-2 more hours.
*If you're going to be super busy you can put the stuffing and butter on top of the chicken mixture from the beginning and just cook it on high for 4 hours and serve. The stuffing turns out slightly mushier and the chicken slightly drier, but it's still good.

Now, this is not a "pretty" meal. The chicken often breaks apart so you can't just pull out a whole chicken breast in one piece. The stuffing in the sauce is a little mushy, but it really does still taste good.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Israeli Couscous with Chicken and Veggies

Now, I don't know how authentic this is (I combined a couple recipes), but it tasted really good. I don't have a picture of the version I made tonight, but it looks a lot like my banner picture but with slightly different veggies. Also, the veggies were cooked on the stove top as opposed to the grill for this one. They are delicious grilled as well. Matt liked eating it with a warmed tortilla since I didn't have any pitas or flat bread. I didn't think it needed anything.

Israeli Couscous with Chicken and Veggies
Makes 4-6 servings

1 Chicken Breast: (If your 4-6 eaters are big meat eaters, double or triple this part. We're not, and we don't like chicken left over, so I only use 1 for the two of us. The left overs are just meatless.)

Cut the chicken breast in pieces. (I cut the thickness in half with a really sharp knife to end up with 2 thin chicken breasts. Then I cut it in strips and cut the strips in 2-3 pieces.)

Marinate the chicken overnight in a ziplock bag with a little olive oil, 1/2 tsp. turmeric, 1 tsp. cumin, 1 tsp. garlic salt and a dash of white pepper.

Veggies I used:
2 carrots, peeled and cut into medium sized pieces
2 medium turnips, peeled and cut into 1 in. squares (got em from our garden)
1 small onion, diced
1 zucchini, cut in quarters and diced in medium sized pieces
1 clove garlic, pressed
I threw a few leftover mushrooms in for good measure and they worked out fine
about 1/2 tsp. tumeric
about 1/2 tsp. cumin
2 pinches kosher salt
dash of cayenne if you like some heat
olive oil

(You could also add and/or substitute: celery and/or red or orange bell peppers)

  1. Put a swirl of olive oil in the bottom of a big pot.
  2. Cook the carrots on medium high heat, covered but stir occasionally for 2-3 min. Add onions and turnips. Cook covered, but stir occasionally until crisp-tender maybe another 7 min. or so.
  3. When those veggies are crisp tender, add in marinated chicken. Cook until no longer pink.
  4. Add zucchini, mushrooms, garlic, cumin, turmeric, and cayenne. Cook uncovered a couple more min. until those are tender but not overcooked.
While the veggies are cooking, make the couscous.

1 1/2 C. Israeli Couscous (the big pearl kind, not the instant)
2 C. broth (veggie or chicken-I used chicken but most recipes I saw called for veggie)

Boil the water and add the couscous. Cover, reduce heat and simmer 10 min. while stirring occasionally.

Mix cooked couscous and cooked veggies. Season with salt and pepper to your liking.